Regular readers know that I subscribe to the philosophy that history is rarely made by great men and women. Instead, history is more typically the culmination of decades or centuries of day-to-day decisions made in day-to-day scenarios by people living out their day-to-day lives. These decisions ebb and flow through culture until reaching a kind of criticality when they take on a life of their own. Then there is no use in fighting. It’s a done deal. Smart pols and those with few core values get on the train. They know that the train is running at breakneck speed and won’t even register a blip on the speedometer when it bumps your complaining rear off the track. So president Obama evolves mid-stream on same-sex marriage and senators flip back and forth and back again on the Middle East. It’s how things work.
Any Rand has said that a people deserve their government. In her acerbic way she reiterates this view of history. For two centuries, East Indians acquiesced to British rule. Uprisings were quelled with military precision. But each uprising added to a slow but growing movement for self-rule. The movement grew over decades until Gandhi spearheaded a cultural revolution. There is no question of Gandhi’s importance but he rode a century old wave that was already roiling. Gandhi was the right man for the time but if it wasn’t Gandhi then someone else would have filled those shoes.
To Trump. Amidst whatever cultural ills we propagated either willfully or tacitly in my grandparent’s generation, as a whole, the culture was polite and courteous. Certainly people had strong opinions and strong disagreements. No doubt some people called detractors fat pigs and horrible, stupid people. It’s true that people got in fights and some were murdered. But a general level of courtesy was expected in public that we no longer enjoy. Blame the internet, blame cable TV, or blame the NEA for no longer requiring that children start the day by respecting Old Glory – blame whomever you want – but we have elevated bad language and bad manners to celebrity status. You might not have, and I might not have (or have I?) but how many people winced just hearing the word ‘pussy’ on television. Or seeing it here in internet print? How many vowed to never watch Trump again when he repeatedly calls out a female celebrity as a ‘fat pig’? When did this become acceptable? How many lines have we crossed when Trump announces repeatedly and with impunity that Miss X isn’t good looking enough for him to molest? Are you kidding. How sad.
Sorry. No cheers today.