Upworthy and Good Men Project: Progressive sites for people seeking to save their souls through politics

AXRJP4I’ve noticed a trend on my “real me” Facebook page.  More and more of my liberal friends (and that means almost all of my real world, as opposed to cyber world, friends) are regularly linking to Upworthy and the Good Men Project.  Conservatives should heed the rise of these two sites they market themselves to knee-jerk liberals who cast votes as a way of saving their (non-religious) souls.

Upworthy is a site that posts made-for-Facebook (i.e., made-for-easy-distribution) videos showing people striking blows against racism, sexism (i.e., male chauvinism), hetereronomativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. Here’s just a sampling of the videos of the moment (sans hyperlinks):

  • “Her Husband’s Abuse Once Kept Her Behind Closed Doors. Now She’s Speaking Out, Loud And Clear.”  (Evil male hegemony)
  • “They’re Harassed And Criminalized. But Could They Be The Solution To A Big Sex Industry Problem?”(Fighting prostitutophobia)
  • “Bully Calls News Anchor Fat, News Anchor Destroys Him On Live TV” (Beating back weight-ism)
  • “Meet The 17-Year-Old Who Blew The Lid Off Racial Profiling With His iPod” (The war on racism)
  • “You Might See Tattoos In A New Light After You See Them On This Woman” (Don’t judge a woman by her tramp-stamp)
  • “Good military men who support gay marriage” (Even baby killers can be good if they like gays)
  • “Nearly 1/3 Of All Campaign Dollars in 2013 Came From A Tiny Group Of People. Care To Guess Who?” (Rich people are evil, a video made by the AFL-CIO. Interestingly, the AFL-CIO forget to say that unions are the nation’s top political donors, and that these donations only go Democrat.)
  • “9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact” (Income inequality, brought to you by the corporate branch of the Occupy movement)
  • “A Boy Makes Anti-Muslim Comments In Front Of An American Soldier. The Soldier’s Reply: Priceless.” (Islamophobia is irrational)

For a website devoted to victim-hood, I find it interesting that I can’t find any videos at Upworthy in which people strike self-righteous blows against antisemitism, which is rearing its hydra-head in virulent form around the world.  A quick search reveals that neither the word “antisemitism” nor the word “anti-semitism” has ever appeared at Upworthy.  There also don’t seem to be any videos exposing the deadly anti-Christian ideology that’s rapidly stripping the Middle East and parts of Africa of their Christian citizens.  Instead, I found only videos attacking Christians for being homophobic (such as this one).  Also lacking are videos striking self-righteous blows against the misogyny and homophobia in the Middle East and Africa, that deprives women and gays of any rights whatsoever, and that routinely sees them hanged or stoned for imaginary crimes of adultery or for real or imagined acts of sodomy.

It’s entirely possible that Upworthy’s contributors support Jews, Christians, women, and gays at the mercy of Islamists, and are simply too scared to say anything, just as the Monty Python guys are now too scared to touch Islam.  Or it could be — which I think is the truth — that they don’t give a flying whatsit for these truly persecuted (i.e., real victim) groups.

It’s telling that, if you search “Islam” at Upworthy, you only get dozens of variations on “Islam is a religion of peace — honest.”  The Upworthy people apparently weren’t paying attention to 9/11, the Fort Hood shooting, the Madrid train bombing, the London subway and bus bombings, the Mumbai massacre, the Bali disco bombing, the London soldier beheading, the attempted Times Square Bombing, the Boston Marathon massacre, the Kenya mall massacre, and all of the other mass murders with perpetrators who made explicit the fact that they were acting in Islam’s name.  Alternatively, the Upworthy crew defines “peace” this way:  “If I appease them, they’ll leave me alone, which is very peaceful.”  Thinking about it, Upworthy’s contributors probably aren’t that familiar with Churchill either (“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”)

As for the Good Men Project, I’ll let Kevin Williamson describe it, as well as describing one of its latest offerings, which is a gender-neutral dating guide:

“It’s not possible to have a completely gender neutral date,” writes therapist Andrew Smiler in a head-clutchingly asinine essay for the Good Men Project, a repository of painfully navel-gazing male-feminist apologetics that describes itself as “not so much a magazine as a social movement.” While acknowledging the impossibility of his daunting task, Mr. Smiler goes on to offer a great many helpful tips in his “Guy’s Guide to the Gender-Minimized First Date.” But not before making a full and frank apology in advance: “I’m trying to write this guide to apply across all genders, masculine, feminine, trans*, etc. If I’ve missed or something is very wrong, I have faith someone will let me know in the comments. I’m also writing based on my own American background and referring primarily to gender roles as they currently exist in the U.S. Depending on where you’re from, you may have grown up with this approach or you may find it completely foreign.” An asterisk on that asterisk: “Trans*” I am reliably informed, is the new, more inclusive way of referring in writing to the phenomenon of transsexualism, or as the ever-helpful FAQ at “Ask a Trans Woman” explains: “Trans, sans asterisk, has a tendency to mean gender-binary folk (trans men and trans women, often by the DSM-IV, GID definition of the words.) Trans* is more inclusive.” It is getting difficult to keep up.

Mr. Smiler’s advice, almost all of which is catastrophically bad, consists in the main of pre-cooking evasive strategies for such potentially fraught issues as deciding who pays for dinner or whether to split the check in the name of sexual egalitarianism. His guidance: The party proffering the invitation pays for the party accepting it. This is the sole area in which Mr. Smiler, otherwise a celebrant of sexual fluidity, concedes that expectations may be fixed by circumstance. “You can maintain one roll [sic] . . . or you can switch around,” except when the bill comes, which is to say you can pass the rolls but not the check. Not my own style, though fair enough. (But who says you get to make the rules, Mr. Man?)

You can read the rest of Williamson’s exposé here, but I’d definitely recommend having an emesis basin at your side while you read.

Moving beyond Williamson’s “general neutral dating” focus, today’s Good Men Project offerings include the following:

  • “Be Honest With Yourself – How Racist Are You?”  (More than you know, my friend.  More than you know.)
  • “My Daughter’s Room is Grey for a Reason” (What could be more gender neutral than gray?)
  • “The Most Dangerous Four-Letter Word (Dick Simon has found a single word that marginalizes, isolate and insult. That word is THEM.)”  (You need to know that not all Muslims are terrorists.  To which I reply that I totally agree with that statement.  I’m just troubled by the fact that the vast majority of terrorists are Muslims — and, worse, they you refuse to acknowledge that reality.)
  • “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person”  (Believe it or not, it can be done.  All white people are guilty.)
  • “What’s Law Got to Do With It? A Straight Married Guy’s Perspective on Marriage Know Thyself: An Open Letter to My Transgender Child” (I’m glad you love your child.  Now stop politicizing it.)

If you like your men gender-neutral, and that’s how you want to raise your own sons, Good Men Project is definitely the site for you. Me?  I like my men a little more . . . you know, manly, so the site doesn’t just leave me cold, it leaves me with a creepy, crawly, itchy feeling on my skin.

What both these sites offer are huge, gushy, pillowy mountains of soul-saving emotion.  Their implicit promise is that if you are a gender-neutral, non-heteronormative person who is in touch with your feelings; if you provide unswerving, unquestioning support for blacks, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, other sexuals, hefty people, tattooed people, prostitutes, beaten wives, and all of the other officially sanctioned victim classes; and, most importantly, if you revile Republicans and vote Democrat . . . you will be saved.  Hallelujah!!

It’s easy to laugh at Upworthy and the Good Men Project, since they seem more like parodies than anything else.  I can easily imagine Greg Gutfeld and crew laughingly brainstorming “dumb websites for Leftists” and coming up with imaginary sites that are indistinguishable from these two sites.

