The culture war continues to rage on as the country heads into the 2024 presidential election. On both mainstream and social media, political protests and intense animosity between the left and the right persist on a weekly basis.
Yet, the coverage is deeply misleading. While many clips of these protests go viral, the protesters and their views are not reflective of the wider, respective political coalitions.
The current source of protesting and cancel culture, however, is coming overwhelmingly from within the extremely liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
This segment of the Democratic Party, albeit fairly small but with an outsized impact, is causing significant damage to our civic health by making it hard for many to question particular ideas and norms and disagree as so many Americans now live in fear of being protested or canceled by these aggressive mobs.
CLIMATE CHANGE PROTESTORS DROP PANTS AT MASSACHUSETTS STATEHOUSE DURING TAX RELIEF PACKAGE DEBATE
On collegiate campuses, protests have become commonplace among students on the left – often supported and encouraged by faculty. Liberal faculty are far more likely to support activities like protests against speech than their moderate and conservative counterparts.
In a 2022 survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), 63% of liberal faculty said they can think of cases when it would be acceptable to shout down speakers, compared with 47% of moderates and 12% of conservatives. Nearly a third of liberal faculty (31%) believe that there are cases where blocking other students from attending a campus speech is acceptable, while just 16% of moderates and 5% of conservative faculty feel the same way.
Professors have the duty to promote honest intellectual exploration and help students learn in environments that embrace free-ranging discourse. The faculty on the left are failing.
Students mirror this ideological divide on campus. Another FIRE survey revealed that 75% of liberal students justify trying to prevent speakers from speaking on campus. This compares to 55% of moderates and 42% of conservative students. Almost two times the number of liberal students think that there are justifiable cases to silence speech compared to conservatives. A similar ratio emerges when asked about trying to block other students from attending a talk (31% of liberals compared to 15% of conservatives), as well as the legitimacy of using violence to stop the expression of ideas.
The nation at large showcases almost identical ideological patterns. Data from the May 2021 American Perspectives Survey shows that about 15% of Americans have ended a relationship over politics. Forty-five percent of liberals, however, reported ending a friendship over politics. That compares to 22% of conservatives and only 11% of moderates.
PUNCHES THROWN AT CALIFORNIA SCHOOL PROTEST OVER LGBTQ+ CURRICULUM AND PRIDE MONTH
New data from PACE’s 2021 Civic Language Perceptions Project shows cultural differences in how liberals and conservatives view protests and engagement. Most Americans can agree that voting and volunteering are activities essential to a healthy democracy. When Americans are asked about protesting, however, liberals see attending protests as a far more salient activity than their conservative counterparts.
Almost a third (32%) of very liberal Americans see protesting as of great value and 19% of somewhat liberals feel the same way. The figure plummets among moderates to 9%, 7% of conservative leaners, and 11% among very conservative identifiers. Protesting is far more common among liberals today than the rest of the nation, which is exactly what is seen on campus today.
The PACE survey also asked about concepts such as democracy and citizenry, and whether these ideas resonated positively or negatively with the voters sampled.
When presented with the idea of “activism,” 70% of very liberal respondents and 56% of somewhat liberal respondents had a positive association with the word “activism.” Meanwhile, just a third (34%) of moderates saw activism as something positive. And only 23% of very conservative and 20% of somewhat conservative voters had a positive association with the idea of activism.
As with cancellations and protests, activism has taken on a political bend such that the left sees their version of political engagement as virtuous while most Americans see activism in a far less positive light today.
Despite distortions on Twitter and TikTok, the data are quite clear: liberals protest and engage in activism more than most Americans. The implications are dangerous to our democratic health.
Continuous activism and protest, as it has played out on campus, chills and stifles honest debate; it makes students afraid to speak up and diverge from the loudest voices in class. This is no way for students to learn from one another. For civic-mindedness to thrive, students need to listen to each other, not yell at each other.
This nation, its civic culture, and democratic health would all improve if liberals would stop their intense, all-too-common reaction to politics which is protesting and canceling those ideas, individuals and institutions that they do not like.
Read the full article here