Let’s Stop Flattering Ourselves: It’s Not 1984

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If you don’t yet subscribe to the Daily Jolt by National Review’s Jim Geraghty, you need to do that. It gives you great information on the “conventional wisdom” of DC from a guy who does not subscribe to all that stuff. Subscribe here.

Geraghty’s morning email pulls out a few stories buzzing at the moment, and provides priceless insight into them. I’m a long-time subscriber, and what I really love about Jim’s email newsletter is how he has his eye on things you might not have seen.

He did so Friday when he commented on the decision by 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s decision to no longer kneel down to make a leftist political statement. I’m sure it’s a conincidence he’s going to be a free agent in a week – meaning he’ll be looking for a job in the NFL from a general manager not keen to bring all his SJW baggage with him.

Jim excerpted a commentary on this by sports columnist Jason Whitlock, who happens to also be black, and has never been too keen about the ugly collision of leftist politics and sports.

“This hyper-progressive movement that has lurched into sports and changed the conversation about sports and in sports TV. … So much of the conversation is inconsistent with the values of sports culture. I’m gonna say it until I’m blue in the face: Sports culture is conservative and religious! And we’ve turned ‘conservative’ into a curse word in this country and it’s just not.

“We’re turning off our base, our base of support. The people that coach Pee Wee football, the people that participate in Pee Wee football all the way through, we’re making them uncomfortable by inviting in all these people that really don’t care about sports, don’t love sports — they have a political agenda — and they’re leading the conversation about sports? It’s turning people off.”

In that very same Daily Jolt, Geraghty throws a lot of cold water upon the idea that the dawn of the Trump presidency has ushered in an Orwellian dystopia.

Orwell’s 1984 is a brilliant, unforgettable warning about the dangers of an all-powerful state, cults of personality, mankind’s capacity for cognitive dissonance, and the willingness to believe what is obviously false in order to preserve a fatally flawed worldview. But the book’s memorable phrases and concepts are also now so chronically overused as a criticism of political leaders that they’re clichéd and, I suspect, easy to tune out if you don’t already agree that Leader X is a power-mad, ruthlessly manipulative tyrant-in-waiting.

The America of 2017 is the same as America has always been: a mix of good and bad, noble and selfish, exercised liberties and runaway politicians and bureaucrats. Of course we have problems, but overheated comparisons to dystopian novels obscure more than they illuminate and conveniently forget that we’ve seen much worse.

Maybe Fox News strikes you as a modern day Ministry of Truth, airbrushing away any criticism of the regime. But it’s worth remembering that there was a time when such criticism was criminalized in America by Woodrow Wilson’s Sedition Act.

If you believe Trump’s private security guards have the potential to become a force of unaccountable loyalist thugs, I’d like to introduce you to Mayor Richard Daley and the Chicago Police Department of 1968.

Perhaps you feel the new administration’s discussion of Muslims and terrorism is scaremongering, and like Representative Keith Ellison, you argue against it by quoting Franklin Roosevelt’s “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Of course, Roosevelt later rounded up Japanese Americans and put them into internment camps.

It’s not hard to find people who insist Trump is authoritarian because of the things he says. But authoritarians are not defined by the things they say; they’re defined by the things they do. The judicial branch already struck down Trump’s executive order on refugees. Despite Trump’s hyperbolic denunciations of the media, America’s press remains as free and vibrant as ever. The first weeks of the new presidency have not been marked by a meek and obedient Congress but by one that can’t unify behind a single legislative agenda.

There’s more. Read it here.

And subscribe to Jim Geraghty’s great daily email.