Yes, I can understand where the author is coming from. In my view, the problem with the left and the right is that both are so rigid. The left seems to believe that EVERYTHING must change in order for social justice to be achieved, whereas the right appears to think that NOTHING needs to change, that everything is just fine the way it is, or was, several decades ago. Is there no way to change some things but keep others? For example, can we not present our history in textbooks and classes with a better perspective regarding the role played by minority groups (American Indians, African Americans, Latinos); and, at the same time, not entirely denigrate the contributions of our Founding Fathers even if we point out their flaws? What I am asking for is a more balanced approach rather than an all-or-none, simplistic one. Can certain monuments be replaced, which obviously are offensive to groups of people, but others remain because they represent individuals who made important contributions to our nation even though they were flawed? Why do we have to think and act only according to extremist viewpoints, whether left or right, rather than compromising on certain issues of disagreement?
I have said multiple times, that what’s going on reminds me of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
We already had a “Cultural Revolution” from roughly 1964 to 1980. I’m not sure if the present problems are Act II of the same revolution, or a whole new one.
I grew up in a civil society. Now it’s like living in China during the Great Leap Forward. Now if you call 911 when being attacked by the mob, you might be ignored. Civil authority is caving in to lawlessess.
2 problems with that.
The American Right from Reagan until Trump has more or less steadily ceded ground without getting anything in return. So calls for compromise now sound rather hollow.
Compromise requires shared premises. There can be no pacts with people who think this country is entirely evil and need to be thrown onto the scrap heap. Do we just let them throw half the country onto the scrap heap?
From the article:
" I do believe, though, that the elimination of our traditional American culture by teaching people to despise it as evil is exactly what The New York Times, the Washington Post , the networks, NPR, and the others are seeking to do."
I appreciate the gist of your post, but actually, at least a couple of decades ago textbooks changed toward that direction. Ethnocentricity of textbooks is not a factor at this point.
And a lot of people are saying something like this. This unfortunate incident with Mr. Floyd, this tragedy may just be an excuse for these other things going on. It’s very unfair to the rest of us and you can see, they don’t mind who they hurt. Jacobin mobs.
Pointing fingers is also a bit silly sometimes. Weren’t there 2 or 3 cops who were just fired because they were caught on tape eager for a race war and wanting to shoot down black people?
Tensions are brewing on both sides, it’s not a clear cut ‘good guys vs bad guys’ scenario.
I always said my compromise regarding the statue issue is to perhaps put a sign beside it noting their flaws and awfulness. Since the rationale behind it is to preserve history, well let’s tell the whole story then. Since the rationale behind tearing it down is to get rid of people glorifying bad people, well we’re no longer doing that, are we.
There is, I think, a premise that most Americans share (apart from hate groups such as the KKK), and that is, all Americans should be free and should be treated with fairness. Do you agree that most Americans share at least this much? And on a personal level, do you have any friends or family members with whom you have had to compromise because you do not wish to lose their friendship or because they are family? If you are married, do you not understand how important compromise is in a marriage?
Now, we do differ regarding how exactly we go about treating all Americans fairly. Do you agree with this? And herein lies the major two-party political system. (Some believe we should have more than two major parties.) Did you ever wonder why we have TWO political parties in the first place rather than only one? I think one of the reasons is so that we have checks and balances not only BETWEEN the legislative and executive branches of government but also WITHIN the legislative branch. And, I believe, elections and term limits also provide a foil against the tyranny of one-party rule. Perhaps one of our Constitutional scholars on CAF can elaborate further on this.
The genius of the two-party system, as I see it, is based on compromise. That is, there is a genuine danger to our democracy when one party becomes so powerful that it can continue to legislate however it wants without any fear of reprisal.
But you might counterargue that your side (the right) has had to forfeit ground continuously, while the other side (the left) has only taken more and more. This has to end. Well, look at it this way. Would you be willing to admit that fairness, if not freedom, has been denied to certain groups of people, in particular African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, women, the disabled, and LGBT at least in the past? Do you recognize this limitation of equal rights as part of our shared American history? If you do, then doesn’t it make sense, from a leftist perspective, that their political side should be concerned with these marginalized people by fighting so that they can regain what they had lost?
