I loathe and fear the Cultural Revolution we’re undergoing. Friends of mine were caught up in its prototype, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that consumed China fifty years ago. I’ve sat listening to their stories. What I see happening here today is all too similar.
I don’t want to be accused of hyperbole, though. Similar does not of course mean identical. I doubt what’s happening here will turn as homicidal as the Chinese model. To suggest that would be to do a dishonor to the millions who suffered and died in Mao Tse-tung’s terror.
One of Steve Sailer’s commenters called this present manifestation “the nerf gun cultural revolution.” I think that captures the schoolyard quality of the thing, the infantilism, the lack of corpse-piles.
Today’s cultural revolution is not entirely non-homicidal, mind. The pull-back of policing following the Ferguson and Baltimore hysterias has led to more murders.
And along with homicide you have to consider suicide. A frequent result of the persecutions in China was that the person being persecuted would kill himself. The writer Lao She is only the most famous example.
Well, Wednesday this week Kentucky State Representative Dan Johnson shot himself after a woman accused him of molesting her five years ago. I’m guessing we’ll see more suicides before sanity is restored.
That of course relates to the sexual-harassment witch-hunts, currently the Red Guards’ most active front — the Pervnado, to use the word that seems now to have definitely established itself.
A striking and depressing feature of the Pervnado panic: the cowardice of employers. We seem to be at the point where any joker can call up a media company — a TV or radio network, a movie studio, a magazine — tell some tale about a male employee putting his hand on her thigh two or three presidents ago, and the guy is outside on the sidewalk holding a pink slip faster than a dose of salts through a widder-woman.
Poster boys here: Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame and the spin-off show on National Public Radio, and Ryan Lizza of New Yorker magazine. Both were dropped with astonishing speed while sound vibrations from the voices of their unknown accusers were still traveling through the air.
In neither case was there the least pretense of due process. It’s true that employment, except under some carefully-written contract, is not a legal or constitutional right. It’s also true that I, as a freedom of association absolutist, cheerfully support the right of employers to hire and fire at will, for any reason or none.
For long-time employees like Keillor and Lizza, though, whose work must have brought in significant revenues to their employers, surely there are civilized courtesies to be observed. Perhaps in these cases the lack of visible courtesy — no, make that “the gross visible dis-courtesy” — was softened with a golden handshake under the table, I don’t know.
The case of Garrison Keillor is by far the creepier of the two. I don’t mean that he is creepy, though for all I know he might be. I never cared for Keillor’s stuff myself, although my wife liked his radio program. What’s creepy — really, disturbingly creepy, way creepier to my way of thinking than any conceivable interaction between a guy’s hand and a gal’s thigh — is the way his host organization, Minnesota Public Radio, has made him an unperson.
David Vossbrink at the San Francisco Mercury-News had a good piece on this December 4th. Quote:
Garrison Keillor has been disappeared into the Memory Hole. If you look for his biography or the archived shows from a half century of “A Prairie Home Companion” on the website of Minnesota Public Radio since his fall from grace, you’ll now find only this: “Sorry, but there’s no page here.”
Keillor and his entire body of work from “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Writer’s Almanac” have been effectively erased from the archives of MPR, along with the work of all the other storytellers, singers, poets and production staff who made the shows successful.
Am I right? Is that creepy, or what?
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that New Yorker magazine is calling in all the old issues with a Ryan Lizza article in them so that some Winston Smith employee down there at One World Trade Center can cut them out and feed them down the memory hole.
Or perhaps they are following the lead of the USSR in 1954. In that year the publishers of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had just put out a new volume with a gushing four-page article on secret-police chief Lavrenty Beria. While they were still distributing it to libraries and colleges, Beria unfortunately fell out of favor, was arrested and shot. The state publishing house sent out a four-page substitution with articles on Wilhelm Bergholtz, an 18th-century general, and the Bering Sea, along with instructions for pasting them over the Beria pages. Quote:
The aforementioned pages should be cut out with scissors or blade, leaving inside a margin on which the new page can be pasted.
If no-one from Minnesota Public Radio is available to help New Yorker with this, I’m sure there must be some elderly Soviet librarians still alive who’d be glad to offer advice.