Ben Shapiro’s essay, We Have Nothing Left Holding Us Together, says it well. Read the whole thing below (emphases added). Despite what they say, liberals/progressives/the Left are not pursuing unity.
On Friday, a South Carolina high school stopped students from bringing American flags to a football game against a heavily Hispanic rival school. Why? The principal was presumably worried that waving the flag might offend the Hispanic students. According to the principal, “This decision would be made anytime that the American flag, or any other symbol, sign, cheer, or action on the part of our fans would potentially compromise the safety of all in attendance at a school event.”
This isn’t the first such situation. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that a public school in California could ban students from wearing a shirt emblazoned with an American flag on Cinco de Mayo thanks to fears over racial conflict at the school. The lawyer for the children complained, “This opens the door for a school to suppress any viewpoints that are opposed by a band of vocal and violent bullies.”
Meanwhile, has-been San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been widely praised in the media for refusing to stand for the national anthem during football games. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” explained the man earning an average of $19,000,000 per year for sitting on the bench. He continued: “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
We’re watching the end of America in real time.
That doesn’t mean that the country’s on the verge of actual implosion. But the idea of America required a common definition of being American: a love of country on the basis of its founding philosophy. That has now been undermined by the left.
Love of country doesn’t mean that you have to love everything about America, or that you can’t criticize America. But loving America means understanding that the country was founded on a unique basis — a uniquely good basis. That’s what the flag stands for. Not ethnic superiority or racial solidarity or police brutality but the notion of individual liberty and equal rights before God. But with the destruction of that central principle, the ties that bind us together are fraying. And the left loves that.
In fact, the two defining philosophical iterations of the modern left both make war with the ties that bind us together. In President Obama’s landmark second inaugural address, he openly said, “Being true to our founding documents … does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way.” This is the kind of definition worshipped by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has singlehandedly redefined the Constitution. He said, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
But this means that liberty has no real definition outside of “stuff I want to do.” And we all want to do different stuff, sometimes at the expense of other people’s liberty. Subjective definitions of liberty, rather than a common definition, means a conflict of all against all, or at least a conflict of a government controlled by some who are targeting everyone else. It means that our flag is no longer a common symbol for our shared definition of liberty. It’s just a rag that means different things to different people based on their subjective experiences and definitions of reality.
And that means we have nothing holding us together.
The only way to restore the ties that bind us is to rededicate ourselves to the notion of liberty for which generations of Americans fought and died. But that won’t happen so long as the left insists that their feelings are more important than your rights.
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Dennis Prager hits it out of the ballpark in his recent essay by this title. (On a side note, Mr. Prager uses “liberal” is the historic sense compared to how I use it here on this blog. Modern leftists tend to self-identify [inaccurately per Mr. Prager and reality] as liberals and progressives, thus I use the term. In this latter sense, I would consider it pejorative in nature, whereas in Mr. Prager’s more historically accurate sense, it is not.)
A primary quote to whet your appetite (but please go read the whole thing in context), the answer to the question…
So, the Big Question is, why? Why is the left hostile toward Western civilization?
After decades of considering this question, I have concluded the answer is this: standards. The left hates standards — moral standards, artistic standards, cultural standards. The West is built on all three, and it has excelled in all three.
Why does the left hate standards? It hates standards because when there are standards, there is judgment. And leftists don’t want to be judged.
Mr. Prager then continues to demonstrate his thesis from the facts, of which there is an overwhelming plethora of examples.
The following was posted in January, 2008, and alas (!), political correctness still runs amuck and in ever widening circles. It’s sort of like the vampire that won’t die. We really need more people to shine the light of rationality and common sense more frequently in order to truly put the stake into the heart of this abomination. Too much damage has been, and is being done by this false philosophy.
One of my favorite words in classical Hebrew is that translated “vanity,” particularly in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” It is the word hebel, pronounced heh’-val (for those who really want to know, the middle letter is beth without a dagesh, thus it is pronounced as a “v” rather than the hard “b” which requires a dagesh…and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you aren’t missing anything germane to the main point of this post…this factoid is just an exercise in my pedantic desire to provide more information that you really wanted to know; but then, it is my blog…). The word literally means “a breath or vapor, a puff of air,” and thus came to designate anything insubstantial and lacking in reality or substance – in other words, our word “vanity.” But “vacuity” would work just as well.
