by Ed West
Tuesday, 10
August 2021
Spotted
14:39

Proof: The progressive revolution arrived before Trump

The proliferation of prejudice words in the media began years earlier
by Ed West
Miss him yet?(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The 2010s were the decade of social media-led revolution. In the Arab world, Facebook helped to spread uprisings which overturned the old order, leading to success in Tunisia, failure in Egypt and tragedy in Syria.

In the US, social media has had almost as big an impact, with American progressive opinion undergoing a rapid shift from about 2013 – whereas the average conservative has changed very little.

It means that Americans on the Left now have self-declared views on race that are more pro-black and pro-immigrant than actual black Americans or immigrants, despite having generally quite ill-informed ideas about race.

Perhaps that’s related to the frequency they read about the issue, illustrated by a recent paper, which looks at media coverage of “prejudice related terms”. The study found the words “racist or sexist increasing in usage between 2010 and 2019 by 638% and 403% in The New York Times or 514% and 141% respectively in The Washington Post.” (This is a percentage of all words in those publications).

Frequency of words denoting prejudice in NYT and Washington Post. Credit: David Rozado

The paper also found that this process long predated Trump and that in 2014: “The usage of words denoting racism, homophobia, transphobia or sexism were at or near, up to that year, all-time highs. These results suggest that the trend of increasing prevalence of prejudice related words in media discourse precedes the political emergence of Donald Trump — although Trump’s presidency and subsequent reactions to it may have exacerbated these trends.”

Centrist outlets were least likely to use these terms, presumably because Right-wing websites spend so much of their time Owning the Libs and responding to the R-word, while centrist publications are busy focusing on unimportant stuff like climate change and people having enough food to eat.

The paper, like Zach Goldberg’s work in similar areas, points to a seismic shift in American liberal opinion from about 2013, a change in worldview almost without precedent; even during the 1960s and 70s public opinion changed quite slowly in western countries, and in Britain the basic premises of the sexual revolution weren’t accepted by the majority until well into the 1990s.

This is a form of runaway progressivism, driven by status anxiety, and it is usually attributed to social media and the iPhone, which encourages clickbait and dopamine-producing culture war content.

The shifting political position of upper-middle class Americans and the proliferation of prejudice-related words are obviously not unrelated, and presumably the causal arrow goes both ways. A radicalised population demands more morally-affirming condemnation of the sinners, but the proliferation of prejudice words pushes people into more radical political positions.

Prejudice words are hugely effective at making political positions toxic if they successfully attach to them, and the strategy is probably aided by simple repetition (just as religions often use repetition to install an idea in people’s heads). Contrary to what we’d like to believe, shouting “racist” is a pretty effective argument.

Part of the cultural imbalance between Left and Right is due to the fact that the mind of the former is effectively vaccinated against conservative ideas; once anything has a prejudice word attached to it, the mind’s ideological immune system is able to dismiss it; it recognises it as something dangerous and malign, and probably Nazi, before shutting it down. It’s why conservatives so frequently respond to bad progressive arguments by insisting that their idea is actually the more racist or sexist — lib-owning which only confirms the oppositions’ basic premises. Conservatives, in contrast, have few terms with which to disarm opposing ideas, and you can’t the battle of ideas when your opponents literally write the dictionary.

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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

It’s worse in United States. People live off the news here which drip-feeds pure hatred and vitriol into the veins of its readers and listeners. Any news source that permits you to hate and look down on others is suspect – full stop. Unfortunately, America’s hatred is turned on itself with many young people being taught they are either weak ineffectual victims who need to be advocated for, or they are bullying dim-witted oppressors that have no right to a voice. The end result is that the media pontificates to the masses in a pious, moralizing and scolding manner – basically telling people to fall into line or else. Those who obey are considered ‘good’, those who disobey are ‘right-wing’ extremists who deserve to be silenced. Western nations, particularly those in the Anglosphere, are transforming into Rainbow Police states, where everyone must be tolerant of and compassionate to people and ideas they don’t like or risk being condemned to social ostracism in the form of lost reputation and/or livelihood. This is the worst aspect of collective thinking and will lead to terrors unimaginable if we don’t put a stop to it now.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

People live off the news here which drip-feeds pure hatred and vitriol into the veins of its readers and listeners. Any news source that permits you to hate and look down on others is suspect – full stop.

That sounds very true. Just in the interest of balance: are there any right-wing news feeds that do the same thing, or is it all on the left?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Bolshevik Revolution, Mao and his long March, N* z i gaining power, Communists in Spain and Greece, Pol Pot, Venezuela and Cuba, Caesar building his fallowing to become Emperor, The French Revolution, Cromwell… These all had movements secretly working behind the scenes to build power and get the citizenry to be acquiescent. They plotted, they got people into positions of power, they fomented anger. Just a few of them were able to do these things. To get the movement – which almost always leads to horrors for the normal people, and not their benefit as they are made to think, rolling.

In the West I hear the number of 2% who are the active Marxist/Left/Liberals who have taken over the entire education system, the MSM, the government, Social Media, Justice system, and every manner of power. The ones with a plan, and goal, of destroying the West. Soros has paid for the election campaigns of every DA and Prosecutor in USA who will destroy the Justice system from inside – one example.

