Steyn hit on a topic very near to my own heart with that opening line.
One of the occupational hazards of the commentative biz is that what’s new – the daily news item – simply illustrates the same old thesis you’ve been hammering for years, so that life’s rich pageant comes to seem like a Broadway catalogue song, a great torrent of accumulation all making the ever wearier point – that “You’re the Top”, “The Lady is a Tramp”, “These Foolish Things remind me of you”. Or in our case: We’re the Pits, The Lady is a Transitioning Gentleman, and These Foolish Things remind me that our civilization’s on the express chute to oblivion.
Here, by way of example, are a couple of stories readers asked for my thoughts on in the last 24 hours:
Richard Dawkins has become the latest speaker to be prevented from speaking at Berkeley. Professor Dawkins is a world-famous scientist, whose book The Selfish Gene has just been voted “the most inspiring science book of all time” in a poll commissioned by the Royal Society.
His science is not the problem. Dawkins is also an atheist.
That’s not the problem, either – or it wasn’t when he was principally urinating over the Pope (“a leering old villain in a frock”) and the Catholic Church (an “evil corrupt institution” that’s also a “child-raping institution”). All three quotes are from just one Washington Post column: that’s how respectable and mainstream Dawkins was back then in 2010.
Alas, Dawkins is an equal-opportunity atheist, and feels just as unkindly toward Islam. Hence the announcement from the “liberal” sponsor of his Berkeley talk, KPFA Radio:
Dear Richard Dawkins event ticket buyers,
We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.
KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier. We also apologize to all those inconvenienced by this cancellation. Your ticket purchases will automatically be refunded by Brown Paper Tickets.
KPFA Radio 94.1 FM
It would have to be “sincere”, wouldn’t it? Because it’s hard to see how apparently sentient beings could otherwise write such effete desiccated tripe. Notice how the shriveling of free expression smoothly proceeds to the next diminished staging post: Once upon a time, Berkeley professed to believe in free speech. Then it believed in free speech except for “hate speech”. Now it supports “serious” free speech, but not “hurtful” speech.
Well, we live in a world of hurt. Personally, I’m hurt by people who say they don’t like my cat album, or by the director’s decision to give me purple hair in this video. But what’s really hurtful is that KPFA and Berkeley can’t even be bothered to pretend to a principled defense of free speech. What is “serious” free speech? Not so long ago, arguments for same-sex marriage or tampons for menstruating men would have been dismissed as utterly unserious – indeed, preposterous. What KPFA means by “serious” speech is compliant, conformist speech that brooks no ideological dissent from the pieties of the day – on male menstruation, climate change, Islam, and whatever’s next on the list. You can be as “hurtful” as you like to cardinals but not imams, to climate deniers but not climate alarmists, to homophobic pastry chefs but not to gay newlyweds.
Its “emphatic support” of “serious free speech” is, thus, merely a regime of apostasy enforcement – which is why it has no place for an atheist such as Dawkins.
But see, that’s the beauty of it: Progressivism has no new ideas at all, and their tired, old ones are so self-contradictory as to be completely incoherent by now.
They. Have. Nothing. They’re intensely, smugly dismissive of all religion—except the most primitive, ass-backwards, hateful one in all human history, which absolutely no one is allowed to criticize in even the smallest way. They’re all for “free speech”—but only of the kind they approve of and agree with. They’re all for “dissent”—as long as that doesn’t involve dissenting from them. They believe in individual liberty—entirely and exclusively on matters of sexual hedonism and perversion, the right to unrestricted access to mind-altering chemicals, abortion, and government “assistance.” They are fervent believers in “science”—and oppose any commitment to free and open inquiry, skepticism, and the scientific method itself.
They cherish “diversity”…and ruthlessly enforce a blank, grey-man uniformity of opinion, philosophy, and even physical appearance. They revel in access to the latest trendy-hipster Micronesian/Cajun/Ethiopian “fusion” cuisine, while denouncing the horror of “cultural appropriation.” They smugly consider themselves “citizens of the world”…and disdainfully regard Flyover America as some sort of bizarre, incomprehensible terrain unworthy of any serious consideration at all.
