The other day, the Wall St. Journal reprinted a policy statement from Ravelry.com, a “free site for knitters and crocheters.” The new policy, as reprinted, lead with, “We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.” Explaining their reasoning, they said that “Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”
Undeniably. As in, it is not even a subject that can allow reasoned debate.
I’ll simply leave that alone as a thing that speaks for itself. In terms of a pattern, I don’t know how widespread it is to ban content* because it leans conservative. It is probably more common than I would imagine, particularly when it comes to on-line communities that are naturally left-leaning. What is more visible and more trackable is the banning of bigger-name conservatives, the celebrities of social media, a pattern that seems to me to have been accelerating through May and June of this year.
I was going to try to create a list of the notable deplatforming and demonetization that has occurred until I found someone else who was doing that. I don’t know how comprehensive this list is, but it is almost certainly more so that what I would come up with on my own. Here is the link**. In addition to listing those who have had content or earning capability removed, there are links to their Alt- websites.
Having had my ban-hammer thunder stolen, I’ll comment on one more Wall St. Journal piece that appeared this morning. Peggy Noonan, who loves to hate Trump and loves the inspiration it brings to her, this day wrote about the Democrats’ debate and the portents of its apparent message for the 2020 presidential election.
What drew me into the article was the highlighted quote*** saying “They [the Democrat candidates for President] march in lockstep with the left. What are they offering voters who backed Trump in 2016?” The answer, to me, is obvious. Nothing. Not… A… Thing. Why? Because they don’t need “those people.” They have a majority and that majority will prevail. They neither need, nor want, the support of those who are out of step with that majority. That said, I read the article itself to see what Peggy’s take on it was.
As near as I can tell, the actual quote didn’t make it into the published version of the editorial. That itself might be an interesting topic for discussion but it has little to do with what I’m about today. So while she neither asked nor answered the question as printed, in a round about way, she actually answers much as I have. She recalls a letter sent to her by one-half of a liberal leaning couple. While similar in politics, they are of different backgrounds; the husband raised in the upper-middle class and the wife poor. The wife told the husband, from the moment of Trump’s entry into the presidential fray, that Trump would win. He didn’t believe her, but she stuck to her guns. Much later (but when Hillary was still “certain” to beat nominee Trump), he asked her to explain. She replied, “He speaks my language, and there’s a lot more of me than there is of you.”
This is, of course, a key to our current political situation. Both “sides” feel that they are the majority and so they and their right-thinking fellow travelers are bound to triumph in the end. There is no need to compromise or even deviate from one’s course. Eventually, our “silent majority” will rise up and the lunatic fringe will become a minor chapter in the history books.
Noonan, of course, sees herself as above this fight and a member of neither tribe. She is a Republican, but advocates for a shift of Republicanism away from the post-Reagan, small-government base to more of a conservative take on America’s status quo. She seems to suggest that, by picking up some of the left’s more popular causes, Republicans can become the party of the vast middle and, thus, restore sanity to the political world. Similarly, though, with Trump at the helm of the Republican ship, she would like to see the Democrats move toward that middle and restore order and the old ways. With an opponent like Trump, this would be easy pickings for a Democrat in the mold of their previous generations. Perhaps literally, as she seems to have a preference for Joe Biden.
For most of us, we have become surrounded by those who think like us. That may be literal, in that we live in an area overwhelmingly populated by our own political tribesmen. It also may be figurative. I’ve read many a blog (some of them on the above ban list) where a writer will come home from his office to write about the trials and tribulations of being surrounded by liberals all day. The comments section will assure him that he is on the side of the angels and, anyway, if he could leave his urban enclave and travel the “real” America, he would find that most of us think like he does.
What is the real answer? Is there a real answer? Despite Peggy’s assurances that we are on the trajectory to repeat 2016, I tend to believe that the left is more grounded in their analysis (of course, I also thought so in 2016 and was wrong). I think that, at least in terms of the math behind elections, they really do have the votes are inevitably sliding towards a permanent majority. They do need to stop themselves overplaying their hand; temper their policies a little for the election; but they probably can ignore the traditional moderates and win by energizing their new base.
What does that mean for the 49%? What happens when it is clear we have no chance of winning elections? What happens when we are unable to speak our minority opinion, because our views are “undeniably support for white supremacy?” What happens when we can’t even read the views of the anti-establishment thinkers because they’ve all been banned from the publishing platforms that matter in our near future? I shudder to think.
*It is one thing to decide that political arguments don’t belong on a non-political discussion site. It is a little worse to decide that pro-conservative or pro-Trump political arguments don’t belong on a site, but all others are fine. In this case, the ban appears to apply to the artistic content itself. In other words, creating a knitting pattern that says “Resist” is fine. Creating one that says “Make America Great Again” would get tossed.
**I’ve taken a screenshot of the website as it looked as I wrote this. Given the subject, it would not surprise me if the list itself were to disappear before long.
***In the journalism biz, I don’t know what this is called. Where the publisher pulls quotes out of the main text and duplicates them in large, bold font somewhere in the middle of the article (usually not where the original quote appears). I’m sure it has a name, if only I knew what it was.