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Golden state tarnish

Be-happy liberalism becomes suppress-dissent liberalism

Kamala Harris waves during the San Francisco Pride parade on June 30. Josie Norris/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

Golden state tarnish
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Do Californians just want to have fun? Not if they’re members of the state legislature that late last month showed how liberalism, once a defender of free speech, is doubling down on suppression of dissent and viewpoint diversity.

The California State Assembly on June 24 turned the supposed “wall of separation” between church and state into a low speed bump: The chamber, which is 76 percent Democratic, passed a resolution proposing that all religious leaders affirm LGBTQ lifestyles and oppose “conversion therapy” designed to help gays and trans individuals to change, if that is their goal.

The resolution, ACR 99, has no legal force. It’s part of what Spanish speakers call dictablanda, the soft dictatorship that pushes conformity to the reigning worldview, or else. Officials in China and California prefer dictablanda to dictadura, hard dictatorship. They do not need as many jailers if potential dissidents imprison themselves.

Be-happy liberalism in the 1960s birthed the Free Speech Movement on the University of California–Berkeley campus, the Summer of Love in San Francisco, and no-fault divorce in Sacramento’s legislative chambers. Even though free speech soon became dirty speech and free love became far from free, the original goal was individual liberation. Now, that has mutated into trigger warnings, safe spaces, and attempts to ban microaggressions.

The NBC presidential campaign debates on June 26 and 27 displayed many microaggressions and some macro ones. Democratic candidates showed a decade’s movement on healthcare: Barack Obama famously pledged that you could keep your doctor, but Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, called for eliminating that freedom.

Pundits called Harris the big winner, but her California-left intolerance of private medical insurance, border security, and neighborhood schools—she zapped Joe Biden on his 20th-century resistance to federal Department of Education demands—will not play well down the road. Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro also left incognito status as he promoted government-paid abortions for trans women and proposed that illegal border crossings bring merely a civil penalty akin to a speeding ticket.

One photo widely circulated during the last week of June was so sad that it provoked responses likely to cause more tragedy, not less. The photo, of a father and his 2-year-old drowned during an illegal Rio Grande crossing, was worth 100,000 words in Washington, where the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed on a $4.6 billion relief package. But neither Beltway solons nor Miami candidates had a solid solution.

Harris and others also called for the federal government to pay off $1.5 trillion in student loans, with the money coming from increased taxation, but NBC journalists did not ask the candidates whether that was fair to graduates who had worked hard to pay off their loans. Nor did reporters in majority-Hispanic Miami ask a single question about U.S. policy toward Venezuela and its government propped up by Cuban agents.

Also missing were questions about the accumulation of power by technological titans. One Google employee facing corporate discipline, Mike Wacker, said “outrage mobs and witch hunts” dominate Google culture, with vocal Christians and conservatives facing discrimination. Historians in several decades may see Facebook’s announcement of plans to launch its cryptocurrency, Libra, as the most important late June development.

Many publications missed Libra’s significance, but Wired magazine understood. Author Molly Wood noted that 350 million people use dollars but seven times as many use Facebook and may use Libra, which “is likely to be the most useful in countries where the local currency is hyperinflated or banking is unreliable. Think of the 170 million Facebook users in Africa, many of whom already bank and transact on mobile phones. It’s an easy sell.”

Wood concluded her Wired article, “It may seem naive to ask if a company can really be as powerful as a country (the primary difference being, you know, the guns).” Facebook, Google, Apple, and other California corporations may be on their way to becoming not just companies but countries. Their user populations and annual revenues are already vaster than those of many sovereign states.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continued to push back against macroaggression on humans unable to punch back: “taxpayer-funded abortion right up to the moment of birth—ripping babies straight from the mothers’ wombs.” The president’s pro-life statements are excellent, but what about Trump spiritual adviser Paula White’s partisan prayer at his campaign kickoff rally in Orlando? She said, “Let every demonic network who has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus!”

The response to prayer was also unusual: Many in the audience chanted “USA, USA.” A Daily Beast headline writer confused by the mix of religion and politics said White was attacking “demonic news networks,” and others mocked her “political exorcism”: CBN.com rightly explained that White was referring to spiritual warfare.

June ended with The New York Times attacking the JoeBiden.info website, “a slick little piece of disinformation that … breezily mocks the candidate.” But after Democrats debated, the Times—a slick big piece of disinformation—ran a “Who Won?” story under a headline suggesting ideological diversity: “Experts on the Left and Right Weigh In.” The story quoted 10 experts from the left, one Politico reporter, and one from the right, sort of: Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who says he is “proud to be gay.”

As we slouched toward Independence Day, we could update Woody Guthrie’s words: “This land is your land, this land is my land. From California to the New York island … propaganda made for you and me.”

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.



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