Growing up in a communist regime was like living in a twilight zone where everything had gone topsy-turvy. If you’ve never been to a twilight zone, it is a most curious phenomenon. It comes into existence when in a certain country or a geographic location a blatantly false narrative takes hold of the collective psyche. The narrative of the twilight zone of my youth went roughly as follows: Socialism was the greatest socio-economic system ever devised while capitalism was very, very bad. The Soviet Union was a paradisiacal land of freedom, opportunity, prosperity and happiness. The United States, on the other hand, was a country of exploitation and oppression where most people were bound, destitute and miserable. This official
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Growing up in a communist regime was like living in a twilight zone where everything had gone topsy-turvy. If you’ve never been to a twilight zone, it is a most curious phenomenon. It comes into existence when in a certain country or a geographic location a blatantly false narrative takes hold of the collective psyche.
The narrative of the twilight zone of my youth went roughly as follows: Socialism was the greatest socio-economic system ever devised while capitalism was very, very bad. The Soviet Union was a paradisiacal land of freedom, opportunity, prosperity and happiness. The United States, on the other hand, was a country of exploitation and oppression where most people were bound, destitute and miserable. This official narrative was constantly and relentlessly promulgated from every quarter of our twilight zone: television, radio, textbooks, arts, newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, the narrative ran in complete contravention of reality. The actual truth was that socialism was no good. On the other hand, most people in the United States were free, quite prosperous and reasonably happy while the Soviet Union was pretty much an all-around hellhole.
Those who attempted to point out the truth or question the authorized storyline were promptly silenced, suppressed and punished. As a result of the swift and efficient censorship the false narrative prevailed and took a deep hold on the societal mind. And because it served as the paradigm for reality, it distorted and turned upside down almost every aspect of life: the good was bad and bad was good; white was black and black was white. The values and ethics in the twilight zone became inverted.
Escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, I thought I was done with twilight zones for good. But as I watched in amazement the events of the last three weeks, I saw something happen that I would have never dreamed possible: The United States has descended into a twilight zone of its own.
As with every twilight zone, America’s also came into existence as the result of a false narrative. This narrative runs thus: The United States of America is a racist country in which black people are oppressed and where systemic racism prevails. In America every non-black person is racist. This applies even to those who have never done or said anything that could be conceivably construed as racist. The racism of such people is unconscious – they simply cannot see it due to their white privilege.
As with the communist narrative of old, the claim that the United States is systemically racist and oppressive toward black people is completely false. This is something that should be readily obvious to every reasonable person. (In case there is doubt, we have discussed this matter at some length here.) Rather than being oppressed, black people in this country are given protections, resources, privileges and preferential treatment that the majority do not have. No society in world history has, in fact, done more for the advancement and upliftment of black people than the United States of America. And this includes all of the black countries and systems that ever existed.
The obvious fact that the US is not a racist nation was actually quite evident to most people until very recently. If a month ago someone seriously claimed that America is an institutionally racist country, he would have been viewed either as a professional race hustler or a far fringe crank. Today, amazingly enough, most of the media, corporate and athletic establishments and officials on all levels of government are proclaiming this very thing.
Out of the countless instances, let us just mention one. On June 5, the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement which read in part:
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”
We are not going to comment on the vacuousness of these words. We just note the paradox of this statement being made by the highest official in the NFL, which is a highly exclusive sports association in which 70 percent of players are black. But such paradoxes – along with truth in general – are lost on most people these days.
The speed with which the false narrative gained hold of the American psyche is truly astounding. As the racism claim was gaining its rapid hold on our collective mindset, we witnessed a corresponding frenzy of accusations and kneelings, prostrations, self-flagellation and repentance of white privilege. All this took place against a backdrop of much destruction and burning cities set ablaze by the “mostly peaceful” protesters. (Who still have to explain how looting boutiques and taking home armfuls of boxes of iPhones and Nikes furthers the cause of racial justice.)
All this drama is quite inexplicable, especially since the premise behind it is demonstrably false. It almost feels as along with COVID-19 we have also been affected by some strange malady which could only be called faux racism. This bug gets straight in the mind and makes people say things that are not true. It is extremely communicable as evidenced by its rapid spread into every sector of our society. The contagious strain was apparently spawned under the pressure and heat of the lockdown that transformed the bog of decades of racial demagoguery into a toxic mixture of combativeness and guilt in which all kinds of false claims and accusations flourish and thrive.
