Extremist political cycles seem to have a natural lifespan, but it requires real political will to overcome them.
November’s off year elections revealed that the rollback of wokeness, if not imminent, may be nearer than many had hoped. Voters rejected decisively two of wokeness’s core policy components: Defunding the police lost badly in heavily Democratic cities from Seattle to Minneapolis to Buffalo, while Republican Glenn Youngkin’s vow to curb critical race theory in Virginia schools was central to his surprise win in the blue state.
Extremist political cycles seem to have a natural lifespan. Five years passed between the storming of the Bastille and Thermidor—the arrest of Robespierre by his fellow revolutionaries, fearful that the guillotine would touch them next; another five and a national equilibrium of sorts was restored to France. A similar ten years ensued between years between Mao’s launching of the Cultural Revolution and the arrest and imprisonment of its major backers by their rivals within China’s ruling hierarchy. Neither country had meaningful elections, but they did have public opinions, which eventually shifted enough to embolden those in position to challenge the radical wave to step up and assume the risks. If one dates the onset of wokeness from 2014, which saw the sudden explosion of phrases about race, equity, and white supremacy in the prestige media, we are seven years in.
The United States has free elections, a First Amendment, and political norms which remain more or less intact, and wokeness is an ideological movement which has managed to humiliate its victims and get them fired from their jobs, not to kill them. But it is not a stretch to see in it parallels to the totalitarian movements of the past century: the preening self-righteousness of its enforcers; their seeking of forced confessions, depicted as apologies from their victims; the attempted politicization of every aspect of social life, including language; the insistence that the traditional mores of their own country are utterly debased. Never in American history has so much energy been devoted to getting people fired for expressing an opinion.
Wokeness may well advance to the point where many of its goals become as institutionalized and naturally accepted as the abolition of slavery. (Some of the woke elect left style themselves as abolitionists). More likely it will be rolled back, its practitioners and cultural preferences first widely mocked and then ignored, its victims rehabilitated and in some cases honored. November 2 marked the first hint of a real electoral pushback against wokeness; hopefully it will prove as pivotal as the battle of Midway.
The origins and nature of the woke revolution have been described extensively if not yet definitively. Yes, it has elements of a new religion; yes, it was made possible by social media, with the potential to organize quickly a Twitter mob; yes, the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath pulled the rug out from a generation of debt-ridden recent college graduates while giving business elites incentive to welcome diversions from a more class based leftism.
Within less than a decade a fringe and not especially popular way of thinking and speaking, spawned in the humanities departments of prestigious universities, had become the dominant discourse in all non-explicitly conservative media and, seemingly, the regnant ideology of the nation’s largest political party. This takeover occurred with stunning speed, while the initial popular resistance to it—chiefly the 2016 election of Donald Trump—served more as an accelerant than a brake. At this writing, wokeness seems entrenched in the media, liberal foundations, and universities, but also in institutions thought of as mainstream and non-political. A top navy admiral touts the work of Ibram Kendi; the American Medical Association officially calls for doctors to work absurd woke phraseology into regular communications with their patients.
The core idea of wokeness is that America and the West are essentially defined by interlocking systems of oppression, the main pillar of which is white supremacy, while secondary but important ones are the privileging of heterosexuality and of men over women. To be woke is to believe that all social life is permeated by these dominations, and that overturning them is a moral imperative. Radical leftists have held views proximate to this for over a century, but their nominal embrace by much of the establishment is a new thing.
For the woke, America’s history of slavery and segregation are at its core, more important than virtually everything else. Wokeness portrays itself as a struggle against whiteness, or white supremacy, rather than against white people themselves, a rhetorical evasion which allows white people to become the main practitioners of woke politics.
With black activism, wokeness has a somewhat contradictory relationship.
On one side it is given to displays of performative submissiveness. While fires from the George Floyd riots were still smoldering, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer led Democratic members of the House and Senate to the halls outside the congressional visitor’s gallery, where they donned kente cloth and knelt before the cameras; similar, if less striking, quasi-religious enactments continued throughout the summer. A few weeks later the New York Times announced it would henceforth capitalize black when it referred to race (white would remain lowercase) as its standard style, inevitably evoking the Bible’s capitalization of pronouns referring to the deity. Virtually every national news organization followed suit.
On the other side of wokeness is a kind of paternalism, which sees black Americans as people without much agency or control over their lives, defined by the past injuries of slavery and segregation and still burdened by chains of structural racism which are seldom specified but so pervasive that standards of achievement and conduct appropriate for other Americans must be suspended for them.
But despite its apparent dominance in corporate media and major institutions, wokeness increasingly resembles what ’60s era Maoists called a “paper tiger”; when confronted directly, as wokeness has seldom been in the past seven years, its popularity and power prove less than meets the eye.
The battle over “critical race theory” in the Virginia gubernatorial election was an early illustration. It’s difficult to discern how much critical race theory is being taught in Virginia schools: there are official Virginia state documents which call explicitly for “critical race theory” to be used in the training of teachers and the make-up of the curriculum; in some districts, CRT inspired consultants were hired to do mandatory teacher training. Materials deployed by these new “diversity” consultants are full of a bizarre racial essentialism, portraying white people as cruelly individualistic, people of color as warm communalists. Some Virginia parents in comfortable suburban districts were troubled enough by it to turn traditionally sleepy school board meetings into hotbeds of protest.
Curiously, the response by the Terry McAuliffe campaign—to charges by his opponent that Democrats were ignoring parents and teaching CRT in schools—was to claim that there was “no critical race theory” taught in Virginia schools, that the whole issue was a racist “dog whistle” cooked up by conservative activist Christopher Rufo and others. This denial was echoed repeatedly by nearly every mainstream media outlet covering the election.
This itself was an interesting tell. Liberals generally have no reluctance to defend their beliefs or policies, whether they be the right to have an abortion, higher taxes on corporations and the rich, or worker and environmental protection laws. But on CRT they mounted no defense, just denial and obfuscation. They would explain, as to a fifth grader, that critical race theory was a high brow discipline sometimes studied in law schools, and is absolutely not something taught to Virginia elementary and high school students. As if they assumed that people wouldn’t notice that programs and curricula explicitly grounded in CRT pedagogy, endorsed officially by the nation’s largest teacher’s union, was seeping into the schools.
Why did the sophisticated, consultant heavy, and poll savvy McAuliffe campaign lie? The most plausible answer is that it understood that the substance of a critical race theory pedagogy couldn’t be defended before voters in a campaign, knew it was extremely unpopular among people of all races, and knew also that it couldn’t be disavowed, because powerful constituencies within the Democratic party, especially the National Education Association, were too heavily invested in it. When push came to shove in a tight election, the establishment left wouldn’t stand up and fight for woke pedagogy.
Woke attitudes about law enforcement fared no better. The aptly named war on cops has been building for years, generating a narrative that most American police departments have been systematically oppressing black people. Its first major significant victory came in New York, with a series of court rulings against the NYPD’s policies of proactive policing, sometimes called “stop and frisk,” in 2013. Stop and frisk had proven enormously successful in getting illegal guns and the criminals wielding them off the street, but the tactic almost invariably targeted young black men.
This made sense to those who believed police should focus their efforts on those neighborhoods plagued by a disproportionate share of illegal gun crime. But by the end of the Bloomberg mayoralty, ending proactive policing had become a liberal cause célèbre. The next year, when a black man from Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, was killed while resisting arrest, the anti-police narrative exploded nationally, with major voices in the mainstream media giving oxygen to the idea that the nation’s police were waging a “genocidal” war against black people, that calling 911 was an effort to get black people murdered.
It was a lie of course—the number of unarmed black Americans killed by the police is small, not disproportional to the number of white people killed by the police and infinitesimal in comparison to number of black people killed by black criminals. But the sheer enormity of the lie—repeated incessantly—made it a widely accepted fact, if not a true one. If the police were indeed racist murderers as frequently portrayed, defunding police departments made a great deal of sense.
By the summer of 2020, the topic of racist policing dominated the national conversation; and left-wing candidates calling for abolition of police departments began winning democratic primaries. A month after George Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis’s City Council voted by a 9-3 margin to dismantle the police department altogether, replacing it with a social worker agency.
But it did not take long for anti-cop wave to peak. In Minneapolis, as murders surged 50 percent and the number of downtown shootings doubled, city residents mobilized against the City Council’s anti-cop campaign. In Dallas, the City Council moved to hire more cops. In New York, progressives were stunned when a former black cop running on a law-and-order platform trounced progressives in the Democratic mayoral primary, while running up impressive margins in black and Latino working class districts. On election day last November, a defund-the-police socialist who had won the Democratic primary in Buffalo lost the general election even though she was the only person on the ballot. In Minneapolis, voters rejected an abolish the police department ballot measure decisively. In very liberal Seattle, an actual Republican won the city attorney race.
A restoration of the kind of policing that cut crime rates so successfully in the 1990s won’t come quickly—much legal damage had been done to inhibit effective policing, while in many cities left-wing district attorneys, elected late in the last decade in low turnout elections and committed to not putting criminals in jail, remain in office. But a 30 percent rise in murders in 2020—the largest since records have been kept, and a surge in violent crime in nearly every major city has made defunding the police a non-starter.
These political battles over education and policing plainly originate from America’s long standing racial divisions of black and white. But they are now contested on a very different demographic playing field. After 40 years of historically high levels of immigration, the United States has a far different racial makeup than it did when Martin Luther King was assassinated. An influx of immigrants from Mexico, Latin America, Asia and the Mideast has reduced the white share of the population from over 85 percent to under 65 percent; among school children, “Anglo” white kids make up less than half.
There may be no more broadly accepted assumption about demographics in American politics than that the reduction of the white share of the population favors the left. This was true in the 1960s, when one progressive intellectual famously labeled the white race the cancer of human history. It was central to Jesse Jackson’s two presidential bids during the ’80s, where he touted a “Rainbow Coalition” of black, Latino, and progressive white voters. It was a theme of Mike Davis’s much-admired-on-the-left 1986 (and recently reissued) book Prisoners of the American Dream which forecast a “black and Latino working class, 50 million strong” spearheading the triumph over American imperialism. It is true of contemporary left-wing authors enthusing triumphantly over demographic transformation, like Steve Phillips (Brown is the New White), and of liberals like Ruy Teixeira (The Optimistic Leftist). The woke neologism BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) arose to underscore the implicit solidarity of all non-whites, the soon to be demographic majority, against a declining group of conservative white Americans.
This analysis is intuitively persuasive. It was also prominent in paleoconservative circles in the early 1990s; Peter Brimelow at National Review published essays showing the GOP shrinking to national irrelevance by the early middle of this century. To some extent it has been vindicated: California, which launched the political careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, has become a reliably one-party state and other states are moving in the same direction. On many issues, the new immigration probably has shifted the United States towards the left; certainly any kind of “old fashioned” rooted-in-land-and-tradition conservatism, including anything associated with Dixie, now has a smaller demographic base to appeal to.
But this is not the case for the particular issues that emanate from wokeness. To state the obvious, most Asian, Latino, and other non-white immigrants and their children are not that invested in black-white history and the proper negotiation of the historic wrongs white Americans have done to black Americans. The vast majority of them have lived all their American lives in a post-civil rights revolution country, where racial discrimination is carefully monitored and illegal. Their ancestors didn’t own slaves, nor fight a war to end slavery. They can’t easily be made to feel guilty about the American past, and despite great efforts by university social science departments, it is not so easy to get them to feel aggrieved by it either.
An unforeseen aspect of the wokeness phenomenon is how many new immigrants, or children of new immigrants, are playing critical roles in pushing back against it. Optimistic “immigrants are socially conservative” arguments have bandied around pro-immigration Republicans for decades (I was never one of them), but no one predicted the polemical vitality and occasional brilliance that would emerge from newer Americans as wokeness pushed into the center of the national agenda. Any list of names will leave out dozens, but those paying attention know that writers and activists as distinct in style and ideology as Andy Ngo, Wesley Yang, Zaid Jilani, Harmeet Dhillon, Sohrab Ahmari, and Melissa Chen—to pick a half dozen at random—are not only important in the pushback against wokeness, but that their arrival at the battlefield was an absolutely necessary reinforcement. Of course one could point to comparable numbers of woke leftists of recent immigrant background, but compared to their conservative counterparts they don’t seem important or agenda setting to a movement emotionally centered on black and white Americans.
Indeed, if one wanted to design a movement explicitly to alienate Asian Americans, it would be hard to improve on the woke’s agenda on law enforcement and schools. Some consequences of the war on cops and so-called “over-incarceration” were predictable: Police would retreat from proactive policing, and crime would rise. But no one foresaw that this would produce a surge in crime against Asians. The mainstream media took great pains to obfuscate the most salient aspects of this trend. Stories about it invariably mentioned former President Trump’s depiction of Covid-19 as the “China virus” so as to imply without saying that the hate crime perpetrators were white Trump supporters. Always highlighted was the horrific case of the white man who murdered several Asian massage parlor workers and others of different races on a killing spree apparently prompted by feelings of sexual guilt. But the reality is that what is experienced by many as an open season on vulnerable Asian Americans in our cities is driven by the same group that commits most American street crime.
