The same people who think it’s a good idea to maintain an open line to foreign enemies apparently now believe it’s appalling for Biden to have observed collegial norms with fellow Democrats. The author Ta-Nehisi Coates went so far as to call it “a secondary endorsement, as crazy as it sounds, of Jim Crow,” on the theory that Biden’s civility meant making his peace with a racist system.
In fact, Biden made no such peace; all the landmark civil-rights legislation was passed well before he arrived in the Senate in 1973. He simply dealt with the Congress as he found it and looked for opportunities to be constructive and consequential rather than destructive and obnoxious. That is now his brand as a presidential candidate, and it’s what his critics find so objectionable: How dare he try to work with his opponents instead of seeking to shun or annihilate them?
These same critics have also ripped Biden for saying a kind word about Mike Pence and Michigan Republican Fred Upton (the latter for advancing legislation for treatment of pediatric cancer). The goal isn’t simply to discredit Biden as generationally out-of-touch or too politically clubby or insufficiently transformational or otherwise gaffe-prone. It’s to rid the party of compromisers of any sort — that is, to purge the Democratic Party of its democratic instincts.
All of this is evidence of what psychologist Pamela Paresky calls the “apocalyptic” approach to politics that increasingly typifies today’s progressivism. “It is an apocalyptic view, not a liberal one, that rejects redemption and forgiveness in favor of condemnation and excommunication,” she writes in Psychology Today. “It is an apocalyptic perspective, not a liberal one, that sees the world as needing to be destroyed and replaced rather than improved and perfected.”
Stephens discovered that apocalyptic approach to politics first-hand when he joined the Times in 2017: Times Columnist Blasted By “Nasty Left” For Climate Change Piece.
“After 20 months of being harangued by bullying Trump supporters, I’m reminded that the nasty left is no different. Perhaps worse,” Stephens tweeted Friday afternoon, as the hateful messages kept rolling in.
“Go eat dog d—s,” fumed one Twitter user.
“When is the Times going to get rid of you?” another asked.
Stephens even managed to tick off fellow journalists.
“You’re a s–thead. a crybaby lil f–kin weenie. a massive twat too,” tweeted Libby Watson, staff writer at Gizmodo.
“I’m gonna lose my mind,” seethed Eve Peyser, politics writer at Vice.
“The ideas ppl like @BretStephensNYT espouse are violently hateful & should not be given a platform by @NYTimes,” she said.
In the column, Stephens never states that he believes climate change is a farce. He simply asserts that people should look at claims from both supporters and deniers, in the attempt to get all the facts.
But the exposure to the social media equivalent of the Maoist struggle session may have changed Stephens’ mind on at least one topic dear to the left, causing one of the Times’ token faux-cons to go from supporting concealed carry in 2016 when he was still with the Wall Street Journal, to writing the following year, “Repeal the Second Amendment. I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.”
G.K. Chesterton has a fence he’d like to show Stephens.