Red Baiting is nothing but a red herring
The Soviet Union fell three decades ago, but the Red Baiting tactics of the Cold War have been resurgent in recent years.
If the Soviet Union hadn’t fallen in 1991, it would be celebrating its first centennial in 2022.
While the Marxist state did cease to exist thirty years ago, 2022 will serve as a loose hundred-year anniversary for a particularly divisive and toxic element of the Cold War era which still wields significant influence in American politics, Red-baiting.
Red-baiting is a type of informal fallacy which is used to discredit or persecute a rival politician or political initiative by falsely associating them or it with Marxism. This tactic is almost always used by the right-wing as a way to stoke unreasonable fear and hatred of leftist policies and figures.
When I stumbled across a copy of the November issue of the right-wing editorial Newsmax, I was not the least bit surprised to find nearly the entire issue littered with Red Scare paranoia.
Littered amongst an article attacking wokeness and another attempting to spin the nation’s union membership at eight percent as a good thing, is an article on conservative talk radio host and Fox News personality, Mark Levin.
Levin describes a list of, “tentacles of Marxist influence…transforming traditional American values and institutions.” These tentacles include free speech, academic freedom, free press, hate crimes, murder in America, and climate change.
This week I would like to explore a few of these arguments from Mr. Levin further.
Starting with academic freedom, Levin argues that “we have professors resigning because they are not free to discuss positions or viewpoints that differ from the state and Marxist movements.”
Levin is probably referring to the Portland State University Professor Peter Boghossian who recently resigned after he received backlash from the student body for speaking out against various politically correct narratives.
I am sure there are other cases like Boghossian’s which Levin might be referring to, however, this is far from a widespread trend. Social trends are defined by statistics and empirical evidence, not individual occurrences.
If conservative professors do not feel comfortable at a liberal college, there are plenty of conservative-leaning colleges in this country. There is no law against conservative schools, there are no movements to shut them down. There is no attack on academic freedom.
Another of Levin’s tentacles is hate crimes towards conservatives. His example for this argument is an incident in September involving California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder as he visited local homeless encampments. Elder, who is Black, and his security detail were assaulted by a presumably homeless woman wearing a gorilla mask.
This one incident is Levin’s entire supporting evidence, he claims that because Elder was a Black conservative the incident wasn’t covered by news sources, and no action was taken by law enforcement. However, according to Los Angeles’s local KTLA 5 news network, the assailant was detained, and she was brought in for a mental evaluation.
KTLA 5 was not the only news network to cover the incident either, Fox News and CBS also covered the story and have videos of the incident available online. The video shows Elder surrounded by homeless protestors and some advocates.
The woman who assaulted Elder and his security personnel seemed clearly mentally ill and/or intoxicated. She wasn’t yelling any leftist slogans, or racist slurs, she held no signs and carried no banners. It’s very likely this incident was just a random expression of anger, and not politically motivated.
Yet Levin and Fox News claim that this is an example of left-wing racial hypocrisy, and Levin goes further claiming it as proof of a Marxist conspiracy to attack and intimidate right-wing conservatives.
Yet these were not leftist protestors, these were not Marxist agents, these were disenfranchised people who were angry about their situations and took it out on the first target which presented itself.
Once again, a single isolated incident is trumped up and presented as evidence for a country-wide conspiracy. This isn’t just misinformation; this is an outright lie.
These are just two examples of the way Newsmax red baits shamelessly, and the rest of the issue is just as bad. Most of the arguments are based on conjecture and single incidents rather than statistics or empirical evidence.
I don’t want to sound overtly biased. Sometimes leftist news networks use similar tactics, and sometimes fiscal conservatives have some good points.
I think even the most ardent socialist would agree that any large government initiative or social welfare bill should be as financially responsible as possible. I think even the most passionate environmentalist understands that we need solutions that are good for the economy as well as the environment.
I would gladly welcome conservative proposals to our problems. My problem is they don’t seem to have any. Climate change? Doesn’t exist, no problem there. Police brutality? Doesn’t exist, no problem there. Systemic racism? Doesn’t exist, no problem there. Homelessness? Their problem, not our problem.
A problem that truly doesn’t exist in this country is Marxism. Legitimate organized Marxism has next to no power in this country. The Capital Research Center listed Communist Party USA’s membership at just 5000 members in 2017.
The Democratic Party isn’t even a proper labor party, much less a Marxist party. Biden’s recent public spending initiatives if passed will simply return his party to its Rooseveltian New Deal roots. Further left than the Democrats have been for decades sure, but still a fair distance from Marxism by any measure of the political spectrum.
There is no Marxist threat in America. The real threat is people like Mark Levin and news sources like Newsmax. The ones who are manipulating and lying to millions of people every day, making them so afraid of the imaginary that they fail to see the reality right in front of them.