Since the contentious US election, some on both sides of the divide have taken to making “watch-lists” to intimidate or censor their opposition.
Though the US election ended weeks ago, liberals and conservatives alike have stooped to new lows in order to intimidate or censor those with view contrary to their own. In a bizarre turn of events that would surely bewilder even Joe McCarthy himself, groups of liberals are accusing those who opposed Hillary Clinton of being Russian propagandists while groups of conservatives are accusing liberals of spreading “anti-American” and leftist propaganda. With witch-hunts under way on both sides, it seems the likelihood of Americans healing the divide from this past election grows dimmer with each passing day.
Conservatives in America have long decried academia as a haven for “extreme” leftist values. Though many US universities and college do have a noticeable liberal/progressive slant, as evidenced to university responses to the US election outcome, at least one conservative organization has gone too far in its attempts to “out” leftist professors. Turning Point USA, founded by now 22-year-old Charlie Kirk, is a conservative activist group found at over 800 colleges and high schools across the country which promotes “the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.” The group has become famous in recent weeks for publishing the website “ProfessorWatchlist.org,” which aims to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” So far, nearly 200 professors are listed, many of them placed on the list for merely teaching important truths such as the existence of income inequality and the continued persistence of institutionalized racism in the US.
Turning Point USA’s “watch-list” mirrors similar efforts underway among prominent US politicians to create a similar “list” for use at the national level. Former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich, who is also close to the Trump transition team, has called for the formation of a Congressional committee on “un-American activities.” Though Gingrich’s plan focuses on “weeding out” ISIS supporters and sympathizers, the term “un-American” can be used very broadly, as shown by Turning Point USA’s professor watch-list as well as previous “witch hunts” in American history.
The liberal establishment, not to be outdone, is also fomenting a McCarthyism all its own. Since the election, media outlets that were caught actively colluding with Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party have been working to discredit their competitors in the alternative media, particularly sites that were/are critical of Clinton and her policies. These outlets have now been labeled as “Russian propaganda,” “fake news,” and “Putin’s useful idiots” among other epithets reminiscent of the Red Scare. The Washington Post recently ran a story, titled “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts day.” However, these so-called “experts mentioned in the article all originate from a “new, hidden, and very shady group” called PropOrNot.
PropOrNot named several independent media outlets in its list including WikiLeaks, the Drudge Report, Truth-out, the Ron Paul Institute, Counterpunch as well as True Activist for allegedly disseminating “Russia propaganda.” Their website also argues that these sites are spreading Russian propaganda just for expressing “alternative viewpoints” such as anti-interventionism, anti-GMO, and a return to the gold standard. Despite major flaws in the article as well as its unproven allegations, the most disturbing thing about PropOrNot is that they have called for the media sites on its list to be investigated by the FBI or DOJ for violations of the US Espionage Act. Equally concerning is how aggressive the corporate media shared this story, lending this organization legitimacy when it has none. With both left and right targeting their competitors with McCarthy Era tactics, it seems the new “great divide” in America will get worse before it gets better.