Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Names Will Never Hurt Me

Lots of quotes today.

First up: Media professionals from CBC, CTV, Global News and other major Canadian media outlets made up the panel at this recent seminar, entitled “Journalists and Online Hate”, put on by Ottawa’s Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication. The video of the event commences with a round of self-abasement from the head of Carleton’s journalism program (white, male, middle-aged), who receives applause for calling himself a “fifth generation settler” and apologizes to the panel on behalf of all white, male Canadians.

An inauspicious beginning, and it’s only downhill from there.

Carping at Carleton

Up-and-coming journalists in Canada are young, female, woke, intersectional and uniformly unconcerned about facts. They were in Ottawa to tell students interested in a media career how scary it is to be forced to deal with the negative opinions of real, living readers and viewers on Twitter. I’ll let the inimitable David Thompson summarize the event for you. Brace yourself.

“The panelists begin to ruminate on ‘how best to confront the corrosive force of online hate targeted at journalists.’ Being a journalist on Twitter, where the public can talk back, sometimes bluntly, is equated with surviving in an active warzone and other ‘hostile physical environments,’ with women, the majority of the panel, apparently hardest hit. Journalists, we’re told, are ‘exposed to danger in the digital world’ and consequently suffer high rates of ‘anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic distress.’ As a result of being mocked or disagreed with on Twitter. ‘We don’t want our journalists to be killed,’ says Catherine Tait, the president and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.”

At this point it’s near impossible to keep a straight face. Thompson continues:

“The term ‘hate’ is used often and expansively — not only to cover threats and vividly abusive emails — ‘violent messages’ — but also mockery and brusque corrections of factual and logical error. Even being referred to by the public as woke is presented as a basis for weeping, a form of psychological torture. Indeed, almost any kind of demurral is framed as an attempt to ‘silence’ the journalists’ self-declared heroism, to deny them their cosmic destiny. And hence, it seems, the imperative to shut down reader-comment sections on national newspaper websites, on grounds that readers are no longer content to confine their feedback to the polite correction of typos. Throughout, the air is heavy with self-elevation, and claims of being scrupulously unbiased and ‘speaking truth to power’ are deployed entirely without irony.”

The Victim Narrative

As Thompson’s tone implies, most of this angsting-about and handwringing is transparently phony. The “journalists as victims of online harassment” narrative can’t be convincingly sustained even when the self-styled victims are all young, reasonably attractive women waving fists full of sodden Kleenex. Five minutes of Erica Ifill running at the mouth about the “pathologies of whiteness” leave the distinct impression of a confident, hateful, relentlessly aggressive woman of color thoroughly empowered by both her employers and the current Canadian government to promote the latest wave of leftist craziness as God’s own truth. Why anyone would believe a word Ifill generates from her keyboard after watching her virtue signal her own flagrant and unrepentant biases against various groups of Canadians is an utter mystery.

As Thompson points out, the objective in plain sight is a ruthless and permanent censorship of all who have the temerity to dissent from the progressive narrative. Having seized the biggest tech platforms in North America, media professionals are determined to make sure their message is the only one that gets heard.

Sticks and Stones

I grew up believing that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” It may not be exactly biblical, but it was solid advice. That pithy little truism got me through four pretty awful years of perpetual bullying in and outside school hours. When you have been punched in the face, kicked in the ribs and rolled downhill in a concrete pipe, you don’t really remember which nasty names were whispered at you in the school hallway. Though I possessed much less education and life experience at the time than the fragile flowers on the Carleton journalism panel holding forth to their rapt audience, I somehow managed to survive actual physical danger without “anxiety, depression and post-traumatic distress”. I may have acquired a bruise or two in the process, as well as an uncanny knack for disappearing without a trace if the situation requires it, but I would not change a minute of my childhood. It made me who I am today. It taught me that men can kill the body but not the soul. That is a lesson best learned viscerally.

If what these women are experiencing from a few online disagreements commends itself to them as “psychological torture”, may I humbly suggest they try on the physical variety for size? It may change their rather warped perspective on the rigors of their profession. By comparison, I would have happily taken on the “dangers of the digital world” any day. Ladies, call me when you have taken a bottle to the head on your way to work.

