Watching breathless media coverage during the Charlottesville violence, I heard someone wonder how in 2017 we had “come so far” yet something like Charlottesville happened.
It is precisely that sort of thinking that leads to things like Charlottesville.
No, we haven’t come so far because we can’t come so far. More on that in a moment.
What we have done for generations is craft credible illusions to convince each other that our nation isn’t in decline. You may pick your preferred starting point at which this decline began: 1964 when prayer was removed from classrooms, 1994 when NAFTA exported high-paying manufacturing careers abroad, or 2008 when an administration that promised fundamental transformation began delivering on that promise.
We’ve allowed an amoral culture to become one that is openly hostile to some religions but prejudicially silent or supportive of Islam. We’ve traded an economy that once made things into an economy dependent upon the shock value or infamy of social media actors and activists. Fundamental transformation has been so thorough ethnic heritage is now an industry (I count at least two companies that regularly air television commercials that promise to help you find your ethnic identity) and activism has been normalized to the point Pepsi wanted to use it in a commercial featuring a Kardashian.
Fact is, no culture is ever really all that far from rapid descent into chaos. When we see things like Charlottesville (or Ferguson, Oakland, Chicago, Baltimore, et al) in the media, it is shocking to see in America things we normally see coming out of the third world. It shocks us because it challenges the illusions we’ve used to deny our own decline.
What happened in Charlottesville, at a fundamental level, was less about David Duke, Donald Trump, Antifa, and whatever else.
What happened at Charlottesville is what happens when a nation decides its morality – even its sense of ethics – are flexible and without absolutes. What happened at Charlottesville is what happens when men and women grow up in places where the factories are shuttered and their options are limited. What happened at Charlottesville is what happens when a culture consistently behaves in juvenile fashion and people are so dumbed down they no longer understand how to dialogue beyond the echo chambers of Twitter and Facebook.
We shouldn’t be surprised Charlottesville happened – we should feel ashamed it happened. There never was a reason to trade our values, economy, and sense of being for fundamental transformation. That’s what brought us to the brink we are at today.
Image: Screen Shot: http://www.onenewspage.com/video/20170812/8705738/Car-plows-into-crowd-at-white-nationalist-gathering.htm