Understanding America’s “Ministry of Truth” requires coping with the tenacity of The Narrative, the academic sources that created it, and its outcomes in the format of “news,” which inundates citizens in a fashion reminiscent of George Orwell’s famous quip about Soviet commissars—“half gangster, half gramophone.”
Unfortunately, The Narrative’s relentless ubiquity is poisoned by its transmitters’ arrogance and lack of accountability.
“It was Rudyard Kipling,” journalist Roger Kimball recently stated in an article for Spectator, “who supplied his cousin Stanley Baldwin with the famous denunciation of the irresponsible press as wielding ‘Power without responsibility—the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’”
It’s the power of the harlot that interests us presently, because those who violate her demands are flung into a purgatory where Crime and Punishment—to borrow Dostoyevsky’s famous title—are assigned and inflicted with the passionate attention of a prison guard.
Any passing experience with the decades of media accounts about those who run afoul of The Narrative yields two basic crimes that trigger the wrath of its custodian commissars:racism and heresy. Racism is a conceptual holding company bulging with -isms and phobias, such as sexism, homo- and trans-phobia, microaggressions, cultural appropriations, myriads of other deprecations, along with—who knows?—skipping tire rotation on your car or failing to floss regularly.
Doesn’t matter—crimes require punishment, though not all criminals receive the same treatment.
This point is more easily understood by recognizing that progressivism is a secular cult whose acolytes treat individuals in terms of their relationship to The Narrative. Notable public figures with guts and determination face accusation, defamation, and occasionally threats of violence and loss of employment; others go through a three-step protocol, involving confession, apology, and mandatory absolution. In the final analysis, keepers of The Narrative inflict as much retribution as they can get away with.
One of the best examples in the notable public-figure category involves Heather Mac Donald, whose (very shortened) biography reads that she is “the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a New York Times bestselling author. She is a recipient of the 2005 Bradley Prize. … Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The New Criterion.”
Mac Donald has written several books, including “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture,” published this year, and “The War on Cops,” published in 2016 about race-based attacks on the criminal-justice system.
An articulate and widely respected professional, Mac Donald has degrees from Yale University and Cambridge University in English, and a juris doctor from Stanford University Law School. Her public-speaking career has involved bizarre experiences, which are unfortunately familiar to those who’ve challenged The Narrative at its source—the campus.
Mac Donald’s impressive credentials mattered not one iota when she appeared at the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College in 2017.
The “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald” needed to be “shut down,” screamed Facebook posts.
Another sober-minded statement from America’s national chinwag engine huffed, “We, students of color at the Claremont Colleges … CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.”
Apparently, these seriocomic savants were reacting to the doctorate she had received from The Berlin Institute of Aryan Supremacy in 1936 when she was minus 20 years old. Which is another way of saying that these accusations were so preposterous, so unhinged from reality, that they would all be laughable if the occasion were not so serious and widespread.
But narrative watchdogs possess neither a sense of humor nor compassionate understanding, a lesson learned the hard way by several unsuspecting sports’ figures during the 2018 baseball season.
The 3-Step Protocol
For instance, one Fox News headline illustrates the dire straits a baseball pitcher, blindsided by accusations irrelevant to his performance on the mound, found himself in: “Brewers All-Star Josh Hader avoids suspension, to attend sensitivity training over old tweets.” The “old tweets” in question dated to his teenage years, when he mouthed some derogatory comments about black people and homosexuals.
The Protocol sprang into action with a vengeance—confession, apology, and mandatory absolution. Hader confessed that “as a child I was immature. I said some things that are inexcusable. … There’s no excuse for what was said.”
Actually, there was an excuse and he just gave it: He was a teenager at the time and teenagers have been known to make intemperate remarks about race, homosexuality, women, ethnicities, their parents, classmates—practically everything.
The question remains why he was forced to endure The Protocol, while a rabid anti-white racist like Sarah Jeong, hired by the New York Times to work with its editorial staff, remained exempt. All Hader wanted to do was play the game, not trigger a firestorm of controversy over comments he rightfully dismissed.
Unfortunately, even if “the game” involves the ordinary exchange of pleasantries among individuals who disagree with each other, attention must always be focused on who says what to whom about whom.
Actor and producer Mark Duplass discovered this the hard way when he offered a few kind remarks in a tweet about an ideological rival, Ben Shapiro. Duplass wrote in a tweet: “Fellow liberals: If you are interested at all in ‘crossing the aisle,’ you should consider following @benshapiro. I don’t agree with him on much but he’s a genuine person who once helped me for no other reason than to be nice. He doesn’t bend the truth. His intentions are good.”
Much of the tweet storm reaction to his post is unprintable, but suffice it to say that Duplass got the point and in the process illustrated the three stages of The Protocol:
“So that tweet was a disaster on many levels. I want to be clear that I in no way endorse hatred, racism, homophobia, xenophobia or any such form of intolerance. My goal has always been to spread unity, understanding, and kindness. But I am going to make mistakes along the way.
“Sometimes I move too quickly when I get excited, or fail to do enough research, or I don’t communicate myself clearly. I’m really sorry. I now understand that I need to be more diligent and careful. … I want to say thank you to those who reached out with constructive criticism. I have genuinely learned so much and wish everyone all the best.”
Game, set, match: Heresy confessed, apology rendered, absolution complete. Lesson learned, defenders of The Narrative win again.
But for how long? Indefinitely. There is a creed to safeguard, after all—even if its proponents seem unaware of what they’re defending. In fact, The Narrative’s loyalists seem clueless about historical precedents. Our next task will be to review what this means.
Marvin Folkertsma is a retired professor of political science and a fellow for American studies with the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. The author of several books, his latest release is a novel titled “The Thirteenth Commandment.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.