Everyone seems to be writing about incivility these days—and no wonder. To some, Donald Trump is the poster child of the uncivil. Relishing the moment when people are bluntly told that they no longer have a job (and marketing that moment for many to enjoy privately who publicly disapprove), drifting from one supermodel-wife to another, slapping price tags on exquisite landscapes and seeking to deface them with hotels and casinos, the Trumpster has become a living caricature of the Ugly American. His quondam henchman Corey Lewandowski, for good measure, has been accused of molestation by no fewer than two exponents of rightwing views. And let us not forget the boorish remarks and Tweets about Carly Fiorina’s looks, Marco Rubio’s height, Ted Cruz’s honesty, etc., etc. Again, all of that sniping took place well within the right side of the aisle.
But if one has a bit of class, one shows the impressionable how to take the high road—whereas the Left has exploited the “Trump pretext”, it seems to me, to unleash a war on every last vestige of civilization observable in our lives. Of course, I remember the Sixties. Hairy people in scant clothes with an insuperable aversion to soap are nothing new. But the Hippies, besides, were distinctly non-violent as a group (perhaps thanks to a little chemical inducement). While not zealots for hygiene, they also didn’t leave feces on cop cars or in mailboxes. Antifa is something new under our post-civilizational sun.
New, as well, are incidents involving public attacks on public figures that stop just short of deadly force (or cross the line, if you include the shooting of Steve Scalise and several other U.S. senators). I cannot recall another occasion during my six and a half decades of life when anybody—even an accused pervert or convicted murderer released from jail—was hounded out of a restaurant or mobbed at a movie theater or treated to damp projectiles while quietly visiting with friends and family. No, this kind of thing has never happened before. Not here: maybe in Paris of the Thirties, where fascist thugs would openly beat up citizens on street corners for being too “wimpy”.
Fascism: the Trump camp is supposed to bear that banner, with its outright loathing of “wimpiness” in all varieties. But here’s where things get convoluted (or go helter-skelter, as Charles Manson would say): the wimpy side—people of indeterminate sexuality, people wearing vagina hats, people who hug trees—are now the pool of candidates from which street thugs are recruited. The card-carrying NRA members, despite the mainstream media’s best efforts to cast them in contrary roles, are moms and dads whose most terroristic activity is to make their children do their homework. The Squishy Left has usurped the part of the nihilistic, antinomian urban guerilla… or urban gorilla, if you prefer.
To be historically honest, this isn’t really a Blue Moon event, either. In their days of infancy, if not throughout their lifespan, both Bolshevism and Nazism had strong ties with sexual deviancy and featured a cult-level hostility to traditional faith. The deified Che was certainly a scintillant piece of work. His own mentors in the art of mass-murder were disturbed by the prurient fascination he showed in those moments when a victim’s final sparks of life bled out. That Guevara and Manson are two of the dark saints adored by people whose attention to their genitalia dictates a luxurious, pain-fleeing life is a profound paradox with which, collectively, we have yet to come to grips. Did sadism bring an orgasmic satisfaction to the two psychopaths… or does the mushy lifestyle of the Sybarite conceal inclinations known to the sadist?
Even as an individual, I’m not sure I get it… and now the phenomenal paradox, admittedly nothing new on a broad scale, is rising exponentially in our stressed republic. Let me frame the conundrum this way: why are the best educated people who hail from areas of greatest affluence most likely to scream obscenities and coprologisms in public as they “demand” the utter breakdown of rational order? Why does the cultivation of the mind in our society cause us (the young of our socio-economic elite, especially) to lose our minds?
Why do women who demand that mink and ermine no longer be slaughtered for their fur also demand the right to slaughter their own fetuses? Why do people who demand that children not be parted from their parents also demand that “stereotypes” of the traditional nuclear family be expunged from textbooks? Why do people who demand that guns be banned also threaten to rape commentators on the issue’s other side or to kidnap and brutalize their children?
I don’t have answers that completely satisfy me. I suppose insanity, by definition, is inexplicable in rational terms. But the escalation of this mass-insanity to a force that begins to have political clout is little short of terrifying. Why don’t I just slap you in the face the next time we meet? Well, because a certain mutual respect operates within civil societies… because sane adults do not resolve disagreements with physical violence (if skin color or a cap’s logo can constitute a disagreement)… because the slightest particle of spirituality should inform me that I’m not without flaws, either… and finally (if I’m too close to the animal state for any of the foregoing to gain traction), because I’ll go to jail for assault. But maybe I’ll get off, if I scream “Nazi!” and “Racist!” loud enough. If I play one of our numerous get-out-of-jail cards, I can practically commit murder.
Where do these cards come from? Why do we accept their paper as currency? Why is it that a certain nexus of guilt-ridden ideas drives us to suppress our indignation when A walks up and spits on B out of the blue?
Is it a phenomenon of the Electronic Age—do we simply no longer connect with the Other as sharing the essential elements of the Self? Or is it a product of childhood neglect, nourished both by smartphones and by AWOL parents, which allows any exhibitionist act a free pass? Or could it be the predestined abyss of worldly affluence that drives the wealthiest man in the world to death traps like Everest and Antarctica in search of a new pleasure… or in search of that forgotten spice of life, pain?
I don’t know. And I’m not sure that knowing would make any difference. This seems to be a disease for which there is no cure other than anguishing affliction rewarded by a lifelong immunity in rare cases of survival.