The heart of political correctness (PC) is the demonization of anyone who says or does anything to offend any of various and sundry sensibilities of those holding to this ideology, often taking up offenses, or creating offenses, when none truly exist.
Point Number One: To offend is defined in the Oxford University Press dictionary supplied with WordPerfect as “1. to cause to feel hurt or resentful, 2. to be displeasing to, or 3. to commit an act that is illegal or that goes against an accepted principle.” This is admittedly a concise dictionary, but it seems correctly modern in that it does capture fairly well the nuances of the PC position. The first two deal specifically with feelings, and the third can easily be fit into such a subjective framework if the principle is itself subjective in nature, for example, “Thou shalt not make anyone feel bad or uncomfortable with anything they are saying or doing.”
Compare this definition, which I would consider all too subjective and thus insubstantial, to that of Noah Webster from 1828 (and as an aside, note the nature of the examples):
OFFEND’, v.t. [L. offendo; of and fendo, obs. to strike, hit, meet, or thrust against. We use the simple verb in fend, to fend off, to fence.]
1. To attack; to assail. [Not used.]
2. To displease; to make angry; to affront. It expresses rather less than make angry, and without any modifying word, it is nearly synonymous with displease. We are offended by rudeness, incivility and harsh language. Children offend their parents by disobedience, and parents offend their children by unreasonable austerity or restraint.
The emperor was grievously offended with them who had kept such negligent watch.
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. Prov 18.
3. To shock; to wound; as, to offend the conscience.
4. To pain; to annoy; to injure; as, a strong light offends weak eyes.
5. To transgress; to violate; as, to offend the laws. But we generally use the intransitive verb in this sense, with against; to offend against the law.
6. To disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble.
Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. Psa 119.
7. To draw to evil, or hinder in obedience; to cause to sin or neglect duty.
If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out – if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. Mat 5.
1. To transgress the moral or divine law; to sin; to commit a crime.
Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all. James 2.
In many things we offend all. James 3.
2. To cause dislike or anger.
I shall offend, either to detain or to give it.
But this phrase is really elliptical, some person being understood.
3. To be scandalized; to be stumbled.
If meat make my brother to offend – 1 Cor 8.
4. To offend against, to act injuriously or unjustly.
Nor yet against Caesar have I offended any thing at all. Acts 25.
5. To transgress; to violate; as, to offend against the laws of society, the laws of God, or the rules of civility or propriety.
We have offended against the Lord already. 2 Chr 28.
Note that, while the subjective aspect is present (and I do not deny that there is a subjective element), there is a significant increase in objectivity in this entry: the emphasis is more on the violation of principles and laws external to the one offended rather than simply their hurt feelings because someone disagrees with them.
Thus, my first point as illustrated by these definitions is simply that political correctness is vacuously empty because its primary basis is the most fickle and insubstantial of human responses, the emotions. While consistent with liberal multiculturalism with its denial of objective truth, this aspect of man is so easily manipulated and distorted that to base one’s responses on it is just plain stupid.
Point Number Two: The vacuity does not stop there, but continues in the double standard that renders the entire concept of political correctness illogical and irrational. As applied by the PC, the only offenses that are offensive are those committed by conservatives who hold to objective truth, particularly truth originating in the Judeo-Christian value system on which our country was founded. The problem is, even amongst liberals there are mutually exclusive ideologies, so you can’t avoid giving offense to someone if you stand for anything. There are as many opinions on most topics as there are people in the universe. So to attempt to hold a position that “offends” noone in this ambivalent wishy-washy way is logically impossible; what of those who are offended by wishy-washiness?!?
Someone has rightly observed that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. Vacuity offers no resistance, but has no substance. Oddly enough, Paul’s description in Ephesians 4:14 comes to mind as an apt summary of what these people are truly like: “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
Political correctness: an idea whose death is long overdue. May it find its grave in 2008. [Well, how about 2015?!?!]
With the current election cycle in full swing, this chapter is exceedingly relevant, and damning, for now!
