Monthly Archives: July 2015
Return of the Dark Ages
Recently, the Memphis, Tennessee City Council voted unanimously to exhume the bodies of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife and move them to another location. This raises several troubling questions. The most obvious would be; since when does a City Council have the authority to dig up the bodies of those they find offensive? There are laws against the desecration of graves, and Forrest’s family is passionately opposed to this unprecedented move.
Now, as the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Forrest is obviously a difficult historical figure to defend. But permitting politicians to exhume the dead, for partisan political reasons, sets us on a perilous course. On such a slippery slope, it is easy to envision future calls to exhume other Confederate leaders, and eventually every prominent slaveholder from Thomas Jefferson to George Mason. Where does this end? Would we allow Rush Limbaugh’s grandfather to be exhumed and exiled? Anyone branded a “racist” might have good reason to fear that his own ancestors could have their eternal rest disturbed due to authoritarian political correctness. This is an incredibly ghoulish business, and speaks volumes for the lack of civility in our present day society.
The establishment Left is not alone in their Dark Ages-style proposals. Debtors’ prisons, once remembered only as fodder for the works of Victorian reformers like Charles Dickens, are making a serious comeback. So is child labor. Much of the establishment Right wants to eliminate the minimum wage, and roll back what remains of the crucial benefits the working class enjoyed thanks to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
In every aspect of our lives, we are trapped between an authoritarian Left devoted solely to the precepts of political correctness, and an insensitive Right devoted to the “greed is good” credo of Ayn Rand. The Left seemingly wants to punish and even imprison anyone who violates their concept of political correctness, and the Right seemingly wants to resurrect the rugged individualism of the Wild West, and prefers to let nature sort things out under the survival-of-the-fittest. The Left has an astonishing lack of tolerance for those they label as intolerant, and clearly hate those they deem to be hateful. The Right has no empathy for the poor or the working class, and appears to believe that selfishness is some kind of virtue.
This backwards shift is happening all over the world. Iceland seems merely to have been a wonderful anomaly. They threw their bankers in jail, and took control of their own destiny. Greek had a chance to do that as well, but their leaders backed down, as ours would no doubt inevitably do, and asked for more debt and more austerity. Austerity measures are all the rage now. If our leaders get their wish, Americans will soon embrace the demented values of the modern Chinese, with strict controls on behavior, slave wages, and living conditions that include cramped spaces that any enlightened civilization should instinctively recognize as being unfit for human habitation.
As noted on the excellent “End of the American Dream” web site, in 2012 alone, some 40,000 new American laws went into effect. These various state and local laws were often nonsensical; criminalizing the collection of water on one’s property, selling cow’s milk to one’s neighbor, defacing a milk carton, selling girl scout cookies on one’s property, or holding a bible study in one’s home. A federal law against being “annoying” on the internet was passed, which also made registering a fake name on social media to be subject to up to five years in federal prison. So many things we once took for granted, from smoking cigarettes in public places to not wearing a seat belt, have long been banned. There is no question that we enjoy far less personal freedom than we did even thirty years ago.
The Left, in particular, has only minimal tolerance for views they find repugnant. There have been serious calls to arrest those who “deny” climate change. The quintessential authoritarian Leftist, Al Gore recently declared that we need to punish those who reject “accepted science.” Meanwhile, the Right offers consistent demands of more “sacrifice” from the common riff-raff. Jeb Bush, in a statement guaranteed to win him zero votes outside the One Percent, proposed that Americans just need to work longer hours. Mitch McConnell states that we can no longer afford to maintain our highways unless benefits from the elderly and disabled are slashed.
If we don’t break free from this diabolical, phony Left-Right paradigm, we are doomed to continue sliding towards a new Dark Ages. Our culture appears fully intent on collapsing even before our impossible economy does. Either way, collapse is unavoidable without a sea change in the awareness of a majority of our people. The systemic corruption we see at all levels of government and business now would simply not be possible with a well-informed, intelligent population. Instead, we are becoming an Idiocracy.
California is running out of water? That would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. Our police forces, all over the country, are mirroring the corrupt state they serve. In the most recent outrageous example, a SWAT team broke into the wrong home (they frequently get the address wrong) and after breaking windows in a fruitless effort to find anything illegal, contacted a building inspector, who promptly served the hapless homeowner victims with a citation for broken windows. Even the most imaginative writer of fiction would have hesitated to invent some of the egregious abuses of law and common decency, which we now see on the part of law enforcement officers, documented daily online.
To someone who died in the 1970s, our present world be incomprehensible. Not for its fantastic advances in technology or lifestyle, but for its stark descent into a draconian plutocracy. Every move our leaders make, in terms of addressing crucial issues like immigration, jobs, foreign policy and medicine, is devoid of common sense and reason. In fact, their “solutions” are the exact opposite of what any rational person would propose. Instead of defending our own borders, our leaders babble on about Isis. Or Isil. Or Al Qaeda. Instead of confronting the insurmountable cost of health care and housing, they devise an insurance-friendly Obamacare and whistle past the graveyard of real estate.
