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Hate Mail of the Day: Understanding the Crypto-Religious Mentality of the Left

Posted on October 1 2009 12:00 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten hate mail. And, oh, how I’ve missed it.

Five years ago when I was a leftist op/ed columnist for my college paper the hate mail would come in regularly as I delivered a new radical assault against the Iraq War, the Bush administration, and the Conservative Movement each week.

Now that I write exclusively online — there’s no longer a printed page with an email at the bottom — most of the time hateful responses just show up in the comments section. But is it ever a delight when I get a hostile, insulting email.

This one did not come as the result of a piece I’d written but as something I’d done. After weeks of putting up with “Pbrauer,” one of NewsReal’s leftist trolls, I finally decided to ban him. The previous day I’d given him a warning and he’d decided to ignore it. He unleashed one final ad hominem attack on my old friends and now colleagues Tim and Alissa Birkel. Instead of thoughtfully rebutting their argument,  he decided to make fun of them. And that was it. He sent me an angry email in response to his banishment. It was every bit as ad hominem as his comments:


Your response was not at all unexpected, frankly I am surprised that I lasted this long at David Horowitz’ blog. He wouldn’t know the truth if it was staring him in the face. Or maybe he would, but would not admit because it didn’t fit his agenda.

You as young man at the tender age of 25, idolize this creep? He is on the fringe, you are on the fringe, of reality that is. Horowitz was once on the radical left, now he is on the radical right. The term “Koolaid Drinking” comes from the fact that the followers of Jim Jones drank Koolaid laced with cyanide. While I wouldn’t equate Horowitz exactly with Jim Jones, I would say your dedication to a man so distructive is not far off.

When I said you had an unfortunate surname, I meant no harm. Most normal people would have responded with “Yeah, Tell me about it.” But you chose demonize me and tell me I am horrible human being , that told me more about you and your radical agenda than you know.

Please tell Tim and Alissa Birkel, that it my plan to email Rachel Maddow to call them out and publicly invite them on the show. I will provide links to their posts critical to her. Maybe she will and maybe she won’t. I think it’s worth a try.

Rachel Maddow and Media Matters are targets because they are so effective in getting out the truth.

Pete S,

[Emphasis added – DS]

(Incidentally I’ve counted three attempts in which Pbrauer has tried to make comments on NewsReal. They’ve all been immediately spammed.)

What struck me most about Pete AKA Pbrauer’s hate mail was what I’ve emphasized above. Look at the way he uses the term “the truth.” In his opening paragraph he notes that Horowitz cannot see “the truth.” He concludes by noting that Media Matters and Rachel Maddow are great at getting out “the truth.”

This is the way religious fundamentalists talk. (And note I’m not referring here to the many friendly Christians who comment at NewsReal.) Without even realizing it, Pbrauer affirmed the validity of the central thesis of my favorite Horowitz text, The Politics of Bad Faith. (He’s not the first leftist I’ve encountered who has done this.) For much of the Left they do not have political ideas or opinions. They have political Truth. The Left is a political religion.

And leftists’ behavior reflects that. There is a connection between Pbrauer’s political religion and the behavior he exhibited at NewsReal that caused him to be banned. He never really engaged us in dialogue. His objective was always to sabotage with ad hominem attacks. And the reason is simple: why be in dialogue with someone when they’re pushing a lie? With Pbrauer — and others like him — it is NEVER an exchange of ideas. That’s not what interests them. They have all the correct ideas — The Truth — and we’re just the unsaved heathens who need to hear the leftist gospel.

Now there are certainly conservatives that talk and think this way too. I cringe every time I get an email in which a conservative supporter emails me talking about their political opinions as though they were “the Truth.” And I wince when conservatives refuse to consider ideas from the Left or even to have leftist friends. Adopting such an approach perverts conservatism into a Political Faith instead of a coherent, intellectual approach.

That main point made I’ll respond to Pbrauer’s other points for the amusement of

  1. I don’t “idolize” Horowitz. He’s my friend and now my boss. We certainly don’t agree on everything. I support him and the Freedom Center because America and the American Idea need to be defended from those who seek to destroy them.
  2. The paragraph about my name is referring to an exchange in a comment thread where, out of the blue, Pbrauer mentioned at the end of his point, “you have an unfortunate last name.” This told me everything I needed to know about him. Just a few days prior I’d written a post explaining how the great thing about my last name (and other “unfortunate” names) is that as soon as someone makes a comment about it I know they’re an insensitive, thoughtless jerk. It’s not that the comment hurt my feelings or that I was offended. (Pbrauer didn’t get this point then and he doesn’t get it now.)

    Don't feed the troll

    Perhaps with this post I'm breaking this guideline. But can one feed a troll if they cannot comment back?

  3. It would be delightful if Maddow commented on the Birkels’ “Spoonful of Saccharine” series. I’ve been meaning to email Maddow’s producers about it. So if Pbrauer wants to do my work for me then he’ll be making himself far more useful than he ever did as one of NewsReal’s trolls. In fact if he wants to email every leftist we criticize to let them know then I’d certainly be thrilled. (In fact if any of our other readers would like to email out links of our commentaries then that would be very much appreciated.)
  4. As Horowitz pointed out to me when I showed him the email: Jim Jones was an icon of the Left. Pbrauer probably doesn’t know that — just as he knows next to nothing about me, Horowitz, and the nature of his own “progressive” faith.
When I mentioned to Horowitz that I’d banned Pbrauer, he was curious why. I responded:
It’s been a long time coming. And I’ve resisted it for weeks, often arguing against the idea of banning him when some of our regulars email me his comments to complain. His comments are always ad hominem attempts to discredit, never thoughtful critiques of arguments.He exhibits classic internet troll behavior — constantly baiting and provoking other commenters to try and get emotional reactions. (Sometimes he’s successful.) He basically violates points 1, 5, and 11 of our commenting guidelines on a regular basis.

When he mocked Tim and Alissa for their degrees in creative writing (actually Alissa’s is in literature) I’d had enough.

I don’t ban at the drop of a hat. And I don’t like doing it. But if someone is not going to be a respectful guest in our house and contribute to a healthy discussion and they refuse to change when instructed otherwise… Then they’re out.
NewsReal welcomes the comments from open-minded leftists who want to engage in dialogue. (Not long ago I fell into this category.) But “progressives” who just want to come to preach, insult, and sabotage will not get to be guests in the NewsReal house for very long.
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