FOR those of us who believe in freedom of speech and expression, individual responsibility, and meritocracy, recent years have not been terribly encouraging. There is a distinct aroma of totalitarianism in America’s air these days, not of the Stalinist or Maoist variety, but of a softer, dare I say feminised, variety, drawing heavily on the curative and therapeutic lexicons, its selective puritanism residing uncomfortably at times with the artistic banality and cultural decadence that is all around us in the pornified America in which we find ourselves.
Last week on the street outside the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis I witnessed an overweight middle-aged man in skimpy white underpants twerking provocatively in front of small children and their parents, not to mention seeing men disguised as dogs walking on all fours. Since when did it become acceptable for men proudly to display their sexual kinks in public places where minors are likely to be present? When did respectable middle-class people stop speaking out against such barbarities? Have they stopped noticing, deliberately or unconsciously, or do they endorse what they see?
To be sure, recent cultural and political developments do not augur well for a nation predicated and founded on Judeo-Christian principles that gave rise to the most fertile civilisation in world history whose contributions to humanity defy enumeration.
Still, despite having indulged in this apocalyptic talk, folks like me will had more than the birth of a nation to celebrate Tuesday’s Fourth of July holiday. I refer to the rulings decided this past week by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Those rulings, made possible by the fact that former President Trump was able to appoint three conservative justices to the court, have allowed conservatives to entertain a cautious optimism that sanity may return to this benighted country.
While the rulings address a number of issues, among them freedom of expression and religion with a ruling that a Christian website designer can decline to create same-sex wedding websites (as TCW reported here), it is the ruling on so-called ‘affirmative action’ that is the most momentous.
Affirmative action, known as positive discrimination in the United Kingdom, is so embedded in American life and so routinised in the practices of America’s private and public institutions that one can be forgiven for not noticing it. So thoroughly has the external been internalised that most people do not give it a second thought when discriminating along racial or ethnic lines, invariably in favour of people of colour and to the disfavour of people of pallor, otherwise known as white people, or the ridiculously named Caucasians, especially if those white people are heterosexual, cisgendered men, a demographic to which, for purposes of full disclosure, I belong.
Most Americans of my acquaintance are exceedingly reluctant to acknowledge the existence of affirmative action, let alone discuss it, even those who are most affected by it, whether positively or negatively. Very rarely have I encountered anyone who has been prepared to offer an opinion, either for or against, on this pervasive system of racial and ethnic preferences and set-asides that continues to impact almost every aspect of life in twenty-first century America. However, most Americans are acutely aware when they see it and experience it.
How does one explain this reluctance to discuss a subject that affects almost everyone living in the United States?
Well, such a question resists simplistic answers, but let me take a stab at it anyway.
First, I think that those who might have benefited from affirmative action – women and people of colour – are understandably hesitant to acknowledge the role preferences might have played in their success and feel proud of what they have achieved in life. Who can blame them?
The dermatologist treating my skin cancer is a highly accomplished young Mexican-American physician from Tucson, Arizona (very likely the city, ironically enough, where my pale Anglo-Irish skin was exposed to sufficient ultraviolet light to have occasioned the basal cell carcinoma on my back) and I have the greatest trust in him. The thought of questioning his expertise appals me, although the thought that his career has been helped by affirmative action, which is surely the case, is difficult to dispel. I wish it were otherwise, but it cannot be while these unjust, divisive, and anti-meritocratic policies that privilege identity over ability persist.
Secondly, the vast majority of white Americans live in abject fear of being accused of racism, an accusation second only to being accused of child abuse when it comes to the scale of human depravity in contemporary America. I confidently speculate that those white Americans are not just motivated by fear of being cancelled or being publicly shamed, but also because their moral compass tells them that judging a fellow human being by the colour of his or her skin rather than by the content of their character is morally repugnant.
While I have experienced a perverse and delicious joy in the meltdown taking place on the liberal-left and in the mainstream media in recent days – schadenfreude being one of my most frequently confessed sins – I know these rulings will be challenged and possibly overturned or negated. The divisive toxin known as affirmative action will not be so easily dispelled from the American body politic and will surely continue in some form long after I am dead. The racist elites in charge of this country will insist upon that. But yours truly has an extra bounce in his arthritic stride this week as America celebrates her 247th birthday.