MATTHEWS: Perpetual Liberal Outrage Mobs Are Destroying the Public Debate

If it can happen to Chelsea Clinton, it can happen to any of us.

Last week Clinton was at a New York vigil to pay respects to the victims of the horrific New Zealand mosque murders that left at least 50 dead and scores wounded.

Instead of the crowd standing in solidarity, some instead took the opportunity to verbally ambush Clinton, an author who is pregnant with her third child.

With cameras rolling, Clinton was accused of motivating the New Zealand attacker. “Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric you put out there,” one of the NY University students said to her in an agitated tone.

All this because Clinton, a Democrat whose husband is Jewish, spoke out against remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that were widely viewed as anti-Semitic.

Clinton maintained her cool, but also appeared contrite – as if she had something to feel guilty over. You better believe she’ll now be more cautious about what she says in the future for fear of offending the liberal outrage mob.

The two students at the center of this widely retweeted video ambush were rewarded with a column about their experience at a popular online publication. One of the students even used the incident to fundraise.

In a tweet, journalist Andy Ngo said these mobs “have built a cottage industry where they gain fame, money, and followers for being bullies.” With just a few simple words, he perfectly described how liberal outrage mobs have turned their perpetual anger into a lucrative industry, whether the payments be in cash, popularity, or “street cred.”

The primary motivation of these liberal mobs is to shame their opposition into silence, even if the person is – like Clinton – generally on their side of the debate most of time.

We also saw similar tactics last week in the case of Tucker Carlson, who has a popular TV talk show and conservative online publication. A well-funded left-wing site that monitors conservative media targeted Carlson over offensive remarks he made over a decade ago.

Their goal was not to get him to apologize, nor to get him to clean up his act. It was to whip up the leftist outrage mob, to get them to flood Carlson’s advertisers with tweets and emails. Their goal was to choke off his funding, all the while raising money for themselves to use to go after their ultimate target: Fox News.

Their main objective is to get the network shut down. Why? They’re the only cable news network that doesn’t slant left.

For that, they must be punished. Silenced.

In Carlson’s case, he’s said he will not be silenced, but it’s not like that for other people who don’t have his resources with which to fight back.

During the debate over HB2 here in North Carolina, the liberal outrage mob targeted any conservative who dared to speak out in favor of keeping bathrooms segregated by gender. Liberal groups went door-to-door to businesses in certain parts of the state, demanding to know if they were “transgender friendly.”

The left-leaning editorial board at my hometown newspaper used their platform to shame and bully conservative women uncomfortable with the idea of being forced to share their private spaces with men. A journalist at their sister paper in Raleigh retweeted – without verification – tweets from a liberal activist engaged in an online name and shame campaign against businesses that allegedly supported HB2.

It didn’t matter if you wanted to keep your thoughts on the issue private. Disagreement, as per the norm, would not be tolerated.

Do these groups have the right to engage in this political warfare? Yes. But having the right to do something doesn’t always make it right to do.

These tactics are the modern-day equivalent of book burnings, except in this case it’s real people whose words and lives are thrust under the microscope. The perpetual liberal outrage mobs identify their “offensive” objects and seize on them with laser precision, claiming victory when their scorched targets are shamed into backing down or shutting down.

This might be good for fattening their already-deep coffers and for advancing their radical agendas, but it’s absolutely poisonous to the public debate. When well-meaning people decide they’d rather stay silent than risk offending mobs, a little bit of the soul of America dies.

The ideal response from conservatives to all of this is to speak louder, be bolder. But for some it comes at too high a cost. Don’t blame them for staying in the shadows. Blame the for-profit liberal outrage mobs who put them there.

Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.