Monday, 29 June 2020

Why mobs are tearing down the statues

In answer to the question: Is he right? It’s a battle against civilisation? A response: 

Is he right? It is a big question and let me try to break down my thoughts:

I think several things are converging at the moment. An increasing wealth and privilege gap (perceived or real)  between rich and poor including  between black and white, associated with a very liberal interpretation of the term  'wokeness'. The wokeness as a catch all term, has of course been incubated in universities for a long time, including the promotion of 'white privilege' in general and black victimhood in particular. (I remember the prevalent discussion in Denmark when I grew up, that if something bad happened to you, it was society's fault, not your own).

These developments coincide with the increasing tense political situation which is being totally driven by the November election. What was perhaps hyperbole a couple of years ago is now 'life and death' to win in November. On top of all this, the Covid 'lock up' and the  resulting economic collapse has further inflamed an already tense underlying situation. The murder of Mr. Floyd was the spark.

The eruption seems to be mostly about what 'we are against'. Statues bad, police bad, white bad, Trump bad, capitalism bad and indeed Western civilization bad. And what exacerbates the situation is the wealthy and not so wealthy, mostly liberal white folks, and increasingly corporate America having bought into the story that black folks are victims.  Facts such as you present in your blog cut no ice and if you point any of this out, you are immediately labeled a racist. As an aside, my personal experience is that the US is one of the most racially harmonious countries I have experienced. 

Is there a way back from the brink? Is this movement large enough and does it have enough momentum to create serious harm to society? I frankly doubt it. There may be some small, yet visible changes such as the removal of statues and reform around the edges of the police. Defunding may happen to an extent and we will likely see crime rates increase. This will over time be explained away and certainly not relevant for the November election.

The real issue is what Sam Harris said in his famous pod cast you pointed out to me. We need a discussion. We don't have a discussion and there is in my view little prospect of having one in the short term. The 'news media' en bloc is being decidedly unhelpful in seeking clicks and eyeballs by sensationalizing and polarizing. The free wheeling social media with invective and extreme commentary only, without checks or balances, further inflames the situation. 

Can we get back to a discussion? I doubt it, regardless of the outcome in November. What I do think is that the 'silent majority' will increasingly ignore what is happening and get on with it. 

Mitch McConnell recently said, and I paraphrase; 'during my political life, this is the first time we are discussing the essence of America'. If the US steps away from this 'essence', we are opening the door wide for Mr. Xi.