Why Does the Left Hate Jordan Peterson so Much?
“Only say what you believe to be true.” “There is meaning in responsibility.” “You are more than you think you are.” These are the messages you will hear if you attend one of Jordan Peterson’s lectures, listen to his podcast, or watch his YouTube videos. It doesn’t sound very political, does it? Peterson never set out to become a political figure. He sees himself as psychological, intellectual, and theological, but not political. So how did a man who believes in free speech and personal responsibility come to be known as a dangerous perpetrator of oppressive patriarchy? He’s not encouraging anyone to contest the election, and he never even disclosed who he voted for. And yet, the radical left insists that he is a threatening presence and a dangerous man.
Any rational person who listens to Jordan Peterson can see that he is hardly political, but the radical left calls him “dangerous” and has even referred to him as “a gateway drug to the alt-right.”
What is it about Jordan Peterson that drives the left crazy?
It’s because he makes so much sense. He makes sense, and he isn’t a radical leftist. Peterson is a thoughtful intellectual who happens to share a few opinions with conservatives. That’s enough to make the left blindingly mad.
It’s obvious that the attacks on Peterson come from people who have never taken the time to listen to him and understand what he is saying. Or, perhaps they come from people who know full well what he is saying and choose to misrepresent him anyway.
He Talks to White Men
His critics consistently point out that his audience consists largely of young men, many of whom are white. They never actually explain why this is a bad thing. They just expect their readers to write him off as an alt-right fanatic because his audience happens to be predominately white and male.
Peterson responded to this attack during a 2018 lecture. “I don’t see anything particularly wrong with speaking to young men,” he said in a lecture. He also pointed out that publishers have translated his books into over 50 different languages. “That’s a pretty diverse audience” he concluded.
He Suppresses Activists
Aside from the great sin of talking to white men, other critics have suggested that he is trying to tell activists to sit down and shut up. This is either an honest misunderstanding of his message or a malicious misrepresentation of it. Peterson does tell people to get their own lives in order, but this is not an attempt to disarm them. Instead, he believes this will actually help people live more effective and meaningful lives. If everyone sought to better themselves, we would have better people. Better people make better families and communities, and better communities make better governments.
The radical left doesn’t want better people, communities, or government. They want to destroy the ones we already have. Perhaps that is one reason Peterson’s message sends them into hysterics. Maybe they don’t want people to better their lives or to find meaning or to make this world a better place. They just want them to be angry, blaming others, and tearing down our institutions.
He Encourages “Dangerous” Men
One of the most famous attacks against Peterson is the claim that he is helping to create dangerous and oppressive men. Peterson has stood by his claim that strong men are an integral part of communities. He lectures about personal responsibility and competence. He suggests that when young men feel that their attempts at success in life are regarded as a form of oppressive patriarchy, it can make them feel nihilistic and hopeless. “If you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of,” he wrote in his book, 12 rules for Life.
He Believes in Free Speech
One of the most publicized criticisms of Peterson is that of his opposition to pro-noun laws that Canada passed and which compelled people to refer to transgender people with the pronoun of their choice. Peterson explained on countless occasions that he never refused to call a student by a preferred pronoun.
He did, however, take a stand against the legislation because he is a proponent of free speech because he believes that the government should not pass laws that compel anyone to say or not something. He recognizes the limitations to free speech laws, stating that he understands why there are laws against hate speech and threatening speech, slander, and libel.
However, he believes it is unconstitutional for the government to pass laws to legislate which pronouns a person is allowed to use when referring to a transgender person. “It’s absurd” he claimed. Because he took a stand for free speech, he’s been labeled transphobic.
Jordan Peterson is a threat to the left because he is perfectly rational, emphasizes personal responsibility, encourages people to pursue competence, and stands up for free speech.
Undoubtedly, people on the left were elated when Peterson suffered from mental anguish which landed him in treatment. Upon finding out his wife had cancer, Peterson found himself in a dark place. His critics thought he was done. But they were wrong, and their very attacks only reflected poorly on them. As for Peterson, he is back to lecturing and spreading his message of hope around the world, and he is thanking his supporters for their kindness through what has been one of the most difficult times in his life.
Happy New Year! (I don't think it's too late to say that). My wife Tammy and I would like to thank everyone who offered us their online support during the last two brutal years. The kind and thoughtful messages we received were bright spots in the darkness. Thank you. Thank you.
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) January 3, 2021
The left might be just scathing at his return, but as for his followers, they can’t wait to tune in to his lectures again. A gateway drug to the right? Well, maybe. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.