Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
I once gave a talk to a group of wealthy Catholic women. As is often the case is such situations, I was more or less the afternoon’s entertainment. The hat was passed and I ended up being given 90 bucks to open my veins and tell the story of my conversion.
That was okay except that, in case you’ve never done such a thing yourself, you have to rev up (especially if you have a story like mine), steady your heart and steel your nerves for a day or two prior, pray like hell, and prepare to be drained to the bone.
Over by the refrigerator afterwards, one of the women cornered me, narrowed her eyes, and hissed, “DID YOU VOTE FOR OBAMA?” In other words: “Speak, wretch! Are you or ARE YOU NOT the anti-Christ?!”
We used to reserve such totalitarian behavior to the Secret Police: now we willingly surveil each other. No thought–from no matter how loving a heart; no matter how innocent–is exempt from being scrutinized, pounced upon, and assigned a malign and evil motive. Now there must be public shaming, public demands for recantations, public “re-education,” public apologies.
No matter that we’re, for example, devoted, faithful fathers and husbands: Last year all males were expected to grovel for having been born male. No matter that we’re naturally appalled by the racial injustice against which every thinking person instinctively recoils: This year all Caucasians must grovel for having been born Caucausian.
The point is that both ends of the ideological spectrum are increasingly marked by bullying, “calling out,” and the imposition of a kind of martial law as to how we’re to speak, act and think.
I don’t think this is a minor point: I think the phenomenon is very, very dangerous. Let’s not forget that another name for Satan is The Accuser. And I hope everyone’s read Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.
READ THE WHOLE COLUMN HERE.