Refuting Dave Rubin's Falsehoods & Junk Arguments in David Pakman Interview

 

Photo: DavidJanet88/Wikimedia Commons; Dpakman91/Wikimedia Commons

 

Dave Rubin recently did an hour-long interview on The David Pakman Show, and it was just littered with nonsense. In this post, I'm going to break down and refute some of the more egregious falsehoods or sloppy arguments made by Dave Rubin in that interview.

We're going to start off with a very simple one that's almost too easy to disprove:

 

"There's virtually no one on the right that cares about gay marriage anymore."

 

That is just flat-out false. While there's no question that support for gay marriage has been increasing over the years, Gallup reports that, in 2017, only 47% of Republicans support gay marriage, while Pew reports that only 40% support it. That is to say, not even a majority of Republicans support gay marriage.

Furthermore, Republican lawmakers haven't given up on this subject either. For example, as The Hill reports, just a few months ago, in April of 2017,

 

"Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina are proposing a bill that would ban gay marriage in the state . . .

North Carolina state Reps. Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, and Carl Ford, all Republicans, are the primary sponsors of the 'Uphold Historical Marriage Act.'

The bill says that the U.S. Supreme Court 'overstepped its constitutional bounds' in the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide."

 

As another example, in February of 2017, 

 

"Two Republican lawmakers were booed out of a Tennessee press conference this week after they filed a bill against same-sex marriage.

The bill argues that Tennessee doesn’t have to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage."

 

So to say that "there's virtually no one on the right that cares about gay marriage anymore" is plainly untrue.


 

"You know, it's funny: I get invited to a lot of college things. And I'm always invited, by the way, by conservatives or libertarians, usually, or people of the right, which is funny to me, because . . . it shows that they're certainly willing to talk to people who are pro-choice or pro-weed or pro–gay marriage or whatever. And I get no invites from anyone on the left."

 

What does this have to do with the question that you were just asked about where single-payer health care falls along the political spectrum? The more I hear from Dave Rubin, the more I notice that he will seemingly use every available opportunity to bash the left—even when it's completely uncalled for. You could walk up to Dave Rubin on the street, be like "Beautiful day we're having," and there's a 99% chance he would respond by saying: "Pfft, yeah, well you know who's probably gonna ruin this beautiful day? The left."

Dave, there's a very simple explanation for why you receive so many invitations from right-wing organizations: A huge chunk of your show is dedicated to just bashing people on the left. You and your guests have spent an enormous amount of time on The Rubin Report agonizing about the regressive left, about SJWs, safe spaces, trigger warnings, shrieking college students, and so forth. Add to that the fact that you're constantly giving a platform on your show to people on the right wing—and often times allowing them to basically espouse their views while just nodding your head and not challenging them in any serious way—and it's no wonder that you receive such a warm reception from people on the right.

I imagine Noam Chomsky doesn't receive a great deal of invitations to be the keynote speaker at conferences held by neoconservative, foreign policy hawks. Richard D. Wolff most likely does not get showered with invitations from any free-market capitalist organizations.

Dave seems to ascribe this invitation disparity to some kind of innate tolerance and open-mindedness of people on the genteel right, but there's clearly a much simpler explanation: They view him, in a lot of ways, as their ally.


 

". . . Something like 80 or 90% of professors in America are liberal to left . . . We know that the conservative viewpoint is not being taught in colleges. And by the way, it's leaking into not just the humanities; it's actually leaking into the science stuff."

 

There is a lot to say here. First off, why would you expect either a conservative or liberal viewpoint to be taught in the majority of university courses? If you're studying something like geology, engineering, computer science, mathematics, accounting, or nursing, political ideologies aren't going to come up very often because they're just not relevant to the field that these people are studying. So for much of college teaching, the professor's political views don't ultimately matter because it's not like they're going to be coming up in class every single day. 

And even if there was this epidemic of political views seeping into university lectures, how much of an effect would this truly have on students? Many college students are perfectly capable of thinking for themselves. If when I was in college a professor came in one day and started talking about how great it would be to eliminate environmental regulations, I can assure you that I wouldn't just mindlessly bow down before his podium and say "Well, he's a professor, so he must be right, and I must therefore adopt his views." No, I'd say: "This guy's full of shit, and here's why."

