Michael Anton Is an Optimist

These thoughts are inspired by Michael Anton’s excellent August 29 Weekend Long Read, “A Tyranny Perpetual and Universal?” I agree with almost everything he says. My only disagreement with Anton, if you can call it that, is that when he talks of a Biden-Harris America, he is too much of a sunny optimist. He is a scholar (and a gentleman, no doubt) who takes the long view—but I don’t believe the transformation he predicts will take long at all. With Biden and Harris in the White House, the Left will resume and accelerate Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of the country. Like a pack of starving hyenas feasting on a wildebeest carcass, the Left will move quickly to consolidate power—very quickly.

Every election from now on will be a Flight 93 election. Any lost election, ever, will be the last meaningful election we’ll ever have. This is a frightening prospect. Once, I was not much of a Trump supporter. (Seems like another lifetime ago.) My 2016 vote was more against Hillary Clinton than for Trump. If the term “Reluctant Trumper” existed, that would be me circa 2016. 

Since then, I not only have changed my mind about Trump, I believe that only Trump, and no one but Trump, could have defeated Hillary and the Democratic-Media Complex. None of the others who appeared viable—Marco Rubio, Jeb! (I’m embarrassed to admit I sort of leaned towards the Bush brother early on), Ted Cruz, Scott Walker—could have pulled it off. And even Trump’s miraculous victory was by a razor-thin margin.

But Trump is sui generis. There is no other Trump out there who can put together his coalition, or keep it together in 2024. Some of the names bandied about—Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence—will make a respectable effort. Then again, so did Mitt Romney, when his name had not yet left a foul taste in the mouths of conservatives. But is there a true warrior among them, who will stand, unbending and unbowed, in the face of the relentless assault that Trump has had to endure? I am not so sure.

Social Network Hypocrisy

Imagine that Joe Biden is ensconced in the White House, “Dr.” Jill Biden is his resident caregiver, Kamala Harris is president-in-fact, and hard-Left fanatics are running the show. 

We can start with social networks. Will Facebook or Twitter even need to be asked to be more aggressive against conservatives, or to deny them the platform? When your account is suspended for some alleged “community standards” violation (questioning whether black lives matter to Black Lives Matter, for example), what recourse do you have? 

Short answer: none.

Conservative groups should expect even more vigilance. Recent days saw the destruction of Kenosha, Wisconsin by Antifa and BLM rioters. A headline in the Washington Post said: “Zuckerberg says Facebook erred in not removing militia post.” Instantly, I perked up. Was Facebook sorry that Antifa and BLM used its platform to plan the immolation and looting of a Midwestern city? About damn time! Way to go, Zuck!

Except . . . no. Zuckerberg was sorry that Kenosha Guard, a handful of armed volunteers who showed up to confront the looters and protect local businesses, used Facebook to organize and attempt to stop the mayhem, after the Democratic governor abdicated his responsibilities, just as the Democratic mayor of Kenosha abdicated his.

The two “mostly peaceful protesters” shot and killed by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse in apparent self-defense are “remembered as ‘sweet,’ ‘loving’ guys by family and friends.” The sweet and loving Anthony Huber was previously “arrested several times on battery, drugs and other charges.” Court records show he pleaded guilty to strangulation and suffocation, domestic abuse, and false imprisonment, with numerous other arrests. The sweet and loving Joseph Rosenbaum “had an open criminal case on battery, disorderly conduct and domestic abuse charges.” Rosenbaum was also a registered sex offender for a sex crime involving a minor (i.e., a child molester) and was no stranger to the court system

Rittenhouse also shot Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm after Grosskreutz chased Rittenhouse with a pistol. It’s unclear whether Grosskreutz is as sweet and loving as his two now-deceased compatriots, though he “has a criminal record that includes being intoxicated & armed w/a gun.” 

Freedom vs. Algorithm

But back to social networks. The Post continues: “Facebook is now taking down posts that praise the shooting or shooter, Zuckerberg said.” If Facebook has a policy against praising “mostly peaceful” looters who torched Kenosha, with priors for battery, drugs, disorderly conduct, domestic abuse, child molestation, or public intoxication while brandishing a firearm, the company has yet to announce it. 

So what would all this look like in a Biden-Harris America? Simple. There would be no Kenosha Guard in the first place. All the members of this “militia,” such as it is, would be flagged as having an affinity for conservative principles. Their accounts would be monitored, any attempt to organize, formally or informally, tracked by a neural net AI algorithm and quickly red-flagged, the accounts suspended, messages blocked as “terms of service violations,” the “Kenosha Guard” Facebook group erased from existence before it even starts.

“Aaahh!” you say, “but we don’t need Facebook to organize! We’ll use email!”

