Come morning, I receive emails from friends documenting the curious social transformation coming over the US. These missives usually accompany links to some new tragicomic antics. E.g., Harvard, once a university, lets students invent odd pronouns to promote gender equity. “He” and “she” represent oppression and lack of inclusion.
Recently a friend, a Harvard PhD, wrote and said, “It’s not funny anymore.” I thought, and realized that, no, it isn’t. Things that seemed the obsessions of the occasional lugubrious neurotic are so common that they represent a change in the national character. It is eerie. Something strange is happening.
What now is the national character? What sort of country is America today? A country of rugged individualism? Land of the free and home of the brave? A nation of the independent and self-reliant?
Let us start with Brave.
“Student wearing Halloween costume prompts Pueblo County school lockdown”
“Pueblo County High School was on lockdown for more than an hour Wednesday after authorities say a student was apprehended wearing a trench coat and gas mask.”
Panic strikes school after student says ‘gum’
“A student at Lehman High School reportedly asked for some chewing gum, but another student thought the student said “gun,” KCEN reports.
“No gun was found and Hays County, Texas school district spokesman Tim Savoy insists the school was never in “lock down,” though school administrators did “hold students in their extended class periods to investigate….”
Rugged? Not even close. Obesity is so common that the Army has trouble finding recruits. Professors complain of the emotional fragility of the young.
“Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges.”
They cry if they don’t get A’s.
Psychologists note a surge of narcissism among the young. Students in universities need “safe spaces” where they won’t hear any word or idea that upsets them.
“In College and Hiding from Scary Ideas”
Somebody might do a microaggression or commit a racial slur, such as saying “watermelon.”
The United States has become a nation of weak, pampered, easily frightened, helpless milquetoasts who have never caught a fish, fired a gun, chopped a log, hitchhiked across the country, or been in a schoolyard fight. If their cat dies, they call a grief therapist. Everything frightens Americans.
“School District Bans Playing Tag to Ensure the Physical and Emotional Safety of All Students”
Independent? No. America is a nation of employees, afraid of the boss, trapped by the retirement system, worried that if they lose the job they won’t get another one.
Farmers can be independent. So can mechanics with their own tools, commercial fishermen with their own boats. Employees sitting in a maze of cubicles like letters in some gigantic crossword puzzle are not independent.
Self-reliant? Americans now depend on the hive for almost everything. The faucet leaks? Call the plumber. The car makes funny noises? Go to a mechanic. Someone is sneaking around your house at night? Call a cop. A porch light stops working? Call the electrician. You saw a mouse? Call a psychiatrist. Self-defense? Dear God, no. Too macho.
Further, Americans cannot feed themselves. If any catastrophe–revolution, war, epidemic–breaks the link between the two percent who work on farms and the cities, within a week New Yorkers will be eating each other.
Individualism? America is among the least individualistic countries on the planet. The United States discourages everything reflecting difference, whether architectural, political, or cultural, often under heavy penalty. It is the land of indistinguishable shopping malls, of burger chains and tract suburbs of a hundred identical houses. Urban architecture means the office block. Casper looks like Des Moines looks like everywhere else. When a region like the South stubbornly tries to maintain its identity, the hive forces it to conform. I am reminded of what I believe to be a Japanese proverb: “The nail that stands up is beaten down.” We are more a nation less of nails than of thumbtacks, though.
The ferocious American hostility to individualism is most virulent in the form of political correctness, which requires that all of us think the same things. The universities are worst, and they are the future. Once, unpopular ideas were argued and freedom of speech respected, however grudgingly. Today we have the pack mind.
Beyond the insistence that everyone should be like everyone else is the insistence that everyone already is like everyone else. No differences exist between men and women, sex being a social construct, and thus women should be in the Marines. Differences of race do not exist, race being a social construct, so if members of one non-existent race do not do as well at physics as members of another nonexistent race, we must on racial grounds hire them as physicists anyway under affirmative action, since differences are social constructs.
Home of the free? America is controlled, watched, and regulated to a degree unimaginable in 1960. Speakers on subways admonish us to watch other passengers for suspicious behavior. We dance barefoot in airports. Cameras read our license plates and mail us tickets. Freedom of speech? Say anything interpretable as a “racial slur” and you lose your job. Truth has nothing to do with it. You are a reporter? Criticize Israel and you lose your job. Offend the proliferating sexual curiosities and you lose your job. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Freedom of religion? Overt Christianity is almost illegal.
“Ten Commandments Removed from State Capitol per Oklahoma Supreme Court”
You are not free to decide what your children are taught in school. If you suggest that Sojourner Truth was not perhaps as important to civilization as Aristotle, your children will be horrified and, if they mention your heresy at school, you will probably have a visit from Child Protective Services.
Democratic? As Stalin had show trials, America has show elections. These serve to distract the public while keeping them away from issues of importance. Who do you vote for if you want to end the wars, halve the military budget, end affirmative action, get the government out of family life, control criminal minorities who burn cities, and slap down NSA?
Strong? America actually wants weaklings.
“Students warned: Bulging biceps, big guns advance unhealthy masculinity”
But in today’s America, any masculinity at all is unhealthy .
The United States, in a historical first, has turned the pyramid of civilization upside down. Universities, instead of seeking the qualified, actually look for the unqualified.
“Georgetown University Drops SAT/ACT Requirement”.
This latter is needed to open the gates to the “disadvantaged,” meaning the stupid. And it has worked marvelously:
Forbes: “America’s Millennials Are Among the World’s Least Skilled”
Specifically, they are short on literacy, numeracy, ability to follow simple orders, poor at solving problems. Oh good.
This ménage of middle-school delicates is not the country that fought World War II, or Vietnam. It is a jellyfish threatening to collapse under any serious stress. Corrupt, seriously divided racially, the middle-class sinking, ruled by fools and kleptocrats, a house of pudding cannot stand. Scared, fat, weak, fragile, narcissistic, herd-minded, prissy, censorious and, increasingly, ignorant. Deliberately ignorant. This is wonderful stuff.