And now, in their open-hearted magnanimity, they have decided that what we benighted ignoramuses are most in need of is another lecture.
The other night, I had an amazing conversation with a friend who admitted he was a Donald Trump voter. Having known him for most of my life, I was shocked. But as a result, as a proud member of The Resistance, I’m even more certain that we progressives are largely responsible for the rise of Trump’s America.
My typical response to conservatives who see me as a smug, elitist hypocrite for not being tolerant of their beliefs is that I’m “intolerant of intolerance,” but I’ve realized that that mistake is the issue. No, we don’t have to accept and respect others’ bigotry or ignorance, but it’s incredibly important that we understand where it comes from and why it exists.
Actually, you smarmy, self-righteous asshole, what’s more important is that you begin to understand that what you’re pleased to refer to as “ignorance” and “bigotry” is usually no such thing at all. It’s merely a difference of opinion, a refusal to accept your convoluted premises and twisted reasoning. But by all means, go on calling us names and refusing to imagine that we might actually have a valid point once in a while. See where that you gets you.
The folks who voted for Trump are by and large people who see progressivism, and specifically concepts like political correctness and intersectionalism, as an attack on all of those deeply held feelings of what America “is.” To them, our movement is an assault on their Field of Dreams. They’re afraid of losing their (yes, white and Christian) America in the tidal wave of cultural shifts that have occurred over recent decades.
Is calling them racist going to change that? Is calling them bigots going to do it? Hateful? Monsters? Ignorant? Uneducated? Privileged? We don’t have to agree with it, but we have to attempt to understand it.
You’re too fucking stupid and sanctimonious to even begin to understand it.
The only way The Resistance succeeds is if we fundamentally change our tactics. We must realize that the way into these hearts is to respectfully suggest that the causes we fight for actually align with their deeply held patriotism and love for America. That yes, our marginalized communities may look different and speak a different language, but they want all the same things you do, and they want to have them in this incredible country we’ve built together.
Umm, excuse me, but: “built together”? You puerile, adolescent shitwits haven’t built a goddamned thing. You denigrate; you insult; you attack; you destroy. You make outlandish and absurd claims about the egregious harm America has inflicted on the world, without ever once acknowledging the good we’ve done. You denounce American capitalist “greed” without ever admitting that the profit motive has sparked more real progress than any sort of collectivist fantasy you could name ever has. You bitch, piss, and moan about our assumed lack of “compassion” and “humanity” and “decency” while condemning millions to dependence on a Leviathan superstate as blank and pitiless as the sun.
You whine and cavil about a lack of “bipartisanship” and “cooperation” only when you’ve lost an election; the rest of the time, you run roughshod over us without the most cursory and insincere nod towards “working together” with your opposition, and condemn us as “Nazis” when we dare to complain. You ram a foolish government-health-care bill down our throats without a single Republican vote, and then try to blame us when it crashes and burns. You demand “respect” while offering not one whit of it in return.
“Want all the same things you do”? No. No, not hardly. What YOU want is total control over us, to reduce us to an abject state of servility and helplessness under a monstrous tyranny you retain total control over. What WE really want is for you to leave us the fucking hell alone—you, and your hideous Leviathan state too.
Unfortunately, we know by now just how likely THAT is.
But what this also means is that we as progressives need to stop getting so offended by everything and learn to put ourselves in others’ shoes. All of our experiences — conservatives and progressives alike — give us unique perspectives, and it is absolutely unhelpful to say things like “it’s not our job to teach you” when someone comes to us with questions.
Actually, it is our job.
No. No, the fuck it is NOT, you goddamned worthless, pietistic, priggish, arrogant shitheel. Get it through your empty head: WE ARE NOT “COMING TO YOU WITH QUESTIONS.” WE ARE NOT IN ANY NEED OF YET ANOTHER PUKE-INDUCING LECTURE ABOUT OUR MYRIAD SUPPOSED FLAWS. WE ARE NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY INTERESTED IN YOUR GODFUCKINGDAMNED COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY. WE JUST WANT YOU TO—AT LONG, LONG LAST—STOP SLAMMING AND TRYING TO DISMANTLE THE VERY FUCKING NATION THAT FUCKING GUARANTEES YOUR FUCKING FREEDOM TO BE SUCH A FUCKING INSUFFERABLE, IGNORANT FUCKING DIPSHIT, AND LEAVE US THE FUCKING FUCK ALONE.
