“Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling predicted back in the 1950s that we’d soon have a citizenry unable to think. Many of his screenplays warned of the specter of runaway mob psychology. Today it seems that’s exactly the sort of citizenry we’ve got.
Social media trolling drives mindless street theater, which drives more mindless social media trolling, and on and on. Most Americans aren’t taken in by it, but the illusions mob behavior promotes can wreak havoc even on reasonable people.
The mob mindset seems to be in hyper-drive. Consider a July 14 Quillette article, “I was the Mob until the Mob Came for Me,” written under a pseudonym due to the author’s reasonable fear of retribution. These days, “Barrett Wilson” delivers pizza and sushi to support his young family, a job he can’t afford to lose.
He explains: “I once had a well paid job in what might be described as the social justice industry. Then I upset the wrong person, and within a short window of time, I was considered too toxic for my employer’s taste. I was publicly shamed, mobbed, and reduced to a symbol of male privilege. I was cast out of my career and my professional community.”
Wilson confesses that he was once part of that mob, and as such, he fed the beast that did him in:
How did I become that person? It happened because it was exhilarating. Every time I would call someone racist or sexist, I would get a rush. That rush would then be reaffirmed and sustained by the stars, hearts, and thumbs-up that constitute the nickels and dimes of social media validation. The people giving me these stars, hearts, and thumbs-up were engaging in their own cynical game: A fear of being targeted by the mob induces us to signal publicly that we are part of it.
What should we make of Wilson’s amazing acknowledgement that people generally signal their compliance with the mob to avoid being targeted by it? Indeed, this is a very human defense mechanism, but it’s only temporary. Mob compliance is a vicious and deadly cycle. The only way to stop the cycle is to stop complying with the mob’s demands. Such refusal is an actual act of bravery.
What to make of Wilson saying he’d “get a rush” every time he smeared someone publicly? Again, a human behavior. Mob participants are spellbound by the addiction of fake adulation, being called “brave” when they collectively gang up on an individual. Doing so reflects emotional neediness and arrested development. This emotional immaturity is fed by a culture with an education system that does not value independent thought. But I digress.
So, the mob did to Wilson what mobs naturally do: turn on their own: “Then one day, suddenly, I was accused of some of the very transgressions I’d called out in others. I was guilty, of course: There’s no such thing as due process in this world. And once judgment has been rendered against you, the mob starts combing through your past, looking for similar transgressions that might have been missed at the time. I was now told that I’d been creating a toxic environment for years at my workplace; that I’d been making the space around me unsafe through micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions alike.”
Political Correctness Has Built a ‘Snitch Culture’
Wilson also describes the social justice industry, which thrives on political correctness, as “a surveillance culture, a snitch culture.” This description is very apt, especially if you recall last summer’s Twitter crusade by celebrity Lena Dunham. She encouraged people to eavesdrop on others’ private conversations to report something politically incorrect to authorities.
Dunham publicly celebrated getting two American Airlines employees investigated after she reported overhearing their conversation in an airport terminal. The employees allegedly engaged in what she called “transphobic” talk. Dunham was modelling the snitch culture so her followers could do same to anyone and everyone.
American Airlines cooperated by publicly agreeing to investigate the employees based on Dunham’s manufactured complaint. As it turned out, the airline claimed it didn’t have conclusive evidence. So, as far as we know, no employees lost their jobs as a result of that particular incident. But it all paves the way for the metastasis of a snitch culture.
That’s standard procedure today for all of the corporations that now operate under the rainbow-colored flag, which is to say just about all of them. As we can see from Wilson’s experience, it’s working so well that the mob can now turn on its own with impunity.
For every high-profile story of a shamed target who basically lost a job for the simple act of thinking or speaking thoughts the mob didn’t authorize—for example, Google engineer James Damore or former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich or Business Insider columnist Daniella Greenbaum—there are likely thousands of unknown Barrett Wilsons walking among us.
Some of them didn’t even know what they did or said to offend anybody. Their superiors wouldn’t even say who accused them. But they were no doubt hauled into a human resources department and told they didn’t have the correct values or attitudes for the organization. Next thing they knew, they were escorted to their desks to clear out of, say, a tech company like Microsoft, or the California State University system, or any number of banks or corporations or schools.
The Phenomenon of Psycho-Mob Metastasis
If mob behavior is the antithesis of mature thought processes, we should be able to see anti-thought behavior everywhere today. We most certainly do. The pack mindset leads people to harass others without provocation. Recall that the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia threw White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and her family out of the restaurant because she didn’t agree with Sanders’ politics.
