11/09/2017

A Refusal to Keep Quiet

When surveying the prevailing trends of 2017, especially as reflected in the press and social media, one can only conclude that the 21st century is not destined to be renowned as a period of unabridged freedom. Human rights are faltering in varied ways, as a result of being under continual assault from all sides. Freedom of speech, in particular, is being curtailed and diminished by a sour gathering of heavy-handed forces, and could, in the future, be entirely lost.

Any utterance, whether spoken or written, that stands in open defiance to the narrow mainstream of liberal thought in 2017 is certain to be swiftly pounced upon by those who have, quite presumptuously, ordained themselves as the primary guardians of self-righteous acceptability. Thus, the range of what is deemed "acceptable" to the tender minds of the oversensitive masses becomes narrower and narrower, causing clear detriment to the integrity of free discourse. Unfortunately, glaring examples of this narrowness are distressingly abundant.

Nowadays, the casual exchange of endearing gestures between men and women has become nearly as treacherous as walking across a minefield. Hardhearted feminists, in their ongoing battle to vanquish the quaint traditions of heterosexual romance, seek to eradicate the expression of even the mildest sentiments between males and females. If a man so much as smiles or nods at a woman, he is likely to be accused of making unwanted advances. If he makes the well-intentioned mistake of praising her appearance, he is asking to be hit with a lawsuit.

If white musicians choose to play the blues (a form of music that is acknowledged as being "black" in origin), they are found to be guilty of "cultural appropriation." (By the same token, it ought to follow that black musicians should not be allowed to perform the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.) If a man who enjoys the harmless practice of dressing as an alluring woman is perceived as an old-fashioned transvestite, rather than as someone who happens to "identify" as "transgender" or "non-binary," it is regarded as being close to a punishable offense.

If someone who is undeniably overweight (owing to a habit of gluttony and a lack of exercise) is referred to as being "fat," it is received as a gross error of thoughtless description. In the world of high finance, extreme greed must never be referenced as such, but instead comes under the general heading of "wealth management." When a ruthless corporation rids itself of longtime workers, it is merely engaging in an act of "downsizing." In one situation after another, forthright declarations of unreserved truth are avoided, discouraged, disparaged, and deliberately excluded.

The same trend is evident in other, more serious, realms. Any person who questions the current patterns of worldwide immigration will be branded as a racist. Any person who condemns Israel's vicious persecution of Palestinians in Gaza will be judged as being antisemitic. Any person who objects to the unbending doctrines of Islam (such as women being required to cover themselves, from head to toe, at all times) will be excoriated as a shameless bigot. Any person who denounces the Chinese custom of eating dogs will be seen as bearing deep-seated prejudice toward all Asians.

Any person who opposes abortion, on the thoroughly reasonable grounds that an abortion necessarily involves the willful destruction of a human life, will be scornfully rebuked for attempting to deny a "woman's right to choose." When the Pentagon pursues a savage policy of wholesale violence against civilians in the Middle East and elsewhere, the inevitable casualties will be dismissed from the public mind as being no more than unfortunate instances of "collateral damage," rather than being reported, examined, and discussed as evil actions of reckless murder.

It seems that soon, no one will be allowed to express, or indeed form, an opinion in regard to anything, and therein dwells a foul threat. Freedom of speech, in common with all modes of freedom, tends to become weak and worthless when it is not put to frequent use. Freedom can abide, and thrive, only to the extent that it is active and flexible. Other people may do as they wish, but as for me, I value my fundamental right to express myself, and therefore I refuse to keep quiet.

8/29/2017

The Enduring Fallacies of American Liberalism

Public life in the United States is continually shaped (and continually perverted) by the "conflict" that supposedly blazes between liberals and conservatives, between those who imagine themselves to be on the "left" and those who imagine themselves to be on the "right." In truth, of course, there is not much difference between the two sides (both sides being guided by faulty reasoning and threadbare delusions), but liberals, in particular, appear to thrive on the false disputes that effectively separate one half of America from the other.

Most American liberals are happily dedicated to following a self-satisfied way of life, subscribing to a collective outlook that carefully avoids any hint of contamination by untoward verities. They read The New York Times and The New Yorker. They watch PBS and MSNBC, and listen to NPR. They vote for any Democrat who happens to be running at any given time. They eat organic food, practice yoga and mindfulness, promote "green energy," travel to third-world countries, and offer mild sentiments in favor of peace. They espouse equality, tolerance, and diversity, and pride themselves on being open-minded. In short, they are utter hypocrites.

They generally are affluent (or, if not, are actively seeking to be so), and display no shame or regret at being far more comfortable than millions of other people. They tend to be highly educated, believing that holding a marketable degree is the key to achieving a life of wealth and luxury. They are attentive in regard to worldly matters, with money and security as their main priorities. They do, when pressed, express a middling concern for the unseemly plight of those who are deprived, but they refuse to abandon their acceptance of capitalism, thereby ensuring that current patterns of widespread poverty will continue without hindrance.

They become slightly uneasy when America openly engages in the killing of civilians in foreign lands, but they are loath to take a firm stand against America's wars. They are adamant in maintaining their faith in the United States as, essentially, a "good" nation. They steadfastly dismiss the many offenses against humanity that America has regularly committed throughout its history, choosing to view such acts as rare deviations which are not, in any way, representative of the "true" America. They are hopelessly resolute in their support of this fantasy, and no amount of knowledge or information can induce them to question or relinquish it.

