“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”
George Orwell, 1984
In regard to the firing of Brendan Eich by Mozilla after gay activists demanded his scalp for his donating a $1,000 in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, go here to Darwin’s post on the subject, it struck me as to the function such leftist witch hunts are intended to perform.
First, they help keep the perpetually aggrieved, perpetually aggrieved. Most leftists, in order to have power, must have constant agitation against enemies. The names of the enemy vary, but the function they perform remains the same: to give leftists a devil figure to rally against.
Second, a means of proscribing certain thought crimes. Most leftists are not content to win political victories, they want to drive their adversaries from the public square and punish them for their beliefs.
Third, abasement. The gay activists who began the campaign have said that they wanted Eich to recant and then they would have been content with him keeping his job. Confession and recantation by heretics is always a good thing.
Fourth, terror. Many leftists tend to view terrorism as not a bad thing so long as it is their terrorism. Just imagine how many CEOs cringed when they realized that in today’s America a man or woman could lose their job based on a political donation years ago.
Fifth, intolerance. Most leftists love tolerance so long as their views are the ones being tolerated. Views they oppose are not to be tolerated. Little leftist morality plays like Eich are useful in making certain that it is clearly understood that tolerance is purely a one way street.
There has been considerable push back regarding the firing of Eich and I find that heartening. However, the alarming thing about this whole controversy is that it underlines that the dominant political movement in this country in academia, entertainment, and, increasingly, in industry, is totalitarian in orientation and will not hesitate to seek to punish private individuals for incorrect beliefs. Political correctness at its core has always been a deeply authoritarian movement, and the old mantra of leftists in the sixties, that the personal is political, is being played out in our times.