Victor Davis Hanson hits it out of the ballpark once again with his insightful analysis of the current state of affairs in our declining country.
December 4, 2022
Leftwing Hysteria and the
Art of the Psychodrama.
By: Victor Davis Hanson
November 30, 2022
What follows is an extended analysis of how the Left obtains power without agendas that win popular support, and how such aggrandizement inflames social relations and national unity.
The progressive media—which constitute the majority of print newspapers, network news, public radio and TV, Google/Apple/Yahoo news, and the best-funded online venues—have fused with the hard-left Democratic Party. Most in the media, like most Democrats, accept the reality that the progressive, and increasingly neo-socialist, agenda does not and will never win majority support.
Americans want a closed border, a crackdown on crime, fossil-fuel independence, control of inflation and drunken spending, and an end to the woke cancel culture.
So how does the fusion media/political Left obtain power? Usually by the politics of distraction and feigned crises—perhaps better defined as the art of psychodrama.
Daily the Left scans the news. It ceaselessly ferrets out any story that can be sensationalized and distorted to frighten, anger, or confuse the public into thinking America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, and downright awful place run by an elite, rich cadre of prejudicial, white-male Christian nationalists.
And then, presto, social media fuels the agreed-on lie. Television news accelerates it. And print journalism distorts it—all part of an agenda to justify radical changes (“fundamental transformations”) in America otherwise impossible.
Such leftwing propagandizing and warping the news disguise the reality that the Left is now the home of the hyper-rich, the racial tribalists and separatists, and the cultural elites. The lies additionally manufacture necessary conditions for crises, and with crises an opening to push through legislation and candidates otherwise likely to be rejected.
When a purported interracial incident hits the news—or rather offers the rarer ingredients of a white assailant and a black victim—it becomes utilized as yet another proof that America is not only racist but also must offer radical reparatory atonement for its sin. The reparatory project is to be overseen by powerful bicoastal elites working on our behalf, but never subject to the consequences of their own toxic ideologies.
It took most Americans about an hour to detect that Jussie Smollett was a complete fraud and hoaxer. White MAGA-hatted rednecks, prepped and armed with nooses and bleach, don’t stomp around in near-Arctic weather in the streets of liberal Chicago neighborhoods, in the wee hours no less, to meet up with young black actors on Empire.
Much less can even diabolical white racists defy the laws of chemistry and carry around liquid bleach in near-zero air temperatures, assured it will not solidify. Much, much less are they overpowered and put to flight by a singly diminutive, physically unimpressive actor, while he kicks and swings, and yet, juggler-style, holds his sandwich and cell phone—all with a noose around his neck no less. All this is what progressive America asked us to believe—and remedy.
No matter. The evil genius of the huckster Smollett lay in that he knew that his scheme of personal aggrandizement paralleled and could weld with progressive America’s agendas and so he offered himself as yet another justification for collective racial guilt, atonement, and reparatory concessions.
Then we were off to the races, as everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Kamala Harris was appalled at Jussie’s slightly bloody, staged wounded face, and by extension how “racist” America remained—and how more of their progressive work was called for to fix it.
The more absurd the scenario, all the better. Leftwing Chicago far more fit the “it can happen anywhere” script of racially driven anti-black violence than Biloxi, Mississippi.
Dare suggest that the has-been actor Jussie was a mediocre con artist, terrified of descending into deserved obscurity without a fresh injection of staged victimhood, and one became a “racist.” If one went further and pointed out that while Jussie faked violence against a black man, meanwhile, nightly in Chicago black men were stabbed and shot to the collective indifference of the race industry, one then became a hyper-racist. The common denominator of any such comparison of these two phenomena, as it turned out, was not just black victims of physical violence in Chicago, but the majority of perpetrators of both real and faked violence in this case were themselves black.
Do we remember the Duke Lacrosse and more recently the Duke Volleyball fake news accounts? If we do, it is likely in the context that while both were fake news stories, they remain important because their falsities served as teachable moments simply because they can remind us that they could in theory have happened. What is real, then, and what is not, do not really matter—if what is not could be what is—at least in terms of critical race theory. In a way, this was Foucauldian trickle-down all the way to stripper Crystal Mangum.
What drives these rather incredible periodic psychodramas aside from the calculated desire to profit, whether materially or psychologically, from victimhood at the expense of demonizing supposedly victimizers?
Perhaps, after more than a half-century of reparatory policies that were announced in the 1960s to be temporary atonements to “equal the playing field,” there is a growing fear that America is collectively reaching a point where the Constitution again matters. If so, all men are really and finally created equal in a land of equal opportunity, not government-enforced prejudicial equity of result. The paradox is that the more we read of leftwing efforts to massage the news, the more its concoctions only turn off the public, boomerang on the perpetrators, and destroy the credibility of the fabricators. The sense that the leftwing race industry has lost the people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds only further drives the impulse to construct ever more alternate realities as if finally the most sensational yarn will surely yield the most sensational dividends.
The Covington Kids’ melodrama brought the same hollow men and women out of the woodwork to race to the front of the virtue-signaling mob—facts be damned.
Almost instantly to the Twitter mob and social media scolds, the Native-American saintly Nathan Phillips, with his indigenous drum and authentic tribal songs, became the heroic Vietnam War veteran (“recon ranger”), who had suffered in combat so that snotty, white-privileged, Catholic punk kids could berate and embarrass him. Who cared that the media had lied and that Phillips (a states-bound, reservist “refrigerator technician”) had likely never set foot in 1970s Vietnam? (Philips himself under sudden scrutiny wisely began calling himself a “Vietnam-era” veteran rather than a “Vietnam veteran” and dropped the recon ranger schtick.)
Who cared that confronting the kids was the sort of thing that the former felon and performance artist Phillips did for a living: get in the faces of others to prompt a media-spawned confrontation to highlight purported bias? Who cared that Phillips crossed the street to spark the stand-off and provoke the teenager, Nicholas Sandmann?
But Philipps’s lie lives on, despite media cash settlements with Mr. Sandmann for the libel against the teenager. Here is a typical Globe and Mail account that pops out from any current search (emphasis added):
“Then, a Covington Grade 11 student named Nick Sandmann, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, confronted Mr. Phillips, standing in his way. As Mr. Phillips sang, Mr. Sandmann smirked, refusing to move while being encouraged by his friends. Mr. Phillips said the confrontation felt like “hate unbridled. It was like a storm.”
Witnesses stated and videos showed how the group surrounded and harassed Mr. Phillips, performing the “Tomahawk Chop” while chanting slogans like “Build the Wall” and “Trump 2020.”
Once all these fictions become immortalized on the Internet, they mysteriously appeared at the top of any Google search result, the truth and corrections far down the screen.
In some sense, such psychodramas all followed from the 1987, 35-year-old successful archetype of the teenaged Tawana Brawley—supposedly kidnapped for four days, defiled with excrement and graffiti on her naked body, sexually assaulted by four evil white men, among them, as the insane narrative descended into absurdity, purportedly Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones. That evil fantasy eventually propelled the tax-avoiding, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and racist Rev. Al Sharpton to earn current-day lucre as an MSNBC cable TV habitue, and former nonstop visitor to and advisor of the Obama White House.
The OJ trial—the phrase is synonymous with Orwellian absurdity—followed eight years later, requiring the same suspension of belief, the same farcical violations of basic logic and reality, and the same canonization of something that was obviously a lie, but a lie that could have been true given America’s “history of racism.” And so, the nation played along with the acquittal and OJ ended up getting away with a brutal murder, with the same impunity as Sharpton enjoyed after destroying the lives of the innocent and tearing apart the country for his own personal profit.