- chris michel/flickr
- Bret Stephens
Not long ago, Bret Stephens, the right-of-center columnist for the New York Times, wrote a column about the Democratic presidential debates that managed to offend, insult, and denigrate immigrants, Spanish-speaking residents, Democratic taxpayers, and anyone who gets their health care from the Veterans Administration.
Take it away, Mr. Stephens . . .
"What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims? Here's what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.
"They speak Spanish. We don't. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn't. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We're asked to write it off. They don't pay the premiums for private health insurance. We're supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare."
In short, Spanish speakers are law-breaking freeloaders who drive up our taxes and are coming to take away our health care.
When Stephens got the angry response he should have anticipated, he doubled down. He wrote a second column in which he likened his critics to an angry mob—"latter-day Robespierres"—marching him to the guillotine.
In short, he played the victim card.
I wasn't surprised. If I had a nickel for every time a conservative played the victim card, I'd have enough money to afford the sterling health care plan Stephens probably gets from the New York Times.
I know this because I read right-wingers all the time. Not just Stephens, but also David Brooks and Ross Douthat—his ideological sidekicks at the NYT—and the editorial board at the Tribune and Joel Pollak at Breitbart. Man, I'm such a glutton for punishment, I even subscribe to e-mail updates from the Tea Party.
I do this because 1) every now and then, one of them, even Stephens, actually writes something that almost sort of makes sense.
And 2) it's good to know what they're up to. You know, to see what surreal spin they're putting on reality.
Speaking of which, I just got another e-mail update from the Tea Party . . .
"BREAKING NEWS! Whoa! Pervert Jeffrey Epstein Flew Clintons To Orgy Island—Robert Mueller Was Involved . . . Read the latest now on TeaParty.org."
OK. Anyway, back on planet earth . . .
As a regular reader of right-wingers raving, I can tell you that one of their favorite obsessions is political correctness.
The right hates political correctness. Unless, of course, they're practicing it. Then they can't get enough.
A day rarely passes without some right-winger somewhere bawling like a baby over a perceived insult, insensitivity, or slight from the left.
Criticize bakers in Indiana or Colorado who refuse to make wedding cakes for gay marriages?
You've denigrated their religious beliefs.
Defend Colin Kaepernick's right to not stand for the national anthem?
You've insulted the brave service members of the U.S. Armed Forces—even if some of those brave service members applaud Kaepernick's stand.
Condemn the tactics of overzealous border guards?
You've disrespected first responders everywhere.
Slam Alex Jones for spreading vile stories that say nobody died at Sandy Hook?
You're insensitive to his First Amendment rights.
Criticize Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders for lying?
You're a misogynist.
Criticize Kanye West for sucking up to Trump?
You're racist (unless you're Black—then you're a slave on the Democratic plantation).
I'm telling you, these right-wingers have an answer for everything.
When Milo Yiannopoulos makes fat jokes about Leslie Jones, it's free expression. When Michelle Wolf cracks wise about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it's fat shaming.
At the risk of resorting to stereotypes that reduce all right-wingers to caricatures (and I would never, ever want to do that), it seems to me that conservatives, like Stephens, are trying to guilt-trip lefties, like me, into "self-silencing."
Which is what Stephens says lefties are trying to do to him. Hmm, I believe Dr. Freud calls that "projection."
At times, it gets absurd. Think about it—Trump controls the White House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and a good chunk of TV news. And yet Stephens wants to be viewed as a powerless victim of left-wing tyrants. As do Yiannopoulos and Conway and Trump, for that matter.
In his defense, Stephens claims he was misunderstood. That is, the opinions he expressed about "us" and "them" were not his.
No, no—he was merely trying "to channel the negative way 'ordinary people' might have viewed last week's Democratic debates."
In which case, let's add "ordinary people" to the list of people Stephens has denigrated.
Look, Mr. Stephens, if those weren't your opinions, you should have done a better job of making that point more clearly. Otherwise, don't get all snowflaky when people call you a bigot.
Frankly, I'm surprised some editor at the Times didn't ask Stephens to insert a disclaimer sentence along the lines of "I know these views may be offensive, but it's how ordinary people would react."
Perhaps Stephens has the good liberals at the Times so intimidated that they're afraid to make any editorial suggestions for fear of being compared to Robespierre.
I never said conservatives weren't clever. Their support for free expression, like their opposition to political correctness, isn't rooted in any underlying principle.
Both are merely tactics in a larger political game intended to fire up the base and intimidate the opposition.
Hold it—this just in from the Tea Party . . .
"Ocasio-Cortez Said In Front Of Border Guards, 'Oh, All These Guys In Here Are Going to F**k Me!'"
Like I was saying . . .v