The horrible thing about Leftism . . . okay, let me rephrase that: One of the many horrible things about Leftism is that it trains its adherents to look at the world through dirt-colored glasses. Everything that is good and beautiful and charming is perceived as dark, depressing, and awful. No wonder the Progressives on my Facebook page are so big on “You are wonderful” affirmations. They need those periodic reminders to offset some of the illogical hate that fills their minds.
I have here two examples of the dirt-colored glasses Progressives have to wear in order to maintain their Leftist bona fides. The first one is a horribly shot amateur video, with tinny music, that is still well worth watching. A large dance troupe performs the national dance of Ukraine — the Hopak. It is a tour de force:
(If the video doesn’t load, you can view it here.)
When I watched the video, I was impressed and amazed. It’s beautiful and exciting and strong. But that’s not how Lefties see it. Here’s a line from the comments section that, to me, is destined to be a Leftist classic: “What they’re doing is impressive, but isn’t that focus on the men’s dancing really just a reminder of the patriarchy?”
And then there’s the Leftist’s obsession with “cultural appropriation.” The most recent high-profile incident involves Beyonce and Coldplay, the latter of which is fronted by a Leftist), getting heat for daring to use an Indian theme in their new music video:
It’s a pretty video and Beyonce is a beautiful woman. Oh, wait, it’s not and she isn’t. It’s an evil video and she’s a cultural appropriator:
Beyonce and Coldplay are being accused on Twitter of appropriating Indian culture in the music video for their new collaboration song, “Hymn For The Weekend.” The video, which was filmed in Mumbai, features the band performing in the streets during a Holi festival while Beyonce in decked out in elaborate Indian garb. See the video below.
Although the video is very clearly intended to be a celebration of Indian culture, many Twitter users feel Beyonce’s lavish portrayal of an Indian woman to be offensive. A person with the handle @SpoiledHobo tweeted, “The Coldplay video is beaut. It’s artistic and stunning. But Beyonce wearing ‘Indian style’ jewellery and clothes is NOT OKAY.” A fan named @nyunouis wrote, “Yikes that video with Coldplay and Beyonce is soooo disappointing…. why can’t they film without appropriating culture.”
When did we go from “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” to “imitation is the height of insult?” I mean, I think we all understand the difference between using blackface to demean black culture, and wearing Indian garb because it’s beautiful or eating Mexican food because we like it. One of my friends summed up the phenomenon this way:
I assume if the Beatle’s released The White Album today they would be accused of the same thing. The logical conclusion to this is you’re not allowed to participate in anything your genetic forbearers did not have a hand in. No more karate for anyone who is not of Japanese descent. Seriously, are people in Hong Kong who go to McDonald’s culturally appropriating American cuisine? Are Africans not allowed to wear Italian suits? No one better be at a bar on March 17 unless they’re Irish Catholic. There is a movement afoot to culturally divide Americans under the guise of social justice. It’s a lie whose true purpose is to eventually stifle free thought, individual expression, and liberty.
Incidentally, dirt-colored glasses are not new to Leftism. They’ve just gained prominence and traction. Back in 1951, in Neither Five nor Three, Helen MacInnes had already dissected the Leftist mindset that was the genesis of today’s dark insanity.
The set-up is that Paul, the book’s protagonist, having spent the post-war years continuing to serve in occupied Europe, finally returns to the New York publishing scene in 1949 or 1950, and steps back into his old job as editor at a magazine established in the 1930s to cater to up and coming middle class Americans. He finds that things have changed. When he entered the Army in 1942, the magazine was apolitical, focusing at it did on art, architecture, design, and other aspects of “culture for the masses.” Paul is therefore shocked to learn that Leftist writers have been pushing the magazine to publish containing misstatements of facts so as to shift political sentiment. The following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:
“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”
Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”
“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”
The book also tackles the root cause question, which is not the new phenomenon we think it is. Leftists have been using it for a long time. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:
“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.
“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.
“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….
Again, I bet that sounds familiar. Today’s Left does exactly the same, whether describing ISIS or Baltimore and Ferguson rioters.
Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – in order to manipulate the public:
“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”
“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”
Still Paul said nothing.
“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”
“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”
Those words seem more prescient than usual in light of the way the media is gaming the public in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Oh, heck! Why am I being so limited. The media is gaming the public about everything, from ISIS to Israel, from the economy to immigration . . . you name it: We’re the objects of lies and manipulation.
MacInnes also recognized the Left’s hostility to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:
“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”
There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.
Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the MacInnes has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. In the quotation below, Rona and her boyfriend Scott (who is, unbeknownst to her, a hardcore Leftist in a time when Lefties had to pretend they weren’t) having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:
“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”
“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.
“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”
“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”
“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”
“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”
“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”
Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.
Lastly, MacInnes tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim-hood. It’s amazingly prescient in light of the two videos I highlighted above. Already then, the Leftists were using “multiculturalism,” not as a way to preserve what’s special about a group’s ethnicity, even as the groups members assimilate into the American mainstream. Instead, it was then and is now a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.
While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., MacInnes chose a Jew to describe and oppose the Left’s habit of dividing people to control them:
“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”
Really, the only difference between the world Helen MacInnes describes is that, back then, this pervasive Leftist mindset — a dark, ugly, dank world view, with America as “evil central” — was underground. Many people reading and enjoying MacInnes’s books nevertheless thought she was a paranoid nutcase who nevertheless wrote good thrillers. MacInnes, however, was a seer, and would readily have recognized a world in which women object to beautiful dancing because it’s “patriarchal” and in which mainstream news publications attack pop stars for daring to admire and elaborate upon a culture that isn’t their own.