Unless you have been living in a cave — or like so many these days, voluntarily isolated in a bubble — you have likely noticed the somewhat disturbing resemblances to George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” sometimes written as “1984.” Published in 1949, Orwell’s predictions were off by a few decades. But today, we see more and more how his vision was right.
Orwell’s dystopian story involves a government that controls everything people read, hear, say, eat, breathe and know. The story’s protagonist, Winston Smith, was one of many who had the job of rewriting history to fit the evolving narrative of the totalitarian government. His job was to “fix” every book, magazine or newspaper containing what used to be the truth to conform to what is the new truth.
Today’s political correctness (PC) may be the most recognizable feature from Orwell’s novel. PC mania has been around for several years, and is gaining strength these days. While PC comes from a non-government faction, rather than a totalitarian government like that of “1984,” the results from the non-governmental faction may be little different, as it converts what “used to be” into “what now is.”
An element of PC today is “white supremacy,” or “white privilege.” All of the white folks in America, who had nothing to say about who their parents are, what color their skin is, or where they were born, are the current main target. Nothing is so disliked in America as white Americans.
Have you ever been to Spain? Or to Germany, France or Mexico?
The people in those and other countries are unconcerned with people of other nationalities that visit them. They are simply and naturally the Spanish, the Germans, the French, and the Mexicans. No doubt they like the money foreigners spend in their countries, but they continue to do what Spanish, German, French, and Mexican peoples want to do.
This is so because those countries have relatively few people there who are not natives of that country. The natives comprise the vast majority of people, and therefore are the dominant element in their culture. And the dominant element in a nation determines what is important and not important.
So, some people say “I really like Spain, except for the Spanish people. They have this supremacy thing going on.”
Is it really surprising, then, that in America, where the white, non-Hispanic people are still the majority of the total population — about 61 percent — that the long-standing American values and ways still dominate the cultural norms of the country?
The proportion of white Americans compared to others was much larger not so long ago. Our desirable national characteristics have always invited people from other places to come here, and they did, and do. But the culture the white American majority created decades ago still is dominant.
Yet some of those in other races/ethnicities are offended by “white supremacy” and “white privilege.” Somehow, living as the great majority of people have lived for decades is no longer legitimate to these folks.
Even some white Americans have jumped on this bandwagon, feeling the guilt that the others have convinced them they should have, merely because they were born with white skin.
Today, some people say, “I would like America better if it wasn’t for those darned white people.”
It is easiest to criticize something if you know very little about it. The less you know, the easier it is to disparage it. And this is what is the basis of much or most of the cancel culture mania now hobbling the country.
That applies to hating white people, and to removing vestiges of certain people of historical note.
People who have done great things in their lives, sometimes great things for their country, have now fallen into disfavor with the cancel culture faction for something not-good they did that these folks think obliterates all the good they did.
A person that has lived for 60, 80 or more years has had a long period of time to make decisions and take actions. Some of those may not have been good ones. Should we rate their entire lifetime based upon a couple of not-so-good, or even bad things, or should we take the more reasonable route of evaluating all they have done, rather than one or a few things?
It is also common these days for the cancel culture to apply the practice of “Monday morning quarterbacking” to things and people. Without a solid knowledge of what living in past times was like, these quarterbacks feel capable of judging the past using the standards of today.
That is profoundly imprudent. Without a deep understanding of how things were at a certain time, it is not possible to make a sensible judgment about things that happened long ago. These folks are ill-equipped. It’s like going to play 18 holes of golf with only a putter.
History, the story of our past and how it built the present, is crucial to our future success. If we erase it over some discomfort based upon superficial understanding, we will substantially cripple ourselves.
Rather than erase history because it offends us, we need to study it and learn from it.
James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist. Contact him at email@example.com