Klavan On The Culture

Bret Stephens: Imaginary Enemies

Bret Stephens writes a brilliant column for the Wall Street Journal this week, “Liberalism’s Imaginary Enemies. I know it’s brilliant because I said almost the same thing in my podcast.

Hunger in America is an imaginary enemy. Liberaladvocacy groups routinely claim that one in seven Americans is hungry—in a country where the poorest counties have the highest rates of obesity. The statistic is a preposterous extrapolation from a dubious Agriculture Department measure of “food insecurity.” But the line gives those advocacy groups a reason to exist while feeding the liberal narrative of America as a savage society of haves and have nots.

The campus-rape epidemic—in which one in five female college students is said to be the victim of sexual assault—is an imaginary enemy. Never mind the debunked rape scandals at Duke and the University of Virginia, or the soon-to-be-debunked case at the heart of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about an alleged sexual assault at Harvard Law School. The real question is: If modern campuses were really zones of mass predation—Congo on the quad—why would intelligent young women even think of attending a coeducational school? They do because there is no epidemic. But the campus-rape narrative sustains liberal fictions of a never-ending war on women.

Institutionalized racism is an imaginary enemy. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that the same college administrators who have made a religion of diversity are really the second coming of Strom Thurmond. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that twice electing a black president is evidence of our racial incorrigibility. We’re supposed to believe this anyway because the future of liberal racialism—from affirmative action to diversity quotas to slavery reparations—requires periodic sightings of the ghosts of a racist past.


With all of these, Stephens leads up to the imaginary enemy of climate change, which the “leaders” of the world are currently “fighting,” in the same sense little boys in make-believe capes fight the monsters they’ve read about in comic books.

Read the whole thing here. And if you can’t because of the occasional WSJ pay wall, subscribe to the Wall Street Journal so they have the money to pay guys like Stephens.