John on December 8, 2010 at 4:00 am
Stanley Kurtz on David Frum’s new effort to police political speech:
Last week, the distinguished liberal thinker and activist William Galston, along with an equally distinguished conservative counterpart, David Frum, announced in the Washington Post the forthcoming founding of a new organization called “No Labels.” The stated aim of No Labels is to combat the “hyper-polarization” of American political debate by “calling out” politicians, media personalities, and opinion leaders who “recklessly demonize” opponents. Unfortunately, their announcement gives us reason to fear that No Labels will only increase the level of political acrimony by attempting to constrain debate, thereby exacerbating the very polarization the group claims it seeks to combat.
No Labels aims to “expand the space” of public debate in America by reducing the fear of “social or political retribution.” But this expansion is, by the two men’s own account, really a contraction. That is, Galston and Frum intend to moderate public debate by “establishing lines that no one should cross,” as they put it. Specifically, they seek to police the use of labels like “racist” and “socialist,” which they believe are used recklessly in a way that undermines democratic discussion of “legitimate policy differences.”
Read the rest and you get a pretty clear impression that Frum and Galston are looking to start a new centrist Media Matters. Here’s my prediction: Liberals in the MSM will gladly turn to No Labels to censure conservatives who stray from the official media narrative. They will also occasionally call out insignificant liberals so as to appear balanced. The press will pretend not to notice that the liberals in question are on the fringes of the debate while the conservatives in question will be the ones at the forefront. Liberals will quickly see the benefits and the group will receive significant funding, just as Media Matters and the SPLC do now. Prove me wrong, Mr. Frum.
Maybe Frum can adopt this as their theme song. Just change it to “Speech Police” and all the rest of the lyrics work: