OUR EYE OF SAURON
A definition of totalitarianism might be the saturation of every facet of daily life by political agendas and social-justice messaging.
At the present rate, America will soon resemble the dystopias of novels such as 1984 and Brave New World, in which the All-Seeing Social Justice Eye penetrates all aspects of our lives with an ideology of coerced sameness.
Or rather, the prevailing orthodoxy in America is the omnipresent attempt of an elite — exempt from the consequences of its own ideology thanks to its supposed superior virtue and intelligence — to mandate an equality of result.
We expect their 24/7 political messaging on cable-channel news networks, talk radio, or print and online media. And we concede that long ago an NPR, CNN, MSNBC, or New York Times ceased being journalistic entities as much as obsequious megaphones of the progressive itinerary.
But increasingly we cannot escape anywhere the lidless gaze of our progressive lords, the Eye of Sauron all-knowing from high up in their dark towers.
The Peter Strzok–Lisa Page texts, along with the careers of former FBI director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, reveal a politicized and in rotten FBI hierarchy, beholden far more to its own exalted sense of a progressive self than merely to investigating crimes against the people.
Lois Lerner was a clumsy reflection of how the IRS long ago became weaponized in service to auditing deplorables. Former CIA director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper used their supposedly nonpartisan positions to further political agendas. That each in his own way is clownish does not mitigate their rank efforts to graft intelligence agencies onto political causes.
The same deterioration is true of many in the Department of Justice, who, along with the FBI, misled FISA-court justices, as if that were the only, or perhaps the easiest, way to obtain politically driven surveillance on U.S. citizens.
Americans now are woke to the reality that straying too much into the forbidden zone guarantees that their communications can be monitored on the pretense that they’re colluding with some nefarious power.
Yet if foreigners are the menace, why did our proverbial best and brightest traffic with a paid foreign spy at election time to sabotage a political campaign, then trump even the improper use of electronic surveillance with the insertion of paid informants?
Google, Facebook, and Twitter are facing accusations of censoring social-media accounts and massaging Internet searches according to their progressive political agendas. The masters of the universe have given us the stereotype of 20- and 30-something social-warrior geeks, fiddling with their algorithms to virtue-signal their left-wing fides to a global audience.
YouTube restricted more than 50 Prager University videos — often because either a human or computerized auditor did not approve of the videos’ presentation of America’s historical role as beneficent. Tie-dyed T-shirts, flip-flops, and faded jeans do not mask the reality that some $3 trillion in global capitalization is pledged to ensure that the nations’ computers, pads, and smartphones will not be polluted by deplorabalist thinking.
First-time congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, a conservative from central California, found her video ad blocked on Facebook and Twitter. Apparently, her description of the Cambodian holocaust that her parents fled was too graphic or politically incorrect, or both.
But then again, here in California where I live, everything is politicized, from plastic straws to single-user restrooms, in an Orwellian effort to distract us from the fact that we do not have enough water, usable roads, or workable public schools to remain a civilized state.
Language is especially enlisted to disguise bothersome reality. During the Obama administration, no one would ever have known from “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” “workplace disasters,” and “holy struggles” that radical Islamic terrorists were seeking to kill Westerners from San Bernardino to Paris.
As in the case of illegal aliens, undocumented aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, oh right, migrants, the progressive rationale is that anyone killed or harmed by a terrorist or migrant is usually a nobody and so an acceptable casualty in the greater war against incorrect speech and attitude.
When our public colleges now find that an increasing number of newly admitted students cannot do college-level work when they begin their courses, administrators drop the old idea of catch-up “remedial” classes or compensatory “remediation” courses.
The new language conveys that students are now suddenly qualified, or at least it virtue-signals the university’s effort to be suitably sensitive to the fact that in California nearly half of those entering the state’s university system (Cal State) system cannot read or compute at what previously had been thought to be a college level.
Our very names and identities have become politicized. Desperate to highlight their progressive purity (or to enhance careers), politicians sometimes reinvent their nomenclatures and ancestries to suggest solidarity with those deemed racially, ethnically, or economically oppressed. Who now is who or what?
Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed falsely — albeit not quite in the clumsy fashion of left-wing political activist and professor Ward Churchill — that she was part Native American. Socialist New York state senate candidate Julia Salazar recently and falsely rebranded herself as a virtual foreign-born immigrant.
Was their intent to pose as poorer, more victimized Americans without actually having to become poorer or more victimized?
