Fox’s Tucker Carlson is also pushing right-wing victimization. He claimed that the insurrection was rooted in something as blunt as “the population” asking, “Listen to us!” with their leaders merely yelling, “Shut up and do as you’re told.” He ignored the clear-cut denialism about the vote count, and the fact that leaders are listening to that denialism and encouraging it. The notion that the insurrections represent the neglected and unheard is especially odd since the mob at the Capitol was not comprised entirely of impecunious people worried about their bank accounts, but included a great many financially stable, educated people.
Another exemplar of right fragility is Senator Josh Hawley, who recruited the term Orwellian to describe the cancellation of the publication of his upcoming critique of Big Tech. George Orwell’s 1984 described a dystopia where the state refashioned language to make it impossible to harbor unwelcome thoughts. Simon & Schuster (a private company) canceled Hawley’s book in a world where views of Hawley’s kind are and will continue to be widely disseminated.
Although obviously lacking the censoring power of the state, the woke left can court the Orwellian. The left flings around the term cisheteropatriarchal to dismiss seemingly anything most Americans find familiar, pleasurable, and even progressive, and in one notable case to praise looting—evidence of a desire to shunt thought into forbiddingly constricted channels.
However, the right’s use of Orwellian to refer to certain bodies choosing not to broadcast their views represents a sloppy dilution of what the author meant. Orwell would have had choice words for the notion that the response to an invasion of the Capitol and a subversion of the election process, not the invasion and subversion themselves, ought to make us heed the warnings in 1984.
This transformation of the term Orwellian parallels, as it happens, what the right complains about in the left’s transformation of “racism” from referring to prejudice and discrimination to referring to their results; that is, disparities indicate a “racist” society. To consider this post-1960s usage of racism manipulative and dismissible is interesting coming from people who would pretend that 1984 was about reasoned censorship as opposed to a radical reprogramming of all human thought.
The right parallels the excesses of wokeness also in denying sheer logic when it’s inconvenient to a larger ideology.
Some on the hard left believe that it is wrong to generalize about groups, but quite readily delineate “whites” and “whiteness” as unitary categories. Some leftist education reformers justify racial-preference policies on a quest for diverse views in classrooms, even as they consider it racist if Black students are expected to represent their “diversity” in classroom discussions. This tension is not considered inconvenient as long as both phenomena are processed as countering racism: fostering diverse views to decenter whiteness, and countering white supremacy by pushing back at unfair expectations. To question any of this is to not “get it,” because the overriding principle of battling white privilege is sacrosanct even in the face of logic.