Propaganda and frustration in The New York Times

Yates Walker Conservative Activist
Font Size:

The worst thing about propaganda of any flavor is that it works, even — and especially — on the intelligent. Populism is the artery in which many bad ideas gain speed. Public intellectuals seeking public approval often take bad ideas, add a twist and make them their own. If approval is rendered, the intellectual then risks becoming intractably invested in the bad idea and a de facto propagandist himself. Such is the case with Charles M. Blow.

In a December 16 op-ed in The New York Times, Blow observes and laments that Americans are not as divided as he thinks we ought to be. Citing a recent Gallup poll showing that the majority of Americans do not see our society as ordered into “haves” and “have-nots,” Blow throws up his hands and names the phenomena “the new American delusion.” He also calls us “deniers,” employing the new go-to slur for anyone who disagrees with liberalism’s articles of faith.

Blow’s frustration stems from the fact that, according to Gallup, class envy is subsiding. To put a cherry on top of a delicious liberal-fantasy-meets-reality sundae, his column begins with an unwitting confession in the form of a question: “Is income inequality becoming the new global warming?”

The short answer is yes, but the confession is much more compelling.

Income inequality and global warming — what could these two unique and entirely unrelated problems have in common? And why would a liberal pundit pout, almost longingly, that we, the deluded, denying masses, don’t see them as “existential” threats?

The answer is simple. Each problem has the same solution. Each demands an immediate and profound re-ordering of our society. Each would require a bigger, stronger government to be resolved. The severity of each has been proclaimed (and exaggerated) by the left’s biggest names and brightest lights. And, poignantly, despite the best efforts of Blow and his agitating cohorts, each problem has been noted and dismissed by the body politic.

Blow is clearly flummoxed, but his concern isn’t directed at two fearsome, unaddressed threats facing our country. His frustration is that progressivism’s two greatest sales pitches for a re-imagined America have fallen flat. An intellectual would ask, “Why?”

In the answer lies the best thing about propaganda: It has a short half-life.

As to man-caused global warming, the science isn’t consistent or conclusive. Scientists have repeatedly been caught lying for political gain. And the left’s luminaries on climate catastrophe have been saying that the world is going to end in 10 years for nearly half a century. Socialists wearing their environmentalist hats wish that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had the final word on the subject. But when third-world countries collectively agree that the situation is dire and conclude that the only acceptable course of action is for rich countries to give them a ton of money, please forgive the rich countries if they maintain a little skepticism.

Regarding income inequality, what the left describes as economic determinism simply isn’t the experience of most Americans. Our classes are mobile. Most Americans improve their lot in life through hard work, and, in stages, rise through several socio-economic classes. Those who don’t have watched their neighbors prosper and usually blame themselves for staying put. Blaming the system only works if the system is rigid. Class enmity is largely foreign to us because our people know that they can lift themselves up.

Understandably, this is disturbing news for the Barack Obama 2012 re-election committee. On America’s grandest stage, our president has been blowing his class-warfare trumpet with all of his might since 2008. The new poll results could be interpreted as an outright rejection of Obama’s rhetoric.

Later in the column, Blow cites data that shows that every socio-economic group in the country has gotten wealthier since 1979. Even the poorest among us are 18% richer than they were. Good news, right? Nope. According to Blow, the system still needs drastic overhaul and big-government fixes because the rich are getting richer at a faster clip than the poor.

Despite a winless record in the long war on poverty, liberals still seek to impart social justice through a bigger government. That’s nothing new. The only stunning part of Blow’s column is his undisguised disappointment that our nation is not more divided than it is. What noble goal, what virtuous end, what good idea would first require more acrimony between neighbors?

Yates Walker is a conservative activist and writer. Before becoming involved in politics, he served honorably as a paratrooper and a medic in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He can be reached at yateswalker@gmail.com.