Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. Winston Churchill
There’s a line in My Generation by The Who, “I hope I die before I get old.” As for me, I made it to old, and now I’m glad that I am. Why?
I’ve lived too long when I see things I never thought possible in my lifetime. Like so many of our citizens (and residents) who see the United States not as “Exceptional,” but as a racist-warmongering out of touch country created by some old white men, the majority of whom owned slaves.
This is not my imagination. A 2019 Gallup survey asked young people How proud they are to be Americans, just 45% say they are “Extremely Proud,” an all-time low. It’s the second year in a row the number has been below 50%. Fifteen years ago, the figure was 70%. It’s a wonder people still wish to live here.
I am “Extremely Proud” to be a citizen of the United States, although I find some trends that disturb me like the unsettling throng who attempt and sometimes succeed as “Speech Police.” And I’m sure if they could find a way — they’d be “Thought Police,” too. It is PC unhinged.
This abhorrent bunch is probably fermenting more words of flummery into their syllabus of pugnacity as I write.
It matters not if your opinion or comment has anything to do with how you’ve been vengefully and malevolently characterized. Should you have an opinion, say on immigration — anything short of open borders — you would, of course, be xenophobic; might as well be called homophobic, too. You can expect their entire arsenal will be deployed to execrate you.
These mean spirited clusters hide behind the cover of curtailing hate speech when, in fact, these would-be censors, I am convinced, wish to suppress all speech they don’t agree with. Think that’s a little much on my part? Keep reading.
Those who self-identified as progressives in my experience are, in fact, the most closed-minded people I’ve met. (It was not always this way.) When these impertinent people are about to lose an argument, they resort to especially incendiary name-calling. First: You’re a Racist. Second: Sexist. Third: Misogynist. Next: Fascist. Finally: You’re Hitler. Perhaps they can draw a crowd to see what a bigot (you) looks like. Their sheep are probably on call to abet and fulminate.
“The authoritarian Left is aggressively insistent that everyone must conform to its values, demanding submission and conformity. The dogmatic Left is obsessed with putting people in categories and changing human nature. Everyone who opposes it must be destroyed.” (Ben Shapiro) An opposing view is no longer disagreeable. It’s a cause for war, and in some scenarios, death.
Whether you are the beer helmet type or one who prefers Wadsworth or Proust has the right, the freedom to contemplate, to think, and express your views.
Each and every one of us who values the freedom to believe and judge on our own terms should be concerned. One person is too many — chilled from their thoughts and expressions of opinion.
Now, there are Caucasians who are assuming a role in deciding what is racist, attempting to smear someone that disagrees with them, suck up to minorities, cover for their past, or trying to prove they have rectitude? Maybe all of the above. These cowardly actions sometimes result in one of the most deplorable and recreant outcomes: Race Bating.
Then there is the matter of many conservatives not allowed to speak on college campuses because they are conservative. Of course, institutions of higher learning are supposed to be places where competing opinions are welcome. I’m for free speech as long as I agree with it. That is what the Uber-left is thinking, I’m convinced.
Here’s a shortlist of catchphrases Bill O’ Reilly calls the Snowflake Glossary. These buzzwords might come in handy for us common folk when trying to communicate with the more enlightened among us.
Snowflake: People who require constant protection from anything they might find upsetting, especially experiences that might cause them outrage and/or anger.
Trigger warning: Snowflakes who demand they be given a heads-up before any subject is broached that might be unpleasant for them.
Microaggression; Any seemingly innocent remark or action that offends snowflakes. Greeting a group with “Hey guys” if there are women are in attendance is a no-no.
Safe space: Protecting snowflakes from hearing any viewpoint or opinion other than what they want to hear.
Cultural appropriation: Might be guilty if your Irish mother prepares Mexican food and certainly if she wore traditional Mexican garb.
Social Justice Warrior: A politically active snowflake who is committed to finding and fighting any form of oppression, all the better if it means oppressing the views and actions of people with whom they disagree.
