Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Want a "Live-and-let-Live" President

A little while ago I wrote a piece for the American Thinker titled "I Want a President That Loves America." Then came Rudi Giuliani and his right-to-the-point jab at President Obama about the president's love of America.

Of course Obama doesn't love America. No liberal loves America; they know better than that. They are, to coin a phrase, on a high horse about America. They think that nation states like America ought to be replaced by multinational entities -- like the EU and the UN. They deplore "nationalism," knowing that deploring "patriotism" would get them into trouble.

But loving America is so yesterday. Now I want something more. I want a president that believes in a "live-and-let-live" America. Let me tell you what I mean (H/T Vox Day).

A while ago back down the Yellow Brick Road, according to the London Guardian, a couple of techies, Hank and Alex, were sitting at a tech conference and swapping dongle jokes when the young woman in front of them got up and took a photo of them. Pretty soon the photo was on Twitter:
They found a tweet from a woman, called Adria Richards, with a photo of them: “Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and ‘big’ dongles. Right behind me #pycon”.
One thing led to another and pretty soon Hank had been fired from his job. But that's not the end of the story.
That night, Hank made his only public statement. He posted a short message on the discussion board Hacker News: “Hi, I’m the guy who made a comment about big dongles. First of all I’d like to say I’m sorry. I really did not mean to offend anyone and I really do regret the comment and how it made Adria feel. She had every right to report me to staff, and I defend her position. [But] as a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have three kids and I really liked that job. She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate.”
That's not the end of the story either. A bunch of guys on Hacker News decided to take Adria Richards out, and they did. Pretty soon they had got her fired. Did you know that Adria Richards is a black Jewish female?

Hey fellahs and social justice warriors! How about an America where we live and let live? How about we tell someone to their face that we are offended by their locker-room talk instead of taking our taking offense to the entire world?

Of course, we all know that this is impossible for the Left. The whole point of the Left, starting in the French Revolution, is the taking of offense, turning the personal into the political, transforming the normal frictions of life in the modern world into political issues, and getting the government involved.

We know that liberals really hate it when they are on the receiving end of the political. Liberals hated Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority. They hate government getting into the bedroom. They were practically paranoid that the openly religious George W. Bush was setting up a "theocracy." And liberals froth at the mouth when denouncing the injustice of "legislating morality."

Liberals want to be free of the demands of conventional morality. So why don't they reciprocate, and allow conservatives and others the freedom to dissent from their "social justice" morality? (I know: they wouldn't understand.)

The whole point of the modern constitutional state is to put a space between law and morality, to permit freedom of religion, meaning a diversity in ways of worshipping God or in liberal-speak addressing the ultimate questions and meanings. The whole point of the Left since the French Revolution is to collapse the separation of powers into a single political power that some people have called "totalitarian."

We see this, incidentally, in President Obama's "phone and pen" governance where he pushes the administrative power of the presidency to the utmost, as in the executive order on immigration, as in his administration's pushing of the Federal Communications Commission to implement "net neutrality" by administrative fiat rather than by congressional legislation.

We see it in all the works of modern government. It can't just let parents educate their own children according to their lights; it has to corral children into government child-custodial facilities. It can't just let people make their own arrangements for health care; it has to bully them into buying a government-approved health plan. It can't just leave people to save money for retirement; it has to bully them into a government retirement plan.

The thing is that when you decide that it's OK to bully parents over education, or bully nerds exchanging sophomoric dongle jokes, or implement a culture of "taking offense" or define society as composed of the oppressors, the oppressed, and the champions of the oppressed, you'd better think a couple of moves ahead and figure out how people on the other side will respond to your actions.

The history of warfare is full of new tactics that completely confused and demoralized the opposition -- until the opposition figured out how to counter and defeat them.

The idea of live and let live is that it's better not to start offensive operations; you never know where they may end up. The best thing to do is to  solve your problem right here and right now. Most people are pretty decent and don't want to offend or hurt other people. Government ought to concentrate on the people that don't respond to a quiet word and to be hit on the head with a two-by-four before they will pay attention.

Hmm. I guess we might as well haul in René Girard and his idea of mimetic rivalry. The natural thing to do is for humans to escalate rivalries and conflict higher and higher. Until the whole thing gets out of hand and finally solved when the whole community turns upon a scapegoat and expels the scapegoat from the community.

In my view President Obama, with his Alinksy community organizer tactics, his Obamacare cramdown, with his executive orders à outrance, with his encouragement of "Our Loud, Proud Left," with his Obamanet "net neutrality" is stoking a mimetic rivalry between right and left that can only end in tragedy. In my view the whole point of the separation of powers, of the separation of church and state, of the civil society between the individual and the state, of the live and let live idea, is to neutralize mimetic rivalry and its escalation of conflict into open violence.

But I have a faith that the American people will stop this escalation by electing a bland live-and-let-live president in 2016 that will find a way to send the left's Offense Brigades back to their barracks where they can harmlessly squabble with each other without damaging the body politic.

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