One must assume Asian Americans know this. Last summer’s New York Times Magazine story about the murder of a Thai grandfather in San Francisco quoted his son-in-law, who had begun attending anti-Asian-hate rallies in the Bay Area and asking how many people there had been pushed or spat on, and by whom. Yes, many, was the response, always by a black person. This Times piece acknowledged, with seeming reluctance, that hate crimes against Asians were “more likely” to be committed by non-white people. A former Oakland police captain relates that suspects in anti-Asian hate crimes are almost exclusively black. In New York City, black people are six times more likely to commits hate crimes than white people, and comprise half the suspects in anti-Asian attacks. In the all too common videos of such attacks that show up on social media, the perpetrators are almost always black.
The tensions between the groups have roots which have not been systematically explored, but were evident as early as the racially incendiary 1990 boycott of Korean grocery stores in Brooklyn and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Of course, all ethnic and racial groups suffer from rising crime, and those in black neighborhoods are numerically most victimized by it. But in the past year of racial reckoning, the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes does, to say the least, complicate the woke narrative of an ascendant Rainbow coalition struggling to overcome white supremacy.
Everyone opposes hate crimes, and it requires some deductive reasoning to connect liberal campaigns against proactive policing, bail reform to keep suspects out of incarceration, progressive district attorneys determined to reduce the number of black Americans jailed for “minor” offenses, and the broader war on cops, to the surge in criminal attacks on vulnerable citizens.
The education issue is far more direct. For years, progressive educators have railed against standardized tests as barriers to racial equity. They have won some stunning recent victories: The University of California has ceased using the SAT as means for sorting applicants, and hundreds of other colleges have followed suit.
The SAT has not been discredited as a metric for determining the likelihood of a student succeeding academically; for that it has no equal. Its problem is a political one: Standardized test results reveal with considerable precision how much of a leg up is given to black students in college admissions competition over white and especially Asian students. The frequent result is a mismatch between student and institution where black students have less developed academic skills than their classmates, with many pooling in the bottom of the class. Some of the most notorious instances of woke cancel culture deployed against truthful speech have occurred when professors who had noticed and lamented these facts were hunted down by leftist students and subsequently dismissed from their jobs.
But in terms of potential to spark a widespread disaffection, the five decades long dispute over affirmative action in college admissions will pale next to the battles over the use of standardized tests for granting admission to academically selective high schools and curricula. In the past year of racial reckoning, the use of student standardized test scores for admission has been dropped or rolled back in Lowell High School in San Francisco, the Boston Latin School, and Thomas Jefferson High school in northern Virginia. Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio sought unsuccessfully to have the tests banned entirely for its top schools, the storied Stuyvesant and Bronx High School of Science, and is still maneuvering to reduce the percentage of students admitted to those schools by exam only. His rationale is that they aren’t sufficiently diverse—at this point more Asians pass the exams than other groups and black students do so at comparatively low rates.
Not surprisingly, Asian parents from New York to California have begun to mobilize politically and legally to combat what is quite plainly an effort to tilt a level playing field against their children. (In San Francisco their pressure has at least temporarily kept in place the exam as criterion for admission to Lowell.) In picking a fight against the exam high schools, Democratic politicians following the woke playbook have chosen to attack an institution vitally important to one of the country’s most dynamic and academically successful immigrant groups. For the first time since the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, grassroots organizations of Asian parents are at odds with Democratic politicians.
Wai Wah Chin, president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, observes (in an interview on Glenn Loury’s podcast) that De Blasio and other Democrats pitch their campaign against the high performance schools in the language of representation, claiming that the student bodies of Bronx Science and Stuyvesant are not “representative” of New York. (Former New York schools chancellor Richard Carranza had gone further, warning Asian parents to back down with the menacing formulation that “no ethnic group owns admission to these schools.”) In response, Chin makes the necessary point: The kids who pass the rigorous math and verbal exams are not “representing” anyone but themselves. They have studied as individuals and take the exam as individuals, representing not a community but their own efforts. She adds that the student’s family or community might feel pride in their accomplishment; one could add that all Americans might feel proud of these incredibly successful schools. Graduates of Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech have won an extraordinary 14 Nobel Prizes in the sciences, more than many countries. Wai Wah Chin’s assertion stands directly against the racial essentialism that lies at the core of wokeness.
The issue is broader than the select exam schools which admit the cream of the student crop. There is a nationwide movement to eliminate tracking of students by ability. California, following San Francisco’s lead, is eliminating the teaching of algebra to eighth graders, which means far fewer public school students will have the opportunity to take calculus in high school. This will narrow the pipeline of students who might go on to pursue STEM majors in college and in their careers. The rationale for such changes is always the woke watchword “equity,” followed by lamentations that white and Asian students are overrepresented in advanced math courses. But of course parents of bright students want their kids to be challenged in school, and inevitably America as a whole will suffer if they are not. As one California math teacher put it, “I feel so bad for these students. We are cutting the legs of the students to make them equal to those who are not doing well in math.”
But if recent social history shows anything, it is that parents will fight harder over the education of their children than almost any issue. All over the country, parent groups are mobilizing—Asian parent groups often in the lead. As school questions emerge as hot button political issues, it will become apparent that the woke project of dumbing down schools to promote equity will fare no better than defunding the police.
The most widely noted defection from the anti-whiteness coalition comes from Latinos, emerging as the second largest demographic group in the country. Long viewed as the bedrock of any leftist Rainbow Coalition, there were certainly enough visible left-wing Latinos in academia to give this a certain plausibility. But it’s not turning out that way. Latinos remain a largely Democratic constituency, voting roughly 60 percent for Biden over Donald Trump. But this is a 16 percent drop from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 levels, a remarkable shift.
Polling shows Hispanics lukewarm towards the Black Lives Matter movement, favoring it at lower rates than whites did (the question was posed at a time when support for BLM was assumed to be the only possible opinion for decent people). Latinos oppose reparations and defunding the police, core components of the woke agenda, by more than 2-1 margins. As Ruy Teixeira, a long time proponent of the view that Hispanic immigration was a key to solid Democratic majorities, recently put it, “clearly this constituency does not harbor particularly radical views on the nature of American society and its supposed intrinsic racism and white supremacy.” Others noted that Hispanics are now jailed at lower rates than white Americans, and are increasingly employed in law enforcement.
