On a More Serious Note

When I wrote my previous blog post we were smack-dab in the middle of the infamous 2020 COVID-19 lock-down here in New York City, as well as most of the rest of the world. All we wanted to do was to get through quarantine without going stir crazy, restart the economy, and go about our business. How is it possible that since then things managed to get even worse? As it stands now, the US is in upheaval with riots, screaming, yelling, looting, beating, shooting all around us.

Holier-than-thou celebrities “take responsibility” (or so the teleprompter tells them to say) by making somber black-and-white videos while virtue signaling over a sad and ever so profound piano accompaniment, saying “Hey, did you know that racism is bad?” (“Oh?!” you reply, with shame and guilt plaster all over your pasty white face, “I had no fucking idea!”); corporations change product names and remove “offensive” logos, to let everyone know that they, too, have realized that really bad things are really bad things (only wicked minds would think that it is rather because they don’t want to go against the current current of virtue signaling race pandering, so as to keep selling their fair-trade soaps and gender-neutral cereals, their overpriced sneakers and multiracial maple syrups); people kneel before other people, apologizing for things they never did, to people who never had those things done to them; the interwebs, from Twitter to Facebook and beyond, find themselves in a feeding frenzy, doing their best to cancel everyone and anyone who dares to diverge from the narrative of The Party (see Orwell’s 1984 for reference, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about).

We are past the point of claiming that Words are Violence, and we’ve moved on to the much more reasonable slogan of Silence is Violence. So, if you don’t fall in line, if you don’t go along with the prevailing way of thinking, and therefore don’t say the right thing, of, indeed, anything at all, then you are at fault; you are the enemy. The screeching masses don’t seem to realize that inevitably the tide will turn, and then they will be the ones on the “wrong” side of popular opinion. Only this “reckoning” will be homemade. It seems that there are many people these days, people who have never been particularly political, and who have never thought in terms of race, color, sexual orientation, and so on, who are being pushed into more and more extreme ways of thinking (and feeling) by those who blame them for everything, whether these people are actually at fault or not. Facts don’t matter, it seems.

Is there even one amongst us who is so wonderfully perfect as to never have uttered a “hurtful” word, made an “offensive” joke, or said or did something “wrong.” With these full-of-themselves social justice worriers spending their time searching for WRONGTHINK on other people’s Twitter feeds, going back to the year 1751, it is pretty much guaranteed that somewhere something was said that would somehow offend someone in some sort of way. Does anyone remember that old saying about throwing stones while sitting in glass houses?

Even worse than canceling individuals, it is history itself which is being cancelled. “Problematic” statues are being removed (in many cases torn down by a violent mob); schools, streets, and public places renamed (Black Lives Matter Plaza, Calhoun Honors College, etc.); words edited out of (often classic) books (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, etc.); scenes cut from movies or movies being banned, removed, or addended with “expert explanations” of the subject matter (Gone With the Wind); and shows (old and new) cancelled for being offensive to some (Little Britain, Fawlty Towers, etc.), so as to not let anyone see what came before.

Of course we all know the famous saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How will anyone remember the past as it was, good and bad, and subsequently learn from the mistakes of previous generations, if the past has been sanitized and all traces of wrongdoing, all mistakes, all crimes against humanity, all misunderstandings between people removed? By removing the bad we also remove the good many of those people (and others) did. The world simply isn’t as binary as many would want for it to be. It’s not as black and white (pardon the pun) as many seem to think. Good and evil are intertwined, often within the same person, sometimes with the same action. And let’s face it, what’s offensive to some, just isn’t so to others. Humor, caricature, sarcasm, often plays with stereotypes (racial or otherwise). Those art forms are all but dead in the current hypersensitive social climate. How would people nowadays react to George Carlin, Richard Prior, Lenny Bruce, and others? “NOOOO! He said a word… I’m literally dying!!! Ahh…”

The fact that, according to the social justice police, some groups (those of a certain skin color) are allowed to use certain words, but others are not, is ludicrous. Oddly enough, this kind of thinking is only too prevalent in the groups which are currently yelling the loudest to dismantle police departments across the nation. It’s not that they don’t want policing, it’s just that they want to do it themselves; they want to be in power. And once they are, everyone who doesn’t play by their rules is in for it.

Is the system we currently have perfect? Far from it, but what’s happening right now is not fixing any of the problems we face. If anything, it makes things worse by attacking people who have nothing to do with the issues at hand. I am not referring to those who physically attacked people during these idiotic riots. How does a black man shooting another black man in order to steal a TV, have anything to do with the idea that black lives matter? What I am referring to is attacking people through the concepts of Groupthink and Identity Politics, which permeate everything at this point. Once we start thinking (and speaking) in terms of “the” black people and “the” white people, or “the” police, we’re already on the wrong path. Once we segregate our thinking into black versus white, us against them, we are on the path to segregating society in the same way. I thought this is exactly what we didn’t want!

To make it clear, I, as an individual, am not responsible for the actions of previous generations—whether I am associated with them through the color of my skin, my nationality, or any other arbitrary characteristic—actions which must be seen within the context of the times they were taken in. I have often asked myself how I would have acted had I grown up in Austria or Germany during the Nazi era. I am honest enough to say, I really don’t know. We are all, to a certain extent, products of our time. What if I would have grown up as the son of a slave-owner living down south during the 18th century? What if I had been taught from a very young age that slaves are merely property? Of course we all hope that we would have applied modern day standards, and would have turned out to be heroes of the emancipation movement; that we would have fought for that which we now see as morally correct. But would we really have done so at the time, under those particular circumstances?

I am also not responsible for actions taken by any other person living today, even if that person has the same skin color as I do. It seems ridiculous to have to explain this in the year 2020!

I am responsible for my actions, and ONLY my actions. I will not allow for anyone to throw me into a group of people with whom I share only an arbitrary and coincidental characteristic such as skin color. I am not part of “the” white people, just as I am not part of “the” men, or “the” straights. I am an individual with not allegiance to any particular group, not adhering to any particular school of thought other than my own. If I am treated with respect, I will do the same in return; if I am treated without common courtesy, I will do the same (and will, most likely, not want to have anything to do with people who treat me that way). Don’t tell me what I think or who I am, simply because of your preconceived notions, or, indeed, the color of my skin. That, as far as I understand it, is racism.