Another major arena that has been adulterated by the paradigm shift from print to image is the political arena. Here in his ninth chapter entitled “Reach Out and Elect Someone,” Postman provides some additional and telling analysis and observations.
Show business is not entirely without an idea of excellence, but its main business is to please the crowd, and its principal instrument is artifice. If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether….In America, the fundamental metaphor for political discourse is the television commercial….We may safely assume, therefore, that the television commercial has profoundly influenced American habits of thought. Certainly, there is no difficulty in demonstrating that it has become an important paradigm for the structure of every type of public discourse. My major purpose here is to show how it has devastated political discourse. (page 126 [emphasis added])
This latter statement is bulwarked by the following observations and conclusions:
By substituting images for claims, the pictorial commercial made emotional appeal, not tests of truth, the basis of consumer decisions. The distance between rationality and advertising is now so wide that it is difficult to remember that there once existed a connection between them. Today, on television commercials, propositions are as scarce as unattractive people. The truth or falsity of an advertiser’s claim is simply not an issue. (page 127-128 [emphasis added])
Because the television commercial is the single most voluminous form of public communication in our society, it was inevitable that Americans would accommodate themselves to the philosophy of television commercials. By “accommodate,” I mean that we accept them as a normal and plausible form of discourse. By “philosophy,” I mean that the television commercial has embedded in it certain assumptions about the nature of communication that run counter to those of other media, especially the printed word. For one thing, the commercial insists on an unprecedented brevity of expression. One may even say, instancy. A sixty-second commercial is prolix; thirty seconds is longer than most; fifteen to twenty seconds is about average. (page 130 [emphasis added])
The two quotes above contain two of the most serious assaults of television on the American cognitive ability. In previous posts, we’ve seen these same pernicious trends in other areas of culture. Continuing:
Moreover, commercials have the advantage of vivid visual symbols through which we may easily learn the lessons being taught. Among those lessons are that short and simple messages are preferable to long and complex ones; that drama is to be preferred over exposition; that being sold solutions is better than being confronted with questions about problems. Such beliefs would naturally have implications for our orientation to political discourse; that is to say, we may begin to accept as normal certain assumptions about the political domain that either derive from or are amplified by the television commercial. (page 131)
There may be a case for choosing the best man over party (although I know of none). The point is that television does not reveal who the best man is. In fact, television makes impossible the determination of who is better than whom, if we mean by “better” such things as more capable in negotiation, more imaginative in executive skill, more knowledgeable about international affairs, more understanding of the interrelations of economic systems, and so on. (page 133-134 [emphasis added])
As Xenophanes remarked twenty-five centuries ago, men always make their gods in their own image. But to this, television politics has added a new wrinkle: Those who would be gods refashion themselves into images the viewers would have them be. (page 135)
The historian Carl Schorske has, in my opinion, circled closer to the truth by noting that the modern mind has grown indifferent to history because history has become useless to it; in other words, it is not obstinacy or ignorance but a sense of irrelevance that leads to the diminution of history. (page 137)
Seemingly benign technologies devoted to providing the populace with a politics of image, instancy and therapy may disappear history just as effectively, perhaps more permanently, and without objection. (page 138)
The conclusion of this discussion in the political realm contacts American education as well as politics.
To put it plainly, a student’s freedom to read is not seriously injured by someone’s banning a book on Long Island or in Anaheim or anyplace else. But as Gerbner suggests, television clearly does impair the student’s freedom to read, and it does so with innocent hands, so to speak. Television does not ban books, it simply displaces them….Those who run television do not limit our access to information but in fact widen it. Our Ministry of Culture is Huxleyan, not Orwellian. It does everything possible to encourage us to watch continuously. But what we watch is a medium which presents information in a form that renders it simplistic, nonsubstantive, nonhistorical and noncontextual; that is to say, information packaged as entertainment. In America, we are never denied the opportunity to amuse ourselves. (page 141)
Reread that last quote and compare it to what you know about the culture that surrounds you and, indeed, permeates your own home. Is it any wonder the “touchy-feely” narcissistic rhetoric of the liberal left has become so commonplace and successful?
Having shown us the impact on political discourse, Postman will next turn to the devastation that has occurred in education.