"Radical extremist left" is the latest in a long line of bogeymen

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 7, 2022, 5:00 PM | comments: 0

The confirmation of new Supreme Court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson today was met with more of the same criticism that we've seen the last few weeks. Senator Mitch McConnel of course said that the "radicals run the show" in the Biden administration, when referring to her selection. Mind you, three Republicans did vote for her confirmation, but it was still largely a partisan affair where one side of the aisle attempted to paint Jackson as "radical," despite being well-qualified for the job, and a Constitutional scholar. Radical or extreme leftists are the latest in a very long line of bogeymen for the people who wish to retain power and appeal to the fears of people who are not actually at risk of, well, anything that everyone else isn't at risk of.

The radical and extremist labels are a more all-encompassing kind of fear mongering, maybe because it's all they have left. I mean, what does it mean, exactly? Apparently, it means a lot of things...

Socialism and communism. The amusing thing about this accusation is that the two ideologies are not actually compatible. Communism means the state runs and owns everything and that there is no democratic process. Not even the most radical mainstream lefties want that. Socialism has a lot of variations, but in the modern historical sense, it means that the government provides certain things to maintain some degree of equity without interfering with democracy or liberty. Here in the US, socialism was embraced a long time ago by having a common system of government-maintained infrastructure, schools, safety services, the military, Social Security, Medicare, etc. The only thing the "radical left" would like to add to that list is universal healthcare, like the rest of the democracies in the world. This bogeyman is often painted as a slippery slope argument that's easily refuted by the rest of the world's democracies.

Healthcare access. Speaking of which, the closest thing we have to universal healthcare is the Affordable Care Act, and it doesn't nearly go that far. It forces people to get health insurance, and then subsidizes the insurance for low-income folks. While the cost structures didn't change much, it did make access better for people in low-income segments. But the bogeyman here was fantastic. Remember "death panels?" That was the big reason the ACA was so bad, that there would be people there to decide whether grandma would live or die. Of course that was never true, and it didn't come to pass. The biggest problem with the ACA was that increasing the risk pool didn't reduce cost, and that problem is attributable to other conditions the law didn't address. But for the most part, our system is still shitty, and the US ranks in the high teens for health outcomes.

Healthcare rights. This bogeyman surfaced in the pandemic around vaccination. The people screaming "my body, my choice," are the same people who oppose women's health issues.

Immigrants and foreigners. The nation built by immigrants apparently should fear them now. This has been a popular bogeyman for years, but the truth is that immigrants, even the illegal ones, do not take jobs away from native citizens. The total number of jobs in the US is an elastic number, always changing, and generally more people mean there are more jobs and more commerce. There's also the myth that immigrants cause crime, but those statistics always show native citizens have higher rates of crime involvement. Remember when Trump declared a Biden victory would result in the suburbs being overrun by immigrant gangs? Still hasn't happened, and most crime statistics are still trending down (adjusting for the pandemic).

Election integrity. I can't believe this even has to be said, but there is virtually no election fraud, and none of the new laws around elections address any actual problems. The data is very clear on this. The presidential election couldn't be stolen when the same physical ballots elected countless Republicans. There's no evidence. This bogeyman and lie doesn't deserve the air it gets. And remember, the party that opposes gun regulation because it would interfere with law-abiding citizens supports voting regulation that interferes with law-abiding citizens. It's the same as the "my body, my choice" argument.

LGBTQ+ people. This bogeyman has been around for a long time. It was about same-sex marriage, which bathroom trans people use, what pronouns people prefer, sex and gender identity (which are not the same thing, by the way)... it's a long list of things. There's a nebulous call to "protect the children," but no one can really answer what they're being protected from. Often the answer resorts to pedophilia, which has nothing to do with any LGBTQ+ issues at all. Love is love, and the many people who make up this community have not negatively impacted me or anyone else. The "gay agenda" is just equality, not special treatment. That won't come at anyone's expense.

White grievance. This one has become particularly well-formed in recent years, but it's a bogeyman that has been around for hundreds of years. What's disturbing about it is that it's not even a dog whistle anymore, it's people on cable news defending white supremacy. This is also an effort for equality. Look, life is hard, even for white, straight males, but we haven't had all of the additional things on top of that to make life harder. Acknowledging that society was made for white males will not make life harder for white males, but it will go a long way toward fixing the institutional inequities that proliferate our culture.

Critical race theory. This one is the best, because it's a bogeyman that is also not a thing. CRT is a graduate level law study area. It is not taught in grade school. It's a scholarly look at the way law and culture have created inequitable systems that continue to discriminate against people of color. It doesn't indoctrinate anyone and it's not anti-patriotism. But you get these people screaming about it at school board meetings because history as taught includes slavery and the civil rights movement. If that history makes you uncomfortable, just imagine how it felt for the slaves or the protesters beaten to death.

History revisionism. Related, you have the PC bogeyman that wants to take down statues of bad people who were on the wrong side of history, especially as it relates to the Civil War. This, in their minds, means that by extension there is an effort to tear down the founding fathers and pretend they didn't exist, and isn't that sad for our heritage. What I find particularly odd about this is that I learned, for example, in 1984, age 11, from a white teacher, that George Washington not only owned slaves, but had the opportunities to end slavery but didn't have the courage to do it. Acknowledging this doesn't mean Washington was not critical to the founding of our nation, but it means we have to reconcile that he was both.

Inflation, the budget. The right makes a big stink about this constantly, but while the budget and spending keep going up, it's only an issue when the GOP doesn't control all the government. The truth is that all politicians want to spend money, just on different things. The federal deficit trended down under Obama, up under Trump. This is indisputable. This bogeyman is one of the easiest to invalidate, but it persists.

To be fair, yes, elements on the left certainly have their bogeymen as well, but it's not logical to draw moral equivalence here. The repeated concern about the GOP's general disregard for democracy is based entirely on observable behavior around voter suppression, gerrymandering, the ridiculous election fraud lie and getting people riled up enough to storm the Capitol. The infusion of money from corporations into the political system is measurable and traceable. These are not imagined things. Yeah, the constant complaining about billionaires is annoying, and should be about closing tax loopholes, but at least that's about actual policy and not conspiracies and uncomfortable feelings like the nonsense above.

The bogeymen tend to focus a lot on pushing back on diversity, I guess out of fear that diversity will somehow change their quality of life. Heck, one of my neighbors reported some old woman yelling the N-word at him, which is probably not shocking to him but it's deeply troubling regardless. The weirdest part of this is that, if you really are all about capitalism and a free market economy, diverse companies consistently out-perform those that are less diverse.

I don't understand why people are afraid of the bogeyman. It isn't real.


No comments yet.

Post your comment: