Columns

How the Left Is Using Americans' Empathy and Decency to Destroy Us

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A lot of people are upset and worried about how easy it was for the various state governments to perform illegal takings on the population by preventing businesses from operating or from operating normally for months on end, in the absence of an immediate and pressing emergency.

Yes, I know COVID-19 was presented as an immediate and pressing emergency. But presenting it as such doesn’t make it so.

Yes, it is dangerous, mostly to the very elderly and severely immune-compromised. Yes, it behooves a civilized society to protect those people.

Which we didn’t do. Instead, we treated the virus as though it were uniformly dangerous and just as likely to kill the family’s four-year-old as grandma. We closed schools (and re-opened a number of them as daycare centers), selectively closed stores (because apparently, the virus is far less dangerous in pot dispensaries than in bookstores, say), mandated ridiculously low occupancy for restaurants (anyone who has dined out in both NYC and anywhere out West knows that in the West our tables are already “distanced”) and generally set our hair on fire and ran around screaming that it hurts.

Which it very well should, because stupidity should hurt. Most Democrat-controlled states in fact seem to have gone out of their way to “make it hurt,” including Governor Newsom’s insistence that Californians not celebrate Thanksgiving.

I’ll be honest: Both this and the embrace of COVID-chic masks—even though there is no scientific evidence they work, and scientific evidence that they don’t is being actively suppressedhas me in a funk and has been very bad for my productivity (both fiction and non-fiction this year).

I’m mostly worried that the same media that has sold these stunts, and the absolute necessity for authoritarian government in America, will now sell the need to get rid of orangemanbad over the recession and unemployment the left themselves caused.

But unlike most of the commenters on my blog, I don’t think this means something very fundamental has changed about Americans.

Yes, Americans are in a panic and obeying nonsensical (mask) orders and outright harmful ones, like the closing of businesses that are no more or less harmful than the ones being left open.

But they’re not doing this because they are in a panic for themselves.

Sure, a few of them are. I’ve run across people who scream at me that I want to kill them. (Of course I don’t. Or at least not until they start throwing a fit over the fact that I’m walking outside without a mask, or perhaps telling them the world is not coming to an end over a respiratory virus. Depending on the intensity of the fit and how irrational it gets, sometimes I think wishfully about kicking their behind, though.)

But the majority of Americans aren’t complying with the crazy mandates because they fear for themselves. No. Most of them are doing it because they want to be nice or good. Specifically, they want to be nice or good to their fellow citizens.

I saw the moment at which people started obeying the mask mandate without question: It was when article after article and post after post told them they had to do it to “protect other people.” The nonsense of this, when you’re not showing any symptoms, and neither coughing nor sneezing, is obvious, but the media has made the whole thing insanely confusing and made everyone paranoid about other people’s breath.

They also lied outright about mask use in Asia, which is cultural but only when people are actually sick. Which is sane, just like wearing masks in the subway in NYC is sane if you might sneeze and both your hands are occupied. Which doesn’t speak at all to the usefulness (or sanity) of wearing masks while taking a walk with your close family, or perhaps driving all by yourself.

But most people aren’t analyzing it. The media has told them over and over again that failing to wear a mask might hurt other people.

And Americans are decent.

Yeah, I know, foreigners tell us we’re rude, brash, self-involved. But as someone who was a foreigner, and who’s been and lived many places all over the world, foreigners are wrong. Yes, American tourists can be annoying, but having lived in a country that got tourism from all over the world, all tourists can be/are annoying.

Moving to the U.S., living here, even before I naturalized, the one thing that stood out about America was its innate decency.

It’s not just the fact that the culture – except for those places and people who have gone utterly feral – generally respects property, but that in America people will go out of their way to help other people.

Look, one of my first shocks as an exchange student was that Americans put lights and ornaments outside their houses for Christmas. And no one steals them. For that matter, most houses don’t even have fences around them, not even a symbolic fence. And yet things, by and large, don’t walk away.

Even more amazing, though, are events like blackouts, which in the last 20 years happened without untoward incident, and with a great deal of mutual help. People don’t set out to attack or demand money for lodging from stranded office workers in NYC, say, and instead do their best to help them get home.

Or if you have a private emergency of any sort, there’s always someone willing to help. (Which often becomes a way to set a trap for the unwary traveler.) For instance, when our four-year-old lost his hat as we entered a grocery store and was crying his eyes out over it, the staff of the grocery store came over to ask what was wrong and ended up giving him a hat.

