Elon Musk takes over Twitter and a deranged homeless person invades House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home, injuring her husband. On the surface, the two events do not seem to be related, but both have prompted connected waves of progressive outrage that are only likely to get worse after the result of the midterm elections next week.
There are few things progressives do better than emit howls of outrage at anything and everything that either doesn’t go their way or they feel can serve a political purpose. I’m not one to take pleasure in another’s pain, but when progressives are moaning and wailing, there’s a good chance something important is happening, though not in the way they expect or want you to think. Last week, two completely unrelated incidents helped illustrate and illuminate this principle. First, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, completed his purchase of Twitter, taking the company into private hands and promising more protections for free speech. Cheekily, Mr. Musk arrived at Twitter headquarters asking people to “let that sink in” while carrying a kitchen sink. He proceeded to fire the current CEO, CFO, and top legal advisors, along with some of the data engineering team, not unexpected moves considering he plans to change the way the company operates. He also requested software engineers from Tesla to review Twitter’s algorithms, and promised that there would be no more lifetime bans, opening the door for former President Donald Trump to return to the platform for the first time in almost two years. Twitter itself remained fully functional the entire time. To my knowledge, no progressive account was banned, suspended, or silenced. No user found themselves restricted. No posts were suppressed or deleted. Everything worked as it had the day before, with perhaps a little more willingness to allow people to share controversial or provocative ideas, though even that was unproven. In short, nothing had changed for the average user. Mr. Musk also took pains to inform advertisers that his vision for the company wasn’t a “free-for-all hellscape,” explaining his reasons for wanting to own it and what both users and advertisers can expect. “The reason I acquired Twitter,” he wrote, “is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.” He believes “There is currently a great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide in our society.” At the same time, Mr. Musk cautioned, “That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games from all ages to mature.”
It’s difficult to find anything objectionable with Mr. Musk’s statement or general point of view. In his mind, the free exchange of ideas and a continual dialogue between liberals and conservatives is essential to a functioning democracy, an idea embraced since the founding of the Republic. He also laments the current polarization of our political environment and how our ability to tailor our news and other experiences to closely match our personal preferences is contributing to it, a challenge widely acknowledged by both sides of the political aisle. Further, he promises that Twitter will enforce prevailing laws and provide a safe and welcoming environment for all. One might disagree whether or not open dialogue is likely to have a significant influence on our culture, and one might even take issue about the root cause of polarization, but I doubt most fair minded people would find cause for outrage in these positions. Progressives, however, had a radically different take. Ironically, many took to Twitter itself to express their outrage. Dr. Eric Fiegl-Ding, co-founder of the World Health Network and a former Harvard professor, opined, “Elon Musk is now in charge of Twitter, CEO and CFO have left and will not return. Twitter will be delisted from NYSE tomorrow – it’s now the private domain of one all-powerful person. God save @Twitter and humanity.” The Washington Post’s technology reporter, Taylor Lorenz, declared “It’s like the gates of hell opened on this site tonight.” George Hahn said, “Bring on Elon… Shitler… or any other manbaby… I ain’t going anywhere.” Other Twitter users declared they would in fact be going somewhere else. As a result, Facebook was awash in posts claiming users were deactivating their Twitter accounts in protest. Meanwhile, a top official in the European Union, Thierry Breton, issued a statement demanding Twitter’s compliance with recently passed legislation regarding illegal content and an appeals process for content moderation decisions, a law that Mr. Musk has never claimed he would defy. The media rushed in even before the sale was completed, backed by an army of real card carrying experts to declare that “Potential mass layoffs at Twitter could cripple content moderation, some experts say” to quote ABC News. Their report was in reaction to another report from The Washington Post claiming without evidence that Mr. Musk planned to cut up to 75% of Twitter’s workforce, though why the world’s richest man and CEO of other big companies like Tesla would want to gut his new company is left unsaid. “While details of the potential layoffs remain limited, the move could compromise the platform’s capacity to police false or harmful content, with ramifications that extend to social issues like election integrity, experts told ABC News.” The ridiculous hyperbole of laments like God save humanity aside, it’s hard to escape the obvious conclusion: Progressives, or at least a significant segment of them, have come to fear and loathe free speech, and any attempt to make speech more free, even at their margins. In their view, their view is the only one that counts and can be propagated online. Dissidents need not apply.