Dave says that the liberal viewpoint is leaking into the sciences, and conversely, implies that the conservative viewpoint is simultaneously receding. I've got news for you, Dave: Maybe the conservative viewpoint isn't being taught in the sciences because it's simply unscientific and not supported by evidence? You know what they teach in college, especially in the sciences? The things that are most supported by evidence. The things that the experts in that particular field have largely come to a consensus about. This brings to mind that cliche statement that reality has a liberal bias.

He doesn't give any particular examples of exactly which conservative viewpoints he thinks should be taught, but some that come to mind which are demonstrably false and plainly unscientific are climate-change denialism and young-earth creationism—things like this aren't taught in colleges, and people who hold these beliefs aren't professors at respectable universities, not because there's some kind of nefarious, liberal conspiracy at work, but because these views are plainly untrue. And when I say colleges, I mean actual, respectable universities; not crackpot religious colleges like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. 

It's a bit of a misclassification to even call some of these viewpoints conservative, because while they are associated with and commonly held by conservatives, they aren't political questions; what the age of the earth is, what the explanation is for the diversity of life on our planet, whether greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming—these are scientific questions. There is simply a factual answer to the question of what the age of the earth is; it's not like there's a liberal opinion and a conservative opinion on this subject, and there's no way to ascertain who's correct, so we just have to agree to disagree. No, one group is simply correct and the other is wrong. So it is with global warming and other basic scientific questions that there's a clear answer to and consensus about.

And of the less-scientific conservative viewpoints—such as views on economics, taxation, regulation, and government philosophy—these are taught in colleges. Just pick up an economics or history or political-science textbook, and you'll learn all about these conservative viewpoints—in addition to other views on these questions. It's not like the required textbook for these classes is a Bernie Sanders campaign book or something. If the complaint is that these conservative economic and political viewpoints aren't being rammed down the throats of college students, in a biased manner, to the exclusion of other viewpoints, then I guess we should all apologize to Dave Rubin for the fact that our universities aren't the academic equivalent of Fox News: one-sided, propaganda-pushing vessels for the right-wing viewpoint.

And he also complains about how the vast majority of professors lean liberal. Well what explains this disparity? Part of the explanation is that people who hold views antithetical to the scientific consensus aren't going to advance to professorship in those fields; the young-earth creationist—who's very likely to also be conservative, politically—is not going to be allowed by any respectable university to teach biology or astronomy or geology; the climate-change denier—again, very likely to be conservative, politically—is not going to teach atmospheric science; and so forth.

I'm reminded of intelligent-design advocate William Dembski complaining, in his debate against Christopher Hitchens, about being ostracized from academia after he became a vocal, public proponent of his absurd, creationist views.

 

"So this method that identifies what I call 'specified complexity', in The Design Inference, I showed how this method applies outside biology. By the way, when I did this outside biology, I was in good shape: People were writing all sorts of nice things about my work. Once I applied it in biology, though, my career went down the toilet and I can no longer get a job in the mainstream academic world."

 

Good riddance, as far as I'm concerned. Don't let the door hit your dumb ass on the way out!

Another part of the explanation for this disparity could be that people who are well-educated—and thus ultimately become professors—tend to be more left-leaning. The statistics on political affiliation and educational attainment levels seem to support this hypothesis. Pew Research reports that Democratic affiliation increases in direct proportion to one's educational level.

We see that of those with some college education, 47% identify as or lean Democrat, compared to 42% Republicans, a 5% difference. Of those who have graduated college, the disparity is even greater: 52% either identify as or lean Democrat, compared to 40% Republican: a 12% difference. And of those with post-graduate experience, we see the greatest disparity: 56% identify as or lean Democrat compared to only 36% who identify as or lean Republican—a 20% difference.

Now we can't say from this correlational data that the attainment of higher education is necessarily the cause of the left-leaning political affiliation; it could be the case that Democratic affiliation actually motivates the seeking of higher education, for whatever reason, or maybe some third variable is responsible for both Democratic affiliation and higher education levels, such as the regular reading or viewing of certain left-leaning outlets. Whatever the true explanation for the pattern, we can say, from this data that, on average, the higher a person's educational level, the more likely they are to be on the left. So it's not a huge mystery that the majority of professors in America are politically left.


Dave also put forth a few noteworthy strawmen in this interview. First, we have one about Trump and Russia:

 

"If we're going on the assumption that Trump did somehow collude with Russia, then what you're saying is that technically we should be at war with Russia right now."

