“That’s my reality!” she said over and over again. It was 1997, I believe, and I was relaxing with a few friends in the NCO Club at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina following my return from another tour of duty in the Mideast. A female NCO was at our table, where we all took turns telling stories from our various deployments over the years. As the number of empty beer bottles increased, so too did the eccentricity and humor of the stories, except, that is, for this solitary NCO whose demeanor became more emphatic and grim as time passed.
I forget the specifics of the stories she told, chiefly because of the startling manner in which she concluded each anecdote, leaning in for dramatic effect, her eyes widening all the while, and announcing, “THAT’S MY REALITY!” The effect was immediate and as she desired, for it foreclosed any further question or attempts to explore her perspective in depth. Indeed, it seemed that to trespass on her “reality” would have been akin to saying, “No, actually, I don’t think your children are attractive at all, and that crayon scrawl your jug-eared son drew suggests that the epilepsy meds aren’t working very well either.” Certain things just aren’t up for discussion after all, and that included her “reality.”
To her everlasting credit, however, she didn’t demand our immediate and universal endorsement of her reality, such a presumption being considered, once upon a time, rude and small-minded. She could have her reality, and we could have ours, and we would coexist in a genial conversation. But that was back then, when from the academy to the editorial page we were encouraged to push against the alleged tide of intolerance, to celebrate inclusiveness, embrace diversity and, above all, to exercise Tolerance. Remember that word? That goal? That talisman?
In Up From Liberalism, William F. Buckley Jr., addressed the Trojan Horse of tolerance in the university thus:
I have been maintaining for years that American higher education has mostly developed into an engine for the imposition of the prevailing orthodoxy, and that the same people, by and large, who are involved in this operation do not hesitate to instruct the community about the imperatives of academic freedom.
Of course, the point all along wasn’t simply to release all ideas from the starting gate on an even field and simply trust that the right one would come thundering home ahead of the herd, but rather to guide and, yes, even to indoctrinate. The reluctance of the professoriate to come clean on this score was telling, as Buckley observed while examining the objective of the indoctrination.
But, as I say, those were days of sunshine and light, back when everyone wanted to teach the world to sing the Coca-Cola song and tolerance reigned supreme. Things are different now, as I wrote during the 2013 partial government shutdown. “No longer relegated to the fever swamps of academic fancy, utopia has acquired real estate and made known its demands.”
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, in a recent piece, endorsed the position that, “[C]hurch leaders must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’” The mental gymnastics that lead him to this conclusion are less interesting (categorizing certain behavior as sinful “is a choice,” he says, the result of “scattered passages of ancient texts … as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.”) than the conclusion itself. For it is here that Visiting Professor of Hubris Bruni, gathers his considerable powers of conceit to step in for God and arrogate what ministers must be made to say and what they must be made to repudiate.
Perhaps he will get around to revising the Ten Commandments while he’s at it, but meanwhile we are entitled to inquire whether or not he cast his considerable thunderbolts from the mountaintop to revise the anti-Semitic and anti-American rubbish issuing from Reverend Wright’s pulpit. Did he enjoin compulsory editorial authority over Reverend Wright or Louis Farrakhan? By the way, at this point it is worth noting that we on the right never advocated any such action with regard to Reverend Wright’s invocation of The Almighty’s damnation of America. On the contrary, we maintained that he should be free to rattle on as long as he wished, but that we were simultaneously entitled to draw certain conclusions about the priorities and judgement of those who chose to occupy his church pews, including even an aspiring president. Their protestations notwithstanding, it is the left that has embraced totalitarianism, instructing the rest of us what we may and may not say, think, do, or purchase.
Have you heard of Christiana Figueres? Don’t worry, she hasn’t heard of you either. But if she had her druthers you probably wouldn’t even be here. Ms. Figueres is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (yes, such a thing really exists) and is on record in a recent interview bemoaning the number of people currently breathing, because it’s such an awful imposition on the planet.
“Really,” she said, “we should make every effort to change those numbers because we are already, today, already exceeding the planet’s planetary carrying capacity. … So yes, we should do everything possible. But we cannot fall into the very simplistic opinion of saying just by curtailing population then we’ve solved the problem. It is not either/or, it is an and/also.”
Why the need to curtail the population? Why, because of climate change of course! Because what used to be regarded as the simple changing of the seasons has become an apocalyptic crisis, various confessions and misgivings of prominent scientists and former proponents notwithstanding. “The science is settled,” Barack Obama announces with all the certainty of his telling us that, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” and he must act accordingly, with or without the consent of the governed. It is no longer a matter of questioning contrary opinion and inconvenient evidence, for the totalitarian mind is now busy drafting executive orders and depopulating the planet.
The egalitarian impulse of the liberal mind is now such that he has transcended the need to respect the opinions of those over whom he proposes to rule. “Elections have consequences,” he tells us when he wins one, but he can’t be bothered with that idea when he loses. No, he must take up his phone and his pen, and ignore the people and their representatives if he is to demonstrate how much he truly loves them. That business about We The People and the Founders insistence on self-government, it’s really a load of spinach to be perfectly honest, to be relegated to the same dust bin as his oath of fidelity to the Constitution.
“I’d like to make my own health care choices,” says the free man, to which the “pro-choice” liberal says, “No.” “Well then, I’d like to choose how to dispose of that which I earn,” says the American, to which the “tolerant” liberal replies “No” yet again, insisting that our earnings must be redistributed to those who choose not to earn. “Okay then, I’d like choice in the matter of defending my life, my family, and what little property you allow me to keep,” insists the citizen. “Absolutely not,” answers the advocate of choice and tolerance, “You cannot be trusted with this choice, so we must disarm you for your own safety.” “Upon what then may I exercise my right of choice?” asks the individual, whereupon he is told, “You will choose to endorse unlimited abortion and same-sex marriage.” “That’s a demand, not a choice,” says the citizen, “and I disagree with you.” “Stop oppressing me you racist, sexist bigot!” screams the tolerant liberal as he brings the instrumentalities of the state to coerce what had formerly been free people.
There is no separation of church and state where government becomes the predominant religion. The high priests now openly disregard their own rules while bringing the iron fist of government down on all who dissent. Thus, Hillary Clinton can decide for herself which documents are to be archived and which will be destroyed, in circumvention of the law and good sense. Try telling the IRS that you discarded your expense receipts on your own initiative and see how well things work out for you. But in the world of Barack and Michelle Obama, they get to take separate jets to the same city, sticking taxpayers with the bill and leaving a carbon footprint large enough to get its own ZIP code, all while lecturing the rest of us on the “settled science” of climate change and our corresponding imperative to say goodbye to our jobs and affordable utility bills.
We are told that our creeds and traditions, our faith, indeed, the fixed lessons of human experience itself must necessarily be superseded and improved upon by the latest intellectual fad or ideological epiphany. That the bright and shining “advances in science and knowledge,” have plainly improved mankind and anachronized those old “scattered passages of ancient texts” can be readily seen, especially from atop the mountain of corpses of the millions of children killed in the womb.
And what of this idea of the linear progression of morality? Does music work that way? Is Miley Cyrus an improvement over Bach? Do we dismiss the singular genius of Mozart in favor of twerking? What about literature? One hundred years from now, will people be reciting Shakespeare and Twain or Frank Bruni? The hubris of the left notwithstanding, eternal truth and value very plainly exists and are not subject to the frenzy and passion of the moment, nor to the situational ethics or the monstrous and absurd presumption of those few who impose their whims and most recent dogma upon the rights and prerogatives of the rest of us. That’s OUR reality.