The other night, my wife and I went out to dinner with friends. At the restaurant, when everyone sat down, I remained standing. “My wife,” I exclaimed loudly, “is rude, mean, and stupid. She needs to change; she needs to become a better person. I am making this announcement because I want her to change to be a better person. I want you to all keep an eye on her and criticize her when she does something wrong. Just like I do.” I then sat down. Needless to say, I slept on the guest bed that night. And many nights after that.
Now my good friends know that story isn’t true. I would never treat my wife with such disrespect. I love her. I do want her to be a better person, just like I want to be a better person myself. But I wouldn’t announce that in a public place. I don’t think that would help her in any way. Or help me.
Conservatives would laugh at the story. They would see that the protagonist (me) had made a fool of himself while attempting to do just the opposite. What would progressives do? I think that most progressives would be angry at the protagonist for his sexist behavior, and insist that he be chastised. That the restaurant patrons loudly express their disdain for him. That the restaurant owners remove him from the establishment and ban him forever. How do I know this? Because this has happened time and time again in recent years, whether it was Harvard President Larry Summers, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or most recently the forced resignation of the president of the Tokyo Olympics.
But what if this story was an allegory? What if the protagonist in the story was an Olympic athlete or soccer player or football player? What if the wife in the story was the United States of America? And the announcement was made not at a restaurant, but to the entire world via the press? What if the protagonist kneeled while the national anthem played and then held press conferences explaining that he or she wanted to shame America into changing for the better?
In that example, progressives would tell me that the protagonist was showing love for his wife. That he was exercising his First Amendment right to make his wife a better person. That she would only improve herself if the public knew what a bad person she was, so that everyone could help her change. To become a better person. But of course, progressives see the world through some distorting house of mirrors. In their world, rioters burning buildings, attacking police, and killing innocent bystanders is a peaceful protest, but a raucous crowd in the U.S. Capitol building is “the worst insurrection in American history” (except for that really big war a while back).
When the protagonist is a conservative, or just a white male, the disrespect is evil. When the protagonist is a member of a minority or “protected group,” the same disrespectful behavior is somehow heroic.
These progressives confuse the right to do something with the appropriateness and effectiveness of doing something. I have the right to embarrass my wife publicly, but does that make it appropriate? Or effective? Similarly, is it appropriate, or effective, for a multimillionaire athlete to publicly disrespect the country that gave him or her the opportunities to be successful—where someone regardless of race, gender, or economic class can strive and, through hard work and determination, succeed financially, academically, physically, artistically, or in any way they desire?
Is America perfect? No one claims it is. But it is continually improving, and that’s why America’s principles are so important. And deserve respect. By honoring the Constitution. By honoring the military forces and police forces that protect us and our values. And by calling out pompous, conceited, pampered, wealthy celebrities who take full credit for their own success but ignore the principles of our society that allowed them to break barriers and achieve that success.
Feel free to criticize any administration, any party, and specific bureaucracy, or even a particular politician or leader, but don’t criticize the system of government that has enabled more people to escape poverty, more people to escape repression, and more people to make better lives for themselves and their children than any other in history. It’s not appropriate. Or effective.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.