 

If Trump did somehow collude with Russia, then we should be at war with Russia? What an incredible leap that is. "Trump colluded with Russia" and "We should be at war with Russia"' are two completely separate statements that each require completely separate justifications.

And this wasn't a misstatement or exaggeration; he doubles down on this later in the interview:

 

"If you're saying that there was collusion . . . we are, in effect, at war. Could there possibly be a bigger act of war than installing a president? . . . The first thing we would have to do is go to war with Russia. I do not want to go to war with Russia. I don't think there's any reason to go to war with Russia."

 

I can't believe I have to explain that collusion between Trump and Russia would not necessitate an instant escalation to military engagement with Russia; there are plenty of other steps that could and would be taken before we started dropping bombs and killing people. 

And he asks, rhetorically, and I hope hyperbolically: "Could there possibly be a bigger act of war than installing a president?" Yeah! There could be. How about a physical invasion involving troops, gunfire, tanks, fighter jets, missile launches, blockades, the killing of civilians and enemy soldiers, and so forth? 


Another Dave Rubin–flavored strawman came out of absolutely nowhere during a discussion on taxes:

 

"If you're on the left or you're a progressive and you hate Trump, and you hate what this government has become, I don't think that the best answer is to topple the government and destroy this incredible . . . American experiment." 

 

Where the fuck did that come from? He is just way out in left-field here. They're talking about taxes, and out of nowhere, he's basically just like "Look, if you hate Trump, I don't think you should try to destroy America."
What progressives or people on the left are arguing that we should "destroy this American experiment" or "topple the government"? What an extreme position to bring up; this is obviously not representative of the general viewpoints held by people on the left who oppose the Trump administration. Seriously, who is saying: "Yeah, Trump is a complete disaster. So we should destroy America!" Who is even making the less extreme statement that we should topple the government in some kind of a coup? These viewpoints are purely the product of Dave's imagination.


Next we have a pathetic, failed attempt by Dave Rubin to point out an overarching contradiction among the left, generally:

 

"Everything's about: the government's horrible, everyone's corrupt, everyone's evil, corporations, money is destroying everything, billionaires, blah, blah, blah. What's your answer? Make the government bigger. Tax people more. Force the government to do more . . . That seems antithetical to logic and reason."

 

Oh the irony of somebody unreasonably claiming that something is unreasonable. There is no contradiction or hypocrisy here, Dave. One can simultaneously oppose government corruption while at the same time supporting things like single-payer health care, higher taxes on the wealthy, and so forth. Wanting to make the government bigger by, for example, instituting a single-payer health care system, doesn't mean that we also want to increase the scope of governmental corruption. "Have the government do more things" is not equal to "please increase government corruption."

I should also point out that wanting the government to take on new functions doesn't necessarily translate into making the government bigger, and that's because along with the implementation of something like single-payer health care could come dramatic cuts in areas like military spending. So the overall amount of money spent, and the overall amount of government employees needed, could actually stay about the same, or maybe even decrease, depending upon whether commensurate cutbacks are made in other areas.


 

"After the election, my feeling was: the fact that the chessboard . . . has been thrown up, and everyone's re-evaluating things, versus if Hillary had been elected, the screws—about all the stuff that we talk about, about mainstream media and the corrupt politicians and all this stuff—those screws would have been tightened. It would have been really bad for independent media people, it would have been bad for just the slow degradation of society that we're seeing and discourse . . .

So Trump . . . by throwing this chessboard up . . . I think that has created a net good in that right now there are more people talking about politics, re-evaluating what they think, getting engaged—whether for him or against him—than I've certainly seen in my lifetime."

 

Trump getting elected has created a net good because more people are talking about politics, re-evaluating their beliefs, and getting engaged? What kind of a moronic argument is this? People are becoming more politically engaged because they're opposed to the atrocious things that Trump stands for! 

People are fucking pissed. They're outraged at his climate-change denialism and desire to slash environmental regulations. They're furious that our president is a bumbling idiot who struggles to string together two coherent sentences without veering off into another direction and babbling incomprehensibly. They don't like the idea of our already abysmal health care system being made worse. They don't like tax cuts whose greatest beneficiaries are the very wealthiest minority of Americans—the very last people who need any financial relief in this country. They're unhappy that Trump has appointed to head governmental agencies people whose views are antithetical to the core goals of those agencies—such as Scott Pruitt heading the EPA and Betsy DeVos heading the Department of Education. 