Few discern specific issues for the shift, though it is unlikely that woke efforts to neuter the Spanish language with terms like “Latinx” have attracted more Latinos and Latinas to the Democrats. Might the trend continue towards transforming Hispanics into a group politically analogous to Reagan Democrats—that is, a formerly Democratic working- and middle-class constituency that now votes GOP? It seems improbable, but no one predicted that a candidate could be as tough on border enforcement as Donald Trump and experience a dramatic gain in Latino votes.
The fundamental political error of wokeness lies in its judgement about how popular a movement based on anti-whiteness is likely to be in a nation increasingly less European in ancestry. Immigrants have come to America for many reasons, but a hatred of “white supremacy” is probably nowhere near the top for the vast majority. One could easily surmise that many of them are motivated by appreciation of the very qualities wokeness either deplores or works to undermine: law and order, careers open to talents, advanced levels of science and technology—and the legal and cultural structures that make those things possible.
A passage from David Reiff’s book on Los Angeles from more than three decades ago comes to mind: In the coda of one chapter, Rieff describes a billboard for a Mexican beer, then visible in nearly every Mexican town, which touts the product as “a high class blonde,” double meaning very much intended. It played on aspiration, the kind that prompted men from Mexican small towns to decamp for Mexico City, or ultimately to Los Angeles, “the greatest blonde of all.”
One of the more provocative interpretations of the origins of the relatively new movement to bring critical race theory into the teaching of elementary and high school students was suggested, almost as an aside, by Wesley Yang. Sometime in the late 2000s or early 2010s, the left looked at Latino immigration and realized that a considerable degree of assimilation was actually happening: that the Latino working class was not drinking in the vaguely Marxist ideologies incubating in university ethnic studies departments, and that there was actually a possibility—perceived by the left as a danger—that just as (according to ethnic studies phraseology popular on the left) Irish and Italian immigrants had been “allowed to become white,” the same thing was happening to non-European immigrants as well. Critical race theory thus developed as a kind of reaction, to indoctrinate school-aged children of the new immigration into a kind of racial essentialism, to deflect them from an assimilationist path.
Yang’s suggestion would correlate with Eric Kaufmann’s argument in Whiteshift, a detailed and comprehensive study of demographic transformations and evolving racial attitudes likely to occur in the West. Intermarriage rates between white Americans and new immigrants or their children are fairly high, and over time the boundaries of whiteness will expand—American and other Western majorities won’t be exclusively white any longer, but they will have some connection to white ancestry; they will acknowledge and feel cultural ties to the traditional heroes of their nations. This may be an overly optimistic view, but recent American elections do nothing to contradict it.
What does that mean for the trajectory of wokeness? If one is inclined towards optimism, one can see signs that the movement has already peaked. Clearly the national conversation is not where it was in the summer of 2020. Andrew Sullivan wrote recently how he was cheered by the HBO mini-series The White Lotus, in which the obvious villains were two highly privileged very woke college students. A similar point could be made about The Chair, a miniseries about an Asian-American woman (starring and co-produced by Sandra Oh) assuming the English department chairmanship of a Williams or Amherst type college; there too the villains are Red Guard type students who concoct spurious accusations of “Nazism” against an undisciplined professor, who is portrayed sympathetically. Would either have been aired last year? The New York Times, having last year pushed out Bari Weiss and James Bennet to appease woke staffers, suddenly found the will to give a small slot in its opinion page roster to John McWhorter, author of a brilliant book hostile to wokeness.
It can be notoriously difficult to read accurately the tenor of one’s own times. Historians can point to many private letters of learned people written well before the darkest nights of communism and Nazism, assuring one another that the worst was certainly over and things would soon improve. Still, it strikes me that America’s liberal elite is beginning to find wokeness a bit embarrassing. What does the president of Yale really think about his diversity deans publicly threatening a law student for sending an email that used the phrase “trap house”?
The actual number of the woke remains small—perhaps 6 percent of the population, according to Pew surveys of American political attitudes. It is educated, it is mostly white, it is heavily concentrated in the media and universities. But it isn’t powerful enough to control the country if majorities are mobilized to resist it.
Overcoming wokeness will require real political will and courage, as well as legislation. At some point there will need to be a successful legal challenge to the idea that disparate income and disproportionate racial outcomes by themselves constitute sufficient evidence of racial discrimination, but that too is in the realm of the possible. As voters from New York City to Buffalo to Seattle showed without ambiguity, when wokeness is on the ballot and opposed vigorously, it loses. In activism and voting patterns, America’s most rapidly growing demographic groups are largely showing themselves indifferent or actively hostile to woke policies. If the tide is indeed turning, in a few years wokeness will be more mocked than celebrated. If not, America’s long reign as a relatively successful country will end.
Who will speak for ordinary Americans?
In 1959 the British novelist C.P. Snow delivered a lecture at the University of Cambridge entitled “The Two Cultures.” Snow’s topic was the gradual separation of scientific knowledge from humanistic knowledge, and the dangers of educational specialization and technical illiteracy. Snow was not a disinterested observer. Trained as a chemist, he had a foot in both scientific and literary culture. He argued that educated citizens once understood reality through shared vocabulary, symbols, and concepts, but the common culture of the past had diverged into competing intellectual tribes. The separation harmed not only the individual intelligence, but also our collective ability to survive the nuclear age. His talk, later published as a book, became the standard text in debates over the relation between science and literature, and between technology and morality.
Snow sought unity. Scientific and literary culture shared a common ancestor—what might be called the “Ur-culture” of Western civilization. This unstable mixture of Jerusalem and Athens produced modernity, with all its benefits and costs. Not long after Snow described the “two cultures,” however, the very idea of culture itself came under attack from artists, intellectuals, activists, and students for whom democratic capitalism was spiritually unsatisfying and politically and economically unjust. These various challengers and dropouts thought of themselves as a “counterculture,” a self-conscious movement against the premises and values of Snow’s two cultures, as well as those of the original “Ur-culture” of the West. Free love, rock ‘n’ roll, the Hippies, the Yippies, druggies, various communards, the student revolt, the soixante-huitards—another name for the counterculture is “the Sixties.”
“Countercultural challenges to orthodoxy take different forms at different times,” wrote Irving Kristol in 1994, “but a common substratum of attitudes and belief is discernible.” Counterculturalists feel alienated from their societies. They are estranged from, suspicious of, and antagonistic toward the ideals of their civilization. They experience outrage and indignation at the institutions that perpetuate corrupt values and social injustice. They fixate on sex—how it is regulated, who defines normality and abnormality, where children are raised and schooled. They succumb to enthusiasm and fanaticism, to crankery and conspiracy. “When in the grip of a countercultural passion,” Kristol explained, “one can easily lose or repress the ability to distinguish the nutty from the sensible.”
