Friday, January 8, 2016

When Will The Perpetually Dissatisfied Be Satisfied

It should not be controversial to state that the United States is the greatest country in the world.  It is far from perfect.  However, it surpasses every other nation in its level of tolerance and the benefits it offers.  Our underclass suffers far more fatalities from obesity than starvation.  A high percentage of them have cell phones.  According to the Census Bureau 22,000 people living in “poverty” have a heated swimming pools or Jacuzzi.  Poor neighborhoods have an abundance of beauty salons and liquor stores although they may be supermarket and hardware store deserts. 

There are few countries that are more tolerant of homosexuals, where women have a higher status, or where blacks have a higher standard of living and acceptance.  Yet there are few places where the level of discontent has reached such a high level.  What is the origin of this discontent?  Vladimir Lenin might provide the answer:

There is no single segment of the industrial society, no class in the population without a circle, however small, of discontented and maladjusted and alienated individuals-predisposed target audiences for radical hate propaganda-who can be hooked up to a revolutionary mass movement.

Much of this discontent is manufactured by “community organizers.”

It appears that people are often protesting for the sake of protesting.  In the classic movie, The Wild One, the character played by Marlon Brando is asked, “Hey Johnny what are you rebelling against?”  His response was, “Whadda Ya Got?”  This is similar to 1960s radical Jerry Rubin’s statement, “Satisfy our demands, and we’ve got twelve more.  The more demands you satisfy, the more we got.”

Recent college protests are reminiscent of the protests of the 1960’s.  The establishment responses to these protests are also similar.  Students make “non-negotiable demands” and the administration immediately caves in.  Homosexuals have protested for the acceptance of homosexual marriage and a variety of other homosexual demands.  Black Lives Matter has not only protested against police brutality but against place names and statues of historical figures.  Accusations of racism elicit fear similar to the results of charges of witchcraft in 17th century Salem.

These protests have achieved a high level of success as they did in the colleges and universities of the 1960s.  Protesters are aware of the weakness of their opposition.  David Horowitz, who took part in the protests of the 1960s, stated, “In our attacks on the ‘repressive’ institutions of the university culture, we were pushing largely on open doors.”  Sociologist Edward Shils wrote in Dreams of Plentitude, Nightmares of Scarcity, “Where authority abdicates through failures, ineptitude, and weakened self-confidence, it invites aggression against itself.” If this weakness were confined to the universities it would be bad enough.  However, it appears that this weakness has permeated our entire society. Alexander Solzhenitsyn has remarked, “from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end.”

At some point the answer to “Whadda Ya Got?” becomes a problem.  The universities have acceded to every demand and protesters have run out of legitimate issues to protest.  What else can be demanded?  Here is where it becomes Kafkaesque.  Students at Oberlin College in Ohio are protesting what they consider poor efforts at multicultural cooking.  They are accusing the campus dining department and Bon Appétit Management Company of “cultural appropriation and cultural insensitivity.”  Students from the Afrikan Heritage House are demanding more fried chicken.  Other students protested the fact that General Tso’s chicken was made with steamed instead of fried poultry.  Michele Gross, Oberlin’s director of dining services, responded, “in our efforts to provide a vibrant menu, we recently fell short in the execution of several dishes in a manner that was culturally insensitive.”  Harvard will no longer use the term “House Master” to describe those people who are in charge of the residential and educational facilities called “Houses.”  In the view of the protesters the term “master” evokes slavery, and thus must go.  Harvard quickly acceded to their demand.  Harvard’s House Masters unanimously agreed that the title was offensive.

Where does it end?  It does not.  As Jerry Rubin stated, “Satisfy our demands, and we’ve got twelve more.”  We have already witnessed the removal of many religious symbols.  There have been large protests over the celebration of Columbus Day.  There have been several incidents where the American flag has been banned or burned due to its offensive nature.  Even the name of the nation’s capital might need modification.  After all, is it not named after a slave owner?    

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