I’m starting to wonder if many of those on the extreme left are secretly working for the right. I say this because if I were a right-wing political strategist there is one approach that I’d be advocating to get Trump re-elected: basically, trigger the left against itself so that it self-destructs.
I’m in cybersecurity, so I have a habit of thinking of the worst that an opponent can do.
First, I’d find the best ideas and candidates that could unify the progressives in opposing Trump.
Then I’d create extreme-left attacks against those ideas.
And then I’d mercilessly go after moderate liberals on social media using those attacks, in order to either make them switch to the right or disengage from politics completely.
Brilliant. Make the left eat itself, which will empower the right.
So if the moderate left says: “Everyone should have access to affordable healthcare”, our attack narrative would be:
Wow, it sure takes a lot of privilege to see the world as equal when people of color have far less access to all of life’s essentials.
Or if someone on the left says, “We have to teach kids programming so they can enter this lucrative economy”, we would respond with:
The tech elite is loves to elevate themselves, and this mentality is precisely why so many poor people are suffering in the gig economy.
Basically, if you see decent statement by someone on the left, find a way to interpret it as not being woke enough, and spin it as hateful and bigoted in order to anger and marginalize the person who said it. And do this in public so they spend the next several hours or days defending themselves from fellow progressives.
If the left eats itself, only the right will remain.
You might think this is too Machiavellian or obvious for anyone to try, but whether it’s natural or orchestrated, it appears to actually be happening.
As a real-world example, Andrew Yang is an Asian American child of immigrants from Taiwan, and a life-long Democrat. He believes that identity politics (which by definition focus on how we’re different) are dangerous to unity, and that we should focus more on how we’re similar. Seems progressive enough, right?
But no. In what appears to be perfectly in-line with the right-wing attack strategy outlined above, the extreme left is attacking him as someone who doesn’t care about people’s identities. Similarly, he also wants to give everyone $1,000 a month to help them transition from the old economy to the new one, i.e., more creative work, but since this will also help truck drivers and manufacturing workers, the attack narrative says—get this—that he’s secretly supporting white supremacy.
Obama recently talked about this behavior—which I call Lupus Liberalism because it is good intentions that ends up doing harm—as circular firing squads. He writes,
One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States,” he said, “maybe it’s true here as well, is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be’ and then we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad’, where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues. And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens.
Another example just happened within the cybersecurity community, where the Black Hat security conference was forced by social media feedback to remove a keynote speaker because of his voting record on women’s rights. In response to the outrage that got him removed, Jennifer Granick asked a great question on Twitter.
What other views disqualify someone from keynoting Black Hat? Best not to invite any legislator with more than a term under her belt. Should Black Hat now ask potential speakers for their views on abortion, or is it fine so long as we don't know? https://t.co/1TmcFMOLQk
She was immediately attacked by people on the left, many of whom started explaining feminism and IT and security to her. Amazing. Explaining those things to Jennifer Granick. The previous Black Hat keynote speaker. Who’s also a security expert. And a lawyer. Who has defended tons of hackers. And who works for the ACLU.
Granick is a Paladin for the left, and she’s being attacked by the very town she’s defending from the horde.
It’d be hard to invent a better example of the left attacking its own, and all because she basically said it’s dangerous to start denying speakers based on their political views. I agree with many of the arguments to not have Hurd do a keynote, actually, but to attack a female security expert who works for the ACLU defending hackers—for saying we should be cautious with excluding people based on their beliefs—is patently ridiculous.
Whether we use the term Regressive Left, or Circular Firing Squad, or Lupus Liberalism, the idea is the same. Those on the extreme left are trying to do the right thing. They want mostly the same things I want, e.g., equal opportunities in the workplace—including policies that help correct for the past, equal treatment under the law, accessible and affordable education and healthcare, etc. But this faction has chosen tribalism, callout culture, and outrage as their primary weapons, and it’s become a blood frenzy where they care not who they injure.
I’d be more ok with this cycle of self-exploration on the left if there weren’t so much in the balance, but we don’t have time for this. If we can’t stop attacking and alienating our own on the left, we’re going to end up with a tiny faction of left-leaning extremists on one side, and everyone else on the other.
Which means we’ll end up with Trump as our president until 2025.
If we want to avoid that, we must find a way to stop own-goaling ourselves, and instead focus our attention on the active and malicious efforts of those in the extreme right.
I think a keynote slot wasn’t a good choice for Will Hurd because it’s a session designed to be seen by everyone. It is, of course, still an optional session just like all the others, but keynotes are supposed to be attended by the entire conference, so I think that supports the position to go with another speaker. I’m not sure what decision I would have made, but I do see that as a contributing factor. As for his politics, I seem to disagree with almost every position he has, from womens’ rights to interactions with Russia, but if he is trying to raise awareness of cybersecurity in our government I can see why he’d get an invite to a cybersecurity conference.