When victimhood is the new cultural currency
Last week, CNN’s Brian Stelter interviewed Rebecca Schneid, co-editor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student newspaper The Eagle Eye about the March For Our Lives protest. In the interview, Schneid said, “I think that for me, the purpose of journalism is to raise the voices of people that maybe don’t have a voice and so I think that in its own right journalism is a form of activism.”
"Journalism is a form of activism," says Rebecca Schneid, co-editor in chief of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School newspaper https://t.co/oYDZGyzlTq
— Reliable Sources (@ReliableSources) March 25, 2018
This gave many conservative outlets the perfect ammunition to publish stinging attacks on CNN and their journalistic standards, noting Brian Stelter left this comment completely unchallenged. In response, Stelter wrote this piece defending himself and the network, noting “Schneid’s answer exposed some of the deep distrust of journalists that exists in the United States, particularly among President Trump’s supporters.”
Well gosh, Brian, I cannot possibly imagine why there might be a distrust of journalists:
Based on the fairly bipartisan backlash to this comment, we can see that the public do not want journalists to be political activists. But what if they can easily create avatars of their aims to do it for them?
Before I go into criticising them, I should note (though I despise the fact we live in a culture where I have to do this) that what happened to these students is obviously horrific. If I had to witness a group of my colleagues slaughtered in front of me I doubt I’d cope at all, much less have the emotional fortitude to become a worldwide public figure. In that regard, Hogg is impressively brave and resilient. But that doesn’t make him right about anything he says on gun control.
The problem comes when we, as the media is doing, pretend that experience of a tragedy confers any level of technical expertise. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you aren’t suddenly an expert on cancer. You should be extremely wary of anyone who employs this logic, especially when they are given free reign to make factual errors about constitutional rights.
But it gets worse. David Hogg and the Parkland student activists are a pet project of the Media Establishment. Here is a group who are rich in the left’s most valuable currency; victimhood status. This, according to many of the left’s most prominent commentators, makes them impervious to criticism.
Jordan Peterson, a public intellectual and harsh critic of the radical left’s encroachment upon Western Civilisation, recently pointed out how this strategy mirrors the warfare tactics of Islamic terrorists; surrounding themselves with vulnerable women and children so they can’t be attacked.
What matters most to the left is that these students agree with their agenda. This explains why the left-wing media have basically ignored Kyle Kashuv, a fellow Parkland survivor who disagrees with Hogg and the other March For Our Lives activists and describes himself as a “strong second amendment supporter”. Gun control is not just something most of the individual commentators have personally been pushing for years and want to see achieved. Stimulating a polarising mass hysteria over it is also financially beneficial for their bosses and shareholders as it drives clicks from both the left and the right.
Media narratives also sell better when they have clear heroes and villains. This is precisely why left-leaning hosts have let the activists call the NRA “child murderers”, begin questions to Marco Rubio comparing him to the school shooter, and describe NRA funding as “blood money”.
Now that the leftist media has such a powerful emotional weapon, you can be sure it will be used to silence the competition. Let’s take a look at what happened when Laura Ingraham dared to cross the star of the Parkland activists, David Hogg:
Hogg did an interview with TMZ in which he noted he hadn’t been accepted into a number of high profile colleges such as UCLA, despite being accepted into others. He suggested the colleges who didn’t accept him “don’t want to support” his effort to “change the world”. In reference to the interview, Fox News host Laura Ingraham posted this tweet:
This prompted Hogg to use his Twitter following to initiate public pressure for a boycott of advertisers from Ingraham’s show, with his 14-year-old sister describing the tweet as ‘cyberbullying’. David Hogg currently has over 700,000 Twitter followers.
— Lauren Hogg (@lauren_hoggs) March 29, 2018
— Eliza Orlins (@eorlins) March 29, 2018
Sure, it was a bad tweet from Ingraham. But anyone who sees this as cyberbullying should definitely not be on the internet. For reference, check out this video Hollywood actor Michael Rappaport posted to Instagram about Ingraham’s tweet, where he calls her a “dog-faced animal”, “F***in’ pig”, and “Aryan pin-up girl”. He also claims she put up a “Nazi salute at the Republican National Convention” by waving. Rappaport currently has 1.1million Instagram followers. An employee of the Canadian Government has also explicitly mocked Kyle Kashuv with a sexual chide, calling him a “cuckservative”.
Ingraham has since apologised for the original tweet. David Hogg rejected her apology, noting it only came after advertisers started pulling ads from her show.
Yesterday, Fox spoke up defending Ingraham and confirmed her show will return to the air next week after her scheduled vacation. But Hogg’s willingness and desire to cut people from the air for saying something quite mild he doesn’t like is pretty concerning. Worse still is the Media and public’s appetite to end someone’s career over such a non-event. Though I criticised Brian Stelter earlier in this article, I must give him credit here; even he recognises this boycott strategy is not a healthy thing for political discourse. Other journalists, however, clearly disagree:
The Parkland teens are weapons of the left-wing media’s making. The right is trying to respond in kind with Kyle Kashuv, but he argues with passionless reason and logic, and is therefore a less emotionally engaging figure for the public’s consumption. The gun control debate is the first of many attempts we will see to monopolise political debate with victims. As Emma Gonzalez said in one of the first interviews granted to her, “gun control is just the first thing we are focusing on”.
Pop and Locke is a libertarian-traditionalist popular culture and politics blog bringing you news, opinions, analysis and reviews that cut through the mainstream mould. It was inspired by an appreciation for Western political and philosophical tradition and a fascination with our increasingly wacky popular culture.