We have elected a person whose views would be incredibly damaging if they were enacted, and people are rightly unhappy. If you look at these circumstances and all you can think to say is: "How wonderful it is to see so many people thinking about these things and becoming politically engaged," it seems like you really don't understand the gravity of what's going on around you.

You could make an identical argument about a brutal, murderous tyrant. Imagine that there was a ruler in some country that tortured and killed political opponents, threw people into concentration camps, and so forth. If the population became so outraged by the terrible things he was doing that they began taking to the streets and became more politically active, who, in their right mind, would describe the coming to power of such a tyrant, and his actions, as a "net good," simply because it impelled people to think more about politics, evaluate their beliefs, protest against him and politically oppose him?

Dave Rubin talks about how the screws of governmental corruption would have been tightened had Hillary been elected. While I agree that Hillary had clearly been corrupted by corporate America, I have to wonder if Dave has been paying any attention to what's been going on with the Trump administration since his election? 

Recall that, while Trump campaigned on his goal to drain the Washington swamp of corruption, once elected, he populated his admininstration with billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street bankers.

 Rex Tillerson, for example, former CEO of Exxon Mobil—a company that provided him with a $180 million dollar severance package—is now Trump's Secretary of State. Gee, I wonder if he'll be looking out for the best interests of that company in the decisions he makes from that position of power?

Betsy Devos, the Secretary of Education, is deeply embedded within corporate America. As Wikipedia writes:

 

"DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of billionaire and Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. DeVos is the daughter of Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the DeVos family was listed by Forbes as the 88th richest family in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion."

 
 

"Since 1989, Betsy DeVos and her relatives have given at least $20.2 million to Republican candidates, party committees, PACs and super PACs."

 

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce under Trump, has worked for decades as a banker and investor and has a net worth of about $2.5 billion dollars. I'm not terribly confident that this man is the best representative of the poor and middle class. 

Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, worked for Goldman Sachs for 17 years before working for and founding a variety of hedge funds. His net worth is about $300 million dollars.

The chief economic advisor and Director of the National Economic Council under Donald Trump is Gary Cohn: the former president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs.

What about some of the policies that the Trump administration has advocated? Well, they're pretty much exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to see from the assortment of people populating his administration.

For starters, The Trump Tax plan is a gigantic handjob to the wealthiest of Americans. In addition to cutting income tax rates for the wealthiest of earners, the Trump Tax plan also repeals the estate tax—which only applies to about 5,460 extremely wealthy Americans, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Shortly after his election, Trump wasted little time taking aim at a variety of financial regulations. As The New York Times reports

 

"After a White House meeting with executives from Wall Street, Mr. Trump signed a directive aimed at the Dodd-Frank Act, crafted by the Obama administration and passed by Congress in response to the 2008 meltdown. He also signed a memorandum that paves the way for reversing a policy, known as the fiduciary rule, that requires brokers to act in a client’s best interest, rather than seek the highest profits for themselves, when providing retirement advice."

 

I bet Goldman Sachs boys Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn were furious when they heard about this!

How about environmental regulations? Well, the coal and oil industries will be happy to hear that he's been rolling these back, as well. As The Washington Post writes:

 

"Trump’s sweeping executive order includes rewriting rules curbing carbon emissions, lifting a moratorium on federal coal leases and removing the mandate that federal officials consider climate change impacts when making decisions. Trump already approved two major oil pipelines, rolled back other limits on extraction and burning of fossil fuels and eliminated a system that would have made energy companies pay more in federal royalties."

 

Rex Tillerson and his friends in the oil industry must tossing and turning at night agonizing about the environmental consequences of these rollbacks!

So with all of this in mind, let's return to that statement made by Dave Rubin: The screws of government corruption would have been tightened under Hillary Clinton. While that may be true, after examining the resume's of some of the highest officials in the Trump administration, and after evaluating some of the policies that they've pursued, it is abundantly clear that Trump is no anti-corruption stalwart.


Dave Rubin also claims, in the interview, that the right-wing is more tolerant of ideas than the left:

 

"As a general rule, there is no question in my mind that people that are thought of as traditionally right at the moment are being more tolerant of other ideas than people of the left . . ."