The mob also congregates with bullhorns in front of officials’ homes, such as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s, telling them they shouldn’t be allowed to sleep. It loiters menacingly in front of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, such as the one in Portland, Oregon, in a campaign that would lead to abolishing border control and law enforcement. It mindlessly riots. It encourages an adult to assault a kid wearing a Trump-supporting MAGA hat.
The mob mindset engages in ritual defamation, a procedure practiced by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many corporations and tech giants rely on the SPLC as a means of policing and punishing independent thought under the guise of fighting “hate.” It’s the same mob mindset that inspired a gunman to open fire at the Washington office of the Family Research Council in 2012. It also inspired a gunman to attempt a mass assassination of Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice last year, seriously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise and two police officers.
Yet certain members of Congress continue to feed this mentality, most famously Maxine Waters, who rallied a personal mob and called for increased physical swarming of government officials at their homes, at gas stations, at restaurants. Everywhere.
Why Illegal Immigration Is a Centerpiece of Mob Action
It’s interesting here to note how calls to abolish ICE have become such a lynchpin of mob action recently. We needn’t wonder very hard about why rent-a-mob activity is being used to shut down law enforcement, particularly the enforcement of immigration laws. Mob psychology simply can’t sustain itself through logic or reason. After all, thoughtfulness in a society, which can only come about through free expression, is anathema to mob creation and activity.
Power elites who support and incite this sort of mass mobilization—otherwise known as “community organizing”—are forever invested in maintaining a dependent underclass. That’s pretty much the extent of immigration’s usefulness to them. Hence the enlisted social justice warrior mobs stridently and quite suddenly now emote about “children” and “family cohesion” and “American values.”
Please. All of a sudden, these people purport to care about children? Since when has the anti-thought camp in “progressive” American politics ever cared about a child’s need for both a mother and a father? About keeping families together? The answer is: Never.
The mob’s newfound interest in family cohesion at the Mexican border should be clear to anybody who can think it through: it’s a political ploy to use the kids as pawns in order to open the borders. The anti-thought Left cannot win arguments on the merits, and certainly not with rule of law or due process. So it needs bodies, and gets them with bribes: welfare, health care, and education subsidies.
The anti-thought Left cares as deeply about family separation as it cares about the emotional health of individuals like Barrett Wilson whom they enlist in their rent-a-mobs. If they cared about the emotional health of mob participants, they’d be interested in helping them develop means of independent thought rather than force-feeding them a diet of identity politics and ignorance in the schools. They’d have promoted family cohesion and happiness for children. Instead, they’ve addicted them to the emotional rush of “progressive” mob politics.
Family separation happens to be a centerpiece of so many so-called progressive policies that SJW mobs and their creators in the Democrat Party have been promoting for years. This includes, but is by no means limited to, family law—e.g., no-fault divorce, which forcibly separates kids from parents; medicine—e.g., Obamacare’s lower premiums for the divorced than for the married; education—e.g., teaching kids that their parents are bigots if they promote the cohesion of the organic family; and welfare policies—punishing mothers if fathers are present in the family.
In fact, the intentional breakdown of families has always been the crown jewel of such regressive policies because intact families have always been the bane of big government proponents. That has never changed since Karl Marx declared war on the family. Don’t expect it to change now.
Just Call Them On It
Most frustrating of all are the supposedly conservative leaders who actually listen to the rantings of the mob and try to earnestly explain that no, we conservatives are not like that at all. We actually do care about kids and families. Sigh. So when did we stop beating our wives? The mob can never be appeased, even if all of its demands are met.
There’s no point explaining anything to the anti-thought Left. People who intend harm usually know it at some level. They habitually project their intentions onto their perceived enemies. The mobs calling for abolishing ICE and border control use the charge of family separation because they are guilty of doing just that in just about every area of policy.
In like manner, garden-variety mob members who get a “rush” from smearing their perceived opponents are shifting their own sins onto others. Try asking them this: What makes you so perfect? So immune to ever doing anything bad? So pure as the driven snow? They’re always somehow above reproach for anything and everything. So perfect.
In the end, the people used to prop up mob behavior—whether appointed SJW flying monkeys or hard-luck immigrants themselves—are all expendable, as far as the progressive mob is concerned. As Wilson wrote, there is no due process in that world.
There comes a point when those who keep trying to give the anti-thought camp the benefit of the doubt have to face reality. By appeasing, we’re enabling. And that hurts everyone, including members of the mob like Wilson, who end up learning the hard way.
So, if the mob is ever firmly ensconced in power, know this: they are coming for you, no matter who you are.