Today the bug is literally everywhere. Seeking a respite, the other day I headed over to Audible.com in hope of finding some wholesome title that would take the mind off the enveloping madness. No sooner than I landed on the homepage, I was in for a bad surprise. Right across the top of the website ran a big banner titled “Anti-racism listening list.” The message below read: “The fight for racial justice is up to all of us. If you’re not sure where to start, these listening recommendations can help.”
Nowhere on the list could one find Thomas Sowell’s excellent book Black Rednecks and White Liberals. In this book, Sowell – who is a brilliant black thinker and writer – documents the immense efforts and sacrifices made by the United States and the United Kingdom to end the practice of slavery across the world. (To get a quick idea, you can listen to chapter three of Sowell’s book for free here. It is a veritable tour de force, which, I believe, will be worth your while.)
The cost to the United States of doing away with slavery in terms of effort, treasure and life was incalculable. It was on the back of this that America was able to gradually fashion a system that today gives black people more rights, resources and privileges than other society in the history of civilization. Sadly, these days such little details and facts are not allowed into acceptable discourse. Instead, almost everyone seems to be suffering from a bad case of faux racism. Being under its spell we all now sound the same, repeat the same phrases and clichés, which ring both hollow and untrue. And the falsity of it all we either do not see it, or do not want to see it, or are afraid to admit.
Once in its grip a person quickly becomes a shadow of his former self. We could point to many examples, but we will highlight just a couple. Recently, Mitt Romney was filmed participating in one of the Black Lives Matter marches in Washington, DC. When asked why he was there, the Utah senator and former republican presidential candidate replied, “to end violence and brutality and to make sure that people understand that black lives matter.” What a sad sight it was. Co-opted by a movement built on untruths, a man who once used to have a measure of stature and presence suddenly seemed very small as he discharged his empty clichés from behind his mask. He almost looked like a caricature of those faceless marchers that used to come out en masse during May Day demonstrations in the Soviet Block. What happened to you, sir, one wanted to exclaim.
Or take Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, who grovelled pitifully before a woman standing over him in what looked like some open air tribunal set up by the rioters for doing away with the police. The woman confronts the mayor thus: “Jacob Frey, we have a yes or no question for you. Yes or no, will you commit to defunding Minneapolis Police Department?… We don’t want no more police. Is that clear?”
The lady-judge is obviously unaware that by policing black neighbourhoods across this nation the American law enforcement actually saves black lives. This has been shown recently by a black Harvard economist Roland Fryer who has done extensive research into the matter. You can read about this in a Wall Street Journal article titled “Good Policing Saves Black Lives.”
But as he is questioned by the Tribunal, Mayor Frey fails to point this out. Seeing him standing there in jeans and a t-shirt, scared and confused like some errant schoolboy, one could not but feel sorry for him. Afraid to give the response they do not want to hear, he tries his best to muffle the answer behind his little mask. But the crowd would have none of his waffling – they want to hear the answer loud and clear. With a microphone stuck into his face, there is no way out. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the mayor says: “I do not support full abolition of the Minneapolis Police Department.”
His words draw a firestorm of contempt and fury from the ireful crowd. “Get the f*** out of here!” he is promptly ordered. Jeered and ridiculed, he scampers away while the throng chants, “shame, go home, Jacob, go home.” As the hapless mayor makes his humiliating exist, the incensed assembly continues to yell, “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!…” Luckily for Frey, he manages to make off without injury although he does come very close to being physically assaulted on his way out.
But it is not merely that facts and truth must be expunged from public discourse. As in every twilight zone, those who dare to promulgate the truth – however mildly – must be swiftly punished and penalized. Take the latest example of a Vermont High School principal by the name of Tiffany Riley. Riley was fired from her job by the school officials for posting the following message on her Facebook page:
“I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I do not agree with the coercive measures taken to get this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.”
How can any sane person find anything sanction worthy in this perfectly reasonable and delicately worded expression of personal opinion? And yet at this time of extreme censorship and unbridled political correctness, making this statement cost Riley her job.
Sadly, she is only one of many. In case you are interested, you can peruse a list of some of the people who have lost their jobs, position and reputation for expressing their views here. Their “offenses” were as innocuous as that of Ms Riley. What a paradox: In the supposedly freest country on earth where free speech is protected by a constitutional amendment people are not allowed so much as to hint at the truth even in the mildest of terms.
What in the world has happened to us?
Welcome to Twilight Zone USA.