As Steyn wrote in After America, James Cameron’s class warfare-inspired revisionism notwithstanding, the men on the Titanic a century ago in 1912 “had barely an hour to kiss their wives goodbye, watch them clamber into the lifeboats, and sail off without them. The social norm of ‘women and children first’ held up under pressure.” Flash-forward to the present day:
Today, in what Harvey Mansfield calls our “gender-neutral society,” there are no social norms. Eight decades after the Titanic, a German-built ferry en route from Estonia to Sweden sank in the Baltic Sea. Of the 1,051 passengers, only 139 lived to tell the tale. But the distribution of the survivors was very different from that of the Titanic. Women and children first? No female under fifteen or over sixty-five made it. Only 5 percent of all women passengers lived. The bulk of the survivors were young men. Forty-three percent of men aged 20 to 24 made it.
No two ship disasters are the same, but the testimony from the MV Estonia provides a snapshot of our new world: according to the Finnish Accident Investigation Board’s official report, several survivors reported that “everyone was only looking out for himself.” According to a Swedish passenger, Kent Harstedt, “A woman had broken her legs and begged others to give her a life jacket, but it was the law of the jungle.” “Some old people had already given up hope and were just sitting there crying,” said Andrus Maidre, a 19-year-old Estonian. “I stepped over children who were wailing and holding onto the railing.”
You “stepped over” children en route to making your own escape? There wasn’t a lot of that on the Titanic. “There is no law that says women and children first,” Roger Kohen of the International Maritime Organization told Time magazine. “That is something from the age of chivalry.”
If, by “the age of chivalry,” you mean the early twentieth century.
Only a few decades later, unreality began to assert itself. In 2004, UCLA reported, “FDR’s policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate.” That didn’t stop liberal politicians calling for precisely those policies in May of 2008, even before the economy tanked that fall (a confluence of events that included liberal energy and housing policies), which is why even Paul Krugman is forced to praise the economic benefits of World War II to justify Keynesianism. (And even that assumption is likely unwarranted, some less epistemically closed economists argue.)
Only through repeated election losses have liberals begun to back off from their 1970s through 1990s efforts at gun control. Environmentalism began in the early 1970s as an attempt to create a Soviet-style false consciousness among the middle class, only to collapse into Al Gore’s world of unhealthy twisty bulbs and Obama’s failed venture socialism.
And decades after disastrous experimentation with free love, as Stacy McCain recently quipped, “Young folks have discovered a kinky new sexual phenomenon: If a man places his penis inside a woman’s vagina, she can have a baby.”
In Roger Kimball’s new book The Fortunes of Permanence, he quotes Jean-François Revel (1924-2006), French journalist and philosopher:
The history of philosophy can be divided into two different periods. During the first, philosophers sought the truth; during the second, they fought against it.
In May, even the Washington Post admitted, “20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms.”
Is that timeline typical? In any case, I wonder if we can estimate how long it typically takes after a new left-wing meme takes hold before reality reasserts itself.
Related: Michael Graham on Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s Catch-22 — attack Chick-fil-A on their stance on gay marriage, even while supporting his local multimillion-dollar mega-mosque and imam, who advocates that every infidel must get stoned. “If I had to send an angry, outraged letter to either Chick-Fil-A (we don’t support gay marriage) or the Islamic Society of Boston (we support stoning gay people), I think I’d make a different choice than Mayor Menino did.”
But then, as Michael Walsh writes in his PJ Media column, “When the Fairness & Tolerance crowd drops the mask, it’s never a pretty sight.”
* Though I must say, Glenn’s even newer book sounds particularly tasty…