 

It should go without saying that we shouldn't put much currency behind a statement as broad as this one—especially considering that he doesn't substantiate it with any examples or argumentation. He just throws the assertion out there and jumps to the next topic—hardly the most convincing thing I've ever seen. A person could just as easily make the reverse statement, that people on the left are being more tolerant of other ideas than people on the right, but if neither person cares enough to explain themself, then this gets us nowhere.

It would also be childishly easy for me to list off examples of people on the right being intolerant of other views: intolerant of gay marriage, intolerant of transgenders in the military, intolerant of atheists, and so forth. But frankly I don't see what we have to gain by having a dick-measuring contest where we list off a bunch of things to see which group generally stacks up as more tolerant than the other.

I would also add that I don't think tolerance is always a good thing; it's actually very overrated, if you ask me. Why should I be tolerant and accepting of climate-change deniers, for example, given that we're in the midst of an environmental catastrophe? Why should I be tolerant of the view that homosexuality is an abomination, or that religious apostates deserve to be killed? How could it possibly make the world and the future a better place by going easier on these people? 

From what I've seen, most of the time, "tolerance" is just a word that people toss around when they're unhappy with your criticisms are of their beliefs. You hear it from religious people, in particular, all the time; it's a fallback position that they always seem ready to retreat to when they can think of nothing else to say. "Well I just think we should be tolerant and respectful of other beliefs." 

Tolerance for idiotic and harmful views doesn't move society forward; if anything, it holds us back. Challenging these views, debating these people, putting pressure on them—this is what ultimately makes the world a better place.


Next we have another characteristically Dave Rubin-esque, offhanded jab at the left:

 

"If you could get a group of progressives to sit down and not scream at you that you're a bigot and a racist and a homophobe . . ."

 

Right, because it's just such a miraculous feat to find progressives who won't scream at you and call you a bigot, racist, and homophobe. I mean I could hardly hear a word you said, Dave, in your conversations with Kyle Kulinski or David Pakman, because they were just screaming "racist" and "homophobe" virtually the entire time. You barely got a word in edgewise!

You know, I was actually having some pretty serious writer's block working on this post because I couldn't think of anything more to say aside from that you're a bigot, racist, and homophobe! I mean those are the Big Three right there, baby! What more needs to be said? Logical conversation? What? What does that even mean? You're speakin' a different language here, Dave! We progressives are just so simple-minded and unreasonable!

This gets us to a big problem with the whole approach taken by many members of the anti-SJW, anti-regressive-left crowd: Their perception of the left is tainted by textbook sampling bias. The countless videos of calm progressives having cordial, rational discussions about things like income inequality, health care, and corruption are just not going to catch fire on social media and go viral like a video of a hysterical, screeching lunatic like Trigglypuff.

But just because isolated examples exist of certain individuals acting in this crazy way doesn't mean that the rest of the left—or any significant portion of the left—is like this. Viewing the left as best represented by its most extreme and irrational elements is fundamentally illogical—yet such a biased and unfair tactic is the bedrock of much of the anti-SJW movement—and it certainly appears to be the foundation of much of Dave Rubin's analysis.

Pakman argues, at one point in their interview, that there's an overblown emphasis on the SJW branch of the left, and Dave disagrees and responds by basically cherry-picking a few examples:

 

Pakman: "You and I have talked privately about our concerns with the sort of speech policing, trigger warning, safe space stuff. We've both talked about that. We've expressed concern about some knee-jerk positions that don't seem fact-based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc. I think it's a matter of degree that I think you believe that those issues are much bigger among the left than I perceive them to be, and I've talked about the college campus stuff that's going on, but I still think it's limited to a particular type of mostly liberal arts colleges. I don't think it's the major issue that some of your guests make it out to be. Are we sort of having a disagreement on the degree to which these issues are a problem?"

Rubin: ". . . So as for the free speech stuff, no, I don't think that I'm overstating it or that my guests are overstating it. This idea of the trigger warnings, of the safe spaces, of the speech police, of deplatforming Richard Dawkins at Berkeley, which is happening on August 7th, he's been deplatformed. I'm actually interviewing him in New York at the 92nd Street Y on August 8th. They haven't stopped us yet, but I'm sure there'll be people that aren't happy that we're doing that. This kind of insanity, stopping Jordan Peterson from speaking, I'm sure I don't have to tell you what happened with Bret Weinstein up at Evergreen State.

