Apparently, minority groups across America believe they will be vulnerable to persecution under a Trump presidency. Millions of bigots, whose tendencies had been kept in check by President Obama, will become suddenly emboldened. Hate crimes will skyrocket. Immigrants will be dragged from their homes and thrown into internment camps or deported. Gays, lesbians and transsexuals will be openly mocked and abused. Boozed-up rednecks will cruise the streets in pickup trucks, lynching anyone whose face doesn’t fit. And so on.
It’s true that Trump has promised to enforce immigration law (something that only seems outrageous after eight years of imperial disdain for the statute book), but the rest of this doomsaying is pure hysteria. The tempest of hate supposedly directed at the Left's favourite victims really boils down to a willingness to call bullshit on the lies and conspiracy theories that shore up these groups’ victimhood and empower the left-wing establishment.
From white supremacy and the patriarchy to Islamophobia and the cop-executioners of Black Lives Matter imagination, these fantasies have been uncritically reported by the liberal media as incontestable facts. The same media then calmly describes any contrary opinion as extremist - not opinions remotely on the scale of those progressive fables, you understand, but anything that merely contradicts them.
Breitbart News had a taste of this during its recent run-in with AppNexus. The ad exchange firm blacklisted Breitbart for allegedly using inflammatory language. It declined to give examples, so the BBC helpfully provided some in its report on the story: one headline suggesting women being offended online should log off, another calling for Southerners to take pride in the Confederate flag, and a third describing young Western Muslims as a ticking timebomb.
These headlines are only scarily ‘out there’ if you subscribe lock, stock and barrel to the progressive worldview. Otherwise, they just represent a different perspective - one that doesn't take the Left's word as gospel and doesn't believe that opposing its agenda amounts to an attack on the people it claims to care about.
While conservatives are branded bigots for failing to stand aside and wave through the progressive bulldozer, those caring-sharing lefties can do all the rioting, looting, punching, kicking and screaming they like, and if the media bothers to report it, it's to claim they were riled up by right-wing hate. Concerned about those fake news stories we keep hearing about? Look no further.
But times are a-changing. It's gradually dawning on the Left that it can no longer recite its favourite tropes without fear of dissent. The media’s determined efforts to thwart Trump and crush Brexit have destroyed what public trust it enjoyed, and harmed its effectiveness as a propaganda machine. The silent majority has had its say and the establishment is appalled to discover that decades of browbeating have not shaken erroneous thoughts from its head.
This must be particularly hard to take when (in cultural terms, at least) the Left seemed to be at some kind of apogee until quite recently. The banshee wail of social justice warriors echoed across the land, winning support from politicians, on-message hacks and harebrained celebrities. A blizzard of po-faced hashtags circled the globe, leaving no one in any doubt that racism, sexism, white privilege and all those terrible ‘phobias’ were grave problems that only a censorious left-wing establishment could defeat. The EU would march on, Hillary would be President, the SJWs would prevail, and all would be right in the world. Then this.
Anyone expecting a rethink by leftists will be disappointed. They will cling to their theories more fiercely than ever in the coming months. They will treat every bump in the road as proof that the Right got it wrong. If it rains on their birthday, it'll be the fault of Trump, Brexit, etc. And if reality proves otherwise, they'll bury their heads and carry on regardless.
They have plenty of form at this kind of thing. Take for instance that notorious symptom of the patriarchy, the gender pay gap - a theory so thoroughly refuted even the Huffington Post has been known to doubt it. Lefties still trot it out with a straight face and cry “woman-hater” at anyone who objects. Do they know it's a bogus statistic? Probably, but they would justify its use by saying it helps push the issue of sexism up the public agenda. And how do they know such sexism exists? Well, just look at the gender pay gap.
If misogyny were truly rife in society, proof of its existence would come down to more than debunked studies, prickly paranoia and mental gymnastics. Since that's all we get, there must be some underlying need by the Left to believe that we live in a deeply sexist society. Likewise, when Black Lives Matter jumps to conclusions and sticks to them long after they've been contradicted by facts, we're seeing a pathological need to believe that America is a virulently racist place.
These comfort blankets don't come without a cost. They sow disunity and distrust. They encourage a belief that the feelings of designated victims are more important than the facts of the matter. They dissuade individuals from examining the real cause of their unhappiness (often themselves). Perhaps worst of all, they describe millions of blameless people as bigots and invite them to be despised.
This isn't an unhappy coincidence. Left-wing ‘compassion’ always amounts to scapegoating someone else and punishing them for their sins. Outcomes that don't apportion blame and demand atonement don't pass muster. All those noble causes that lead to this point are just a pretext. It's screwing over others and destroying their way of life that matters.
What ‘white people’, the patriarchy and all those other bogeymen have in common is that they represent a particular social arrangement liberal-leftists object to - one that requires them to work hard, take responsibility, put a lid on their appetites, respect other people's wishes and meet their standards. By championing their favoured causes, leftists hope to undermine this way of life and avoid its clutches.
They won't be deterred by their recent setbacks. They will fight more keenly than ever to restore themselves at the top of the tree. So what? Let them rant and rave. A change is coming whether they like it or not. Just be warned: the battle may be won, but the war is far from over.