‘They Created An Industry’: How Leftists Gaslight Americans On Extremism
By The Daily Caller
Democrats’ final pitch to Americans this November as the midterms approached couldn’t have been more clear: Republicans are “extremists” hellbent on destroying Democracy.
Joe Biden infamously declared that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic” at a September speech in Philadelphia. But 50 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — 50 million Americans who, according to their president, are fringe “extremists.”
Interest in the word “extremism” is vastly more pronounced in Washington D.C. than in any state over the last year, according to Google Trends. On a scale of 0-100, DC stands at 100, with Vermont, Virginia and Maryland following at 22, 20 and 16, respectively. Swing states such as Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey have a relative interest in the word of 8, 7 and 8, respectively. In short, obsession with the problem of extremism is mainly a passion project of the D.C. elite.
Following the Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, Democrat lined up to support Roe v. Wade, and even enshrine it into law. Biden promised to codify Roe if Democrats took majorities in the midterms, and Vice President Kamala Harris lamented the potential overturning of Roe back in May.
But Roe v. Wade allowed abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy, well into the second trimester, and most Americans support restrictions on abortion after the first trimester, which ends at 12 weeks. In fact, the Mississippi abortion law that sparked the Dobbs decision would not ban abortions until the 15th week of pregnancy.
Progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal called a Florida bill that bans explicit discussions of sex and gender in classrooms “extremist.” Jayapal is one of many Democrats who inaccurately dubbed this legislation the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” although it nowhere prohibits individuals from saying the word “gay.” Despite Democrat claims of extremism, a majority of registered voters supported the legislation, and only 35% opposed it. Opposition to transgender surgery for children has also been dubbed “extremist” by LGBT activists, but a recent poll from McLaughlin and Associates finds that 65% of Americans think the transgender movement has gone too far in recommending such procedures to minors.
Brian Levin, who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, told the Daily Caller that extremism can be defined as “a position that is … antithetical to our constitution and the processes of our democracies, particularly with regard to bigotry and discrimination,” but admitted that the word is often thrown around too lightly.
“Sometimes we label people extremist because we’re too lazy to debate them, but other times people are labeled extremists because they are,” Levin told the Caller, adding that political problems arise, “when we have people running for various types of critical office who are election deniers.”
Kyle Shideler, the director and senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy, said the term “extremist” is problematic from the start.
“I think we should discard the term altogether. If we need to talk about ideologies that potentially lead to violence, we need to talk about those ideologies on their own terms. So if we have concerns about Neo-Nazi groups, we should talk about neo-Nazism,” Shideler told the Caller. “Same thing if we’re concerned about anarchists like Antifa. You don’t need a blanket term to do it. We should identify groups and ideologies on their own terms.”
1/ I’m writing about this report for my newsletter. It’s really sloppily done. In some cases they just find nothing and pretend it’s something. I’ve complained about this sort of “research” on online extremism for years — it really bugs me.https://t.co/9AXtEwyq7B
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) September 24, 2022
In June 2021, the Biden White House released a National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which claimed that domestic terrorism comes from “racial or ethnically motivated violent extremists and networks whose racial, ethnic, or religious hatred leads them toward violence, as well as those whom they encourage to take violent action.”
The document not only decries “explicit” calls for violence against religious and ethnic minorities, but also words that are “less explicit, lurking in ideologies.” Chief among these ideologies are, according to the document, “conspiracy theories and other forms of disinformation and misinformation.”
Shideler told the Caller that the government’s use of the term “extremism” blurs the line between speech that calls for violence and constitutionally protected speech, causing the government to censor speech which they claim is so extreme that it leads to violence.
“It’s a sort of bait and switch that’s been perpetuated, because they will use the term extremist and say not everyone who is an extremist is a terrorist and they have first amendment rights … But then they will turn around and say ‘oh there’s a rise in extremism.’ And so they dance between whether they’re talking about people who are actually engaged in criminality or people who hold certain ideas,” he added.
As an example, in July 2021 then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was working with Facebook to determine which posts on the platform should be flagged for “disinformation” on the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” Psaki said, noting that “Facebook has repeatedly shown that they have the levers to promote quality information.”
“[The left] created a terminology, and then they created an industry,” Shideler told the Caller, “and they staffed that industry with certain academics who held a particular viewpoint.”
Levin told the Caller that people who spread extremist ideologies online but don’t necessarily call for violence still contribute to a negative environment.
“Those individuals are at least part of the ecosystem of extremism even if they’re not the bullseye center of it,” Levin said.
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