Yesterday’s post was about the Kavanaugh nomination and ritual defamation.

Ritual defamation is a term coined by Laird Wilcox, who researches political fringe movements and is the founder of The Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements, in the Kansas Collection of Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.

If you think this is being hypersensitive, here is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) explaining that the Democrats ‘merchandise’ lies to the media about Republicans. Of the Wrap-up Smear, she says, ‘It’s a tactic’:

This is what Pelosi says in the video (emphases mine throughout):

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You demonize, and then you — we call it the ‘wrap up’ smear, if you want to talk ‘politics’. We call it the ‘wrap-up’ smear.

You smear somebody, with falsehoods and all the rest, and then you ‘merchandise’ it. And then you (pointing to the press) write it, and they’ll say “See, it’s reported in the press, that this, this, this and this…” so they have that validation, that the press reported the ‘smear’, and then it’s called ‘the wrap-up smear’.

Now I’m going to ‘merchandise’ the press’ report, on the smear, that we made.

And it’s, it’s a tactic. And it’s self-evident.

Today’s post looks at Wilcox’s list of extremist traits, which the Democrats and others on the Left, including media, have been displaying since Donald Trump won the 2016 election. One can only hope that, with all its madness, it climaxed with the Kavanaugh nomination to the US Supreme Court, because it really does seem as if demons are everywhere across the pond at the moment.

All of Wilcox’s listed traits are pertinent to the climate in America at this time. I have supplemented them with illustrations from the Kavanaugh nomination process. Excerpts follow, so please be sure to read his essay in full:

1. CHARACTER ASSASSINATION.

Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration

2. NAME-CALLING AND LABELING.

Extremists are quick to resort to epithets (racist, subversive, pervert, hate monger, nut, crackpot, degenerate, un-American, anti-semite, red, commie, nazi, kook, fink, liar, bigot, and so on) to label and condemn opponents in order to divert attention from their arguments and to discourage others from hearing them out. These epithets don’t have to be proved to be effective; the mere fact that they have been said is often enough.

3. IRRESPONSIBLE SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS.

Extremists tend to make sweeping claims or judgments on little or no evidence, and they have a tendency to confuse similarity with sameness. That is, they assume that because two (or more) things, events, or persons are alike in some respects, they must be alike in most respects

4. INADEQUATE PROOF FOR ASSERTIONS.

Extremists tend to be very fuzzy about what constitutes proof, and they also tend to get caught up in logical fallacies, such as post hoc ergo propter hoc (assuming that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence simply because of their before and after relationship). They tend to project wished-for conclusions and to exaggerate the significance of information that confirms their beliefs while derogating or ignoring information that contradicts them. They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.

This is what happened to an ordinary American, Thomas Wictor, who tweets on politics. The Left does not like what he has to say, so one or more of their number reported him to the FBI (‘thread’ should be ‘threat’). He’s still suspended on Twitter:

5. ADVOCACY OF DOUBLE STANDARDS.

Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view very generously, and others by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours

Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke is the Democrat candidate running against incumbent Ted Cruz for US Senate in Texas:

Now back to Judge Kavanaugh:

6. TENDENCY TO VIEW THEIR OPPONENTS AND CRITICS AS ESSENTIALLY EVIL.

To the extremist, opponents hold opposing positions because they are bad people, immoral, dishonest, unscrupulous, mean-spirited, hateful, cruel, or whatever, not merely because they simply disagree, see the matter differently, have competing interests, or are perhaps even mistaken.

7. MANICHAEAN WORLDVIEW.

Extremists have a tendency to see the world in terms of absolutes of good and evil, for them or against them, with no middle ground or intermediate positions. All issues are ultimately moral issues of right and wrong, with the “right” position coinciding with their interests. Their slogan is often “those who are not with me are against me.”

8. ADVOCACY OF SOME DEGREE OF CENSORSHIP OR REPRESSION OF THEIR OPPONENTS AND/OR CRITICS.

This may include a very active campaign to keep opponents from media access and a public hearing, as in the case of blacklisting, banning or “quarantining” dissident spokespersons. They may actually lobby for legislation against speaking, writing, teaching, or instructing “subversive” or forbidden information or opinions. They may even attempt to keep offending books out of stores or off of library shelves, discourage advertising with threats of reprisals, and keep spokespersons for “offensive” views off the airwaves or certain columnists out of newspapers. In each case the goal is some kind of information control

Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee’s 7th District and is running for US Senate, but a senior Google engineer deems her a ‘terrorist’ and ‘violent thug’:

9. TEND TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES IN TERMS OF WHO THEIR ENEMIES ARE: WHOM THEY HATE AND WHO HATES THEM.

Accordingly, extremists may become emotionally bound to their opponents, who are often competing extremists themselves. Because they tend to view their enemies as evil and powerful, they tend, perhaps subconsciously, to emulate them, adopting the same tactics to a certain degree. For example, anti-Communist and anti-Nazi groups often behave surprisingly like their opponents. Anti-Klan rallies often take on much of the character of the stereotype of Klan rallies themselves, including the orgy of emotion, bullying, screaming epithets, and even acts of violence …

10. TENDENCY TOWARD ARGUMENT BY INTIMIDATION.

Extremists tend to frame their arguments in such a way as to intimidate others into accepting their premises and conclusions. To disagree with them is to “ally oneself with the devil,” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy. They use a lot of moralizing and pontificating, and tend to be very judgmental. This shrill, harsh rhetorical style allows them to keep their opponents and critics on the defensive, cuts off troublesome lines of argument, and allows them to define the perimeters of debate.

