Belmont Club

When good people turn bad

Two stories illustrate what happens when people who are expected to do “liberal” things suddenly turn around and succeed using politically incorrect means. The first concerns Ben Chavis,”the highly unorthodox principal of Oakland, California’s American Indian Public Charter School, which was hailed as an ‘education miracle’ by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after it was transformed from a failing ‘nuisance’ into one of the best public middle schools in the nation.” The problem is that Dr. Chavis accomplished this by going back to the basics. “With his rigorous, no-nonsense approach, Dr. Ben Chavis debunks the myth that poor, minority, inner-city schools have little chance at academic excellence. Focusing on back-to-basics ideals, he has created a structured educational model that, combined with the enthusiasm of his students and teachers, delivers astounding results.”

The second involves the hapless CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, who had the temerity to point out that his company’s approach promised to work better than the proposed Obamacare. Rather than rejoice in Mackey’s success at providing health coverage for his employees, some patrons were upset that he did in a way that contradicted the model proposed by President Obama.

“I will never shop there again,” vowed Joshua, a 45-year-old blogger, who asked that his last name not be published. Like many of his fellow health food fanatics, Joshua said he will no longer patronize the store after learning about Whole Foods Market Inc.’s CEO John Mackey’s views on health care reform, which were made public this week in an op-ed piece he wrote for The Wall Street Journal.

A special kind of venom is reserved for “race traitors” or renegades who have the insolence to think for themselves. Whether you are a black man being beaten by union goons for daring to oppose Obamacare or an organic food CEO who objects to a health care plan that will bankrupt the country when it doesn’t have to, the penalties for not getting with the program are severe. What they should have done is succeeded secretly using the politically incorrect means and then announced they had used the correct methods. For to be forthright in these matters is often lethal. In Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the narrator learns that it is better to live the lie than to die for the truth.

Ivan was imprisoned in the forced labor camp for the crime of high treason. During World War II, the Germans captured a great many Soviet soldiers. Ivan was one. However, he escaped and returned to his own lines. The Soviets believed he lied about escaping and was really spying for the Germans. Ivan realized if he told the truth, he’d be shot, but if he lied and said he was a spy, he’d be sent to prison. When one lie is stacked upon another, the light of truth is obscured. This is what happened under the tyranny of Josef Stalin, the Soviet leader — the vast majority of the Soviet people became accomplices to lies.

For the disappointed patrons of Whole Foods, it may have been preferable if Mackey had simply failed nobly; or barring that succeeded secretly and allowed a falsehood to go forward. The truth only helps those who are prepared to go free. For those who prefer the lie, truth is only an inconvenient mirror, best shattered when it fails to distort.

Tip Jar or Subscribe for $5