Ed Driscoll

Collectivism and the Presumption of Guilt in the United States of Anxiety

In the “United States of Anxiety,” Kevin D. Williamson of NRO writes:

Liberal, open societies are always vulnerable to encroachments from illiberal forces with sufficient motivation, whether it’s the totalitarians in Pyongyang, the ones in Riyadh, or the ones in Cambridge, Mass. That’s especially true when elites lose their confidence in such liberal principles as free speech and freedom of conscience. As soon as you accept the premise that a person’s right to free speech (or a professor’s ability to conduct his class) is circumscribed by another person’s “right” not to be offended, then you have jettisoned principle entirely, and all that’s left is brute-force negotiation — a situation in which the partisans of liberty and humaneness always find themselves lamentably outnumbered. And if we’ve learned anything from the waning days of Harry Reid, during which Senate Democrats attempted to repeal the First Amendment, it is that our own elites do not have very much confidence in traditional American liberalism.

In “Collectivism and the presumption of guilt,” Red State’s John Hayward rounds up the First Lady’s then-and-now flashbacks of her 2011 trip to Target, Samuel L. Jackson’s cry of racism in the deaths of petty criminals Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the Australian “I’ll Ride With You” journalistic fable and similar stories and concludes:

What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed.  The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her.  If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology.  We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.

This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism.  The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals.  That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals.  Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things.  There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you.  There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.

This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.

And increasingly, through once-respected journalistic outlets such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Washington Post and NBC, they’re not afraid to admit it.