Up in Smoke

Article by Gideon Rozner

While the right was talking about equality of opportunity and the dignity of work, the left had spent years building a dystopian hellscape of equality of poverty and the misery of deprivation. In the interest of “social justice,” self-proclaimed progressives crammed vulnerable minorities into brutalist housing projects, replaced genuine economic opportunity with a welfare check, blamed the ensuing disadvantage on “systemic racism,” and expected the victims of the whole perverse state of affairs to reward them at the ballot box. It was a strategy that worked for a while — until it didn’t.

A couple of months back, during the “first wave” of global lunacy, I let myself cultivate a vague hope that at least some good might come out of it. As terrible as the coronavirus and consequent societal destruction was, I thought that it might reacquaint the western world with a sense of perspective.

For a while, I thought that the coronavirus saga would deliver electro-shock therapy to a world that had spent decades mired in puerile and tawdry debates over nonexistent problems and monstrously counterproductive solutions. At the very least, the wrack and ruin rained down on ordinary people of every color and creed would scuttle the undergraduate idea that all the world’s injustices — real or imagined — could be attributed to things as superficial as one’s skin pigmentation and sexual organ.

But with George Floyd’s death, identity politics came roaring back, like some god-awful Hollywood sequel with a lousy plot and bigger budget. It wasn’t about one man’s deeply unjust and probably unlawful death. It wasn’t even about the disproportionate policing of Black Americans and their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. It was about America itself, about the dangerous fiction that subsumes the complexities of the human condition into a crude maze of warring tribes that requires state coercion or worst still violent force to rectify historic and present “power imbalances” between them.

Black Lives Matter burst out of the blocks, demanding “an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked.” Sundry other troupes of identarian lunatics jumped in, too, bringing their own esoteric grievances with them. And when the reliably fascistic Antifa decided that it wanted a piece of the action, too, cities were set ablaze and the looting got underway.

And the most remarkable thing of all was that almost nobody spoke out against it, much less tried to stop them. Not even the mayors of the cities being burned, not even journalists who saw the havoc firsthand, not even corporations whose retail outlets were destroyed and then eventually boarded up.

Up in Smoke — Ablaze

But the strangest response by far was from the medical establishment, which had every bleedingly obvious reason to oppose mass protests, no matter how righteous their cause. They didn’t. In fact, large segments of the medical profession ended up supporting them — including many doctors who took to the streets themselves — with the tenuous justification that racism was a “public health issue” that outweighed an extremely contagious strain of viral pneumonia. And the police, who had until then enforced “social distancing” measures with bloody-minded force, stood down and took a knee.

From that point on, any and all coronavirus restrictions became effectively meaningless. The same corrupt political class that had inundated the population with stern warnings that the most basic forms of human interaction would send people to their graves apparently had no issue with tens of thousands of people gathering in close proximity for a protest which — however noble its initial motivation — would probably achieve absolutely nothing. The eruption of mass demonstrations should have brought the social distance warriors and the social justice warriors into direct and irreconcilable conflict. Amazingly, it didn’t.

But then again, were the two camps really that dissimilar to begin with?

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