I can’t even begin to explain how unusual this is, even if we and the kid were known by sight to the staff. You’d have to live other places in the world to realize how strangely helpful and giving Americans are.

Which is the problem, of course, because the left is using our empathy and decency as a weapon against us.

Not just with COVID-19 restrictions, though those are obviously part of this. For instance, how have most churches been convinced to shut down and stop the free exercise of religion, except by convincing them to be “caring”?

But there are other profoundly bad ideas and policies that the left is selling us at the point of empathy.

For instance, since the lockdown, my city has started to resemble something like Beirut. Not just because of the mostly peaceful burning and looting, but because paste-eating Governor Jared Polis and his sidekick, the equally paste-eating and virtue-signaling mayor of Denver, have decided that the homeless will be allowed to camp on every sidewalk. They have also turned the convention center into a giant homeless shelter.

This kind of “empathy” is sold to people by showing how destitute these people are. And you hear stories about families with kids being “homeless.”

But anyone driving through downtown Denver is very aware that the homeless crowding every street (apparently coming from out of state) are not that kind of homeless. These are the people that New Yorkers complained about, the feral drug users, who will commit public indecency and attack passerby, as well as deface and vandalize their surroundings.

But the empathy you might feel toward families that have fallen on hard times – most of which find ready charity among churches and civic organizations, not to mention individuals and families – is weaponized to get you to tolerate what amounts to an invasion of our public spaces by a destructive army.

I guess the restauranteurs and shop owners who paid a high price for locations in downtown Denver aren’t worthy of our governor’s empathy and should check their privilege, as they shamble toward depending on charity.

In the same way, my church is very fond of preaching about “refugees” and how we should, of course, have open borders.

I appreciate that most religious training these days is infused with leftist platitudes, but I fail to understand how importing more and more people who are in fact unable to find work/fit in/prosper in our society is supposed to help them. Or us.

But you get told stories of poor families getting separated at the border, and shed a tear and give in to what is obviously a suicidal policy, one necessitating ever-higher and job-killing taxes in order to look after the “helpless” pouring over the border.

If you point out – rightly – that it’s actually impossible to provide for everyone in the world, or that by having people come in and immediately be dependent on the social net, you’re actually creating a permanently dependent underclass, you get told you’re heartless.

And the media will pour on more and more pictures of little children crossing the border.

Oh, and don’t even try to say that if you encourage people to come in with small children, you’re guaranteeing a lot of them will get killed on the journey. And a lot will get kidnapped from way-points to provide the adult with a way into the U.S.

You’ll be told you’re heartless and that you want children to die.

The problem with all this is that our empathy is being exploited for things that are not just objectively bad for us, but bad for everyone else.

For instance, as one of those vulnerable to COVID-19 – asthma, history of pneumonia, childhood TB – you’d think I’d be one of those being protected by other people’s masks. I cannot wear a mask for any length of time without bringing on an asthma attack. However, instead of getting told that “it’s all right, other people are wearing them, you don’t have to,” I get told that I should stay locked at home/shop from home/never come out. Which… besides a gross violation of the ADA is also a contributor to depression.

And I’m not the only one. All those people that you’re required to wear a mask for are also being forced to wear a mask, or stay locked up forever.

All the “refugees” we’re admitting will be living in worse conditions than the ones they left behind if we allow our “empathy” to let everyone in to subsist on welfare and vote themselves bread and circuses. 

The homeless being given the run of cities and fed largess from local charities – the chronic homeless, who are mostly addicts and victims of mental illness – will just spiral further, while destroying the property and livelihood of people around them.

No one wins from this kind of weaponized empathy. There are only losers. Mostly because weaponized empathy is meant to short-circuit your logic and make you act in ways you know are nonsensical and counterproductive.

This is the “vote for us or we’ll set fire to more people’s businesses” type of empathy the left is pushing on us.

And we’re falling for it. Which is worrisome.

They couldn’t take over America by weaponizing envy, so they are doing it by weaponizing decency.

If they manage to take control of the country, you’ll have the Green New Deal slammed down your throat with stories of islanders losing their homes and livelihoods to “climate change.” (Which, mysteriously, always spares places like Martha’s Vineyard. Go figure.) Or stories of Africans losing their agricultural production to droughts. There will be no explanation of why you’re only allowed electricity two hours a day. It will be all “Do it, or someone will suffer.”

My question is, how long will the West agree to commit suicide in order to be polite?

How long will America submit to the demands of rude, immature Marxists, who tell you “it’s only polite” and “be considerate”?

And will it be long enough to kill us?