To say that is a mere conspiracy theory denies all the revolutions in the past – none arize organically from nothing, they are created, and led and formented by a small cadre who use ‘Entryism’ to gain disproportional power, and use of ‘Useful Idiots’ to take full control of their organization.

If the Marxist/Liberals did not own Biden the USA’s NSA needs to find out who these traitors are, who may yet destroy all that is good in the West, and stop their wicked movement, but instead they have been brought on board, as have the top military, and every other gov branch.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

A lot of us chose Cromwell of our own free will. Compared to Charles he was the marginally better option. Then, we chose Charles son for the same reason. I would object to him being lumped in with the rest.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Quite a revolutionary though. He closed down Parliament, invaded Ireland and massacred thousands of priests ( see Napoleon, Bolsheviks, Spanish left), ensured the commanding heights of the institutions were filled with his sympathisers. What do you like, exactly?

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I appreciate that Cromwell was responsible for a major step against absolutism here. In my view the balance between monarch and parliament was forever shifted in parliaments favour. I appreciate the view from Ireland may be a lot less rosy though.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It requires great audacity on the part of the “Left” to scorn the Right as conspiracy theorists. How else can the belief that Trump colluded with Putin be described other than as a conspiracy theory?

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Krehbiel
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Which are the main centrist news outlets? I’m sure I don’t know many.
What a disappointment outlets like the NYT and Washington Post have become…. I used to follow them and they have become ludicrous.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Maybe the Times, or Telegraph even, or the Financial Times, but they all have paywalls, so I do not read them. I just paid to get on here as I needed somewhere to rant at the world from, and this one had not banned me before the paywall, which was unusual. I do not do social media, and writing things is fun to me, writing is as easy for me as speaking my opinions, so Unherd seems the only centrist MSM I can think of….

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’ve found the Wall Street Journal pretty sound. It tries to inform rather than proselytize.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

At the Telegraph site one can read it all by opening the Google Chrome dev console. And then one just has to look at the underlying HTML source, which can even be seen rendered like it would be in a browser by the preview tab. Presumably the people working there are too stupid to pull in the rest of the content through an AJAX call to prevent this easy work around.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Maybe they just assume that most people are too honest to steal.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

The New York Times is a fantasy read…after 40 years we just stopped subscribing: ditto The New Yorker, Wash Post..

aaron david
aaron david
1 year ago

A couple of things. 1. it’s just Tablet magazine, not The Tablet. 2. I always hear about “owning the libs” but I am not in the least bit sure what this means, nor have I ever seen examples of this. Indeed, if they are “owning the libs” then it is because the libs in question are selling themselves so cheap.
But my main point is, of course Trump wasn’t the cause of this, he is a reaction to it. A trial balloon of sorts, if you will. Proof of concept. By that I mean what Trump did was show that you can push back against the left, but that it takes getting out of the ring, so to speak, and not being Democrat lite, but actually supporting conservative ideas forcefully. And much of the language that drove the left so batty that he used simply showed, right or wrong, that he would not be bound by the left’s rules of what is and is not acceptable, that he would not allow them to decide the terms and conditions of political battle. And now we are starting to see the result of that in DeSantis’ rise, JD Vance in Ohio, and so on.
I am not a conservative by any means, but I want options about what is best in life, and with two viable options, if not more, life is better, and that also drives the left nuts.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
1 year ago

To help rewrite the dictionary, isn’t time the left were referred to as trash liberals, not because they are personally trashy but because what they stand for is trashing the culture – especially in the universities, the family- broken and the country – turning cohesive England into atomised and evermore Multiracialland?

William Hickey
William Hickey
1 year ago

Ed West’s point about the dominance of progressivism in language is best seen not by how often conservatives use arguments like DR3, but by how conservatives attack and dismiss any position TO THEIR RIGHT.

Example: No conservative talk radio host ever has anybody on as a guest who is more right-wing than they are. Conservative hosts will frequently boast about how they are willing to engage with leftists and have progressives on their programs to prove it. But when was the last time an open white nationalist or white advocate appeared on your favorite conservative program?

There are two major problems with this intimidation of conservative pundits. First, by refusing to allow anyone on their right to exist in common discourse the center-right conservatives make their own position the extreme — “far-right.”

Second, such willful blindness cuts off too many conservatives from their own ideological “fringes” where, as we have seen with the Left for decades and recently with the rise of Trumpism, the future is aborning.

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago

I fear the West will lose the freedom of the individual because it’s too hard psychologically to sustain. When everyone demands that everyone else views them as a ‘good person’, tolerating views you don’t like comes to seem like acquiescing to them, which must at all costs be shown not to be the case.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Of course the mad progressive overreach came before Trump.
Trump, as aaron david has noted below, was a reaction to it.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
1 year ago

I mean I noticed this in 2009, at the very least. I guess journalists tend to be a bit slow.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

I noticed this in 2000, when a manuscript I wrote about women knitting for the military during the two world wars was unacceptable because I did not describe these women as ‘victims’ even though most gladly knitted for the troops voluntarily.