The Sixties, of course, are long gone. The various parts of that decade’s counterculture have either disappeared or, following Kristol’s terminology, been incorporated into the “orthodoxy” of liberal democracy. The most radical experiments burned themselves out. Countercultural theorists feathered their academic nests. Hippie attitudes and aesthetics proved compatible with consumer society. Crime, welfare dependency, and divorce receded. This integration of “bohemian” and “bourgeois” reached its apogee in 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
The year is worth noting. Just as it looked like one set of problems were solved, other crises appeared on the horizon. The Black Lives Matter movement grew during the protests in Baltimore over Freddy Gray’s death in police custody in the spring of 2015. Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of the July 2015 Vanity Fair, heralding the next debate over sexual identity and mores. That autumn, high-profile incidents on the campuses of Yale and the University of Missouri marked the arrival of “cancel culture.” And Donald Trump crisscrossed the land on his circuitous route to the White House.
Suddenly, the modified orthodoxy of liberal, “Bobo” democracy—what’s come to be known in some quarters as “neoliberalism”—faced a countercultural challenge of its own. Liberal principles of free markets, internationalism, democratic government, individual rights, and the rule of law trembled under pressure. What made this latest countercultural rebellion unique was its pincer attack. There used to be one counterculture. Now there are two.
The left counterculture—what critic Wesley Yang calls the “successor ideology“—sees the United States as fundamentally corrupt and irredeemable, a zone of grotesque violence against racial and sexual minorities, a systemically racist polity desperately in need of censorship, reeducation, and massive government intervention to rectify centuries of brutality and oppression. The left counterculture’s alienation from mainstream society is expressed in its polemics and jeremiads. Its indignation was manifest in the riots over the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Its revisionist attitude toward sexual codes is evident in the Black Lives Matter platform’s (now revised) call to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” and in the centrality of transgenderism to its worldview. The left counterculture proves time and again George Orwell’s dictum that there are some ideas so foolish that only intellectuals will believe them.
The right counterculture, meanwhile, sees America as on the verge of collapse, on the brink of secession and civil war, a frightening place ruled by a bureaucratic-woke-medical-corporate “regime” not unlike the former Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The alienation of the right counterculture from modern America is apparent whenever its spokesmen demean and defame their fellow countrymen, say their country is lost or not worth saving, and look to foreign strongmen for guidance and succor. “Indignation” cannot begin to describe the right counterculture’s outrage at the direction of society, at the limits and frustrations of politics, at the bewildering tempo and fevered temper of current events. This rage at modernity, along with corrupt leadership and social media conspiracy theories, produced the riot in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The right counterculture’s uneasy conscience over the events of that day is visible in its attempts at historical revisionism and blame-shifting. It too is focused on the family, peppering its discourse with references to the baby bust, lack of male marriage prospects, and threats to childhood innocence and traditional religious values.
Our two countercultures, separately and together, correctly identify weaknesses and flaws in twenty-first century liberal democracy. But they mistakenly view these problematic conditions not as discrete challenges but as totalistic indictments. They marry disinterest in empirical reality with utopian expectations from politics. They collapse the distinction between private and public that guarantees political, economic, and religious freedom. As they consolidate control over their respective institutions, they silence dissent and promote victimhood, hopelessness, paranoia, and fear.
Ordinary men and women are caught in the crossfire of this three-front war between the left counterculture, the right counterculture, and the rest of America. Facing the curse of inflation for the first time in decades, the American who fills up the tank or buys groceries must experience something like despair as he watches the attempts to cancel Dave Chappelle, remove statues of Thomas Jefferson, promote quackery about the coronavirus, and pledge allegiance to a flag carried in the battle of Capitol Hill. Who will speak for normal people, for Americans who love their country, who desire nothing more than ordered liberty and the opportunity to better their conditions and raise their families in stable environments? Who can triangulate between the countercultures of left and right and the real silent majority of Americans, who would like nothing more than the extremes to go away?
“The delicate task that faces our civilization today is not to reform the secular rationalist orthodoxy, which has passed beyond the point of redemption,” Kristol wrote in his essay on the Sixties. “Rather, it is to breathe new life into the older, now largely comatose, religious orthodoxies—while resisting the counterculture as best we can, adapting to it and reshaping it where we cannot simply resist.” The contemporary task is somewhat different.
As religious affiliation declines, and as some orthodoxies enter into concordats with nationalists hostile to democratic capitalism, the priority must be the vigorous and nonsectarian promotion of what were once called “middle-class values”—moderation, civility, empiricism, prudence, humility, restraint, and reverence for the law—and the families that transmit these values to the next generation. Only a sober and reflective defense of the constitutional order and sustained attention to the priorities and aspirations of everyday, nonideological men and women will allow us to resist the two countercultures. Before they bring America down with them.
Fairfax County Schools recently ditched merit-based admissions process
A group of parents at the nation’s top high school is suing the county school board for adopting new admissions practices that would slash the number of incoming Asian-American students.
The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a complaint Wednesday on behalf of the Coalition for TJ, a parent organization at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. In recent months, the Fairfax County School Board changed how students are admitted to the Alexandria, Va., magnet school in an attempt to boost enrollment of black and Hispanic students.
The coalition claims that the Fairfax County School Board’s newly adopted admissions processes are unconstitutional and would reduce the number of Asian-American students in the incoming freshman class by 42 percent.
In October, the Fairfax County School Board eliminated the merit-based entrance exam for the elite STEM-focused school. In December, the board limited the number of students each of the county’s middle schools can send to the high school. The lawsuit claims that this new process targets Asian Americans because the three Fairfax middle schools known for funneling students to Thomas Jefferson have predominantly Asian-American populations.
Thomas Jefferson is one of several U.S. high schools that have recently moved away from merit-based admissions in favor of practices that achieve desired racial quotas. Last month, the San Francisco Board of Education abandoned the admissions test for the city’s prestigious public high school in favor of a lottery system, claiming the former system “perpetuate[d] the culture of white supremacy.”
Harry Jackson, the parent of a black student at Thomas Jefferson High School, said that the new admissions process hurts gifted students in addition to Asian Americans.
“This is an attack on Asian Americans and on gifted education,” Jackson said at an online press conference on Wednesday. “It represents anti-intellectualism. Under the guise of trying to diversify Thomas Jefferson, they’re not doing anything to uplift the black and Hispanic community. It’s a targeted hit on the Asian community.”
Julia McCaskill, the parent of three students in Fairfax schools, said the district is blaming its failure to boost black and Hispanic enrollment rates on Asian Americans.
