You’re almost certainly not cynical enough.
I’ve been ranting for years about the perfidy of the left. At times I’ve been accused of exaggerating. On rare occasions I feared – or hoped? – that perhaps I was exaggerating. In fact I can now see that these people are worse than I ever imagined. Worse than most of us ever imagined.
Worse, even, than Donald Trump, with all his insight, imagined.
He went into office determined to clean up the swamp. He was tireless. But not tireless enough. No mere mortal could have been tireless enough. Trump had denounced the swamp in apocalyptic terms, but it proved to be even deeper and more extensive than he knew. It reached into the upper echelons of the intelligence community and the military, into cabinet departments and the judiciary.
Not only did the Democrats try to derail his campaign and then his presidency. Even people whom he appointed to White House jobs proved unreliable. Far from being too suspicious, he’d been too trusting. He’d appointed two-faced D.C. insiders. He’d trusted people who turned out to be snakes in the grass.
The news media, with very few exceptions, made it their task to thwart his progress and poison his name with a constant flow of disinformation. They said Trump had told people to drink bleach. They said he’d called neo-Nazis “good people.” They said many other outrageous things that they knew were outright lies. They relentlessly repeated the charge that he did nothing but lie, lie, lie, when in fact it was they, the media, who were constantly feeding us lies.
As all this happened, I tried to figure out what it reminded me of. It took two days to come up with the answer. It was the 1960 movie Spartacus. After his army has crushed the slave rebellion, Crassus (Laurence Olivier) promptly initiates the ruthless transformation of the Roman Republic into an empire, telling the republican senator Gracchus (Charles Laughton):
As the slaves died, so will your rabble if they falter one instant in loyalty to the new order of affairs. The enemies of the state are known. Arrests are in progress; the prisons begin to fill. In every city and province lists of the disloyal have been compiled. Tomorrow they will learn the cost of their terrible folly, their treason.
When Gracchus, the leader and hero of Rome’s deplorables, asks where his own name stands on Crassus’s list, Crassus shoves it in his face and shouts: “First!”
Yes, the author of the novel Spartacus, Howard Fast, was a Communist. So was Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the script. In Trumbo’s mind, Crassus’s list may well have been, at least in part, a reference to the Hollywood Blacklist, which had caused a brief hiccup in his own otherwise spectacular career. But for millions who saw the film, the idea of listing, arresting, and imprisoning “enemies of the state” would surely have brought to mind, above all else, the terrible reign of Stalin, who had died seven years earlier. Today it also recalls the brutal tyranny of Mao.
There’s no intrinsic magic about America that protects it from becoming Mao’s China or Stalin’s Russia. Only utopians believe in the perfectibility of man. People are people. And some of the people who are now, or are about to be, in power in the United States would, if accorded enough power, do far more to those of us who falter in loyalty than merely take away our social-media accounts.
Indeed, as scary as the situation may be right now, one thing’s for certain: worse is on its way.
Believe it. If the historical record is any guide, and it is, the current Great Purge is just the beginning.
I’m not cynical, I’m experienced.
That’s been my catchphrase for decades, you thief: “Cynicism is just another word for experience.”