For leftists, questioning anything about their agenda is a conspiracy theory, and once a charge has been labeled a conspiracy theory, it need not be rebutted.
The proper definition of “conspiracy theory” is the “false belief in a secret force influencing events.” Liberals used to say Nancy Reagan’s astrologist, Joan Quigley, directed American foreign policy by way of Nancy’s influence on the president — that charge was a good example of a conspiracy theory. If Joan Quigley was directing American foreign policy, she was actually doing a pretty good job of it: bringing down the Soviet Union and containing China, for example.
The fact is that, unlike Jimmy Carter, Reagan and his advisers, including the formidable Jeane Kirkpatrick, knew who our friends were — and who were our enemies — and he backed this knowledge up with a willingness to use force. That is the only basis for a foreign policy that will ever work.
Now, with Joe Biden, we have another Carter-style president who doesn’t know friend from enemy and who wouldn’t act if he had to. That’s just the kind of policy that brings on a confrontation, and one is coming because our enemies, sensing weakness, will press Biden as far as they can.
Since the days of Joan Quigley, liberals have become attached to that phrase, “conspiracy theory.” Instead of answering questions, liberals like New York’s Gov. Cuomo dismiss charges against him by calling them a “conspiracy.”
So also with Hunter Biden. There was enough evidence against him for the FBI to launch an investigation over a year ago. But for some, just the mention of Hunter Biden amounts to a conspiracy theory. In a Washington Post op-ed, one contributor attempts to rebut Glenn Greenwald’s charges that the Chinese will blackmail Biden with what they know about Hunter’s dealings. Anything said about Chinese blackmail is deemed a conspiracy theory before the evidence is heard — and it never is.
Does anyone seriously believe that China will not attempt to blackmail Biden based on what they know about Hunter? If you believe this, you must also believe that Xi Jinping is a “nice person” who has our interests at heart. Just like the present leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. For liberals, the world is full of niceness. Trump made them uncomfortable by standing up to our enemies, so Trump had to go. We can sleep a lot better believing that everyone is nice.
Just don’t say out loud (or online) that Hunter gives the Chinese leverage over American foreign policy. If you google the words “Hunter Biden China,” you will first retrieve a half-dozen friendly posts from CNN, BBC, NBC, VOA, PolitiFact, and Newsweek claiming that “no proof of wrongdoing has been uncovered so far,” “allegations … are unsubstantiated,” and so on. And you will learn that anyone raising a question about Hunter’s dealings with China is a conspiracy theorist.
The March 18 meeting of secretary of state Antony Blinken with Chinese officials will undoubtedly be strong on rhetoric and weak on action as far as China’s aggressive policies are concerned. This despite the fact that, in Blinken’s own words, “Beijing’s actions and behavior … are challenging the security, prosperity and values of the United States and our allies.” If China actually is challenging our survival, as Blinken suggests, shouldn’t we be engaged in something more than “words”? And where does Hunter Biden fit into these wide-ranging talks? Not a word from Blinken about Hunter, except to deny his importance.
But then, for leftists, questioning anything about their agenda is a conspiracy theory, and once a charge has been labeled a conspiracy theory, it need not be rebutted because conspiracy theories are by definition false. On March 6, Blinken himself claimed that former president Trump is “the leading consumer and purveyor of fake news or conspiracy theories.” So now our secretary of state designate has caught on: instead of responding to reasonable charges regarding foreign policy, just play the “conspiracy theory” card.
Any criticism of a leftist like Joe Biden is deemed “conspiracy theory,” and the next stage in the conspiracy theory fantasia is to punish conspiracy theorists. It’s commonplace already to boot so-called conspiracy theorists off social media — hence the results for “Hunter Biden China” — as well as shelving them in search results. It’s not just a few who are the victims of this censorship — there must be millions who have seen their comments disappear. Just google “Biden’s worst policies in 2021” and you’ll get a list of the “challenges” he faces and his skill at facing them along with a silly satire of Biden’s critics, a defense of his climate change and wealth gap policies, a report that Biden is viewed more positively than Trump, and an op-ed that Biden is among the best incoming presidents in history.
You have to go beyond the first page to find any serious criticism of President Biden. It seems that the algorithms are replacing articles critical of Biden with articles that lavish praise on him — and presumably, those algorithms are written by someone at Google. I believe that the same thing is going on at Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, and almost every other popular online site, and at the largest television and newspaper outlets as well. There now appears to be a propaganda effort, coordinated in some sense, to control what is said on every major venue of news and opinion (even Fox News bowed to pressure and released Lou Dobbs, the most outspoken and conservative of its commentators).
If we now live with a state-controlled media that scrubs all criticism of the left, the next step is intimidation of conservatives who continue to speak honestly. It won’t stop with Lou Dobbs — it will reach down farther into the lives of ordinary citizens. A teacher who is not enthusiastic enough in her praise of the left, a business that fails to pony up for Democrat candidates, a housewife who forwards a bit of humor at the left’s expense to her Facebook friends — they’ll all face a knock on the door in the middle of the night, or its virtual equivalent.
“I will destroy you” was not just a misstep by a lesser Biden official — it may reflect Biden’s own attitude toward critics. Tyler Joseph Ducklo was not just some minor official — he was national press secretary for the Biden campaign and deputy press secretary and, interestingly enough, had served as senior communications director for NBC News. Did the impulse to “destroy” come out of just Ducklo, or is it something he shared with others in the Biden circle, and even with an often irascible Biden himself? Suddenly, the impulse on the left is not just to refute or rebuff — it is to destroy.
Is it a “conspiracy theory” to suggest that news and opinion are being scrubbed on a national basis, or that members of the Biden administration and others on the left may be devising ways to “destroy” conservatives? Or is there substantial evidence for both accusations?
It may seem that calling one’s opponent a conspiracy theorist is just a harmless bit of rhetoric, but name-calling of this sort, like calling one’s opponent a “fascist,” is really a way of shutting down the discussion. It suggests that one is willing to use sheer power, including numerical control of Congress and the presidency, in place of bipartisan debate. And to my mind, it also suggests that, having labeled one’s opponent an extremist, one is ready to employ other means of silencing him.
Now that leftists routinely dismiss all criticism by calling it a conspiracy theory, they have arrived at a dangerous crossroads. Now they must decide whether silencing the opposition via conventional means — newspaper editorials, slanted media reporting, modified search results — is enough, or whether they need to apply the Gen. Flynn treatment, or worse, more broadly to their opponents. Based on their recent behavior, it’s hard to believe they will stop at mere censorship.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).
Image via Pxhere.