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The Kavanaugh hearings were quite the spectacle. On one hand, you have the fire-breathing Democrats. Women will die! I am Spartacus! Wide-eyed, screaming protesters! Every day brings new spectacular displays of heroic passion! And on the other hand, you have, well, a very boring middle aged guy named Brett for Pete’s sake. I look at him, and it’s hard to imagine getting so exercised that I would engage in such histrionics in public over, well, over him. I mean, just look at the guy. His record is solid but boring. Now, since so much of leftism is so unpopular, Democrats are forced to legislate through the courts rather than through the legislature, so I can understand why they are disappointed that a non-leftist has been nominated to the Supreme Court. But this seems like an epic battle of the centuries, not routine confirmation of a Presidential appointment. It seems odd.
Politics, of course, has long been practiced along these lines. It’s us vs. them. Certain catastrophe lies just around the corner. Unless, of course, you vote for me. So the concept is not new. But, my goodness. Obama seemed to elevate progressive melodrama to new heights. And Trump does little to calm the passions of those who disagree with him, so the fire has continued to grow. And with objective evidence of the benefits of leftism, um, lacking, it is understandable that leftists emphasize emotions over rational decision making. There are many things at play here. But again. My goodness. In five years, Antifa will be the moderates in the Democrat party, telling the radicals in their party that they need to let the system work, and they should go back to class.
I remember sitting on my couch watching my two-year-old daughter scream and cry until she could hardly breathe while lying on her stomach beating her hands and feet on the floor, over which dress she was going to wear to church. I understood that she was disappointed, but it was a remarkable display of pure rage which seemed out of place. Watching the Kavanaugh hearings brings back memories – how do you reason with an enraged two-year-old girl? Should you even try? I never tried, so I wouldn’t know (“You either choose to put on that dress, now, or you choose option B. And you won’t like option B. I don’t care which one you choose.” In my loving but menacing fatherly tone…). But discussion seems impossible and pointless. And frankly, I have better things to do.
But debates in the Senate are more important that arguing over church attire, despite how Democrats behave in those august halls.
How did things deteriorate to this point? There are many factors, I think.
First, is the overwhelming, spectacular success of our schools. The purpose of our schools is to teach that American values are bad, collectivism is good, and ideas to the contrary are heresy that are not welcome in the public sphere.
Students are no longer willing to engage with those who disagree with them. If the faculty was telling students to shout down speakers they disagree with, and not let them talk, that would be horrifying. The faculty does not need to encourage this behavior. The students are doing it on their own. That is much more horrifying.
It has not been easy or cheap. It has taken decades of concerted effort by the left to build our current school system, but it is finally reaping rewards for them, and continues to improve.
Modern entertainment has played a role, as well. I was in high school in the ’80s, when cable TV and video games came out. I don’t think that anyone at the time fully appreciated the impact those media would have on our society. The messaging of the programming was important, of course, but so was the ease with which you could get information. Why spend six weeks traveling to the Arctic when you could just watch Nanook of the North on cable? Why spend all day reading whatever you could find at the library about the latest lawsuit at Dupont, when you can just sit in your pajamas and watch a 60-minute segment about it? And now, even that is too much time and effort – we have Twitter.
When you are feeding a newborn, you don’t introduce bottle feeding until they’re accustomed to breast feeding. Milk just falls out of a bottle – it takes no effort. Breastfeeding, meanwhile, takes some effort on the baby’s part, so once she gets used to a bottle, she often will shun breastfeeding. Why would a student today spend years studying Aristotle, Burke, Tocqueville, Bastiat (of course!), and other great thinkers? She can gain a very satisfying understanding of the world through Jon Stewart and Twitter. There was recently a brilliant, insufficiently loved post on Ricochet about the danger of easy knowledge. This is vital to Democrats.
One thing I love about Shakespeare is that every person you’ve ever met is in a Shakespeare play somewhere. He wrote about real people facing real problems in the real world. He wrote about people with great strengths and terrible flaws. Just like you and me. They were people that anyone would recognize, struggling with decisions that anyone would recognize. Shakespeare would have loved Donald Trump.
As a father of teenagers, I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of superhero movies. What strikes me about those movies is that it is extremely rare to encounter a character that resembles an actual person. Even the non-superhero characters in these movies are, at best, shadowy reflections of human nature, visible only in black and white. I think that’s why these movies are so boring, despite the remarkable graphics and spectacular action. William Shakespeare would fall asleep 20 minutes in, despite the never-ending explosions. At least I do.
Marx’s view of the world, proletariat vs. the bourgeois, was an appropriately simplistic story to tell when trying to fan the flames of hatred and incite revolution. The left has changed the terms a bit, but to them, everything is good vs. evil.
So when students threaten the safety of a speaker they think that they’re likely to disagree with, rather than listening to her and engaging in debate, that’s ok, because they’re courageously standing up against evil. When Cory Booker gets a little carried away, that’s ok. When Antifa thugs beat up some socialist kid because he has an American flag, that’s ok.
What is not ok when fighting evil? Is there any such thing as an over-reaction? If the other side is evil, no tactic, no matter how despicable, is out of bounds.
But what if people are more complex than that?
This is the central problem with leftism (collectivism). It just doesn’t fit with human nature. We are more complex than Superman or Lex Luthor. All of us are. Even Cory Booker. How do you coordinate the passions of such complicated and varying types of people? You don’t, except in war (Which is why, to the left, everything is a war. The war on poverty, the war on climate change, and so on.).
The genius of our Founding Fathers was to attempt to govern as little as possible. To a leftist (collectivist), that is obviously unacceptable.
Being, as it is, infested with people, the world is a very complicated place. And without an open mind, anything we don’t agree with is simply labeled as “evil,” and ignored or destroyed. And willful ignorance leads, as it always does, to hatred and violence. There is no other way.
The left’s tendency to distill any discussion into a battle between good and evil makes debate impossible. It makes the search for common ground impossible. It even makes free markets impossible (boycotts are common now). Discussion, negotiation, and free markets are mankind’s only hope to avoid perpetual violence and war. When we stop arguing, we start fighting. There is no other way.
The intentional closing of minds to opposing thought cannot coexist with peace on earth. If everyone is either good or evil, then war must ensue. There is no other way.
A couple months ago I saw a picture on a website of an enraged Antifa thug beating someone on the ground. The thug’s T-shirt read, “Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.” I wish I would have saved the picture. But I’m glad I didn’t.
This is horrifying.Published in