It boggles my mind to find Christians who are still watching and listening to the CBC and other major media outlets, oblivious (or indifferent) to their all-consuming ideological and political agendas. In today’s mainstream media, The Message™ is all that matters. Facts are irrelevant, which explains why the approved narrative shifts constantly. One journalist boasts that she never interviews white men because she “wants to change the look of expertise and challenge power” (which tends to make for poor copy when most of the people who have accurate data to share with the public are white and male), and wonders why the death of Queen Elizabeth didn’t provoke more hit pieces like the one she wrote. (Hint: she was so wildly out of touch with public sentiment that even her fellow journos weren’t prepared to go where she did.)

Majoring on the Majors

We like to juxtapose here, which brings me to something else that hit my inbox earlier this week. Antemodernist wants us to think about the fact that, for Christians engaged in public testimony to the world, “ ‘Major on the majors’ is good, but incomplete, advice”. To complete it, we need to know what the main points of satanic attack are in our own generation. He quotes Carl Trueman to get to the bottom of that:

“The older generation who matured in the shadow of the Battle for the Bible assumed that it would be Christian doctrine — belief in the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the miracles — that would be the fault line within the churches and the reason why the outside world would repudiate Christianity. That generation thus lived in a world where such things played no role in actual membership in wider society. They might make Christians look foolish, but they did not make us look evil. And in that world Christians could compensate for their perceived foolishness by combining Christian orthodoxy with a certain cultural savvy and sophistication.

But those days are over and that leadership is ill-equipped for what is now happening. Being mocked for believing in miracles is much easier to handle than being hated as a bigot. And it is now obvious the Christian position on the key issues of membership in society today — those of sexual identity, gender, abortion — cannot but implicate one in public debates and will merit the title of bigot.”

Antemodernist concludes:

“Christians indeed should ‘major on the majors’. But those majors today aren’t the core doctrines. Those are behind the front lines, and it’s the front lines where the fighting happens. There’s a temptation among third-way types to try and retreat from the front to the easy and comfortable home territory. It’s not hard to predict what will happen to those who do. Just take a look at the mainline protestant churches.”

Genuflecting at the Altar of New Marxism

I think both Antemodernist and Trueman are on to something important here. Trueman’s thesis certainly explains why so many formerly orthodox Christian publishers and magazines (Christianity Today comes to mind) have leapt on the progressivist bandwagon: nobody wants the label “bigot”. Whether or not it changes anything else about your life, being called an oppressor and a hater just feels wrong. Even in Christians, who should know better, the accusation of insensitivity to the pain of others brings out an instinct to grovel, self-flagellate and apologize like the head of Carleton’s journalism program confronted with a roomful of woke students.

May I suggest that is the worst possible response? Erica Ifill and her ilk will never love us no matter how convincingly we genuflect at the altar of New Marxism, and the Lord Jesus would not want us to apologize for the things the writers of his word laid out in plain, unequivocal language. To cede the truths presently under fire — that God created only two sexes, that men dressing as women (and vice versa) are not “authentic” but merely perverse, or that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God — may not put one beyond the pale where salvation is concerned. These things are not “majors” in that sense.

Mint, Dill and Cumin

Nevertheless, though biblical sex roles and godly sexuality are not “core doctrines” on the level of the incarnation, resurrection or deity of Christ, these so-called “minors” still have their place in the life of the believer. Attending to them establishes our credibility in the world. If Christians, like the culture around us, demur when asked to maintain the obvious biological distinction between man and woman, why should we (or the world) expect us to stand firm when our core doctrines finally do come under fire?

Indeed, the Word itself tells us we are unlikely to do so. Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” When the Pharisees neglected the weightier matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness — while tithing mint, dill and cumin, what did Jesus say to them? “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Caving on the so-called minor issues of the faith in hope of getting folks like the ideologues on the Carleton panel to consider Christ is a non-starter. They will only despise us for our weakness.

The “minors” are not “majors”, but the majors are not the truths under assault in our present generation. Surrendering them may not be equally heretical, but it is equally unfaithful.

No comments :

Post a Comment