To those of us who are awake, this is becoming an unfunny nightmare. What will they do next? There is zero expectation that any mainstream leader will propose anything to make any aspect of our gargantuan problems better. They seem hellbent, as Alex Jones and others have suggested, on triggering the collapse that is bound to happen. While they may be busy constructing a new Dark Ages, is that what most Americans really want? Have we become that collectively stupid? How long will we have to wait for the next Enlightenment?
Hollywood Ignores the Founding Fathers
As we get ready to celebrate another Independence Day, I wanted to reflect upon just how thoroughly the entertainment industry has ignored both the general topic of our nation’s founding, and in particular the legendary individuals who were instrumental in establishing our independence.
Even as a youngster, I wondered about the dearth of old movies about the American Revolution. It’s hard to understand why none of the powerful Hollywood studios saw fit to film a bio-pic about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or any other Founding Father. There were multiple films about Lincoln, and British royalty was covered quite well, with everyone from Henry the Eighth to Queen Elizabeth accorded their own pictures. Even British politician Benjamin Disraeli had his life chronicled onscreen. There was a lengthy silent film about Napoleon, and a big budget 1938 extravaganza devoted to Marie Antoinette.
How do we logically explain this? Hollywood certainly never shied away from American heroes and legends. Thomas Edison had a bio-pic devoted to him. So did Mark Twain. Walt Disney discovered a gold mine in Davy Crockett. The Alamo has been an enduring favorite in Hollywood. Even a mediocre president like Andrew Johnson was given his own film, and there was another production revolving around a woman associated with President Andrew Jackson. Why nothing about Washington or Jefferson? Why no stirring film about the revolution itself, with dramatic scenes of the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s ride?
When Mel Gibson starred in a major film about the War for Independence in 2000, The Patriot, it garnered an astonishing amount of criticism. The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets objected to the overtly negative depiction of the British in the film. British newspapers called Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion, whose Gibson’s character was loosely based upon, “a serial rapist.” Clearly, the media was uncomfortable with the very issue of our founding, and objected to the way that those who tried to prevent it were characterized in one of the few movies to even venture into that historical era.
So why did Hollywood decide to pen epics about Annie Oakley, Charles Lindbergh, Woodrow Wilson and Buffalo Bill, while ignoring the most legendary names from our history? Was it because they desired to steer away from the topic of rebellion, the delineation of individual rights, which would inevitably arise in any accurate recounting of our nation’s birth? There is no “safe” way to present the stories of men like Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson. Their radicalism would shine through to audiences, and perhaps there was a fear that their revolutionary fervor might prove contagious.
It is an indisputable fact that, even during the period when patriotic fervor in America was at its peak, none of the greatest patriots rated their own film from Hollywood, nor did the story of their struggle. I find it impossible to believe that no screenwriter ever came up with such a script, or that no publicist ever advised any studio of how potentially lucrative such a film would be. Where was the Gone With the Wind of the American Revolution?
If Hollywood deals with the Founding Fathers nowadays, it’s to denigrate them, to dismiss them as dead white racists. The issue of slavery would be featured prominently, and their association with it would serve to discredit their timeless words about human liberty, and their epic battle for independence, for which they did indeed risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Our Founders devised the closest thing to a perfect form of government. The beauty of the checks and balances, and the majesty of the Bill of Rights, are the cornerstone of our republic. The fact that these balances were long ago shifted, so that the legislative branch has become an impotent rubber stamp for the executive branch, and the judicial branch has usurped authority it was never intended to have, is all the more reason to grieve over what once was. Even sadder is the fact that none of the branches pay the slightest credence to the Bill of Rights any longer, and amazingly most Americans seem oblivious to this or even approve.
One of the most magical footnotes from American history concerns the death of Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Both Jefferson and Adams, by a coincidence of cosmic proportions, happened to die on the same day, July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Whether this was somehow due to Divine Providence, it remains a most remarkable historical reality.
If these Founding Fathers, scorned and neglected by Hollywood and our present-day mainstream media, were alive today, they would all be banished from polite society in short order. Even the most establishment figure among them- Alexander Hamilton, who is about to be replaced for politically correct reasons on the ten dollar bill- would be labeled an “extremist” and unwelcome in either of our carbon-copy major political parties.
They would not be in a celebratory mood, as they observed seemingly a new unconstitutional directive emanating from our leaders every week, an economy on life support, systemic corruption that has overwhelmed all our institutions, and a dumbed-down public that doesn’t even seem to notice, let alone care. They would realize all their efforts had been in vain, and they certainly wouldn’t stay around for the fireworks.