Evergreen's a great examples by the way because this is supposed to be the most left—you could argue that this is the most left college in America, certainly in the top 10—so you would think that they would hve all this harmony, that these ideas of non-racsm and plurality and multiculturalism would have worked, but the students there woudl ahve you believe that this is some sort of insane, racist, crazy place. Bret Weinstein was fighting racism, he was fighting segregation on campus!"

 

So notice what happens here. Pakman argues that Rubin is overblowing the degree to which these things are a problem, and Rubin basically responds by providing him with a couple of egregious examples of this behavior. Yeah, Dave, nobody is denying that these things are happening. Nobody is denying that there are examples you can point to. The point Pakman is making is: You are simply exaggerating about the prevalence of such behavior. And Pakman does a great job of stopping Rubin and making precisely this point:

 

"From everything I'm looking at, there are these several dozen examples that you cite, but the idea that the left at large has been taken over by this, it's like, I went to the women's march rallies here in Boston, and there was about 10% stuff that I thought was totally unproductive and a shutdown of attempts for open debate and it was bad and I'm against it. But I'm just not on board that it's a problem to the degree that you think it is. And I think it's really easy to look at these isolated incidents and believe that it represents everybody on the left, but I'm just not seeing it."

 

There's also an excerpt from David Pakman's "Deeper Dive" video on this subject entitled "The Truth About Political Correctness" that's worth sharing here:

 

"I also don't understand why there are people who call themselves liberal and spend 99% of their time complaining about political correctness—on Reddit, or on their YouTube channels, or wherever. Even if their complaints about political correctness are sometimes justified, it's low-hanging fruit. Yeah, political correctness is sometimes a problem, and it's sometimes used to warp debates or stop them altogether. But in and of itself, it is not the paramount issue that some make it out to be. And "solving political correctness," whatever that even means, is not going to improve the lives off Americans and citizens of the world in the way that dealing with so many other issues would.

Whether your audience is left-wing, right-wing, or somewhere in the middle, criticizing political correctness is just trendy right now, especially on the internet. It's profitable, it appeals to people's emotions, there are an endless number of people that are hungry for anti-PC talk, and it's way too easy. There are so many YouTube channels where, if you were to turn it into a drinking game—take a shot every time you hear the word trigger warning, safe space, or regressive while we're at it—you'd be dead pretty soon. Ok, so talk about political correctness, and how it's bad, and how it's impacting society, but then move on to the countless other important issues that are impacting the world.

If all you talk about is political correctness, I start to whether that's the only thing yo're capable of discussing, whether you actually know enough about policy and government to talk about other crucial issues. Blogs and YouTube channels who just moan non-stop about feminism and trigger warnings, commentators like these, are just providing intellectual fast-food."

 

Spot on.

Dave Rubin responds to Pakman's previous point and goes on in the interview to say the following things:

 

"I've never said it represents everybody on the left; it represents what the mainstream left has become, without question."

"These ideas which are taking root in the left—this strange alliance with Islam—all of this stuff that's taking root in the left is not being countered by anybody on the left. Actually anytime anyone on the left tries to counter it, they're kicked out."

"Who on the left, besides you, is calling this stuff out? Who is calling out this crazed intersectional lunacy of the Dyke March? And who's calling out Linda Sarsour and all that? . . . Who is doing it in an effective way, calling out their worst elements?"

 

There's a lot to deal with here. First there's the claim that these crazy views represent what the mainstream left has become and that it's not being countered by anybody on the left. It's easy to talk in generalities like Dave does, but it's important to break this down carefully to determine where the truth lies.

Rubin cited the topic of Islam as one example of the deterioration of the left. I think it is true that not enough people on the left unequivocally condemn Islamic beliefs, consequences, and apologists. That said, there are prominent critics of Islam on the left. Aside from the obvious ones like Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, and Maajid Nawaz, some that come to mind are Kyle Kulinski, David Pakman, Matt Dillahunty, and Lawrence Krauss.

At the same time, there are prominent figures on the left who I would argue function as apologists for Islam, certainly at times, such as Reza Aslan or members of The Young Turks.

Keep in mind, however, that there are prominent people on the right who do the same thing. It was a constant theme during the Bush Administration, for example, to reiterate that Islam is a religion of peace. So it's not like this is a uniquely leftist phenomenon.

