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.


8 Replies to “THE SCAPEGOAT”

  1. Thank you Heather. I appreciate today’s column and always love your book recommendations! Another book ordered. I”m having some challenging conversations with my daughter over BLM. She is challenging my southern roots and family of origin upbringing. It’s emotional work,… thank you for your continued honesty.

  2. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Thank you Jean. Darkness at Noon is about how the way that perpetrators of totalitarianism tend eventually to become its victims…literature has a way of bringing home such truths more deeply than arguments. Wishing you and your daughter all the best with your conversations.

  3. This is incredibly rich. I will be revisiting this more than once. Thank you, Heather.

  4. Thank you, Heather, for putting into words what I feel but haven’t been able to express.

  5. Linda M Scuderi says: Reply

    Your columns are wonderful, but this one especially I will read again and again. Thank you, too, for your book recommendations. Blessings.

  6. Stephen Lynott says: Reply

    I have been waiting for your insights on the current pandemic of thought control in our nation. Thank you for shedding more light. Social media has enabled the bullying, irrational side of our culture to have free rein with anyone who does not agree with the latest group speak. It is now sinful to be thoughtful or compassionate in the face of any injustice, real or projected. Yours is a voice crying out to many deaf ears, but not all. Please persist.

  7. Heather, thank you for this beautiful, nuanced piece! Really, so much to think about, and written with such compassion for humanity.

  8. Heather, you are not only a great writer but an equally great philosopher. Please keep at it. We need this to give form and strength to our convictions, especially when conversing with others.