Period. Full stop. End of story.
But no, the asshole continues. It’s like he can’t help himself. Which, of course—being an oh-so-superior, self-satisfied, narcissistic “liberal”—he can’t.
If we’re waiting for people who hold a different view to change their minds without being guided through that process, we’ll be waiting an awfully long time.
Oh, you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time, all right. AWFULLY long. Common ground, at last.
I think progressives would all agree that time is not something we have to waste. It may not be fair, but progressives must be willing to put aside their anger and hate and take responsibility for creating the change they wish to see in the world. To vilify, shame and condemn only causes those who don’t understand to dig in their heels. If we are the ones who want change, the responsibility is ours to do what it takes to encourage it.
To summarize: Progressives, stop insulting, stop shaming, and stop condescending. Start listening. Start teaching.
“Start listening. Start teaching.” And there, right fucking there, is the whole problem. The arrogant douchebag doesn’t even realize that one of those things is not like the other. If these moralizing putzes were even half as smart as they think they are, they’d know that when they maintain their laser-like focus on “teaching” us poor, benighted knuckleheads, then they’re not really “listening” at all.
The ugly truth is, they’re not interested in “listening,” and they never have been; they’re right, we’re wrong, and they will never even dream of considering they might possibly be in error. Even after decades of failure after failure—a collapsing, moribund economy; foreign-policy train wrecks and humiliations one after another after another; a skyrocketing debt fueled by out of control spending; a nation which rightly views its government as an adversary, despising it, distrusting it, fearing it, and seeking to quietly ignore or circumvent it at every opportunity; a populace that doesn’t believe a word its supposed “representatives” say, and fully comprehends the rot and corruption festering throughout the government while having lost all faith in its own ability to wield even the slightest influence over its direction—these are the toxic fruits of Progressivist governance.
Detroit. Detroit is their model, their ideal; Detroit is what they hope to turn the entire country into. It’s all they can do; it’s all they have.
And THAT is where we take hope; that is our ultimate salvation. These halfwits have nothing whatsoever to offer except more of the same. They have already failed; they have failed again and again and again. Anybody who has searched in vain for a job in recent years, or dropped out of the workforce in despair; been victimized by a domestic Muslim terrorist attack that never would have happened without the Left’s wet-brained insistence on importing hordes of unvetted, unassimilable troglodytes; been forced into an unaffordable Obamacare plan that provides them with no real coverage in exchange for an exorbitant monthly charge; or risked their life savings trying to start a business only to see their dream drown in a Sargasso of idiotic regulation, taxation, and government obstruction, knows exactly where their bullshit leads.
How many of you believe that what those desperate victims of Progressivist perfidy need most is another lecture on how deplorable they are from the likes of this pinheaded, pissant prick? How many of you think that this sort of condescension is going to win a single vote for the agents of American ruin, the Democrat Socialist Party?
They destroy a nation. They scold the people who built it, and claim underserved credit for building it themselves. They blame others for their own manifest failure. They decry true patriots while risibly claiming the mantle of patriotism for themselves. They despise, insult, and spit on the military that provides the blanket of freedom under which they cravenly cower. They arrogantly insist that only they can resolve and repair the damage they themselves so wantonly wrought. They undermine the very foundations of the American republic by refusing to accept an electoral defeat.
They lecture, they hector, they harangue. They dismiss, they denigrate. They condescend and insult. They mislead, misdirect, conceal, and lie outright. But the ultimate takeaway is this: THEY FAIL. Always. Each and every time.
They’re done, people. They. Got. NOTHING. Unless they suddenly and miraculously discover a smidgen of humility, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes legal to actually start openly hunting them, and bringing their stinking pelts down to the bank to exchange for a new toaster oven, a gift certificate, or some other premium.
And then, we can truly begin to Make America Great Again.