White-male aspirant for a Texas Senate seat Patrick Francis O’Rourke has used the Latino nickname “Beto,” probably on the assumption that “Beto O’Rourke” might ensure a little more street cred among Texas’s Latino voters. I suppose “Pat O’Lopez” would be too shameless?
But then again, California Senate candidate Kevin de León has added both a “de” and an accent to remind voters that he is not just an Anglicized Kevin Leon who could be mistaken for a third-generation Portuguese American.
Americans have long accepted that Hollywood movies no longer seek just to entertain or inform, but to indoctrinate audiences by pushing progressive agendas. That commandment also demands that America be portrayed negatively — or better yet simply written out of history.
Take the new film First Man, about the first moon landing. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became famous when he emerged from The Eagle, the two-man lunar module, and planted an American flag on the moon’s surface. Yet that iconic act disappears from the movie version. (At least Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, does not walk out of the space capsule to string up a U.N. banner.)
Gosling claimed that the moon landing should not be seen as an American effort. Instead, he advised, it should be “widely regarded as a human achievement” — as if any nation’s efforts or the work of the United Nations in 1969 could have pulled off such an astounding and dangerous enterprise. I suppose we are to believe that Gosling’s Canada might just as well have built a Saturn V rocket.
Comic-book sales are static, purportedly because tired readers now find their make-believe heroes sermonizing, preachy, and predictable rather than one-dimensionally heroic. Social justice has entered the world of fantasy — and extends to science-fiction novels as well. Will 1984 have to be either banned or subjected to race/class/gender Bowdlerization?
Sports offers no relief. It is now no more a refuge from political indoctrination than is Hollywood. Yet it is about as difficult to find a jock who can pontificate about politics as it is to encounter a Ph.D. or politico who can pass or pitch.
The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and sports channels are now politicalized in a variety of ways, from not standing up or saluting the flag during the National Anthem to pushing social-justice issues as part of televised sports analysis.
What a strange sight to see tough sportsmen of our Roman-style gladiatorial arenas become delicate souls who wilt on seeing a dreaded hand across the heart during the playing of the National Anthem.
Even when we die, we do not escape politicization. At a recent eight-hour, televised funeral service for singer Aretha Franklin, politicos such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went well beyond their homages into political harangues. Pericles or Lincoln they were not.
Activist professor Michael Eric Dyson laced his supposed eulogy with an adolescent rant against Donald Trump: “You lugubrious leach, your dopey doppelgänger of deceit and deviance” — and all that alliterative gibberish that apparently follows from a Ph.D.
Politics likewise absorbed Senator John McCain’s funeral the next day. Sarah Palin —his persistently loyal 2008 running mate, who has never uttered an unkind word about him — was not invited.
Apparently, her presence would now be seen as too politically incorrect; it might have polluted the observance with a deplorable odor or reminded us that she was once considered useful in appealing to the clinger/irredeemable/“crazies” vote.
Meghan McCain, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush all did their best to praise the deceased, but in passing could not resist deprecating the current president.
We have forgotten that the ancillary to de mortuis nihil nisi bonum dicendum est (about the dead nothing but good should be said) is “in speaking of the dead, nothing but good should be said about the still living.”
It is certainly not an admirable trait to deplore incivility by gratuitously attacking a sitting president at a funeral — especially when neither the presidential encomiasts, nor the object of their encomia, had always been particularly civil and polite to each another in the past.
Even the long-ago dead are fair game. Dark Age iconoclasm has returned to us with a fury.
Any statue at any time might be toppled — if it is deemed to represent an idea or belief from the distant past now considered racist, sexist, or somehow illiberal.
Representations of Columbus, the Founding Fathers, and Confederate soldiers have all been defaced, knocked down, or removed. The images of mass murderers on the left are exempt, on the theory that good ends always allow a few excessive means.
So are the images and names of robber barons and old bad white guys, whose venerable eponymous institutions offer valuable brands that can be monetized. At least so far, we are not rebranding Stanford and Yale with indigenous names.
This new politicized borg ferrets out every aspect of our lives: “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.” Nothing is safe, nothing sacred. Dead or alive, the relentless social-justice messaging continues. Like some sort of time machine, we go back in time to alter history as if a few corrections and adjustments will change and thus improve the entire present.
Progressive politics seeks to connect and energize us as millions of shared malignant cells inside a metastasizing tumor — or to destroy us in the attempt.
The Eye of Sauron must be snuffed out.
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.