It is a truism that while it takes much time and patience to build up a civilization, those achievements can all be undone in a moment.
The administration of Joe Biden seems bent on testing that proposition. On his first day in office, ‘C’mon Man’ Biden issued a spate of executive orders — 17 in all, if you are counting — aimed at undoing the legacy of President Trump. It was all ‘hello Paris Climate Accords, goodbye policing the borders.’
Two executive orders in particular caught my attention, one shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline, the other shutting down the 1776 Commission and removing its report, issued just two days before America’s first armed-camp inauguration, from the White House website.
The first not only threw a few thousand people, Canadians as well as Americans, out of work. It also signaled an attack on one of America’s chief engines of prosperity, cheap, abundant energy, i.e., fossil fuels. Before Biden, America had achieved energy independence and indeed became a net exporter of energy. This not only turbocharged our economy, it also put us beyond the blackmail (that’s plain English for ‘influence’) of petro-kleptocracies like Iran and some oil-rich Arab states. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the implications of Biden’s green dream to beginning rippling through the US economy.
The second order, shutting down the 1776 Commission, was largely symbolic, but in some ways its ramifications might be even farther reaching than the attack on fossil fuels. The latter attacks aimed at our chief source of physical energy and foundation of economic prosperity. The former undermines a key spiritual resource and foundation of our cultural confidence. Which will be more devastating?
We shall see. No sooner had the 1776 report been issued than the New York Times and CNN denounced it as a ‘racist’ document that apologized for slavery. ‘1776 report’ defends America’s founding on the basis of slavery,’ shouted the Times. CNN went to 11 with ‘Trump administration issues racist school curriculum report on MLK day.’
Critics of the 1776 Commission’s report made a big deal about its having been published on the holiday celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. But the great irony is that the report champions King’s vision of a world in which people are judged by the ‘content of their character’ not the color of their skin. The partisans of ‘identity politics’, on the contrary, want the opposite: they want a world in which group identity — based on race, sexuality, ethnic origin — forms the basis for social privilege. Critics of the report are affronted by its appearance on MLK Day, but they themselves promulgate a philosophy that explicitly repudiates King’s harmonizing vision.
And speaking of harmonizing visions, what about Joe Biden’s calls for ‘unity’ and ‘tolerance’? I think they are like the demands for ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ we’ve been hearing on college campuses for decades. That is, what they mean is tolerance only for ideas that are completely consonant with the left-liberal agenda. This is the natural end of that spirit that William F. Buckley Jr guyed when he observed that ‘liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are offended to discover that there are other views.’
That’s amusingly put. What is not so amusing is the realization that the intolerant left, for which Joe Biden is a shill, is now dedicated not simply to promoting its views but is also determined to stamp out any other views. I see that among the new federal initiatives is a requirement that all government forms inquire about one’s ‘preferred pronouns’. One wit suggested that Joe Biden preferred pronoun was ‘Xi’, as in the autocrat of China and conspicuous benefactor of the Biden family fortunes. I have no doubt that Joe’s minions will pick up many pointers from President Xi — the Big Tech censors and surveillants already have. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if their efforts at imposing ‘unity’ and ‘harmony’ have as much a Germanic as a Chinese flavor. Beginning in 1933 in Europe, there was a concerted effort to ‘harmonize’ not only the laws but also all of social life with the new regime. The German word for the process was Gleichschaltung. That time the effort came out of Berlin. It almost worked. It took the combined military might of Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union to stop that earlier push for ‘harmony’. It is anyone’s guess what it will take to stop the new race-based Gleischaltung emanating from Washington DC and Silicon Valley.
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