How Old Bad Ideas Become Wonderful

How Old Bad Ideas Become Wonderful. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Bad and bankrupt ideas, protocols, and ideologies — like McCarthyism, communism, various cults, or fascism — resurface not because of their intrinsic or lasting value or record of success, but because civilizations become less vigilant and allow human vanities, ignorance, arrogance, and evil to reassert themselves. …

The left’s new obsession with race, similar to their old obsession:

If we are back in McCarthy’s 1950s, how about a similar return to Jim Crow separatism, racial exceptionalism, and chauvinism? …

In the recent decade, however, we have entered new territory — or regress to old familiar landscapes — in which racial preferences and discrimination are considered reparatory and thus good.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of an integrated society in which race became incidental not essential to the individual (living in a nation where we will not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character) has now been nullified. It is all but rendered inert. Any scholar in a sociology department of a major university who professed allegiance to King’s notion of a fully integrated and racially blind assimilated society would likely be summarily fired or ostracized.

In place of integration, returns the old racism now cast as “anti-racism,” as if “good” racial discrimination is needed to fight “bad” discrimination.

But the history of racism is just such special pleading about why the latest sort of new discrimination is both needed and justified and thus is no longer the old discrimination. Ask the former Yugoslavians or Rwandans. …

If in the racist “one-drop” past, some blacks desperate for a chance at equal opportunity sought to pass as “white,” so too in our full-circle, racist present, some whites desperate to find either psychic acceptance in “otherness” or more concrete racial advantages in hiring and admissions likewise seek to pass racial barriers, but now as “nonwhite.” …

Amid such racial chauvinism, we must ignore intermarriage and millions of children of mixed lineages, given Americans are increasingly a hybrid society in which it is impossible to identify people by superficial appearances other than by a resort to DNA badges. In the face of reality slamming into ideology, our best and brightest in academia and government seek guidance in the ridiculous “one-drop” rule of the Old South. …

The new racist antiracism must continually find ubiquitous racism to justify its industry of victimization, even where it never appears. No wonder then racialists invented an entire vocabulary for such ghost racism. “Microaggression” is a word to describe the effort of detecting racism that otherwise is undetectable. “Systemic” racism means that when clear evidence of racism is missing, it is only because the entire system is inundated with it, as if we cannot see air because it is everywhere.

Woke leftism, the most pernicious of all ideologies in the post-Civil Rights era, is simply the old bankrupt Marxist cant, now superimposed upon race. Any detectable inequality must be attributable to racial or, less commonly, sexual or gender, oppression. …

Loyalty oaths required once more:

The ancient idea of cancel culture — whether tribal banishment, ostracism, scapegoating, witch-burning, blacklisting, or Trostskyization — is back in vogue, despite its antitheses to the U.S. Constitution.

In 1950, good liberals fought “loyalty oaths” in college hiring that required one to profess loyalty to the United States and to disavow belonging to or associating with “subversive” organizations. There were plenty of snitches and sneaks — e.g., rivals for jobs — ready to rat out any professor or actor with youthful communist flirtations.

Today, the new Left requires would-be faculty to swear loyalty not to the state but to the new deity of DEI, or to state just how much they have been so far committed to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Should an applicant confess that such sloganeering is antithetical to the King dream of America, he would never be hired, and if hired, risk being fired. …

So, the message at UC Berkeley in 2022 is the same as it was in 1950, some 72 years ago: toe the line, accept orthodoxy, and ostracize the noncompliant — or else you are a DEI apostate and will suffer the consequences! …

Socialism just hasn’t been tried properly — this time we’ll get it right, ‘cos  we’re in charge:

Look at Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, or Iran or the many failed states of Latin America, Asia, and Africa and the message is clear that statism, communism, and socialism ruin societies and render them impoverished and without freedom.

No matter. In America, radical statists in major cities are doing their best to pass rent-control legislation in Florida. Canceling hundreds of billions of student debt by executive fiat is now a serial federal agenda. Nullifying millions of private rental contracts between landlord and tenant is now in the power of the federal and state government. Each new reconciliation bill is yet another socialist success in upping taxation and redistributing wealth, while depriving the individual of freedom, both economic and political. …

The mutilated generation:

Indoctrination, especially of the young, was always considered a tip-off of the totalitarian nature of a regime. The obvious message is that adults would never willingly accept contrary-to-nature communism or socialism — unless they had been brain-washed by it for years.

Critical race theory never polls anywhere close to majority support. Most object to the use of race to discriminate against any group. Consequently, the Left now is using the primary schools to push it based on the idea of exposing and rooting out implied racism as a way of contextualizing asymmetries of student achievement, disciplinary action, attendance, and college trajectories.

Drag queen shows and transgender advocacy are now permissible in schools and welcomed as “pride” days. …

Kids have become just smaller adults. They are perfectly able to digest the risqué, the partially nude, the simulated sexual advance or even act — all as a part of acculturating them from early on, concerning the various sexual identity choices they soon must not only make, but apparently discuss and contemplate with groomers and sexual tour guides. …

For the Left, no “child” should be able to buy a .22-caliber rifle under the age of 21 or to smoke under the age of 18, but certainly is adult enough to decide to amputate her breasts or have himself castrated. … When does a child become an adult? When he is cognizant, responsible, and mature enough to have consensual sex — or to agree to be castrated?

On the right side of history:

We in America are regressing — now returning to the distant neanderthal past, now embracing the worst of what the 19th and 20th century had to offer. Worst of all, we create such cultural destruction and then call it progress.

We are on the downside of the arc of history, as the left resurrects the failed bogeys of the past. It’s not irreversible or inevitable, but it’s where we are heading.