It is a trope in magic fiction of all types (and times) that you should be careful what you conjure, because if you pronounce the wrong name, you could invoke the wrong being.
It’s funny because I always thought the left was particularly fond of fantasy literature, but I guess they didn’t pay attention to the cautionary parts of it.
For decades now, in shows, in books, and in ultimate resort by painting this image in the news no matter how unrealistic (like the creation of straw Brad, straw Larry and occasionally straw Sarah) in the media, the left has been making up a picture of those who oppose them.
The right was, in general, according to these media racist, sexist, homophobic white supremacists and nationalists.
That this picture had generally bloody nothing — or perhaps less than 2% , the two percent being that a lot of us were patriotic which is not the same as nationalistic in the sense the left sees it, but that’s something for another discussion. Close enough for government service — to do with real people on the other side of the political divide did not disturb them. To begin with few of the people who identify as left knew how flawed the picture was, because the picture was everywhere and so prevalent. And those who knew, like reporters, or educators, or even some writers and script writers, thought they were acting for the greater good. Oh, sure the people they knew — if they knew any — who were on the right did not fit that profile, but then they assumed their acquaintances were either misguided or fooling them. (Which is where the whole crazy silliness of “code words” came up, as though if you wanted to insult someone you couldn’t just do it in plain language.)
Mind you to teach this in schools it required an extreme twisting of history, since eugenics and racism was the left’s pigeon (and no the left and right didn’t switch sides in a generation. That is quite literally the most idiotic theory I ever heard — with apologies to any idiots out there — and requires not having read a whole body of political theory from then until now.) Prohibition was the left’s pigeon. The extreme drive for morality, purity and sticking your nose in people’s lives was a leftist project. Getting us in foreign wars was a leftist project (Wilson, FDR, JFK) and in general everything attributed to the right the left did in its 200 years of history and did with gusto and verve and repeatedly, until they decided to white wash their image, rewrite history and create straw-enemies to attack.
They could do all of those things because, you know, they had finally achieved control of the media, the schools and, yes, entertainment and the arts.
All of which is interesting. They could have made their case with that bull horn without resorting to straw men. (Actually one wonders to what extent it was their Europhilia, since their distorted picture doesn’t match but has some resemblance to the right… in Europe, if not here.)
They could simply have said that they thought government control was more efficient, that it was the duty of government to look after everyone, that your freedom was something you had to surrender for being taken care of.
Did they fear the American spirit would rebel? Or was it confusing us with Europe? Or are the recent leftists really so ignorant they drink their own ink?
For whatever reason, they chose not to say “these people oppose us because they value freedom over government looking after them. ” They chose not to say “these people are dangerously independent” or any of the other things they might legitimately have said.
No, they brought out the racist, sexist, homophobic, white supremacist, nationalist specters.
And for a while it went really well for them. Why no one dared raise a voice in opposition lest the be tarred with heinous name calling.
And then… things changed.
One of the things that changed was that they lost their monopoly on news. And part of what that meant is that how spectacularly badly they performed became widely known. And most socialist economic systems perform atrociously.
The young people, those attuned to news on the web are looking at the mess people in control have made of things. It doesn’t occur to them to blame socialism, quasi-socialism (mostly what we have) and social democracy because they have never studied any real economics and never read The Road to Serfdom. All they know is that the people in power are failing and failing really badly.
And because they know people in power — who claim to be multiculturalist, equalitarian and internationalist — are failing, they don’t want to be like them.
Unfortunately, unless they’ve done independent reading or come from unusual families, the only models they know that oppose the failing one is the fake, straw model of the right: racist, sexist, homophobic, white supremacist and nationalist.
I’ve run across more people — most of them very young — who arrived at their politics by clinging to everything their teachers said the right was than I care to mention in the last six months or so. FAR more than I ran across the entire rest of my life.
The left created this straw-image of their enemies because they thought it would be easily defeated. They, in their arrogance, thought that history came with an arrow and that the arrow always pointed out in the direction of multi-culti, egalitarian internationalism. (This is partly because they muddled history so much they don’t realize the internationalism of the left was always “Russian Nationalism disguised, to allow easier subversion.” Or that their roots are not at all multi-culti, or that the result of their policies is never egalitarian.) They couldn’t figure out how anyone could think they were objectively bad.
Until the left’s policies changed. And a generation that knows no real history decided the fault was not with the socialism, but with these other characteristics.
And they’re embracing the characteristics of the left’s imaginary enemies and thereby becoming what had never existed before then.
The problems are three fold if this catches on: we’re still left with the failures of socialism. the new prejudices are just as bad as the old ones. And it leaves the rest of us who are for freedom homeless and bereft.
On the other hand there is a certain amount of schadenfreude in seeing the left’s magical words break, and in seeing them unable to face the fact that history doesn’t come with an arrow.
In some blog, long ago, in the comments section, someone said that if the left got what it wanted, it would backfire so badly we’d be hunting them with dogs and beating them to death with their “no blood for oil” signs. I think it’s going to be worse than that. I think it’s going to be so bad that the rest of us are not even going to enjoy it. Even if they brought this on themselves, by creating an enemy they thought they’re prefer to confront, an enemy that didn’t exist outside their lies.