A Twilight Zone vibe characterizes 2021 America for anyone who lived in 1991 America. By staying in place, we all immigrated to a new country going by the same name.
The House, with unanimous support from the Democratic caucus in which half opposed the same legislation 28 years ago, passed a bill on Thursday seeking to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. This follows the reintroduction of the Green New Deal on Tuesday and new court-packing legislation unveiled earlier this month to add four new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the greatest threats appear not on Capitol Hill but in the culture.
Every day, bizarre headlines exclaim the social-justice expedition reaching destinations even further from sanity’s boundaries.
On Monday, in a commissar vanishes moment, the American Humanist Association revoked a 25-year-old Humanist of the Year Award for professional atheist Richard Dawkins because he asked followers to discuss the parallels between Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who passed herself off as black, and transgenders. On Tuesday, a teacher suspended by the Grace Church School for criticizing its “anti-racist” curriculum as racist released a tape showing the headmaster who removed him from the classroom acknowledging, “We’re demonizing white people for being born.” On Wednesday, the day after the murder conviction of former Minneapolis law enforcement officer Derek Chauvin, LeBron James sicced the Twittericans on a heroic policeman by issuing a “You’re Next” tweet directed at the cop who saved a young woman from getting stabbed by shooting her assailant. On Thursday, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman repealed the summer of 2020 by writing that “BLM may have been the best-behaved protest movement in history” and that “GOP supporters believe that rampaging mobs burned and looted major cities — somehow without the people actually living in those cities noticing.” It goes on like that daily.
A moral inversion plagues. We see the same activists who long vilified corporations relying on Nike, Coke, Bank of America, and so many of the massive companies to institute their agenda; cops depicted as criminals and criminals as saints; blacklists launched by those incessantly claiming to fall victim to them; and the politicians decrying mob tactics in the winter pushing them in the spring. It feels like Rod Serling should start talking soon.
Conservatives experience their nadir. The astronomical term seems appropriate because it indicates a low point but also suggests a shifting rather than a static quality. When change overwhelms, people want a change from the change.
Warren Harding famously referred to this as a “return to normalcy.” During the progressive era, the government nationalized the railroads, instituted a national income tax that soon raised rates from zero to 77 percent on the biggest earners, waged a war for reasons that still seem confusing, stripped states of their rights to select the senators representing them, instituted eugenics laws in the states and helped institute prohibition nationally, and farmed out Congress’s duty to coin money to the Federal Reserve that transformed currency from a relatively fixed, honest value over the first 125 years of the Republic to one that transformed a dollar into pennies in less time than that.
The policies unleashed triple-digit inflation in a period of less than a decade, tens of thousands of war dead, and frequent, painful recessions. The 1910 Los Angeles Times Building bombing, 1916 Preparedness Day bombing in San Francisco, 1917 Milwaukee Police Department bombing, and 1920 Wall Street bombing — all inflicting double-digit fatalities — told Americans that rule-or-ruin activists pushed too hard. When a series of 1919 mail bombings waging “class war” succeeded in blowing off the hands of a maid rather than inflicting damage on any of the intended fat-cat targets, the tolerance for evil idiots waned dramatically. The radicals enjoying the perigee of their orbit quickly found themselves at apogee far from the Earthlings they wished to influence.
Every revolution experiences its Thermidor. The retreat, unfortunately, sometimes takes decades — as it did in the Soviet Union. A reason to believe this cultural revolution, though leaving a permanent mark, recedes soon centers around its insincerity. During the 1960s, activists admitted “the issue is not the issue.” It still isn’t. From the feigned offense at Richard Dawkins to the Grace Church School headmaster privately disagreeing with his public stance, social justice, an ideology that relies on punishment and peer pressure and not persuasion to achieve its ends, makes liars of all who embrace it.
A person divided, particularly between thoughts and words, eventually falls. And so must all this.
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