For American liberals, the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States was a gift from the gods. With Donald Trump as their President, ungraciously showing himself to be a total blockhead at every turn, liberals need do no more than frequently excoriate him to feel good about themselves. His temerity allows them an opportunity to wallow in the enduring fallacies of American liberalism. Whatever will they do when Donald Trump no longer is their leader, and no longer provides them with a daily supply of bounteous inspiration for their narrow animosity?

8/08/2017

Brexit: When Will the UK Actually Leave the EU?

On June 23, 2016, in response to a referendum put forward by the Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron, the people of the United Kingdom voted, by an admittedly small margin of 51.89%, to withdraw from membership in the European Union. Since that fateful day, there has been much discussion and much dispute, but so far, more than a year later, it remains to be seen when, or indeed whether, the UK will succeed in departing.

The 48.11% of Britons who voted to remain in the EU were greatly surprised, and greatly dismayed, by the outcome of the referendum. They had taken for granted that their ill-founded wishes would prevail, with the UK eternally deferring to the haughty overlords in Brussels. To those crestfallen Britons, the EU is a glorious enterprise, one that promotes a philosophy of harmony and understanding, with prosperity for all. A pleasant thing to believe, perhaps, but exceedingly far from the truth.

The EU has never been a source of benevolence. It is a capitalist organization, created by banks and corporations to serve their own narrow interests, and is, therefore, fundamentally opposed to the interests and rights of most citizens in the UK and Europe. To accept the EU as a benign representation of European unity is to accept a gross delusion. The EU clearly manifests ugly forces of greed and tyranny, not lofty principles of equity and freedom.

Europe should be seen, and should be valued, as a varied expanse of sovereign nations, each with its own history and culture. Instead, under the heavy-handed rule of the EU, it has been transformed into a business undertaking, a golden opportunity for high finance, an efficient means by which a well-heeled gang of smooth-spoken bureaucrats has seen fit to enrich themselves, at the ongoing expense of the lowly millions who are considerably less than affluent.

When will the UK actually leave the EU? Banks and corporations are not known for graciously, or willingly, surrendering their vile prerogatives, particularly in regard to the preservation of their wealth, so it is quite likely that the formal process through which the UK seeks to free itself from the foul clutches of the EU will continue to be dragged out. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that a sharp blow has been struck against the unwholesome power of a long-standing dictatorship.

7/31/2017

Donald Trump Is Not the Problem

During the months that have passed since Donald Trump commenced his churlish Presidency, millions of Americans (as well as millions of other people, around the world, who are not Americans) have gone out of their way to express, repeatedly and clamorously, their extreme loathing of him. It seems that directing vehement avowals of hatred toward Donald Trump has, in the general flow of current discourse, become the latest craze. Because he offers such an enormous target, each spiteful arrow of half-baked scorn that is aimed at him easily finds its mark.

Unfortunately, those arrows of scorn result from an erroneous line of thought. Hating Donald Trump is, for the most part, a useless activity. It serves no greater good, and it changes nothing. We all know that Donald Trump is an imprudent fool. (One even suspects that he knows it himself.) Being an imprudent fool is what he does best, as he has proven again and again, but he is no more impudent, and no more prone to foolishness, than the American citizenry as a whole.

Donald Trump is mere evidence of the problem, not the problem itself. The problem is capitalism and its inequitable effects. The problem is a brutish mentality in which the constant pursuit of money is put above every other consideration. The problem is a widespread acceptance of malign devices that control their users with oppressive technology. The problem is too many weapons and too many wars. The problem is a nation of servile consumers who have lost the ability to think and act in accordance with the essential demands of reason.

No, Donald Trump is not the problem. In the extended view, he can be seen as no more than a shallow distraction, the brainless star of a cheap sideshow, whose main purpose is to divert the masses from the urgent necessity of coming to grips with the true import of their collective situation. Given the quickness with which the American mainstream flits from one fad to another nowadays, how long will it be until Donald Trump's peevish enemies require a new distraction?

1/24/2017

January 2017: Shrill Voices of Childish Protest

As soon as Donald Trump had been sworn in as the new President of the United States on January 20, 2017, the self-serving displays of petty umbrage began. From one coast of America to the other, thousands and thousands of aggrieved people, many of them behaving as if they were unhappy infants with a particularly bad case of colic, poured into the streets of major cities, where they loudly gave vent to their trendy anger. Throughout the land, the winter air carried the shrill voices of childish protest.

Why did all those angry protesters not make themselves seen or heard during the years in which President Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, chose to pursue an ongoing course of violent action that resulted in hundreds of civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen? Did they regard Mr. Obama's ruthless warmongering as not requiring any form of protest? It seems that President Trump's detractors are merely pompous hypocrites who can, whenever it happens to suit them, comfortably accept unforgivable instances of coldblooded homicide on the part of their government.

Donald Trump unquestionably is both a loathsome person and a repugnant leader, and as President he is certain to do wrongful things (in keeping with the long, dishonorable tradition of past Presidents), but he actually is no worse than most Americans, including most of those Americans who are so eager to condemn him for ill-defined reasons. If the protesters who stand against President Trump truly are concerned for the future of their nation, perhaps they should look more closely at their own shallow motives.