For those who have wondered how Germans could have stood by while a minority of radicals took over their nation and abused its vigor and productivity for grotesquely evil ends, the day has come: they need wonder no longer.
Today’s America shows us how it could happen. The vicious attacks this week on a small pizza restaurant in Indiana are at the very least Nazi-like in character. Many eyes would see them as demonic. The people attacking the restaurant lack any characteristic that would suit them for self-government, or even for life among decent people. To call them “intolerant” is to misuse the word; they have given themselves over to active, demented evil.
(This update was just posted. The Indiana family that owns the pizza restaurant fears it will have to leave town due to the threats against it. This is the profile of radical-mob intimidation as practiced by the Nazis, Bolsheviks, and others from the same root of evil.)
Yet the infrastructure of the public square is now framed to gloss over this reality: to do nothing for the targets of a mob attack, and to paralyze the people who actually are tolerant and kind.
More than that, the public infrastructure is framed to focus instead on whether people who are not even suffering any material harm may have a grievance that should stop traffic for everyone else: interrupt the liberties of all bystanders and change the basis of their lives forever.
It’s no accident that when a people can’t find any argument for moral certainty, it is also unable to find any defense for liberty. To insist on liberty is to have moral certainty. Liberty can’t be defended on any other basis. And we are seeing, right before our eyes, why and how that is. Throw out moral certainty, and the first casualty is liberty. Everything else will take precedence over it, starting with grievance and fear, in equal measure.
The process of that precedence-taking will be a protracted and excruciating one, just as it was in Nazi Germany. It will hurt every moment, and there will be no light at the end of the tunnel. One by one, each and every thing each of us has that’s good, or that we do because it keeps our consciences clean and our hearts at peace, will turn out to offend someone else. We will all be victimizing someone, merely by existing as ourselves. We will be walking violations of the perverted law of arbitrary grievance. We will all be the Jews of Nazi Germany. (And make no mistake, as the POTUS-in-Chief likes to say. The actual Jews will be some of the first casualties. Evil has no new tricks in its bag.)
Where are the public leaders who will stand up for us? Intimidated – like this week’s stammering state governors – into hair-splitting, compromise, silence, and ignominy.
There are too many underlying causes for our plight to list them all in one post. I will mention just one: our cultivation of radical discontent in the young, as if they have just discovered grievance and political revulsion, and are wielding them as tools of special and sanctified insight.
Children have been taught for decades now that nursing grievances is a form of courage, and that nursing them sanctimoniously on behalf of others is a form of special virtue. In reality, this mode of life paves the road to hell. Selling it as a way of “changing the world” for the better is a great lie.
Ruled by this lie, a whole generation – perhaps two – can find nothing to satisfy it or give it hope, and yet has no idea why. Nothing makes the Grievance Generations happy. Yet they’ve been ingeniously taught not only that is this everyone’s fault but their own, but that it makes them righteous and morally superior to think so.
Finding fault with their fellow men, and feeling empowered to loose all constraints and attack their fellow men on this basis, has been fed to them for years as a form of high morality. They don’t know another way to think. The pattern is wholly destructive, even when it’s just latent, waiting to be touched off. But a critical number in the Grievance Generations are in a dangerous tailspin that leaves them helpless, restless, and vulnerable.
This sham morality is the opposite of the kind of true, hopeful, constructive moral courage that fought honestly, for decades, never complaining, to eradicate slavery. It is the opposite of the basis on which Martin Luther King, Jr. and his allies appealed to their fellow Americans for the equal rights our own Constitution is based on. The nursing of grievances, as a means of attacking our fellow citizens’ consciences, has had nothing to do with any noble effort, and it never will.
This is not a negotiable or dispensable reality. We can’t sweep things under the rug and hope to just get past this age of being ruled by a great lie. Either people’s minds and hearts change, and they learn to act on the basis of wisdom and confidence, rather than prowling the land looking for grievances to leverage, or we will be destroyed as surely as Nazi Germany was.
There’s good news. A lot of Americans, including younger ones, do see these things clearly. We probably think there are more grievance slaves among us – people whose motives are pathetically enslaved to the grievance dynamic – than there actually are. The grievance slaves make most of the noise, and their noise is amplified by the media. The voices of blessing, peace, and tolerance don’t get the same amplification, and in fact aren’t as shrill to begin with. It takes a listening heart to hear them.
Many people do have that listening heart. But be watchful. It took only a small minority of shrill, grievance-mongering Nazi socialists to destroy Germany. Now is the time to unblinker our eyes and acknowledge that the problem is already here.