I’ve highlighted a few issues that are paramount (despite our current pandemic) and vital in any climate; they are of great concern to me and should be to you as well: 1) The erosion of free expression. 2) Intolerance of conflicting opinions, and 3) Lack of appreciation for citizenship in the United States and those who are quick to blame America [US] first.”
Gerda Weissmann Klein, 95, of Phoenix is fond of saying, “Every day is beautiful if you’re living in freedom.” The Holocaust survivor isn’t taking these words lightly. After she endured six years of Nazi brutality, she was liberated by U. S. troops. The gift of survival inspired Klein to spend her life teaching, including imparting to her students: “The blessings of U.S. citizenship.” (Information from AARP Magazine)
Heads up, as I write, a young journalist covering an Antifa demonstration in Portland was viciously attacked by mask-wearing (pre-COVID) left-wing thugs. The young man was in the hospital for three days with a brain hemorrhage. Police were on the scene, and the entire episode was recorded. There were no arrests for the assault on the Asian-American, US citizen. The mayor of Portland is said to be very liberal.
The venom and vitriol spewed today between our political parties; the so-called left-liberals (typically the most vicious) especially with Trump as president, and some of the far-left ideology and accusations are downright desecrating and deranged, and I believe,conservatives on the right (like Pres. Trump) make unnecessarily incendiary remarks and the far right tend to stir the flames even more. Much of the back and forth pandering literally makes me sick, gives me knots in my stomach. As for the (so-called white supremacist) sub-human murderer of the people worshiping in their own church in Charleston, South Carolina, I wish I could be his jailer for just one day.
Then why do I pay attention to any of it? I’m convinced that we should be informed, no matter how vile the rhetoric. But whom do you trust for the news? I use sources that I believe to be fair, but you should make your own decisions.
However, I think it would be unwise to depend on Bill Maher for all your news. You may remember him from, “I’m hoping for a crash [in the economy so we can get rid of Trump]. Bring on the recession,” Wonder if the tens of thousands of deaths and the devastating crash of the economy caused by COVID-19 fulfill his dream? (Yet, even Maher has recently begun questioning some Left wing tactics.)
As for COVID-19, nobody knew what should have been done and when. Listen to what the scientists were saying at any given time during this pandemic. None that I recall were spot-on, or had a workable solution, and remember what the U.S. Surgeon General said (early on) about wearing masks, something to the effect; If it makes you feel better, fine, but “I don’t recommend wearing masks.”
Last-minute HEADS UP: If you uttered the following (even while social distancing) in a particular suburb of Seattle: “I hate this ‘Chinese‘ Coronavirus.” You would be fomenting a Hate Crime and subject to prosecution.
That said, I am totally unnerved by reports of people harassing Asian-American citizens in our country. I can’t believe, and I am ashamed, that even a small fraction of our citizens are that cruel and ignorant. It’s the communist Chinese government that we should hold accountable, not the individual citizen, and certainly not people in the U.S. of Asian heritage.
Absolute last-minute update: I was of the opinion if you have an encounter, or were arrested by police in the United States, especially if you were African-American, “Comply and Don’t Die” would be sufficient to keep you alive. With the incontestable brutality, by a police officer in Minneapolis, May 2020, I’m not so sure anymore,
When I saw the video, I was sickened to the point of almost throwing up. No doubt black people and others, now more than ever, will fear any interaction with police. “It was just one bad cop” doesn’t cut it for the scores, who will now suspect all police. It may be possible with community policing to reduce this criminal behavior, but I don’t believe it’s possible to completely eliminate.
Just because I wasn’t complicit in burning down a police precinct or ripping off a Target doesn’t mean I’m not outraged by the conduct of the officer with his knee on the neck of a restrained U. S. citizen. I’m now more inclined to understand the results of the survey I highlighted in the second paragraph of this chapter.
In case you missed it earlier, I’m glad I’m old and hopefully won’t be around to see this country slip into the abyss. Every generation I suppose has predicted, in one way or another, that our country, maybe the world, is on the verge of degeneration. This time, however, I believe it to be true. Are we at a breaking point? Aren’t you glad to be reading this uplifting chapter?
