The History Channel on Monday will premiere a three-part miniseries about Ulysses S. Grant. Produced by the arch-leftist and globalist Leonardo Di Caprio, with commentary by left-wing reparations activist Ta-Nehisi Coates, the show is based on Ron Chernow’s 2017 biography. This is the same Chernow who excoriated President Trump at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner and says Alexander Hamilton would have supported Trump’s impeachment.
But I am not interested in revisiting the endless spurious assertions we’re sure to hear from the people who produced what is sure to be another tired, this-is-who-we-are jeremiad pushing progressive liberalism.
Trying to argue against it point by point will be a fruitless endeavor because you’re not just arguing against Ron Chernow, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Leonardo Di Caprio. You’re arguing against the combined powers of what passes for America’s media, education, entertainment, and tech industries. Let’s call it the MEET complex.
The MEET complex is a just appellation for the largely unitary body that shapes contemporary American culture. If “politics is downstream of culture,” these are the institutions that shape the culture.
We Consume Their Products, They Fund Leftist Projects
The average American spends 11 hours per day consuming the products the MEET complex offers in the form of news, education, entertainment, or browsing online. At the moment, the MEET complex is firmly in the hands of leftists and their fellow travelers. It will continue to steamroll traditional Americans as long as it is largely unchallenged and, most important of all, granted legitimacy by people who do not acknowledge or understand its existence.
Most of what you read and consume in terms of news media is made and delivered by leftists. The vast majority of news journalists are liberal. “From having near-parity with the journalist Republicans in the 1970s, Democrats today outnumber Republicans today by four to one,” Investor’s Business Daily reported in 2018. In other words, when you read the newspaper or watch the news, you’re far more likely to encounter news written by and for liberals. It’s just a fact.
Most of what you “learn” at school is packaged and delivered by leftists. On average, there are 79 Democrats in elementary and secondary education for every 21 Republicans. Since 1990, teachers’ unions have directed 95 percent of their political donations to Democrats. When your kids go to public school and learn about\U.S. history, it’s being taught by and for people who see the world through a leftist lens.
Even if your children go to private school, it’s likely they will be taught to see the world through a leftist lens because the universities, where their textbooks and teachers come from, are even more left-wing than the public schools. At American universities only 3.8 percent of all professors identify as socially conservative.
Most of the entertainment you consume—television, movies, or educational documentaries—is made by and for leftists. Most of the people who write the scripts for your movies are liberals; most actors and actresses are on the left. Most of the musicians you enjoy are liberals. Most of the music executives who publish their works are liberals. And most of the comedians you watch on TV and online are also liberals.
“Individuals and firms in the television, movie, and music industries gave $84 million in campaign contributions during the 2016 election cycle, with 80 percent going to Democrats,” notes Colby College sociologist Neil Gross. While “Hillary Clinton received three votes for every one that went to Donald Trump in Los Angeles county as a whole, actor-heavy areas like the Hollywood Hills recorded even more-lopsided tallies,” Gross adds. Hollywood’s money and their votes go almost entirely one way.
Finally, most of what you see when you use technology is also produced and curated by leftists. Big Tech is overwhelmingly liberal. One study by an online social media consulting firm claims that the average person who is online spends up to 40 minutes per day watching YouTube. Just remember, YouTube employees have directed 93 percent of their political donations to Democrats and none to Republicans.
Maybe you like streaming content through Amazon Prime or Hulu or Netflix, the top-three providers of streaming content. Amazon Prime employees gave 70 percent of their cash donations in 2016 to Democrats. Hulu employees in 2016 gave 90 percent of their political donations to Democrats. Netflix employees gave $47 to Democrats for every $1 they gave to Republicans since 2000.
An Insidious Narrative
Let’s return to the History Channel’s Grant miniseries. Chernow, despite his faults, did an admirable job in rehabilitating some of Grant’s better traits and showing him in a positive, sensible, and humane light. The Claremont Review of Books review echoes most of my own positive thoughts about Chernow’s biography. But the book also has its flaws.
