I was thinking of taking the rest of the day off from commentary when, courtesy of J. J. Sefton, I started reading this essay by Naomi Wolf. It’s long, and addresses several matters of both political and sociological interest, but the segment that struck me most powerfully appears below:
Overnight, a new concern, a new moral signifier, was presented, wholly formed: and it involved a conflict area half a world away. Now, war is always bad and invasions are always cruel; but I could not help noticing that there are wars, refugees, invasions and conflict areas around the world, and that only this one — this one one — demanded the attentions of my irksomely cultish and uncritical former tribe. I could not help noticing that the dozens of devastated conflict areas and war zones being totally ignored by the ex-Brooklynites — from Ethiopia, where there have been 50,000 deaths since September, to Sri Lanka, with its catastrophic food shortages, to Mexico’s drug war, which has led to 300,000 deaths, to Afghanistan, where women are being rounded up and people are being shot in the street — do not involve white people who look like the ex-Brooklynites; and for various other reasons, are not attracting a lot of television cameras.
You’d think the ex-Brooklynites, with their expensive educations, would bear those complexities in mind.
But no; the ex-Brooklynites are so easily led, when it comes to anyone invoking their particular moral high ground.
Ah, complexity! Ah, the multitude of connectedness problems, wherein any attempt to redress one undesirable condition runs smack into the unpleasant realization that it would intensify another – or several others!
But the complexities which Wolf cites above are relatively simple ones: Involve America in which wars? All, some, or none? There are more complex situations and clashes of ideas by far. Wolf continues:
When they are directed to pay attention to one conflict out of dozens, and ignore the rest, no matter how dire the rest may be, they do so. Just like, when they were instructed to present their bodies uncritically to an untried MRNA injection and to offer up the bodies of their minor children, they did so. When they were asked to shun and to discriminate against their blameless neighbors, they did so.
So the great apparatus of messaging about COVID was switched off, almost overnight, as the politics clearly soured and as Republicans consolidated an increasingly popular, multiracially inclusive, transpartisan-ly appealing freedom message; and the comms apparatus simply replaced the COVID drama with a new, equally gripping European-conflict drama.
Wolf finds this somewhat puzzling. I don’t. He who drives to the church for the service does not spend it standing in the vestibule. His pastor would notice…and his fellow communicants would have something to say to him, as well.
If there’s anything at which the Left, and its political arm the Democrat Party, are world champions, it’s “keeping ‘em in the pews.” The method is terror: the fear of being “read out of church,” with the implications for social ostracism, impediments to local commerce, and ultimately where one’s soul will spend eternity. The Left wields that fear with appalling efficacy. When a left-liberal enters the church’s vestibule, he knows he’s been seen. He knows what would happen were he to hesitate about taking his familiar seat in the nave – or to back out and flee completely.
Eric Hoffer addressed aspects of this in The True Believer. No one wants to be shunned, or to be put in doubt of his eternal reward. People will give lip service and more to the most appalling notions, if they’re proclaimed from a pulpit. This is especially so when one has already committed to the enveloping faith. Such a commitment becomes a part of one’s self-concept – and who, really, would be happy to admit to having made a huge mistake about who and what he is? That effect might be more important in this connection than the possibility of an eternity in Hell.
I have no doubt that many Leftist “true believers” hesitate briefly before accepting certain pronouncements from the luminaries of their faith. Some of the things being preached from the Left’s pulpits are so patently absurd that to accept them involves denying observable physical facts. But the overriding importance of staying in the congregation persuades many to accept, albeit tacitly, notions that even a couple of decades ago would have been cause for a compulsory stay in a villa where the attendants wear white, the rooms have padded walls, and their doors only unlock from the outside.
The members of Naomi Wolf’s “former tribe” are doing what the terrified do. They’re staying in line. They’re mouthing the slogans. They’re shouting and banging the chairs during the Two Minutes’ Hate. And they will keep doing so, for they are too frightened to dissent from the Gospel of the Current Thing. It should be a warning to us in the Right, for we are only men, and just as vulnerable as they to the terror-powered conditioning that keeps them in the Left’s pews.