Another angry, even apoplectic, old white man who can’t accept change? No, I don’t wish for the bad old days when we were less respectful of women, other races, the disabled, people’s sexual orientation, and the like. I wish for a citizenry who respects the constitution, differing opinions, and love of country. I believe I’ve earned that right without becoming fodder for the feckless crowd who wish to decimate our way of life — the republican form of government, imperfect as she is — that has served so many, for so long and dare I say, so well.
Incidentally, I’m a registered Independent and have been for years. I read Woke cover- to-cover, shortly after its release. Even though, I consider the woke movement to be nuts, dangerous actually, I was not averse to reading it about it.
Is there anyone to blame for this divisiveness? Are we all to blame; our citizens, you, and me?
I’m not naive. I know there are lots of people who have no time for any civic involvement. They are just trying to balance family and career, some surely struggling. However, there are also those who aren’t interested in civic engagement or just don’t care. Perhaps saying to themselves, “How could just one person, like me, make a difference?” Try it. Turn off the TV, lose your iPhone® for a while. Get off your butt — get involved. Maybe something similar to the Tea Party (though reviled by many on the Left) that began as a grassroots movement and grew into a large and effective organization. Then, there was a piece on 60 Minutes about On Small Step at a Time, A Story Corps by Dave Isay who brings people together across the political divide. People sit face to face and actually listen to one another without name-calling. From what little research I did, this sounds like a great initiative.
“Freedom in never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in their blood stream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free [spoken in hushed tones, of course],” Ronald Reagan.
If we are not awakened from and stand up to, the forces that are leading the U.S.A. astray, a tsunami of Radical Left-Wing iconoclast ideology will soon flood our country and wash like-minded citizens and me, struggling to stay afloat and reminiscing about better times and nostalgic — no desperate — for our country that used to be.
I sincerely believe the U.S. is Losing Its Way, and once this festering strain spreads unchallenged, she (we) will never again be Exceptional — never the same. And sadly, we will no longer be that “Shining City Upon a Hill whose Beacon of Light Guides Freedom-Loving People All Over the World.”*
*(President Ronald Reagan, 1989; John Winthrop and adapted from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. • Authors capitalization in Shining City).
I will end this discussion on a more upbeat tone:
A belief in American exceptionalism is patriotic and something we can agree on, even in a time of philosophical division. Eight-five percent of Americans believe America “stands above all other countries or is one of the greatest countries,” according to Pew. Yet growing numbers of young Americans don’t grasp how unique America is, how much America has done for the world, how fortunate we are to live here. The stuff we take for granted — political freedom, economic freedom, the rule of law. the right to peacefully assemble, freedom of movement and speech, and the right to believe in any god or no god all — is rare. Only 43 percent of countries are considered free; only 4 percent of humanity lives in America.
Countless millions journey here from other lands to taste freedom — to be part of a nation where a refugee from Czechoslovakia could be entrusted to oversee foreign policy, a Taiwanese immigrant could serve in the President’s cabinet, a child born into Soviet scarcity could grow up to build a doorway to the Internet’s limitless possibilities (Google), the son a Turkish diplomat (Coca-Cola) or a Syrian refugee (Apple) or a Cuban immigrant (Amazon) could lead or launch the world’s most ubiquitous companies, a child could escape Nazis and the Red Army and grow to command the armed forces of his adopted home. Only in America.
American firms Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Inovio, and Pfizer are leading the race to produce a COCID-19 vaccine for the world. And America has poured more into global COVID-19 relief than any other country — 12 times more than China.
All this reminds us why Jefferson saw America as “a barrier against . . . barbarism,” why Lincoln described America as “the last best hope on earth,” why King believed God “called American to do a special job for mankind.” why President Reagan saw America as a “shining city upon a hill.” (From The American Legion Magazine, with permission , by Allan W. Dowd).
Too many Americans are unaware of the actual history of our country. Just one in six Americans can pass a basic quiz on U.S. history, and one in seven believe the United States started WWII by bombing Japan! If you've read this far, I assume you are receptive to some of my ideas, and I ask that you share, no spread, America's story, and remind young Americans -- and each other -- that what unites us is bigger than what separates us.