To defeat whatever tropes are sure to come, you’re not just fighting the biased portrayal that the series is sure to offer. You’re fighting an entire apparatus working to advance the MEET complex’s leftist narrative.
The media obviously is pushing it. As Adam Gopnik noted in the New Yorker in 2017, Chernow’s book contends there is nothing inherently new or wrong about identity politics:
Reading Chernow on Grant’s patronage practice, one may also start to cast a skeptical eye on the notion that “identity politics” is in any way a newcomer to progressive coalitions. Worrying about providing significant spoils to minorities—and women, too, who, though unable to vote, were still subjects of patronage—was half the political work that Grant had to do. His campaign theme for his eventual reëlection sounds positively Clintonian, in Chernow’s summary: “He had appointed a prodigious number of blacks, Jews, Native Americans, and women, and delivered on his promise to give the country peace and prosperity.” A group of reform Republicans—Henry Adams’s father among them—formed a party to run against Grant in 1872 on a confused platform of good government and support for renewed “home rule” in the South. They displayed a now-familiar refusal to believe that the real source of persistent racial resentment among their fellow-countrymen was persistent racial resentment.
Chernow’s thesis that Grant was a tragic hero fatally wounded by America’s intractable flaws dovetails nicely with the New York Times’ 1619 Project. Earlier this month, the Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its debunked “scholarship,” which places America’s founding not in 1776 but in 1619 when the first slave was forcibly transported to the British colony of Virginia. This is the newspaper whose employees in 2016 and 2018 gave 95 percent and 100 percent of their campaign cash to Democrats. The 1619 Project, like Chernow’s Grant, has its own host of celebrities, educators, and tech bros making sure that it dominates American thinking and that conservatives respond to its critiques—which in itself grants it legitimacy.
Grant, like the 1619 Project, is yet more history taken up and presented by establishment education, entertainment, and tech. There is already a “Grant” classroom curriculum based on Chernow’s book. Now thousands of unsuspecting youths can be indoctrinated with Chernow’s arguments by thousands of unsuspecting teachers at best or social justice activists at worst.
Resisting the MEET Complex
The fact that DiCaprio produced this documentary and specifically picked Coates and West Point’s Elizabeth Samet (a left-wing English professor) tells us the series will not just be mere “infotainment.” It will be advanced by our tech overlords who will make sure it’s the first thing that pops up when you search for “Ulysses S. Grant” whether that’s on Google, Yahoo, Amazon Prime or any other online search engine or content provider.
This is how ideas like those contained in productions like “Grant” and the almost infinite other leftist projects that touch on identity politics, sexuality, marriage, family, criminal justice, taxes, social welfare, drugs, and foreign policy become dogma in a generation.
Our schools get saturated with it. Our media pumps it into our televisions and screens. Our actors and actresses play in movies written by directors who conform to the narrative. And our technology industry gently nudges us in the direction of what the Left calls “mainstream” through its algorithms and its pre-selected menus of what we can watch on our streaming services.
Fast forward a few decades and the old history that Grant sought to defeat is replaced with this entirely new narrative that becomes accepted by most people. Then your future Democratic politician in 2040 or 2050 shows up downstream from the cultural change that was wrought by the MEET complex in 2020 to reap the benefits by crafting policy based on these half-truths and outright lies.
Taken together, the MEET complex is formidable in its ability to saturate the American public with its slanted propaganda. It writes, teaches, portrays, and filters any history that might confirm right-leaning assumptions out of the story.
If you really want to defeat leftist propaganda, you first have to isolate and defeat the MEET complex. We should stop reacting to the narratives they foist on us and instead direct our energies into both marginalizing the MEET complex and replacing it with our own by marching through these institutions as vigorously and purposefully as generations of leftists have already done to our great detriment. That is one of the most pressing political questions of this generation. Until we do this, we’ll forever dance to the tune that the complex plays.