The reality is, though, that not only aren’t these websites parodies, there’s nothing funny about them.  They’re emotional soul-saving candy for people who have abandoned traditional faiths but still worry about their eternal salvation.  To them, a vote isn’t about what’s best for the country, as a whole; it’s about what’s most likely to make them feel virtuous.  In the absence of a traditional God, spiritual redemption can be found in feel-good Progressivism.

It’s these salvation-seekers who, when asked say that they’re liberals.  Right now, they’re at 23% of the population, which seems like an insignificant number.  It’s not.  For those seeking a return to constitutional government, individual freedom, and a sturdy sense of self-reliance, that 23% is scary because it’s really “23% and counting.”  Part of why this number is rising, even as Obama’s poll numbers and policies are falling, is that sites such as Upworthy and Good Men Project promise eternal salvation in a non-religious world.  If you side with the Progressive’s carefully identified victim-classes, your non-religious soul will be saved from eternal Republican damnation.

All of which gets me back to a point I made a long time ago:  To win this fight, conservatives too must offer the American people a vision that allows them to save their souls.  There’s actually nothing new about this.  In a country that hasn’t stood still since the first European set foot on its shores, Americans, feeling adrift, have always sought salvation, whether it was 18th and 19th century religious revivals, Aimee Semple McPherson hucksterism, or (as is the case now) redemption through voting Democrat. Conservatives have allowed a status quo to exist in which Democrats point to conservatives as the devil incarnate (which is ironic given that are more likely than Progressives to espouse traditional religious views), while promising a baptism and rebirth at the altar of government.

I’ve mentioned before that conservatives with money and style should create a series of widely promoted commercials showing someone doing something wonderful — helping the poor, being an awesome athlete, growing a business out of a home that employs hundreds of people, being an artist, etc. — and all ending with the tag line “and I’m a conservative.”  These people should be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Male, Female, Gay, Straight, Young, and Old (and anything else I’ve forgotten).  What’s important is that conservatives must deprive Progressives of their self-anointed status as the group that determines who in America is saved and who is damned.

We keep trying to give intellectual food to people who want only emotional and spiritual reassurance.  It’s fine for us to say that ours are the better ideas, but ideas, no matter how good, are useless if one continuously loses at the ballot box, in the court houses, and, worst of all, in the court of public opinion.  Our first and biggest job is to show that conservatives are nice and that, if you’re looking to save your soul, conservativism is at least as good as, and quite possibly much better than, the Progressivism so relentlessly foisted on them.  Everything else flows from that.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Bunch of fundamentalist religious fanatics, those Lefties are. I’ve never underestimated the power of cults, especially death cults and Nazi cults.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Some sentences you might want to recheck, Book.
    (which is ironic given that are more likely than Progressives to espouse traditional religious views)
    and, worse, they you refuse to acknowledge that reality.)
    <B>The reality is, though, that not only aren’t these websites parodies, there’t nothing funny about them.  They’re emotional soul-saving candy for people who have abandoned traditional faiths but still worry about their eternal salvation. </b>
    You are certainly right about that.
    A lot of people make a small mistake when they argue with Leftists over atheism and religion. They argue on the premise that they are proving or defending the existence of their God, to someone who is open minded or at least looking for salvation. This is very different than what someone would have to do to convince a person that their religion is false and that the Godly religion is true. To demonstrate the credibility of a religion, the character of the prophets and the historical accuracy of the religious texts are often called up for debate. But to demonstrate the power and superiority of one Faith over another, you must defeat them using pure strength of will and various other strengths and demonstrations that your God is stronger than their god.
    Because a lot of people think atheists don’t believe in a god or higher power, they discount the usage of techniques designed to overpower a weaker god with a stronger god. But in point of fact, atheists and Leftists do have gods they believe in and have faith in. They just call it Deus Ex Machina, the Man Made God: Obama. And so forth and so on and as the generations pass, there will be another Man Made God. Eventually they’ll elevate their own minds to divine levels, like Dawkins has. Whatever They Think is the Divine Truth, and anyone that disagrees is a heretic that needs to be punished. They don’t talk about it like that, because they’re hiding it. They’re hiding it so that their weakness aren’t exploited by the numerous legions of theologian debaters on the religious side: the traditional religious side.
    If people want to argue with Leftists, be my guest. However, they should take care to realize that certain anti-zombie tools will be required. And to defeat another faith’s god… will also require some special consideration, tactics, and strategies.
    “and I’m a conservative.”
    I’d call that person a human or patriot instead, but that’s just me.
    “We keep trying to give intellectual food to people who want only emotional and spiritual reassurance.”
    As far as I know, great ideas have never won wars. Engineering, tactics, supplies, logistics, timing, strategy, and politics have won and lost wars, though. 