“Diversity is the goal for all of us and Thomas Jefferson does not belong to a certain race or group of people,” McCaskill said. “The lack of diversity of black and Latino students is a failure of the [school board], and instead of fixing those issues, they are focusing the hate on Asian Americans.”
Thomas Jefferson is a majority-minority high school. Roughly 70 percent of enrolled students are Asian. Another 20 percent are white and the remaining 10 percent comprises black, Hispanic, and other minority students.
Fairfax County Public Schools communications director Lucy Caldwell told the Washington Free Beacon that the district maintains that its new admissions process “continues to be race neutral and merit-based.” The district values diversity and says it contributes to the “richness” of education at Thomas Jefferson.
The left’s push to censor, block, and purge is part of a larger project to undermine the American ideal of self-government and liberal democracy.
Last week, YouTube removed videos of former President Donald Trump’s speech at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, citing violations of its rules about “misleading election claims” under its “presidential election integrity” policy.
Also last week, Ebay blocked all sales and purchases of the half-dozen Dr. Seuss booksrecently deemed unfit for children because they allegedly “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Amazon blocked access to a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Twitter suspended the account of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Facebook continued its purge of QAnon-linked accounts, which began back in October. And the cable network TCM announced a program to reframe classic films like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Searchers,” and “My Fair Lady,” which it considers “problematic” and “troubling.”
That was just last week. The growing movement on the left to censor, purge, block, and suspend anyone who expresses disfavored views, or any book or film that some might consider offensive, isn’t just an attack on conservatives or a quixotic war on the past. It represents the single greatest wholesale rejection of liberal democracy, civil society, and the ideal of self-government in American history.
Simply put, the people who will not allow Trump’s CPAC speech to be searchable on YouTube do not think you can think through things and make your own decisions, let alone participate in democratic governance. To them, you are only slightly more intelligent than an animal, and ought to be treated as such.
The reason it matters—and the reason this illiberal, censorious impulse can’t just be laughed off—is that the institutions and industries behind all this are incredibly powerful. They control what you watch, read, discuss, and share—even with your own children.
Disney Plus, for example, pulled a bunch of classic titles from its children’s programming back in January for “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.” The banned films include “Lady and the Tramp,” “Peter Pan,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Dumbo.” The titles are still available, with a disclaimer, on the main streaming service, but the writing is on the wall: if you want your kids to enjoy the originals, better buy the DVD now.
Let’s be clear about something: this isn’t about ferreting out “offensive” content or ideas, or making society more tolerant and inclusive. After all, whether or not something is offensive is relative. This is about taking away your agency, your ability to make choices and decide for yourself what you think, whether it’s about Dr. Suess or a presidential election.
Why else would Amazon pull down a well-reviewed and by all accounts fair and sober book about transgenderism, as they did last week to Ryan T. Anderson’s 2018 book, “When Harry Became Sally”? It’s not because the book is offensive to a wide swath of the reading public. It’s because the ideas presented in it—including the now-radical notion that biological sex is immutable and that encouraging children and teens to “transition” causes irreparable harm—challenge the left’s utopian vision for society.
In other words, it’s not that these ideas are offensive, it’s that they’re in the way. The people who applauded Amazon for taking down Anderson’s book do not want to contend with Anderson’s arguments. It’s much easier for them if a corporate behemoth like Amazon just blots them out, makes them disappear.
Otherwise, Anderson might actually persuade some people that he’s right, that transgenderism isn’t just morally wrong, it’s also bad for society, and maybe we should rethink our sudden embrace of it. Maybe we should have some honest debate about it and let people make up their own minds.
The left would like to take those kind of choices away from you, even (especially) for children’s literature. The hypocrisy of the left in this regard knows no bounds.
CNN’s Jake Tapper, who once championed the publication of controversial images—including cartoons of Mohammed, even though it’s deeply offensive to Muslims—denounced Republicans last week for complaining about the cancellation of Dr. Seuss. Tapper was upset because they keep citing beloved titles like “Green Eggs and Ham,” not the half-dozen books that contain what Tapper calls “empirically racist” images that are “indefensible.”
He’s wrong about that. This is an argument for another column, but the images in those banned Dr. Seuss books are entirely defensible and, to my mind, not at all racist, empirically or otherwise.
But of course one need not defend the content of burned books to protest the burning of them. It’s even possible simultaneously to object to the content of a book and the notion that it should be burned for its content. This is a pretty basic tenet of classical liberalism, and Tapper knows it. He’s just being dishonest.
Everyone, in fact, who champions the banning of books—any books—or films or speeches or whatever, is engaged in a deeply anti-American project to undermine the means by which we form citizens capable of self-government. If you can’t be trusted to think through whether the mention of “Eskimo Fish” in Dr. Suess’s “McElligot’s Pool”is appropriate for your kids, then you certainly can’t be trusted to think through whether the 2020 election was marred by fraud and loose rules for absentee ballots.
Likewise, you can’t be trusted to make decisions about COVID-19, about whether to get a vaccine or wear a mask, which is why Dr. Anthony Fauci saw fit to lie about mask-wearing to the American people at the onset of the pandemic last year. He doesn’t think you can be trusted with the truth because he thinks you’re an idiot child who needs be governed, not an American citizen who has the natural right to govern himself.
When I watch Fauci lie, or see Tapper and his peers cheer digital book-burnings, or see example after example of censorship to protect us from supposedly offensive ideas or images, all I can think of is a line from an interview conducted in 1842 with a veteran of the American Revolution. The man was asked why he fought, and he replied, “Young man, what we meant in going for those redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.”
An executive order on LGBT rights signed by President Joe Biden on Wednesday signals the start of a bitter cultural clash that will loom large over his presidency.
Biden’s directive broaches almost every aspect of domestic policy, from housing to refugee resettlement to transgender student athletes. The order requires every federal agency to make clear that civil rights laws banning sex discrimination also ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, citing the Supreme Court’s landmark gay rights ruling in June 2020.
Many changes resulting from Biden’s order, like a ban on anti-gay discrimination in renting, are unlikely to cause controversy. Other mandates will accelerate long-simmering cultural disputes, like those allowing trans students to participate in women’s sports or use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. While Biden says his focus is fixed on the coronavirus pandemic and economic stimulus, cultural conflict is poised to play a defining role in the coming years of his presidency.
The Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County is the basis for Biden’s directive. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination “because of sex” in employment. The question for the justices was whether that sex discrimination ban also covers sexual orientation and gender identity. A six-justice majority led by Justice Neil Gorsuch said it does. Gorsuch wrote that it is “impossible” to discriminate against LGBT workers without discriminating in some way “because of sex.”