And it's one thing to point at a few people in the public spotlight and jump to conclusions. But it should go without saying that if you want to understand the prevalence of certain views held by people on the left, actual polling data that provides precisely this information is infinitely more useful than just cherry-picking a few notable individuals and pretending like they represent the mainstream views on the left. So what does the polling data in this area indicate? 

Pew Research found that Democrats or those who lean Democratic, on average, view Muslims with a favorability rating of 47 out of 100, compared to 33 out of 100 for Republicans—a 14 point difference. So from this, we can conclude that while Democrats generally have a slightly more positive view of Muslims than Republicans, it's not like people on the left are just a bunch of lovers of Islam and its followers.

 
 

Another specific example cited by Dave is the absurd request to use weird gender pronouns like Z or Zed. This is a ridiculous example because this is utterly inconsequential. When somebody says "Please use a different gender pronoun," the world has not ended. This is not a threat to society in any way. This doesn't cause tangible harm. And nobody is obligated to do this. If someone tries to police your language in this way, if they try to order you to use different gender pronouns, and you don't want to, just tell them to fuck off! Just tell them: "I'm not going to do that. I'll use whatever words I want to use, and I don't appreciate you policing my language in this condescending way."

How hard is that? Why do some of these self-professed free-speech crusaders act like such gigantic pussies when it comes to things like this? Why can't they just grow some balls and assert themselves when they encounter a person like this? They agonize and whine about things like this that have no real consequences. "Ehh, someone asked me to use words that I don't want to use!", so tell them to go fuck themselves and move on with your life! Problem solved! 

Another example given by Dave of the degeneration of the left was Bernie Sanders and Van Jones tweeting in support of Linda Sarsour. I don't know much about Van Jones, so frankly I'm not going to jump to his defense here, but regarding Bernie Sanders, it's clear that this is a very disingenous example. Recall that Linda Sarsour was one of the primary organizers of the 2017 Women's March. 

Bernie's Tweet on January 23rd, right around the time of the Women's March, was unequivocally meant to be a gesture of solidarity for the general protest that was going on in favor of women's rights, female empowerment, and so forth.

 

"Thank you @lsarsour for helping to organize the march and build a progressive movement. When we stand together, we win. #IMarchwithLinda"

 

It's not like Bernie was saying here that he agrees with the vulgar statements made by Linda Sarsour towards Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for example; it's not like he's endorsing her backwards and harmful religious views—and it's presumably these things about Linda Sarsour that Rubin rightly finds so problematic. Bernie was clearly expressing his support for the Women's March—so to imply that Bernie endorses Linda's views, generally, is deceptive and dishonest. And I would argue that's what Rubin was doing.

Now let's broaden things out and see whether any influential leftists speak out against things like Social Justice Warriors, safe spaces, trigger warnings, political correctness, identity politics, and so forth. Dave Rubin has made clear—both in this interview and in countless other forums—that he thinks very few people on the left do.

And he is just plainly wrong about this. In addition to David Pakman, people who have criticized these things include Kyle Kulinski, Sam Seder, Bill Maher, and even members of The Young Turks, who are commonly seen as the vanguard of the regressive left:

Even politicians on the left have been speaking out against these things. For example, here's Bernie Sanders rejecting identity politics. And here's Barack Obama speaking out against closed-minded college students.

So well-known people on the left—including political commentators, public intellectuals, and politicians—do criticize the key things that Dave Rubin doesn't think they do.

What about people on the left, generally? 

Let's look at freedom of speech, which is one of the primary things that Dave Rubin focuses on in his tirades against the left. Some key pieces of polling data are very informative on this question. Gallup performed a study in 2016 entitled "Free Expression on Campus: A Survey of U.S. College Students and U.S. Adults," and the findings are not at all in alignment with the idea that the left uniquely threatens freedom of speech while the right cherishes it.

One question they asked to U.S. college students, specifically, was the following:

 

"If you had to choose, do you think it is more important for colleges to . . . create a positive learning environment for all students by prohibiting certain speech or expression of viewpoints that are offensive or biased against certain groups of people, (or to) create an open learning environment where students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints, even if it means allowing speech that is offensive or biased against certain groups of people?"

 

They found that 72% of Democrats thought that an open environment and allowing offensive speech was more important than a positive environment that prohibits certain speech; 84% of Republicans answered this way.

