My social media feed today gave me this utterly awful demonstration of the lightning fast decay our collective moral conscience has suffered in just these last few months. As a conservative who reveres the ideals our nation was founded upon I have always believed that the enduring principles of our forefathers would be understood well enough to be cherished and preserved, protecting us from the darker forces of our sinful natures. This new barrage of frightening ignorance and stupidity which has recently taken hold of a disturbingly wide swath of this country makes me seriously wonder however whether these ideals actually remain.
We are at a critical crossroads, my friends, and the better angels of our nature are rapidly vanishing.
The intellectual bulwark which originally freed America from despotism, tyranny and oppression and has so effectively held it at bay for the past 239 years is probably not something many of us can describe in much detail, but most of us can point to a few key documents that explain its key features and principles. We can point to the Constitution as a demonstration of the importance of the Rule of Law and natural rights. We can point to the Declaration of Independence which so magnificently explains the purpose of government and the relationship between government and the people. Some of us still might even be able to trace the intellectual underpinnings of the Federalist Papers, the Magna Carta and even the Enlightenment itself all the way back to the Bible where Romans 3:23 is but one of many concrete examples of how God himself ordained how freedom and liberty are our natural birthrights. These ideals have so far preserved us from all sorts of disingenuous and dangerous appeals that promised us prosperity we have not earned, revenge camouflaged as justice, or incarceration masquerading as security because enough of us understood and cherished the value of liberty and could not be enticed to throw it away regardless of the temptations offered.
But as we allowed our civic education system to rot and decay, stood by and idly watched journalism give way to propaganda and empty blatherings of Kanye West and Miley Cyrus, and lazily accepted the notion that people like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump could possibly be considered qualified by anyone as candidates for any elected office, much less the presidency of the United States, our understanding of these ideals seems to have vanished. This intellectual vacuum is rapidly being filled with shocking throwbacks to long-discredited notions of brutal despotism as we turn on each other in calls for bloody revenge against any who might offend us in any way. Where we once would believe that vigorous intellectual debate would ultimately deliver reason and intelligence, increasing swaths of the body politic from all political perspectives call for racial conflict and the brutal repression of competing ideas. Tolerance is now seen as a quaint throwback to an obsolete era instead of an enduring characteristic of the American experiment.
Just for a moment imagine the inevitable result of what the above graphic demands. Some group of people, for whatever reason, engage in a disruptive protest that involves the violation of some law, such as impeding traffic on a road. Those offended by such a protest feel morally empowered to put a stop to that protest, while those involved in the protest feel morally empowered to resist that effort. The conflict between the two groups escalates and at some point a participant on one side or the other faces the choice of whether the escalating level of conflict warrants the use of deadly force. That decision, should it be in the affirmative, is inextricably imposed on everyone else. Instead of tolerating inconvenience and possibly offense as our longstanding philosophical ideals would normally dictate, we start murdering one another.
As I type this I am watching people actually celebrate such an idea. It’s as if I am watching an atrocity happen in slow motion, with normally sane and reasonable people grinning and giggling as they imagine squeezing round after round into the skulls of their fellow countrymen, overjoyed to have destroyed a competing political idea not with argument, education or intellect, but with the immediately satisfying explosion of brain matter and bone across their gloriously fashionable political uniform. A friend of mine serving on the local school board is told by a colleague told that he will be shot because of a disagreement about a hastily conceived renaming of a school. An acquaintance remarks that we should be deploying fire hoses and dogs to clear away groups of people who exercise their Constitutionally-protected rights. All our historic intellectual brilliance, all our eloquence and our humanity itself is rapidly giving way to the barbaric ignorance of the modern-day equivalents of the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks, the Derg and the Khmer Rouge. Even a year ago such notions would be revolting to the body politic. Today, they actually generate applause.
One might have thought that in the age of Obama, if we could achieve any positive outcome as a result of that administration it might be to lay to rest once and for all the notion that America is or should be divided along racial lines. That at least was my hope. Instead, seven years into that experiment we are more polarized and bloodthirsty than ever, urged on by new political aspirants who feel compelled to talk about their penis during nationally televised debates. To make matters impossibly worse we have untethered ourselves from the ideals of liberty, natural rights, personal responsibility and the dignity of the individual and instead fixed our eyes on vengeance and “payback.” Through lazy ignorance we’ve tossed our moral compass overboard, leaving us directionless aside from wanton sinfulness while our leading presidential candidates fill the sails with hate and envy, promising arrival at some near-distant shore where we can settle all our longstanding grievances against each other once and for all.
We have utterly lost our way.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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