Most folks have probably encountered a situation like this. You’re arguing on social media with some Lefty, and he copies and pastes some links he dug up on Google as evidence his point of view is right, and you’re just an idiot who hates fact-based rational thought.
After all, how can you ignore the opinion of a CNN journalist on the scientific findings of a climate scientist who probably did his work under a government grant? You’re probably one of those people who hates experts, like Tom Nichols often rants about.
That is bad enough. Accepting the perspectives of those in authority simply because they are in positions of authority is foolish. It’s a great way to get taken by some bullshit that just happens to align with the political and financial goals of tyrants. But it gets much worse. We might call the Google link citers Shoe Shiners. They are happy to polish the boots of the ruling caste, because presumably it’s easier than thinking for yourself, and popular culture rewards the Shoe Shiners with immunity from cancellation, feelings of being on the right side of history, and respectful nods from HR crones, schoolteachers, and hall monitors.
There’s a more virulent form of authority worship. Keith Olbermann demonstrates it here:
The cartoon artist, you will note, expresses no opinions on Russia or who is morally righteous – if anybody – in the Ukraine war. Instead, the artist satirizes the pop culture adoration of Zelensky, and how it’s kind of silly to assume this head of state is wandering around distant battlefields merely because he wears military-esque clothes to his press conferences.
Olbermann immediately interprets this as dedicated support of Russia, and angrily denounces it.
Shoe Shiners may express similar opinions if challenged, but Bootlickers do so with gusto, putzing around various forms of social media, looking for anyone who displays insufficient enthusiasm for the cause – whatever cause the authorities have deemed important. Nothing even slightly critical of Ukraine is permitted. The Boots must be licked clean of such treason. You may support Ukraine against Russia, and merely think some of the propaganda is silly – and that is enough to damn you in their eyes, you traitor to the United States. You did not lick the boot presented to you.
Similarly, Bootlickers have been calling for the federal government to nationalize Starlink and take it from Elon Musk because the billionaire asked – for the first time in this conflict – to be paid for Ukraine’s use of Starlink. Up until recently, the service was donated. Many Twitter Lefties declared this to be treason against the United States! If not in law, then at least in fact. I wonder if a soldier on the battlefield asking for pay when he is warring against Russia is similarly treasonous?
Insufficient enthusiasm for the cause – which Musk is now guilty of in the eyes of the Bootlickers – calls for extreme acts. Accusations of treason, nationalization of property, etc. Like Olbermann declaring anyone who pokes fun at Zelensky must be a Russian whore.
Shoe Shiners are bad enough. They will interject their worship of authority and credentialism into many conversations. But the Bootlickers are the ones leading the cancel mobs, and they do so with such fire and emotional energy. Olbermann expresses a deep hatred and anger here, and yet at the same time I wonder if there is also glee underneath it, an almost hidden satisfaction that yes, because he licked enough boots, he gets to treat so many people badly and think of them as beneath him.
Imagine a ladder of Bootlicking. Each person gets to crush his boot into another man’s face for the proper licking. And beneath that man, someone even lower he can enjoy smashing in the face, who must then lick his boot. And so on and so forth down the Progressive stack, until we find basement dwelling white Antifas eager to lick enough boots to climb up from the bottom rung so they can enjoy smashing their boot into a face for the first time.
I doubt Lefties would regard a US soldier shooting his own men quite so badly as a man who draws a critical Zelensky cartoon, or a man who decides he wants to be paid for his contributions to a foreign war effort. I stand with Ukraine flags cover social media, but it’s never enough.
Would the Bootlickers be running their tongues on Bush’s boots during the Iraq invasion? Ah, no. Wrong boot. Presumably the flavor of fake vegan plastic leather is better than real cowhide.
But even Righties were less emotionally involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They were quite patriotic about the troops, mind you. But back then I doubt a Righty would have cared if someone drew a cartoon satirizing some Iraqi politician’s media antics, even if that politician was an ally. And even if they cared a little, I doubt you would have seen much behavior like that of Keith Olbermann, or the Musk-haters on Twitter. Someone wants to actually be paid for their contributions to the war? Righties would defend that all day long.
Leftism has a Bootlicker problem. Even the more modest Shoe Shiners are trouble enough, but the Bootlickers have taken this up to the eleven. Everything must be exceptionally positive about the things they like – not even satire is permitted. And everything they dislike must be treated as literal Nazism. Laughs are verboten unless it’s at the other. You can satirize Putin all you like, naturally. Meanwhile, nothing positive is permitted to be said about anyone outside the regime-approved tribes. And you must demand no compensation (publicly, anyway – many Bootlickers find themselves quite wealthy for their trouble) for your support of the authority.
There’s no point arguing with the Bootlickers. It’s questionable if there is even any value in bothering with the mere Shoe Shiners. The blind worship of authority is not something you can reason someone out of – and certainly not in a flame war on the Internet. But where historical bootlicking usually attached itself to an individual, today’s bootlicking is more diffuse, more democratized in a way. There are many boots, and many lickers, and a majority are probably some degrees of both.
Remember, whenever a Lefty gets supremely mad like this, he’s probably enjoying the taste of prime shoe leather, and believes this endows him with the inalienable right to smash his boot on your face, and demand you do the same to those beneath you.