The second instance of outrage is perhaps more counter intuitive, but no less illustrative. At 2.00 AM last Friday morning, an intruder entered the San Francisco home of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, apparently in his underwear and armed with a hammer, though the underwear part is now in question. Speaker Pelosi was in Washington, DC at the time, but her husband, Paul, was attacked in her stead, suffering a blow to the head, but fortunately he is expected to fully recover after emergency surgery. A fair-minded person would wish him well and likely have a lot of questions: Was there no security system in place? Who is the man and what were his motives? Why was he in his underwear if initial reports are accurate? Why was it so easy to break into the home of a high profile politician? How did the police get into the house? Progressives, however, had only one thing on their minds, long before the facts were in: Blame conservatives, tie the attack to the supposed vilification of Nancy Pelosi and the riot at the Capitol Building on January 6th. They’re evidence? The alleged assailant had apparently posted “conspiracy theories” about the 2020 election, coronavirus, and January 6th on social media. That and he supposedly said “Where’s Nancy?” multiple times upon entering the house, though who reported that remains a mystery. Therefore, he must be an Ultra MAGA republican, ignore that he is also a nude activist and hemp jewelry maker who lives in a commune bedecked by pride flags and BLM signs, you know the usual Ultra MAGA pastimes. Nor did progressives have any questions at all about what is a truly bizarre story, compounded by conflicting information about what actually happened. Some reports indicated a third person was in the house, though that might have been confusion at the scene and police are now saying otherwise. Others suggest that the assailant permitted Mr. Pelosi to use the bathroom before the altercation, where he was able to access his cell phone to call the police, prompting the question as to why he didn’t simply remain locked inside while waiting for them to arrive. The transcript of the dispatch call also describes this person as a “friend,” though that may also be confusion and they are claiming Mr. Pelosi was speaking in code. No one knows who opened the door for the police either, as they claim they arrived while the two men were fighting over the hammer. As no video footage or additional evidence has been released, there is not much that we know for sure, except the assailant was clearly troubled and likely suffering from some kind of psychosis, not a rational actor advancing the goals of any specific political party. The man’s ex-girlfriend and father of his children put it this way, “He has never been able to hold a job. He has been homeless. This person really does suffer from mental illness and that is probably why he was there at 2 a.m.” She continued, he “is a broken child in an adult body with serious mental problems.” “I don’t think he became a Trump supporter,” she said Sunday, after noting that he’d been an activist for progressive causes. “He was against the government, but if anything he was opposed to the shadow government, against the people who really run the government and use politicians as puppets. Like Trump was a puppet. David and I were against the shadow government.” At one point, she describes him as believing he was Jesus for a year, as in he came “came back in very bad shape. He thought he was Jesus. He was constantly paranoid, thinking people were after him. And it took a good year or two to get back to, you know, being halfway normal.” Apparently, he also believed “an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird” according to The Washington Post.
