Some call it political correctness on steroids. Others call it wokeness. President Joe Biden might call it “the thing.” Many on the right and center (e.g. Elon Musk) call it countercultural, intellectually dishonest, dangerous.
You might have a different set of adjectives in mind. But I suspect all share a similar theme: Our culture — and especially our children — suffer when objective truth is rejected.
The predicate for this new worldview is clear: Truth must be interpreted as subjective. You may even have heard wokesters (including the sitting vice president of the United States) say as much in advising young people to “speak their truth” — seemingly without regard to whether that truth has any relation to reality.
Of course, once that threshold is crossed, everything is possible.
Accordingly, otherwise serious adults argue that babies are born either oppressed or oppressors, people with no scientific qualifications definitively state that the earth will be toast (so to speak) in precisely nine (!) years without the Green New Deal, and that it is perfectly fair for boys to compete against girls in athletic contests. In other words, two plus two no longer equals four. Math is racist, dontcha know.
OK, you may say. Surely this iteration of sociological revisionism is temporary, a harrowing but brief journey down the endless road to a progressive utopia. But you would be wrong.
Subjective truth, identity politics, revisionist history, gender fluidity and an emerging “green” religion have all rented space within a deadly serious movement that has taken up residence in one of America’s two great political parties. And both are propelled forward by a new fondness for censorship that not so long ago would have been intolerable, especially on the left. (More on this below.)
A sense of no-judgment valuelessness emerges from all the subjectivity. “Who are you to judge?” is a common theme here. But there is another and equally dangerous consequence of all the hand-wringing: a naivete that refuses to accept objective evidence of the evil and evil actors that make the real world such a dangerous place.
It is here where Secretary of State Antony Blinken so willingly indulges his Chinese counterparts in indicting a “racist” America, where John Kerry asks Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider his war’s impact on climate change, where Blinken shares U.S. intel with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the hope that the despotic strongman would lobby his friend — Mr. Putin — to forego his long-planned invasion of Ukraine and, in perhaps the most spectacularly naive move ever, requests that Mr. Putin act as a broker in the renegotiation of the terribly flawed Iran nuclear agreement with the terror-sponsoring mullahs in Tehran.
Does the left deny objective truth?
It is as if the flower power, anti-war generation of 1960s activists have all come back to lead the world and transform America.
On second thought, this analogy will not suffice. Those ’60s refuseniks would never have countenanced speech codes or trigger warnings or anti-free speech safe zones. They practiced, indeed, celebrated speech and dissent, especially on campus. For them, Berkeley was the celebrated center point of the era’s various civil rights causes — but it now appears it represents the beginning of the end of a movement once all about unfettered speech.
My strong suspicion is that real ’60s-era liberals are none too pleased with their successor generation’s illiberal constructs. Yet with precious few exceptions, these aging activists are strangely silent.
Hopefully, they will remember (per the wisdom of the 17th-century duke La Rochefoucauld) that hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue before it is too late.
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