"History repeats itself," said Karl Marx. "The first time as tragedy. The second time as farce."
I am thinking about this as I contemplate the Obama administration's latest ventures into the land of "1984." Here is how it basically goes.
As any informed person knows, in the postwar period, there was serious racial discrimination against blacks in this country. The discrimination took on violent forms, including murder, in the Deep South.
The racism in the Deep South was so ingrained, though, and the reluctance of the federal government to get involved in antagonizing white southerners was so extreme, that it took literal murders to get the federal government involved.
It took, specifically, the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner in Neshoba County, Mississippi in June of 1964 by Klan members to get laws passed protecting the civil rights of blacks and getting the feds to actually act under those laws.
Again, it took violent torture and murders to get the federal government to investigate civil rights violations.
Even then, it took decades to bring perpetrators to justice.
That was then and this is now.
In 2011, the following literally unbelievable scenario is being played out. At Yale University, one of the absolutely most liberal schools on the planet, with an undergraduate student body that is more than half women, with a woman dean, a fraternity played a prank on a few women students by coming up to them with a placard that said "NO MEANS YES."
Some other students posted a prank online in which they said how many drinks it would take to make a man want to have sex with various students.
And, in a far more serious vein, a woman student complained she was raped by a male student. This is serious indeed, although one can hardly imagine how often false rape charges are filed in colleges for a variety of reasons.
At Yale, there are myriad procedures in place for calling people to account for sex harassment. Of course, the state of Connecticut is fully empowered to investigate and prosecute a charge as serious as rape. So far as we know, Connecticut has not charged anyone with rape in the case I mentioned above.
However, the New York Times has been avidly following the cases of supposed sexual torment at Yale.
Now, the United States government has gotten involved. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Education has opened an investigation as to whether there has been a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws about sexual discrimination, and as to whether Yale created an atmosphere hostile to women.
That is, the Obama administration has tossed the might of the federal government into a case of fraternity pranks and a completely unproved rape allegation. In a campus thick with political correctness, where the Orwellian vision of Thoughtcrime has been made real, the Obama administration believes it has found a tiny smidgeon of insufficient kowtowing to the Anti-Sex League. ALERT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL! Send the Tomahawk cruise missiles onto the Freshman Quad! Send the 101st Airborne into the Sterling Library!
Where once it took blood and murder to get the feds involved, now all it takes is a joke. Two jokes.
And this is why the Obama administration is so dangerous. No boundaries when it comes to federal power. No sense of proportion. No sense of law. No sense of discretion. No sense of humor.
As I think of it, though, maybe it's not so funny.
As a Yale alum, I just got an e-mail, a cringing, heart-rending e-mail from the President of Yale, straight out of "1984," basically saying, "We don't know what we did wrong but we confess and we're sorry. We will shoot someone right away." Sad. This was a time for mighty Yale to stand tall against federal bullying. It didn't. But then, who can stand against the federal government?
Maybe it isn't farce though. Maybe it's serious. Maybe it's terrifying.
And wait a minute... Isn't this the same Obama administration that refused to take any action against so-called Black Panthers, armed thugs who threatened white voters who would not promise to vote for Mr. Obama at a polling place in Pennsylvania in 2008? But they act against a fraternity prank?
George Orwell, we are here.