At this point, you might argue that they are going too far, and the right side will agree with you. Here is where compromise can help for those people of good will who want to maintain our present government. This is the vast majority of the American people, both left and right, excluding the anarchists and White supremacists. Funny thing, both anarchists and supremacists despise both federal and state government, and while they have different missions, their basic anti-governmental ideology and violent means of achieving their goals are quite similar. But most of us, left and right, are neither anarchists nor supremacists. Therefore, we believe in the federal and state governments although we differ regarding how and when and which form of government should exercise its power. What is the solution to this disagreement. The solution lay in compromise.
“Social fundamentalism” is the term I once heard to describe this increasingly more common phenomenon. I forgot who coined it, but I love it because it’s so analogous to religion gone awry.
The reality is that, especially in a democracy which depends on the idea of majority decisions, the role of minorities will always be minor. Any historian who tries to talk up the role of minorities from that reality, is not serving the truth.
I’m an Australian so I can’t comment on the particular current issues in the US, but I think the problem you identify with the progressive left is worldwide. (Although, BTW, Black Lives Matter has been taken up energetically here, on behalf of our Australian aboriginals, with distorted claims about deaths in custody - but no aboriginal has been killed in jail by a police officer since 1991)
In Australia we certainly have a large number of people (most of the “intelligensia”), and an even larger social force, which says “this country is entirely evil and needs to be thrown onto the scrap heap”.
Like you, I don’t think dialogue or compromise is possible with these people - any further. For fifty years we’ve compromised and probably made some genuine advances, but no matter what compromises are made they just keep saying “It’s all wrong! Burn it”. This is even contained in their rhetoric which, when they’re not railing under slogans, talks about “structural inequalities”, “systemic injustice”, “patriarchy”, “the Power of the Church”, etc., as the real problem they are addressing. As long as one woman is still paid less than one man, there’ll be “structural inequality leading to domestic violence” (but not vice-versa, of course). As long as one black man dies in jail, for whatever reason, there’ll be “systemic racism”.
It seems to me that they won’t stop until all of western democracy and society is overthrown, apart from their own comfortable upper-middle class stations, and each step of the way will be achieved by: find a real, or imagined, grievance; shout “Listen to the victims”, conjure up a general narrative for the particular case, eg. “police brutality”, “sexual harassment”, “clerical paedophilia” (as a ubiquitious phenomenon), refuse to debate the particulars and abuse anyone who suggests the narrative doesn’t match the facts. Foolish conservatives and moderates will “listen”, “dialogue” and make compromises. And then, more middle ground has been lost - never to be reclaimed. The “Moderate” viewpoint will have shifted further to the left. It’s a one way process.
I concede that there has usually been a grain of truth in the “cause”, and some advances have been genuine, but the general trend is clear - destruction for it’s own sake, and any concession only leads to further demands.
So, I’m done with “listening”, “compromise”, etc.
Apart from anything else, it’s exhausting, dispiriting and a waste of time.
This is exactly how I feel as a Canadian “centrist”. Here in BC, it is politically correct to start various public events with lip service to whatever First Nation originally inhabited the area. At a university convocation, the speakers will all make a big show of saying we are standing on the “unceded territory of the X people”. When I take my son to the local science museum, all of the science experiment presenters will do the same. Politicians will do the same.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think grave injustices were committed when land was seized from native peoples by colonists. That said, this constant in your face lip service feels to me very hollow. The local University that goes on and on and on, at every public gathering, above the “unceded territory” of the so and so people hasn’t closed up shop and returned its vast and very valuable lands to such people…
The cynic in me feels like these “progressives” are basically saying “we stole this house and must give it back”, while they continue to sleep in the comfortable master bedroom while doing nothing to unlock the basement door where the original house owners are being kept. On the other hand, “conservatives” insist it was always their house to take and the natives in the basement are better off than they ever would have been had we let them continue using the master bedroom. …I apologize for the tortured analogy.
I think both the left and the right have their racially violent people.
Anarchists don’t use violence to achieve their goals. We are peaceful and believe the only appropriate use of force is defense.
Really? What would police officers be doing in a jail anyway? There have been hundreds of deaths of indigenous people in custody in Australia.
Well there’s a surprise. I read watch and listen to Australian media. Never heard such a statement or sentiment by anyone, not even once. Who said this? And in what numbers? When and to whom?
He was refering to Australian aboriginals.
I know. Hence my link to the story about the hundreds of deaths of indigenous Australians.