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Liberal journalist delivers scathing rebuke of the left's new politics of 'social control'


Right on the money

Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Zaid Jilani — a journalist who formerly reported for liberal organizations such asThinkProgress, United Republic, Alternet, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — recently took aim at members of his own ideological tribe over their newfound penchant for censorship, suppression, and cancellation.

What did he say?

In an op-ed for Newsweek published Monday, Jilani, who now hosts the podcast "Extremely Offline," masterfully exposed the left's drift from its "old politics of social liberation" to its new "politics of social control," a movement he claims escalated during the Trump presidency.

As proof of this new politics, Jilani cited the immediate actions taken by newly elected Democratic Rep. Cori Bush (Mo.). Her election, he thought, had "created an opportunity for progressive change," yet her very first bill introduced in Congress "called for an investigation into and possible expulsion of over 100 House Republicans who objected to the certification of electoral college votes on Jan. 6th, the same day as the Capitol riot."

Should such an expulsion take place, he noted, not only would it disenfranchise tens of millions of voters, but it would "demonstrate a glaring double standard," since Democratic lawmakers in the not-so-distant past voted to do the same thing. That's not even to mention the woefully problematic precedent that would be set.

"After all, if we were to hold everyone who holds a certain belief responsible for a small number of their ideological allies who resort to violence, then Bush herself would have to be expelled; she is after all an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose protests have at times devolved into violent riots," he wrote. A stunning admission from a progressive writer.

What else?

If people should need further proof of the left's politics, they need to look no further than "bias response teams" on college campuses or big tech's evolution into "a 21st century speech police," Jilani argued as if writing for some conservative outlet.

"This new politics of social control means using public and private institutions, almost all of which are now controlled by left-leaning people, to coerce individuals into their preferred modes of being and even thinking," he wrote.

He later added: "The left's system of social control is focused squarely in one direction: at individuals, organizations, and ideologies perceived to be representing the excesses of the right," noting that the left believes "the only way to deal with this conflagration is with repression, ranging from classmates snitching on each other to a new domestic anti-terrorism law."

Jilani also argued that mainstream media has played a major role in the left's transformation by exaggerating racism and sexism in the country and thus fomenting division and stoking fear. This fear, he argues, is the impetus for the left's crusade of "surveilling, censoring, punishing, and expelling."

"When we're in a climate of fear, the impulse to just do something is overwhelming," he notes.

Anything else?

By way of conclusion, Jilani offered some salient advice for his friends in the progressive movement:

The left should move away from a posture that sees social control as its primary function and remember its roots in social liberation. Bullying and repressing people backfires. The best way to fight hate is by building trust, even with those who dislike us.

The left has traditionally existed to liberate human beings, not take pleasure in controlling and punishing people it views as aberrant or evil. Social control should be a last resort, not a pastime. Only by realizing this can the left resume its mission of expanding human freedom by promoting the dignity of every person.

For the conservative reader, Jilani's arguments are hardly anything new. Though still, conservatives should celebrate the fact that a progressive writer would wield them.

It appears there is yet some self-awareness in left-leaning circles. Perhaps it will win the day.

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