Except that the same tech giants—Google, Yahoo, Microsoft—run many email accounts. Google (and others) will set up filters to monitor the political content of your emails. As soon as the filters pick up that you are trying to organize a conservative group, surprise! Suspension.

“Aaahh!” you say, “but we’ll outsmart that AI!” 

Except that the filtering doesn’t need to be perfect—it just needs to make your life difficult. And don’t flatter yourself that you’re smarter than Google’s algorithms—you don’t know what triggers them, what associative matrices they construct, or what adaptive logic they use.

“Aaahh!” you say, “we’ll just use other email services!” 

Sure. Except that these services are hosted on somebody’s server—like GoDaddy or Akamai. GoDaddy just needs the same algorithms on the front end (Google will share them with GoDaddy for free)—and your emails vanish into the ether, and then your account is suspended for a TOS violation. Good luck proving to GoDaddy (or even reaching a live person) that you’re not a right-wing nut.

“Aaahh!” you say, “but I can use my work email!” To this I respond: get serious.

“Aaahh!” you say, “but we can use mail services in Nigeria and Zimbabwe! That’ll show those pointy-headed wokesters!” 

Perhaps. Except that email traffic passes through many routers and gateways, and deep-packet inspection can parse the emails and their metadata, and block them. So even a Nigerian or Zimbabwean mail service is not a sure thing. With enough time and effort, and maybe a sophisticated encryption scheme, sure, you might organize an email group that shares conservative principles, hosted on the same server that Prince Abacha or Robert Mugabe once used. 

Should there be a Biden-Harris Administration, expect this to start happening immediately. Not in the long run, as Anton seems to hope—immediately.

The reality is that all of this would be merely an extension of what Big Tech is already doing. Recall the stories of Republican digital ads and videos “labeled” or censored. Can you recall a Biden ad being censored? Recall recent stories about American Thinker being blacklisted in Google searches. Google had to back off and pretend that it was some sort of “technical error.” Unsurprisingly, the “technical error” targeted conservative publications. This is happening today.

With Biden-Harris in charge, why bother pretending? Google can just say it: conservative publications will no longer show up in searches. With the House, the Senate and the White House in Democratic hands, whatchya gonna do about it? Or, maybe conservative publications will still show up—on page 19 of the Google search listings. Whatchya gonna do about that? Sue the algorithm? Good luck.

The New Censorship

Anton laments the fact that Western classics, history, and culture increasingly are ignored in higher education—when they are not being denigrated. He suggests that, given Amazon’s absolute dominance of the book market, and given the Left’s hostility to Western history in general, Amazon might ban classical Western literature. Again, I don’t share his sunny optimism. 

Amazon will not ban Shakespeare, Mark Twain, or Jane Austen—because the Left isn’t threatened by King Lear, Huckleberry Finn or Mr. Darcy.  But how about Justice on Trial, which lays bare the Democrats’ sordid plot to derail the Kavanaugh confirmation? Would the Amazon of the Biden-Harris presidency sell this book? How hard would it be to find a dozen passages that “trigger” progressives, merely by virtue of defending Brett Kavanaugh? And a violated terms of service can’t be far behind.

Besides, as Anton correctly points out, since Amazon is a private company, nobody can make Amazon sell anything. If Amazon doesn’t want to sell conservative books, who is to say that it has to? The Biden-Harris Amazon is not one without King Lear or Pride and Prejudice—it is one without conservative authors like Michael Anton. 

Amazon won’t even need to pretend it’s a TOS thing—it can just say it outright: “We don’t sell conservative books.” Don’t like it? Tough. Maybe you can find a publisher for your book that criticizes Kamala Harris, and print a few hardcopies, and maybe even sell one or two copies in some specialty bookstore somewhere. Maybe. Good luck with that.

The Disfavored Many

Russians have an expression: for friends, everything; for enemies, The Law! Michael Anton is an optimist, suggesting that under the Biden-Harris Administration, progressives will walk, but their opponents will face the full wrath of the legal system. But we don’t need to wait for Biden-Harris to see that principle in action now

Consider Kenosha again: Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor, Democratic attorney general and the entire Wisconsin state law enforcement machinery twiddled their thumbs, while looters burned and rampaged through the city. But the smell of gunsmoke from that AR-15 was still in the air when they filed murder charges against Kyle Rittenhouse.

This is not even about defending the relative merits of Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims. The point here is to contrast the speed with which Democratic-leftist legal machinery reacted when their own people won the Darwin Award with the Democrats’ apparent lack of interest in hundreds of other violent events that have taken place recently. 

Dozens of people have been killed by Antifa-BLM rioters in the past three months, hundreds assaulted and injured, countless businesses burned, looted, and destroyed, monuments desecrated, city after city convulsed from vandalism, arson and mayhem that left their downtowns in ruins. 

