This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published November 27, 2016 by The Washington Times.
One thing the election reinforced is that “tolerance” is the last thing progressives actually want.
The vitriol-laden media coverage, student demonstrations and other forms of protest against the incoming Trump administration are ample evidence. To which I say, mug them again.
Tolerance, properly understood, is a wonderful virtue. The progressive version, however is a weapon to intimidate and silence opponents. With enough shaming, people would not dare to buck their betters, even in the privacy of the voting booth.
Or so they thought.
Donald Trump’s election as president, along with the Republicans’ capture of the majority of governorships, statehouses and both branches of Congress, has left progressives seething. They cannot fathom why many fellow Americans still resist their siren call for a permanent secular revolution in values, economics and everyday language.
Having taken over the media, universities, government schools, the entertainment industry and even corporate boardrooms, the progressives figured their revolution was inevitable. In fact, the claim of inevitability is the background music of their cultural warfare. They dismiss opponents as being on “the wrong side of history.”
Deployed whenever a speed bump slows down their agenda, that phrase betrays the progressive movement’s Marxist roots. Since the French Revolution, the left has seen history as an ongoing dialectic (thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis) that is steadily evolving (like humanity itself, we’re told) toward a classless, property-free society. With them in charge, of course.
To get there, they have had to persuade their fellow citizens to adopt their rosy, futuristic view, or simply use brute force.
In America, with our long tradition of individualism, capitalism, vibrant religious faith and strong families, the left has taken a third road: political correctness. You need not persuade vast numbers of people, nor do you need to line them up and shoot them, as they did in Soviet Russia, Communist China, North Korea and Cuba.
Instead, you commandeer the institutions that convey cultural values — including corporations — and use them to enforce the speaking of a new language that is always one step ahead of the mindset of the “deplorables,” and irredeemables, especially those who cling to their guns and Bibles.
Government spending became “investing.” Sex became “gender.” Abortion became “choice.” Patriotism became “white nationalism” or “xenophobia.” “Gay” became, well, you know.
At the university level, which is ground zero for progressive nonsense, the fruits of many years of labor are ripening. Or perhaps over-ripening.
At George Washington University in D.C., student radicals are demanding a “sanctuary campus,” where they would be “safe” from campus police, whose members may have supported Mr. Trump since the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed him. “Placing us in these officers’ care is an act of violence, especially for Black students,” the Nov. 15 demand letter actually says.
The students also accused the university of “structural Islamophobia,” and demanded placing more Palestinian students “to prevent their genocide at the hands of Israel.” Oh, and they want a “place of sanctuary” for Muslim students and financial aid for illegal immigrants.
GW announced this week that it has the most diverse freshman class in its history, citing the university’s abandonment of SAT and ACT scores for admissions since July 2015.
When you value “diversity” over merit, you just may get even more forceful demands from some beneficiaries whose currency is intimidation.
As Angelo M. Codevilla observes in The Rise of Political Correctness in the Fall 2016 edition of the Claremont Review of Books, “Progressive regimes demand that persons who express themselves in public (even in private) affirm any and all things that pertain to the regime’s identity lest they lose access to jobs or privileges, and be exposed to the shunning or ire of regime supporters — if not treated as criminals.”
This brings to mind Christian business owners who have been demonized and even prosecuted for not violating their beliefs against facilitating same-sex ceremonies or providing abortifacients.
Although many people are appalled, few dare to question this cultural fascism. “Even totalitarian regimes can reward or punish only a few people at a time,” Mr. Codevilla notes. “Tacit collaboration by millions who bite their lip is even more essential than lip service by thousands of favor seekers.”
Soon, silence won’t be enough. In George Orwell’s 1984, it was not sufficient for Big Brother to coerce Winston into compliance. They “finished breaking his spirt by holding up four fingers and demanding that Winston acknowledge seeing five,” Mr. Codevilla writes.
Millions of Americans are being told to accept what they know to be false — or else. But the good news is that eventually, peddlers of lies lose respect and are no longer trusted. In the Soviet Union, people eventually believed the opposite of whatever the regime told them.
Likewise, Americans are leery of whatever the media tell them. Is a new, avant-garde film getting rave reviews? Avoid it like the plague.
The media and their Hollywood friends fully expected us to hand over the keys to the White House to the same bunch that has been radically transforming America. When this didn’t happen, they threw a tantrum.
Let’s enjoy it while we can.