Two columns featured at Real Clear Politics this morning highlight the scary trend in American politics toward shaming and retribution.
Victor Davis Hanson, as usual, provides a historical perspective on our human foibles, showing how cultures try to bury their past instead of learn from it. In “Waging War Against the Dead,” Hanson writes that:
Not since the iconoclasts of the Byzantine Empire or the epidemic of statue destruction during the French Revolution has the world seen anything like the current war on the past.
He starts with the Taliban and ISIS purging the non-Islamic past, but then rapidly moves on to the Period of American Self-Hatred we are living through today. He writes about the toppling of Civil War statues as well as the toppling of icons such as Columbus. His conclusion is devastating to anyone with self-awareness:
The past is not a melodrama but more often a tragedy. Destroying history will not make you feel good about the present. Studying and learning from it might.
The second author opining about rewriting history was Peggy Noonan, someone who has the capacity to think big when she does not get trapped in the politics of the moment. Her article, “Get Ready for the Struggle Session,” directly references the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Mao unleashed university and high school students to weed out enemies and hold them to account. The students became the paramilitary Red Guards. They were instructed by the party to “clear away the evil habits of the old society” and extinguish what came to be known as “the four olds”—old ideas and customs, old habits and culture. “Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons,” the state newspaper instructed them.
With a vengeance they did.
She tells of how in China, the cultural referees crushed not just dissent but human experience, resulting ultimately in the deaths of millions. Then she looks at modern America and shudders at what she sees.
The air is full of accusation and humiliation. We have seen this spirit most famously on the campuses, where students protest harshly, sometimes violently, views they wish to suppress. Social media is full of swarming political and ideological mobs. In an interesting departure from democratic tradition, they don’t try to win the other side over. They only condemn and attempt to silence.
Public officials are forced to engage in self-criticism if not yet self-flagellation as they confess their cultural sins — not aware enough, not embarrassed enough, not cruel enough.
And it’s not just the left attacking the right. Even those on the left such as Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are in the crosshairs. This week Chelsea Clinton was blamed for the murder of Muslims in New Zealand because she had spoken out against anti-Semitism, as if defending Jews means you want to murder Muslims. We are clearly in an age of insanity, and there is no way to predict the outcome — whether an Age of Terror is inevitable or whether cooler heads will prevail.
My column on Monday at Real Clear Politics warns that the ready acceptance of the propaganda of the left has led to mass death in the past and could easily do so again if left unchecked. I’ll post a link here on Monday.
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. My new book is “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake.” To support my work, please consider buying “The Media Matrix” or my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy, which documents the downward spiral of the USA before Trump arrived on the scene. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Go here for a free sample: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/sitb/B07PDQBJM4