Also read my article “France: Here Comes the Whitewash“
Homer: Hey! What’s the problem here?
Lisa: We were fighting over which one of us loves you more.
Homer (touched): You were? (sniff) Aww. Well, go ahead.
Bart (pushing Lisa): You love him more!
Lisa (pushing Bart) No, you do!
Bart: No, I don’t!
Lisa: Yes, you do!
— The Simpsons, “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”
In a recent article, Bruce Bawer reminds us of Tom Wolfe’s famous 1970 article, later a book, ridiculing the Park Avenue penthouse party of Leonard Bernstein, where various stars from stage, screen, and television came together to celebrate the Black Panther Party.
Bawer compares that party to a recent meeting at the Jewish Community Center in New York to combat “Islamophobia” in a way that whitewashed the real threat posed by revolutionary Islamism. In each case, well-to-do people thinking of themselves as highly virtuous and as showing their “love” for freedom and tolerance were being manipulated by a political movement that would like to destroy them, as well as the United States itself.
Bawer’s piece is excellent. But on reading it I realized that he was thinking too small. The true contemporary parallel to the Bernstein party is not to some event of a few hundred people on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It is to all of America.
At the 1970 party, the Panthers’ representatives complained that they were being stigmatized as criminals when, as Bawer summarized it, they were really ”a peaceable group whose real concerns were indicated by the clinics and children’s breakfast programs.”
You know, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The Panthers’ speaker continued:
We recognize that this country is the most oppressive country in the world, maybe in the history of the world. The pigs have the weapons and they are ready to use them on the people … ready to commit genocide against those who stand up against them. … All we want is the good life, the same as you. To live in peace and lead the good life, that’s all we want.
The individuals present then gave big contributions to a racist, antisemitic, violent, anti-democratic revolutionary movement.
Fast-forward to today. Bawer describes — based on an eyewitness account by Phyllis Chesler — the Islamophobia event chaired by instant network television personality Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the current secretary of state and the previous president. The audience is, like their Bernstein predecessors, made up of “upper-class” New Yorkers engaged in “narcissism and self-congratulation, shameless social climbing … and a truly repellent condescension toward the purported prejudices (read: legitimate concerns) of the lower orders.”
He concludes by pointing out that the Bernstein party was ridiculed by the media of the time, while no major newspaper would dare do the same to the equivalent events today.
All of this is valid. And yet there is something far bigger, far more important. It cannot be called the elephant in the room, but rather the brontosaurus in the room: contemporary America is one big radical chic party.
It is not a composer throwing the party in his New York penthouse, but the president of the United States throwing the party in the White House. It is not the invited guests who are making contributions of a few thousand dollars, but the uninvited taxpayers who are forking over trillions.
There are times today when the federal government seems to have been transformed into a left-wing foundation whose duty is to fund everything from ACORN to “public” television and radio, Planned Parenthood, and “green energy” scams. At the time of the Bernstein party, the issue was whether women could have legal access to abortions. Now it is a demand that “access” means everyone pays for free contraceptives and even abortions.
Readers can fill out this description with hundreds of specific examples. Radical, pro-crime rap artists are entertaining at the White House; a Bernstein party-era terrorist launched the career of the current president and shaped school curricula; a minister who sounds like the Black Panthers in terms of ideology was the mentor of the chief executive. Of course, there is also radical hegemony in the mass media, universities, and Hollywood.
And the perfect parallel is that the very same Black Panthers, albeit in their new incarnation, enjoy the patronage and protection — as Christian Adams has shown — of the attorney general of the United States. In 1970, the Panthers were complaining, sometimes falsely and sometimes truly, about police harassment. Today, they have been allowed to threaten voters openly and get away with it.
You don’t need a Weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, or a Black Panther for that matter. To hear that the United States “is the most oppressive country in the world, maybe in the history of the world,” is something you can do in almost every university and quite a lot of secondary schools and even primary schools throughout the United States.
To be told that “the pigs have the weapons and they are ready to use them on the people … ready to commit genocide against those who stand up against them,” is a line from the Occupy movement, which enjoys the patronage of the president of the United States, the “liberal” (i.e., camouflaged radical) establishment, and the mass media.
The idea that wonderful saintly people are accused of being terrorist extremists whereas they are actually just “a peaceable group” running “clinics and children’s breakfast programs” is now applied to the Muslim Brotherhood and other revolutionary Islamists.
And if you believe all of this, if you think the current direction of the United States is truly wonderful, you are more likely to be — to use Bawer’s phrases — full of “narcissism and self-congratulation” that you are virtuously helping the poor and fighting global warming; engaged in “shameless social climbing,” since you are echoing the views that will make you seem intellectual and sophisticated; and engaging in “a truly repellant condescension toward the purported prejudices (read: legitimate concerns) of the lower orders,” in other words, those unwashed masses who cling to their guns, religion, and bigotry.
What could be more ironic than the use of profoundly reactionary attitudes of class snobbishness to wage a class war; to harness upper-class arrogance in the supposed service of fairness; and to disguise base self-interest as altruistic virtue?
To comprehend the true horror of the current situation, one merely needs to compare the (relatively marginal, powerless, and ridiculed) activists and hippies of the 1960s with the well-financed, media-celebrated, hegemonic radicalism of our era.
The truth is that outside of the Bernstein penthouse, to oppose the Vietnam war and to be a dissident in the 1960s — whether rightly or wrongly — took some courage. You would almost never get a fair shake in the mass media, would be called all sorts of names, and suffer social isolation or even material punishment.
Today, asking a voter show proof of his identity is close to being declared a hate crime, the situation is the exact opposite.
Indeed, it is even worse, for two reasons.
First: the professional ethics, sense of fair play, and other factors constraining discrimination and vengeance against political dissenters that existed in the 1960s and 1970s have largely disappeared.
Second: the level of power attained by those whose ideas are in control is far more complete, and unlike their predecessors, they have neither a sense of guilt nor any sense that they might be wrong. In other words, there is less permissible political diversity today in elite institutions than there was in 1970.
These were the comparisons that shocked me as I compared those relatively innocent days when a single writer made fun of a few dozen silly rich people at a cocktail party for applauding terrorists, revolutionaries, and an ideology that would destroy America’s prosperity and democracy to today, when most mass media, academia, and even U.S. government officials are doing so.
And Raymond Ibrahim is to be praised for starting a monthly report on the persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority societies, something the EU, UN, and U.S. government and the Western mass media ignores. It is a most impressive list.