When they asked U.S. adults this same question, the results were identical for Democrats and Republicans, with 66% saying an open environment and allowing offensive speech was more important.

Another question they asked college students was:

 

"Do you think colleges should or should not be able to establish policies that restrict each of the following types of speech or expression on campus? How about . . . Expressing political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups?"

 

28% of Democrats said that colleges should be able to restrict them, compared to 25% of Republicans.

 

"How about . . . Using slurs and other language on campus that is intentionally offensive to certain groups?"

 

77% of Democrats said that they should be able to restrict them, compared to 65% of Republicans.

 

"How about . . . Wearing costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups?"

 

72% of Democrats said colleges should be able to restrict them, while 56% of Republicans said the same. 

Pew also reported in 2015 that 60% of Democrats think people should be able to say things offensive to minorities without government censorship compared to about 77% of Republicans.

So it's clear from all this polling data that the majority of Democrats on most questions fall on the pro-freedom-of-expression side. On most of these questions, Democrats and Republicans are either very similar in their answers, or Republicans have them edged out, slightly. These are hardly the kind of polling results we'd expect to see if Dave Rubin's worldview was actually accurate. There's certainly not the kind of sharp, partisan divide that we would anticipate seeing if we got all our information about freedom of speech from The Rubin Report.

Regarding freedom of expression, specifically, it is empirically false to say that the anti-free-speech SJW branch of the left represents what the mainstream left has become, because the polling numbers show that the majority of people on the left disagree with this SJW branch on most questions of freedom of expression. And on some of the questions where the majority of Democrats fall on the "opposed to free speech" side, the majority of Republicans also fall on this side. So the political reality is nothing like the Fantasyland that people like Dave Rubin inhabit. 

What about deplatforming controversial speakers on college campuses? Based upon how Dave Rubin talks about this issue, one would imagine that there's a virtually unanimous and resounding consensus on the left that such speakers should not be allowed. Well, what are the facts? Let's examine some polling data released by Morning Consult and Politico in April of 2017. They asked:

 

"Which of the following statements comes closest to your view, even if neither is exactly right?"

 

They presented the following statement:

 

"Universities should not allow guest speakers to appear on campus if the guest's words are considered to be hateful or offensive by some"

 

41% of Democrats said this comes closest to their view, compared to 24% of Republicans—a 17% difference. 38% of liberals chose this answer compared to 24% of conservatives—a 14% difference. 

McGlaughlin & Associates gathered polling data, specifically from undergraduate college students, on this same question in 2015, and they found that Republicans were actually more likely to support university bans on speakers who have a history of engaging in hate speech than Democrats were. When presented with the statement: "My college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech," 61% of Republicans agreed compared with 57% of Democrats. 

So once again, we see that the illusion promulgated by Dave Rubin evaporates before our eyes when we carefully investigate it.

What Dave Rubin does is cherrypick isolated incidents that align with his narrative; he takes the the most extreme and irrational elements of the left, and he asserts, unjustifiably, that these are the views held by the mainstream left. When you actually go issue by issue and break down the numbers, it becomes absolutely clear that his perception and portrayal of the left is not even remotely accurate.  


He also says "anytime anyone on the left tries to counter [this stuff,] they're kicked out."

There's no such thing as being "kicked out of the left." It's not like a club where security guards will drag you out if you become unruly. It's simply a label that we use to summarize our political views. So when a person like Kyle Kulinski criticizes these crazy Social Justice Warriors, or criticizes apologists for Islam, his views on health care, taxation, government spending, the drug war, social security, and so forth, don't suddenly vanish. The totality of his political views aren't somehow magically transformed into Republicanism because of his disagreement on a few particular issues with a small subset of an extreme faction of the left. 

I know that Dave seems to think that his opposition to the regressive subset of the left, in particular, means that he can no longer reasonably associate himself with the left, in general, but he is just wrong about this. You can disagree with the more unsavory views and tactics of SJWs while still being on the left, politically—as many of us do.


After reading this post, I hope it's absolutely clear to you by now that Dave Rubin very often gets things wrong. His perception and portrayal of the left is not even remotely accurate. This recent interview on The David Pakman Show was a clinic in falsehoods, strawmen, and poorly thought-out, poorly-researched viewpoints and arguments which unsupported by evidence and unsupported by the basic facts.