  • shirleyelizabeth

    The secret to the success of these sites is they have hidden their agenda quite well. I have a Facebook friend that shares conservative post after post yelling down liberals, but I noticed just the other day she shared an upworthy link. I see these links shared over and over all day long (I’m 26 so they’re hitting their target market). I wonder that the sharers cannot see the sneering self-righteousness in just the titles. But then, I’ve got quite a few “loving” bloggers in my feed that have been on a trend of throwing out all they’ve known to be true morally, economically, and logically so they can stop feeling all this guilt that they’ve been told they should feel.
    It actually makes me really sad. and angry. and scared for my children.

  • Matt_SE

    Although I’m no historian, by my understanding the Romans took their religion rather seriously. This persisted for centuries until people started losing faith. When that happened, many turned to “mystery cults.”
    This goes to show that people have always had a need for their lives to have meaning. And as you state, these two sites are seeking to provide that.
    As far as I know, none of the mystery cults enjoyed long-lived success. Why did they fail, and for that matter, why did the original state religion fail?
    My guess is that people figured out they didn’t work. There was just as little point in performing elaborate rituals to mystery cult idols as there was in performing them to Jove.
    I would attack these false-prophet sites in the same way: ask the people if all the ritual has ever helped anyone. We elected and re-elected the paradigm of leftism, but where has that gotten us? Are we better off? Is racism getting better or worse? Excuses will be made, but how long can a person cling to empty promises? The zealots may be content with that, but most other people want results.
    Make their gods bleed and people will cease to believe in them.
    On another topic, “We keep trying to give intellectual food to people who want only emotional and spiritual reassurance.”
    This touches on a profound point that bears repeating: We assume that others are just like us, and that is often not the case. The arguments of entrepreneurship, for example are lost on most of the leftists because they don’t want to start a business. They just want to “get by.”
    We need to take what they want, what they care about, and show them that leftism fails to provide it. Because when it gets right down to it, leftism isn’t about making life better for your constituents, it is about amassing power for yourself.

  • Matt_SE

    BTW, an error:
    “It’s tell that, if you search “Islam” at Upworthy, you only get a dozens of variations on…”
    I think you meant, “It’s telling that, if you search “Islam” at Upworthy, you only get a dozen variations on

    • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

      Thanks, Matt_SE. That was an a appalling series of typos in just one sentence. I rewrote that sentence three times, and managed to leave bits and pieces of each iteration, including the typos, in the final product

  • Matt_SE

    Also, although the strategy for attacking these sites is sound (I believe), it could only be carried out in a forum different from theirs.
    By their very names, they are set up to only accept cheerleading. Any dissent would be shot down as “against their mission” or something.
    The lefties have created the ultimate echo chambers, where dissent is not allowed.

  • Matt_SE

    shirleyelizabeth touched on the subject of “the sneering self-righteousness in just the titles.” After having re-read them, they are of the exact same style as the “listicles” on other sites. Full of hyperbole, among other faults.
    This has recently been noticed by others: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-reasons-viral-content-stopped-mattering-in-2013/
    I’m having a hard time getting worked up over these sites now.

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  • Jose

    Thomas Lifson at American thinker quotes from this post and adds a couple thoughts.

    • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

      I was very flattered when I saw that.

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