Alas, this obvious history of severe mental illness didn’t stop the President of the United States himself from using the story in a desperate attempt to take control of the midterm elections less than 48 hours later. At a campaign event, he said, “And what makes us think that one party can talk about stolen elections, COVID being a hoax, that it’s all a bunch of lies, and it does not affect people who may not be so well balanced.” “It’s reported that the same chant was used by this guy they have in custody that was used on January 6th in the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Biden added in a reference to “Where’s Nancy?”, claiming “I’m not making this up.” “This is reported. I can’t guarantee it. I can tell you what’s being reported,” he continued, admittedly spreading potential falsehoods of this own. “The chant was ‘Where’s Nancy!? Where’s Nancy!? Where’s Nancy!?’” Perhaps needless to say, the mainstream media agrees, completely. Nicole Naria, writing for Vox.com, claimed the “Pelosi Attack is Culmination of Years of GOP Hate-Mongering,” declaring the actions of an obviously deranged person “overtly political — and a logical endpoint to the decades of deeply personal villainization House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has weathered from her political opponents.” Speaker Pelosi, you see, has “been villainized by Republicans since she first ascended to Democratic leadership.” She quotes Los Angeles Times’ reporter, Mark Z. Barabak in 2003, when Ms. Pelosi ascended to Minority Leader. Republicans were “eager to attack Pelosi as a loopy San Francisco liberal and exploit her city’s reputation as the odd-sock drawer of America. Within days, her face — garish and twisted — showed up in an attack ad slamming the Democrat in a Louisiana House race. (He won anyway.) She surfaced as Miss America, complete with tiara, in a spoof on Rush Limbaugh’s Web site.” Kara Alaimo, writing for CNN, said the attack “was not an isolated incident” and claimed women politicians and women of color in particular are at risk because of (Republican) political rhetoric. “This shocking episode is just the latest in a series of escalating attacks and confrontations against politicians, and women politicians in particular – many of whom face unacceptable hatred on the Internet that spills over into physical threats or violence. Social media platforms and law enforcement must act now to stop this abuse before a politician is gravely injured or killed.” Incredibly, she somehow managed to tie this to Elon Musk and Twitter. “Of course, it’s sobering that this attack on Pelosi happened just as Elon Musk has finalized his purchase of Twitter, given that Musk has indicated that he favors more lenient content moderation policies. If Twitter – or any other platform – becomes a bigger cesspool of misogyny and abuse, then users should make the decision to stop using it.”
Violence of any kind is despicable, and political violence in particular can be incredibly dangerous, but forgive me for being cynical and thinking these outraged progressives are entirely politically motivated themselves. The very people expressing such outrage have had no qualms about vilifying Republican politicians and public figures for decades, to the point where they claimed Brett Kavanagh ran a gang rape ring in high school. They also said absolutely nothing (or next to nothing) about the political violence that has rocked the country just this year. There were no such articles or proclamations from the President when a Supreme Court Justice, the same Brett Kavanaugh, was the subject of an assassination attempt (The New York Times ran a blurb about the story on A20, as if it was only of minor importance), or when a canvasser for Republican Senator Marco Rubio was brutally assaulted barely two weeks ago. Also this year, a young man was ran down on the street because the perpetrator believed he was a Republican, and local Democrat politician in Nevada murdered a journalist for covering his corruption scandal. Nor has there been much if any outrage or interest in a string of attacks on pro-life non-profit groups across the country, twenty or so some odd incidents including Molotov cocktails and arson. Instead, they latch onto the actions of an obviously deranged man in a situation that remains far from clear, one with more questions than answers, in a nakedly political power play. Moreover, if anyone dares to question any of it, they lash out and attack. Mr. Musk, for example, tweeted what should be obvious in the wake of the attack on Paul Pelosi, saying “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” and was promptly branded a purveyor of conspiracy theories. He has since deleted the tweet, but why should anyone listen to any of them at this point? From the President of the United States on down, the progressive movement has waged a continuous demonization campaign against anyone and everyone who disagrees with them on matters both large and small. The truth has never been a barrier to their goals, spinning wild theories about Russian disinformation and everything else whenever it suits their purposes. They have declared anyone and anything that stands in their way illegitimate and have demanded its prompt removal. They have branded close to half the country Confederates and advocates of Jim Crow. Time Magazine recently insinuated that another Civil War might be in order to save democracy from Trump supporters. Their outrage and their conviction that everything they do and say is right cannot be taken seriously. Sadly, this will get worse before it gets better: If the midterms are as devastating for Democrats as expected, you ain’t seen nothing yet.