So, how many Antifa thugs are doing time now? A Google search will turn up charges against this or that police officer for alleged excessive use of force (see, e.g., Atlanta, where police officers have been charged with murder by a corrupt, disgraced leftist district attorney), but Democratic prosecutors, mayors, and governors observe the destruction of their own cities with detached indifference.  

For that matter, Grosskreutz—the one who narrowly missed winning his own Darwin Award in Kenosha—hasn’t been charged with a thing. Neither have any of the armed mob who broke onto Mark and Patricia McCloskey’s property in St. Louis. In fact, it was the McCloskeys who were charged—for defending themselves. 

The “mostly peaceful” Antifa and BLM “protesters” aren’t going to prison. Maybe a few arrests here and there, followed by a warning, a wink and a nod. 

Again, forget Biden-Harris. This is today

If you don’t like all of this, to whom will you complain? The Democratic district attorney, whose election was paid for by George Soros? The Democratic judge caught falsifying election ballots? The Democratic mayor who joins the “mostly peaceful protesters”? Not likely.

Indoctrination on Steroids

We don’t even need to wait for Biden-Harris to see what indoctrination and thought control look like. Any large workplace today has diversity counselors and sensitivity trainers. 

A whole industry has sprung up, teaching helpless white victims to “recognize their white privilege.” Anyone who grew up in the Soviet Union (as I did) will recognize these things immediately. Any organization in the USSR had an assigned KGB officer and a Communist Party cell responsible for ideological purity. They called it “politinformation”—mandatory indoctrination sessions. 

Just try and refuse to attend one of these corporate “diversity training seminars,” even if it’s “voluntary,” and see the impact on your career. If you still have one. Refusal isn’t an option. And just like in the USSR, neither is silence an option for any poor schmuck who just wants to be left alone. And this is today!

With Biden-Harris, expect more of this, and quickly. Kamala Harris, a morbidly revolting authoritarian and hypocrite who exhibits utter contempt for our Constitution, will expand and broaden these pernicious practices. Immediately. 

Public schools (indoctrination factories even before Biden-Harris) will spend even more teacher and student time on these “diversity sessions,” “white privilege awareness training,” and so on. Physics? History? Math? Civics? Who cares? Private schools? Expect them to disappear in a few years—except for a few that cater to children of the elite.

Colleges? “White privilege awareness training” and “systemic racism studies” will be a required part of every curriculum. Don’t like it? Too bad—can’t graduate without it. 

Own a small business? Better invite some professional diversity consultants, for a full assessment of your white privilege, and an action plan. Don’t want to? Then don’t act surprised when they haul you in for an IRS audit or an investigation. You can run, but you can’t hide. Welcome to the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris future!

And then there is the big one—immigration. Anton is right when he predicts that adding 20 million illegal immigrants to voting rolls will mean the end of the Republican Party. Maybe Republicans can still win the odd congressional seat in Wyoming or Alabama, but beyond that, it’s looking grim. 

Still, I sense that he sees this as a years-long process. Alas, I am not the irrepressible optimist that he is. This won’t take years. It won’t even take months. Biden-Harris and the congressional Democrats will pass an amnesty faster than you can say “abracadabra”—and give the newly amnestied illegals citizenship just in time for the 2022 midterms. 

“Flight 93” Forever

Charisma is an ability to inspire devotion in others, that inestimable “something” that makes others place their trust in you. It is sometimes conflated with good public speaking skills, but while inspiring oratory often goes together with charisma, they are not the same. 

Trump, while no Cicero, is a reasonably effective public speaker. But for all the Left’s disdain of Trump’s communication habits, and for all his flaws, improbable biography, his occasional inability to be articulate, and cringe-worthy tweets, Trump’s candidacy has a clear charismatic aspect. Biden, fortunately, has the charisma of Punxsutawney Phil.

We still need to get through 2020, but is there another Republican figure out there with Trumpian charisma? Is there someone out there who can connect with voters the way Trump has? I sure hope we find somebody, because even if Republicans win this round, it might only postpone the inevitable. 

Nor can we always count on Democrats to nominate a confused near-vegetable, or a greedy old unlikable hag. And so the 2024 election will be yet another Flight 93 life-or-death event. And so will the one after that. And the one after that. 

If you aren’t frightened, you should be.

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About George S. Bardmesser

George S. Bardmesser is an attorney in private practice in the Washington, D.C. area. He is the author of Future Shot and Distance to Target, as well as a contributor to The Federalist and American Greatness. He is sometimes heard on the "Inside Track" radio show on KVOI in Tucson, Arizona, and sometimes seen discussing politics (in Russian) on New York’s American-Russian TV channel RTVi and the Two Cats Video Productions politics podcast.

Photo: Ruben Cueto

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