There is a strange thing going on in our culture right now. Many of the country’s long-held traditions and norms are targets for reform and even elimination.
This phenomenon has not been decided democratically. Instead, elites and academics are having some of the most powerful voices about what does and does not belong. Sometimes it is done in the name of political correctness and sometimes it is done just because we’re told it is the right thing to do by someone who says they are smarter than the rest of us.
For example, take Common Core.
Someone, somewhere devised this new method of educating school children. Yes, there are some strange elements to it, including the math curriculum and the PC reading assignments. All of this is done in the name of our country needing across-the-board standards. The goal is noble. However, in practice the system acts to facilitate a limited, groupthink mentality.
If every child in public schools across the country is taught from the same textbooks in the same way, ultimately the outcome will be having a product of like-minded individuals.
Regardless your ideology, do we really want an all-powerful central government potentially programming an entire generation? Historically, that doesn’t turn out well.
More troubling, perhaps, is what appears to be an overall effort to purge the annals of history.
Arguably, the darkest chapter in United States history was slavery and the Civil War. It’s difficult to fully understand the mindset of the time and the motivations of the men that took up arms and fought for the Confederacy. We know the history and the troubling motivations. There is value in knowing and remembering the past, even if it is ugly. As the cliché goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
There is, however, an ongoing effort to erase all reminders of the Confederacy.
Yes, public officials throughout the South post-Civil War probably wanted the symbolic F.U. to the Union. They probably overdid it by building all the county courthouses facing south, naming thousands of government-funded entities after Confederate war heroes and honoring the Confederacy with state holidays, as in Alabama.
It has been almost 152 years since Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Will doing away with these gestures really heal the nation anymore, or is it just an effort by elites to flex their intellectual muscle and tell us plebes what we can and cannot do?
My guess is the latter.
It is a fair argument to have: Do we want to honor those that fought for slavery and against the U.S.? Just because it is an interesting thought experiment, however, does not mean we should start taking down symbols like ISIS on the rampage in Mesopotamia’s cradle of civilization.
Why did our elected leaders want to name a park after Jefferson Davis? Was it done out of pure racial animosity, or did the South still have a chip on its shoulder from the Civil War?
That is the kind of nuance that is lacking in this whitewashing of history. It has been taken to a silly extreme in some cases.
Watching reruns of the 1970s CBS program “The Dukes of Hazard” is taboo because the sensitivity police assumed that seeing the Confederate flag painted on top of a car might inspire some sort of racist hatred, which is silly. It is not as if Bo and Luke Duke were riding around in the General Lee campaigning against affirmative action.
It was a different time. Just as “Amos ‘n’ Andy” is not a show that has broad appeal in 2017, watching it still can be useful in that you understand the mindset of the time and why we as a society should never return to that mindset.
Why some things are allowed and some things are not goes a step further. It isn’t just guilt for a past that most had nothing to do with. It is an anger toward the past.
The left now sees anything that runs contrary to its goal of advancing an aggressively politically correct culture as a target for reform.
We have to be sensitive about how we convey greetings around Christmas. We have to rethink who we honor on our currency. We cannot be provocative by wearing clothing that could be interpreted as having some sort of masculine or political message.
It is borderline Orwellian. Are we to believe putting certain forms of expression down the memory hole will better society?
Last summer at Yale University, there was an effort underway to end the requirement English students study writers as such as Chaucer, Milton and Shakespeare.
For what reason? Such a requirement failed to meet the ideals of diversity. Perhaps we needed to exchange that requirement for in-depth studies of Maya Angelou and Emily Bronte, because why have a bunch of white men from centuries ago shape our understanding of the English language?
Nothing is sacred anymore. Everything is fair game.