Biden’s order says the logic of Bostock—that discrimination against LGBT people is necessarily discrimination “because of sex”—should apply to every other federal law and regulation that bans sex-based discrimination. The order thus requires any agency that enforces statutes banning sex discrimination to likewise prohibit bias against LGBT people.
For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development administers a sex non-discrimination law called the Fair Housing Act. Under Biden’s order, HUD will enforce that law to ban LGBT bias when selling homes or renting apartments. The Immigration and Nationality Act likewise promises assistance to refugees regardless of sex, meaning Biden’s order also guarantees protections for gay and transgender migrants.
All told, the list of forthcoming changes is a long one.
“Biden’s executive order is the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “By fully implementing the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Bostock, the federal government will enforce federal law to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, health care, housing, and education, and other key areas of life.”
While many new policies will likely enjoy broad support, some may inflame the hottest cultural disputes. Biden’s Education Department will be a flashpoint.
The Education Department administers Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in federally-funded schools. The department, consistent with Biden’s order, will make rules requiring any school that takes federal dollars to allow trans students access to their preferred bathrooms and locker rooms. Another rule granting trans-women access to women’s sports will almost certainly be promulgated. The order expressly contemplates those steps.
“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the order reads.
Critics say those moves are tantamount to repealing Title IX, which was passed to put women on equal-footing with men in athletics.
“This isn’t equality, and it isn’t progress. President Biden’s call for ‘unity’ falls flat when he seeks to hold those receiving federal funds hostage if they don’t do tremendous damage to the rights, opportunities, and dignity of women and girls,” said Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer Christiana Holcomb.
The Trump administration took the same view, arguing Bostock shouldn’t apply to Title IX because Title IX serves a different and unique purpose—protecting girls and ensuring equal athletic opportunities for women. Forcing women’s athletic leagues to accept transgender competitors would defeat the law’s purpose, the Trump Education Department argued in a 2020 memorandum.
In the months following Bostock, two federal appeals courts sided with transgender students challenging bathroom access policies, an early indication that many courts are ready to apply the case to education.
Implementing Biden’s order will take time. In the short term, agencies will issue advisory notices to forewarn employees or industry leaders about the new enforcement practices. That will give schools, banks, and employers time to implement changes on their own without formal government action.
Agencies will then move to enshrine the new policy in an official rule. Crafting rules is time-consuming. Agencies must give adequate notice of a change and allow a public comment period. Settling the finer points is likewise slow work, often involving officials from different parts of the government. For example, former education secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded an Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter on campus sexual assault in 2017, but a long-promised rule setting due-process requirements for campus tribunals wasn’t finalized until 2020.
And whatever changes are achieved may be stymied in court. Advocacy groups and Republican attorneys general are sure to file legal challenges to the new rules. It’s not clear if they’ll ask judges to halt Biden’s policies on a national basis. Conservatives castigated so-called nationwide injunctions during the Trump administration, though with Biden in the White House they may be back in style.
Justice Samuel Alito foresaw a long slog in his wide-ranging 54-page dissent in Bostock.
“Although the Court does not want to think about the consequences of its decision, we will not be able to avoid those issues for long,” Alito wrote. “The entire federal judiciary will be mired for years in disputes about the reach of the Court’s reasoning.”
Can Joe Biden withstand the storm of political correctness?
Before Thursday morning I had not heard of Thomas Bosco, and I am willing to bet you haven’t heard of him either. He runs a café in Upper Manhattan. From the picture in the New York Times, the Indian Road Café is one of those Bobo-friendly brick-lined coffee shops with chalkboard menus affixed to the wall behind the counter and a small stage for down-on-their-luck musicians to warble a few bars of “Fast Car” as you sip on a no-foam latte while editing a diversity training manual. It looks pleasant enough. “Local writers, artists, musicians, and political activists are regulars,” writes metro columnist Azi Paybarah. “And for years, two drag queens have hosted a monthly charity bingo tournament there.” Drag queens! You can’t get more progressive than that. Bosco seems like a noble small businessman making his way in a turbulent world.
There’s a problem, though. He once expressed an opinion. Though Black Lives Matter signs are posted throughout the restaurant, and its owner identifies as “a liberal guy who supports almost every liberal cause I can think of,” in early June Bosco told MSNBC that he voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and expects to do so again. Omigod no. “The backlash was swift, as you might expect,” writes Paybarah. Neighbors denounced Bosco on Facebook. Some vowed not to patronize the café. Randi Weingarten, who as president of the American Federation of Teachers draws close to half a million dollars in salary and benefits, wrote online that it would be “hard to ever go back.” No more tips for the barista from her. As for the drag queens, they are taking their glitter elsewhere.
Bosco is distraught. “My staff feels like I let them down to a certain extent,” he told the Times. He has supported Bernie Sanders, donated to immigrant groups, contributed to the food pantry, provided child care for an employee, and plans to change the name of the café to Inwood Farm to avoid any possible offense toward the Indigenous. None of this is enough to quell the fury of the Very Online. “Similar backlashes have erupted in liberal New York City, usually after a business is revealed to have financial links to Mr. Trump or socially conservative causes,” notes Paybarah, citing the example of Stephen Ross, an investor who had to cut ties to the Equinox and SoulCycle gym chains after it was revealed that he was going to throw a fundraiser for the president. “But Mr. Bosco is no Mr. Ross.”
No, Mr. Bosco is not. He is instead one of the countless private individuals whose lives have been upended by the gale of righteousness blowing through this country since the killing of George Floyd in police custody on May 25. For all of the high-profile sackings, vandalism, and cancellations—the editor of the New York Times opinion pages, the CEO of Crossfit, the editor in chief of Bon Appétit, the head of Adidas human resources, the Atlanta police chief, statues of Confederates, Columbus, Grant, and Douglass, and the Washington Redskins—there have been an equal number of stories concerning absolute nobodies, pipsqueaks, formally anonymous men and women whose unpopular opinions or boneheaded errors of judgment, widely publicized on social media, transform them into public enemies, splittists, and heretics whose livelihoods suffer as a result. Andy Warhol’s 1968 prediction of the future was wrong. It’s not that everyone is world-famous for 15 minutes. It’s that they are infamous.
This towering inferno of outrage culture, social media virality, and social justice journalism reached new heights on June 17, when the Washington Post devoted thousands of confusing and bizarre words to an investigation of a Halloween party at cartoonist Tom Toles’s house two years ago where a random neighborhood woman, in a gross misjudgment and lack of self-awareness, showed up in blackface. “I’m Megyn Kelly—it’s funny,” the woman is said to have toldpartygoers agog and offended by her costume, demonstrating the truism that any “joke” requiring explanation is a bad one. The embarrassed Megyn Kelly impersonator left the gathering, not knowing that two years later she would lose her job because another guest at the party could not take her mind off the incident. “Why Did the Washington Post Get This Woman Fired?” asked Josh Barro and Olivia Nuzzi in New York a week after the superfluous exposé appeared in the paper. No one they spoke to could explain why.
