A Media With No Doubts Charges ‘Cowardice’

June 18, 2021 Updated: June 19, 2021

Commentary

The decline of the Washington Post from its former journalistic eminence might be summed up in one headline that I spotted this week while glancing over its daily “Headlines” newsletter—which is usually as much of the paper as I care to see anymore.

This headline was to an opinion piece by one Terrance Weeden and contained the customary thumbnail biography of the author within itself. It read: “I’m a gay, Christian pediatrician and have no doubt: Jesus would reject anti-trans laws.”

Let’s just say that the kind of people given to confident pronouncements about what political party Jesus would have favored—presumably does favor—used not to be welcome in the pages of the Washington Post—or any other newspaper that cared about being taken seriously.

Of course, such people used to be on the political right. Some, perhaps, still are. But their crass bumptiousness apparently doesn’t count against them now that their (and supposedly Jesus’s) political views correspond with those of the Post.

What once made them so objectionable, I fancy, is not so much that they presumed to speak for the Only Begotten Son of Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, as that, like Weeden, they had no doubt that the view they took of some currently fashionable political cause exactly corresponded to that of the Ancient of Days.

I can’t help thinking of the little rhyme from the World War I era by J.C. Squire:

God heard the embattled nations sing and shout,
Gott strafe [punish] England!” and “God Save the King!”
God this, God that and God the other thing —
“Good God,” said God, “I’ve got my work cut out.”

The Post’s headline is presumably meant to suggest that Weeden’s being gay, Christian, and a pediatrician all somehow qualify him to have no doubt about the truth of his (and, presumptively, Jesus’s) opinions. But my impression is that nowadays it’s the other way around: it’s the having no doubt about it which qualifies your opinion to appear in today’s Washington Post.

No Doubts

Nobody—at least nobody on the Post’s side of our great ideological divide—has any doubts these days. Having no doubt is the first requirement for membership among the putatively good and decent folk of the Left.

You might almost say that the real divergence between the two sides in the culture wars is not over “transgenderism” or any of the other isms, good and bad, currently in vogue but between the people on either side of the ostensible divide with no doubts and the people for whom, as for me, “doubt” is not a dirty word.

Needless to say, it’s the no-doubters who are in charge at The Washington Post, as they are at most other media entities which once dispensed “the news” but now only offer propaganda—largely because it is much easier and more comfortable to have no doubts about propaganda than it is about the news.

A couple of weeks ago in the UK there was a spate of articles by left-wingers with no sense of irony arguing that the culture wars don’t actually exist but have been made up by conservatives desperate to distract public attention from their own failures.

The idea is no crazier than most of those promulgated by the revolutionary Left these days, and it may be one that they actually believe—because of this same self-certainty. If they genuinely suppose that no one can disagree with them, it’s only a short step to thinking that no one does disagree with them. Not really. Such disagreement can only be a pretense. How can anyone disagree with a certainty?

Cowardice

This is also why the Left so often characterizes those who dissent from the media consensus as “cowards.”

Kevin McCarthy plumbs new depths of political cowardice” thundered the Post’s editorial board last month when the Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives declined to participate in a Democratic PR exercise disguised as an “investigation” of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The paper’s “digital opinions editor” James Downie echoed his colleagues a couple of weeks later: “Senate Republicans know they chose cowardice in killing a Jan. 6 investigation. They just proved it.”

Meanwhile, over at The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan was writing that “Liz Cheney Confronts a House of Cowards”—because, as she supposed, “House Republicans are about to demonstrate they can’t handle the truth about 2020 and Jan. 6.”

Such accusations echo the many media citations over the past four years of Republican cowardice as the only conceivable reason why party stalwarts don’t, like Liz Cheney, repudiate a President of their own party.

People are, of course, entitled to their opinions, but what entitles them to attribute such poltroonery to those who disagree with them? Only their own self-certainty about “the truth” as they see it.

Nobody, they believe—or at least they pretend to believe—could possibly disagree with them in good faith. Therefore, any apparent disagreement must be motivated by fear.

Thus, the Post’s columnist Christine Emba recently purported to explain “Why conservatives really fear critical race theory.”

What they are supposed to be afraid of—especially given the kudos they would receive from the media for daring to agree with them—is never quite made clear.

But the unspoken assumption is always that conservatives must really know “the truth”—about Donald Trump or Jan. 6 or the pristine 2020 election or critical race theory—as well as they themselves do, since it seems so obvious to them, but are too cowardly to say so.

When put like that, the idea may sound absurd, but it’s no more absurd than a confident assertion that Jesus is on your side of a political argument that, one suspects, even Omniscience could scarcely have foreseen, back in the days when Jesus walked the earth.

James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” Bowman is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for the New Criterion.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Bowman
James Bowman
James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for The New Criterion.