This is what happened. I feel sorry for the owner/executive chef:

12. ASSUMPTION OF MORAL OR OTHER SUPERIORITY OVER OTHERS.

Most obvious would be claims of general racial or ethnic superiority–a master race, for example. Less obvious are claims of ennoblement because of alleged victimhood, a special relationship with God, membership in a special “elite” or “class,” and a kind of aloof “highminded” snobbishness that accrues because of the weightiness of their preoccupations, their altruism, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others) to their cause. After all, who can bear to deal with common people when one is trying to save the world! Extremists can show great indignation when one is “insensitive” enough to challenge these claims.

13. DOOMSDAY THINKING.

Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences from a situation or from failure to follow a specific course, and they tend to exhibit a kind of “crisis-mindedness”

14. BELIEF THAT IT’S OKAY TO DO BAD THINGS IN THE SERVICE OF A “GOOD” CAUSE.

Extremists may deliberately lie, distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their opponents and/or critics, engage in censorship or repression , or undertake violence in “special cases.” This is done with little or no remorse as long as it’s in the service of defeating the Communists or Fascists or whomever. Defeating an “enemy” becomes an all-encompassing goal to which other values are subordinate. With extremists, the end justifies the means.

15. EMPHASIS ON EMOTIONAL RESPONSES AND, CORRESPONDINGLY, LESS IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO REASONING AND LOGICAL ANALYSIS.

Extremists have an unspoken reverence for propaganda, which they may call “education” or “consciousness-raising.” Symbolism plays an exaggerated role in their thinking, and they tend to think imprecisely and metamorphically …

16. HYPERSENSITIVITY AND VIGILANCE.

Extremists perceive hostile innuendo in even casual comments; imagine rejection and antagonism concealed in honest disagreement and dissent; see “latent” subversion, anti-semitism, perversion, racism, disloyalty, and so on in innocent gestures and ambiguous behaviors. Although few extremists are clinically paranoid, many of them adopt a paranoid style with its attendant hostility and distrust.

18. PROBLEMS TOLERATING AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY.

Indeed, the ideologies and belief systems to which extremists tend to attach themselves often represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world, or an attempt to achieve absolute security in an environment that is naturally unpredictable or perhaps populated by people with interests opposed to their own. Extremists exhibit a kind of risk-aversiveness that compels them to engage in controlling and manipulative behavior, both on a personal level and in a political context, to protect themselves from the unforeseen and unknown. The more laws or “rules” there are that regulate the behavior of others–particularly their “enemies”–the more secure extremists feel.

Think Big Government. Now we know why we have so many nit-picking laws on the books!

19. INCLINATION TOWARD “GROUPTHINK.”

Extremists, their organizations , and their subcultures are prone to a kind of inward-looking group cohesiveness that leads to what Irving Janis discussed in his excellent book Victims of Groupthink. “Groupthink” involves a tendency to conform to group norms and to preserve solidarity and concurrence at the expense of distorting members’ observations of facts, conflicting evidence, and disquieting observations that would call into question the shared assumptions and beliefs of the group.

Right-wingers (or left-wingers), for example, talk only with one another, read material that reflects their own views, and can be almost phobic about the “propaganda” of the “other side.” The result is a deterioration of reality-testing, rationality, and moral judgment. With groupthink, shared illusions of righteousness, superior morality, persecution, and so on remain intact, and those who challenge them are viewed with skepticism and hostility.

We don’t need examples for this, do we?

20. TENDENCY TO PERSONALIZE HOSTILITY.

Extremists often wish for the personal bad fortune of their “enemies,” and celebrate when it occurs. When a critic or an adversary dies or has a serious illness, a bad accident, or personal legal problems, extremists often rejoice and chortle about how they “deserved” it …

In 2013, the Telegraph had an article detailing leftists rejoicing upon Margaret Thatcher’s death. People tweeted that she would burn in Hell, while others announced they were throwing parties.

21. EXTREMISTS OFTEN FEEL THAT THE SYSTEM IS NO GOOD UNLESS THEY WIN.

For example, if they lose an election, then it was “rigged.” If public opinion turns against them, it was because of “brainwashing.” If their followers become disillusioned, it’s because of “sabotage.” The test of the rightness or wrongness of the system is how it impacts upon them…

This last one cuts both ways and, today, is hardly extremist on either side. President Trump and his supporters believe that the 2016 system was rigged against him. Everyday Democrats largely believe the system is no good because they do not hold the majority at present. However, as we see from occasional reports on voter fraud, the Left do everything possible to flout voting laws (e.g. sending buses and vans of voters from polling station to polling station on election day).

But, that’s okay, because the Kavanaugh SCOTUS farce will wake up an important number of Democrats. The late Andrew Breitbart received a similar political epiphany nearly 30 years ago:

It’s important for all of us to identify extremism where it exists, no matter how downplayed it is.

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