Here’s one theory. Bouts of hysteria are often accompanied by loss of perspective and lapses in critical thinking. In a moment of national self-examination, distinctions between private and public, between guilty and innocent, between criminal and clueless are tossed aside. What was precious and inviolable minutes ago—the musical Hamilton, for example, or Harry Potter—becomes the object of suspicion and derision. The frenzy builds on itself, and grows stronger, and doesn’t know where to stop.
At first the flagellation is sincere. No one, no society, is without fault. But the self-punishment soon becomes an end in itself. And for some, it even starts to feel … pleasurable. Confessing your badness turns into an uplifting sensation. It’s good. You help make bestsellers of How to Be an Antiracist, Between the World and Me, White Fragility, Stamped from the Beginning, So You Want to Talk About Race, The New Jim Crow, Begin Again, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, White Rage, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, Me and White Supremacy, and I’m Still Here. You get into Run the Jewels. And before long, you can’t contain the self-criticism, it has to be poured outward, unleashed, directed at others. Whoever that may be.
When Noam Chomsky, who had no trouble putting the crimes of the Khmer Rouge into “context,” signs a letter warning that “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted,” it is a sign that things … things have gotten out of control. Social media has become a system of surveillance, policing, and stigma, news media the vehicle for an attack on the American Founding and on classical liberal principles, and progressive politicians the saps for a revolutionary ideology that hides behind egalitarian ideals.ADVERTISING
Joe Biden better be paying close attention. The other day a member of his vice presidential shortlist, Senator Tammy Duckworth, expressed her willingness to “listen to the argument” of radicals who would tear down statues of George Washington. As I wrote this, Nancy Pelosi shrugged off the illegal desecration of the Columbus statue in Baltimore, saying, “People will do what they do.” You know how people are—they get angry and wild and destroy public property. So fuggedaboutit. Would she say the same if vandals tossed the sculpture of her dad into the Inner Harbor?
There is only so much self-abasement a nation can take. And when the winds of woke start to blow, millions of Americans find that there is one way left for them to oppose political correctness: pulling the lever for the man in the White House.
Over the last six weeks, America has been rocked to its cultural foundations by a wave of attacks on monuments and memorials to persons and events traditionally held to be historically significant. What began as an assault on statuary dedicated to the memory of former Confederate generals has evolved into an all-out war on the national narrative.
No one or thing is safe. Statues of George Washington. Abraham Lincoln and slave-born abolitionist Frederick Douglass have all been recently vandalized as have those dedicated to the memory of musicians Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.
Little of this makes sense. The protests that began in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death have evolved into riots, looting, and general mayhem stoked by anarchists and progressives who not only want to destroy Donald Trump but everything they believe he and his presidency represent.
They have a distorted view of history – as their defacing and destruction of statues of Washington, Lincoln, and others who led crusades on behalf of freedom and equality prove. Whatever they learned in school, it had little to do with the hard decisions and moral choices we may all at some point be called upon to make in life.
Would it have been better if the founders, because they could not agree to end slavery had abandoned America’s bid for independence? Or if only those that would abolish slavery had proceeded, leaving them to fight both the British crown and the colonies that remained tied to the King? Or, as most all of us have long believed, the struggle for the independence and equality of all men and women began with this effort of some to secure liberty for themselves and those like them? And for that, we owe them our gratitude and a certain degree of reverence?
Things have progressed well beyond the sensible out to the absurd. Reason no longer applies. The U.S. and Canadian press Tuesday reported that a memorial to victims of Communism under construction in Ottawa had been vandalized. According to The Post Millennial, the fence surrounding the site in the Canadian capital city was defaced by the phrase “Communism will win” in spray-painted in yellow alongside three depictions of the Communist hammer & sickle.
The American memorial to the Victims of Communism, which was completed more than a decade ago and sits at the base of Capitol Hill was similarly defaced with graffiti related directly to the Black Lives Matter movement in early June.
If this is meant to be some sort of cry for social justice, it is wrongly directed. Adolf Hitler, typically held up as the ultimate state-sponsor of evil in the 20th-century evil if not all time, led a Holocaust in which somewhere between 11 and 13 million people were killed according to most estimates. The leaders of the countries and rebel bands that formed the international Communist bloc – Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Che, and others all the way up to Kim Jong Un, who is still with us today – are responsible for the deaths of at least 10 times as many people.
Communism is neither just not equitable. American schools don’t do a good job teaching that if they teach it at all– which may be while those responsible in recent weeks for so much destruction in Seattle have left the Lenin statue there unmolested. They and those who’ve joined with them in cities like Richmond, Atlanta, Rochester, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., aren’t interested in rewriting American history. They want to erase it so they can replace it with a narrative of their own that leads to a justification of the demands they have today. History, before it can be rewritten, must be destroyed. The Confederate statues were just the beginning, low-hanging fruit, easy to get before the progressives could start reaching for objectives much higher on the tree.
Every December, when outdoor temperatures are dropping, prominent atheists are using the approaching Christmas holiday as an excuse to stoke the flames of the culture war. It happens every year like clock work. This year is no different.
One of the most outrageous examples happened a few years ago. Dan Barker, the Co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (based in Wisconsin) traveled to Olympia, Washington to post an anti-Christmas sign next to a nativity display at the state capitol. For the record, there is also a Menorah on display and a large “Holiday Tree” which is part of a local business’ charitable effort to benefit poor children. Barker dismissed the idea that his sign was merely another religious display. He said, “It is not a religious display. It is an attack on religion.” Continue reading
With the shocking assassination of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and 3 other diplomats and the violent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, the White House has time to fly to Nevada for fundraisers and campaign activities, but not time to meet with our best ally in the Middle East, Israel.
The White House declined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama during a UN conference in New York at the end of September. Continue reading
If you thought the nation’s 8.3 percent unemployment rate and $1.3 trillion budget deficit were the top two issues of the 2012 election, then congratulations, you share the same priorities as the vast majority of Americans. Also, that means you are probably not one of the Democrats in Charlotte, N.C., who have been drafting the Democratic Party’s 2012 national platform.
The platform mentions abortion more times (four) than unemployment (three). It mentions “gay”/”LGBT” more times (six) than debt (five). It also mentions four times that President Obama killed Osama bin Laden. Continue reading