The Silence of the Lame
Why do so many not object to the objectionable in today's politics?
We’ve gone through some difficult times in the last year. The COVID pandemichas had a profound impact on society, and after the presidential election a large swath of the public was left confused and upset. Adding to all of that, when President Joe Biden was sworn in he used his office to effect sweeping and divisive changes in society, ranging from new policies on the southern border to mandating the wearing of masks to allowing biological males access to female facilities and sports teams. Oddly, the outward reaction of many, in spite of widespread unhappiness, has been … silence. Why is this? Conflicting claims and opinions following these events have generated confusion and anxiety about the future, and we’re now seeing the silence of the lame.
People aren’t comfortable with ambiguity and respond by seeking answers that give us closure. The more unsettled things are, and the more anxious we become, the more we seek acceptable answers. People want information we can trust. We want closure and we want to eliminate uncertainty. How do we find reliable answers to our questions during ambiguous circumstances?
First of all, to a certain extent, humans are herd animals. When confused, we look for clarity by asking what others think. We look for social cues from others to judge how to modify our own perceptions and behaviors. In a nutshell, we want to maximize our sense of well-being by seeking information from others.
However, in looking for social cues we don’t just seek out the opinions of others like ourselves. We also have a strong (but subconscious) tendency to use prestige as a litmus test for accepting the opinions of others. In other words, we turn to people or groups we respect because we place greater trust in their opinions. But who are the people we respect, and how do we connect with them? When we move past our circle of friends and relatives, we usually turn to people in the social, news, and entertainment media. In each of these media we typically give undue respect to people we don’t personally know simply because they are part of the prestige class we already respect. If the opinions of the prestige class seem consistent and unified, that gives what appears to be a high degree of validity.
We’re now faced with a situation in which rapid social change involves conflict over closely held traditional values and beliefs. Unfortunately, information provided by the traditional “prestige” sources only adds to the confusion. It’s clear that a major shift to the left has occurred, and that’s happened with little room for honest questions and open dialogue.
In fact, the failure to accept the current leftist “narratives” generated by the prestige class has fed into the new “cancel culture.” This means stifling the dialogue of ordinary people who question things like bizarre aspects of gender identification, allegations of systemic racism, and patently clear hatred by the Democrats of all things Republican. People are afraid of being labeled as white supremacists, homo- and transphobic, or as conspiracy theorists. In short, there is increasingly no safe place for rational dialogue on these issues.
The overreach of Big Tech — which is driving the cancel culture — is a bigger threat to America than partisan politics. In politics, we can at least vote, although the integrity of the electoral system is itself one of the major fault lines right now. However, we cannot vote out the excesses of social media or the abuse of truth or honesty by the news and entertainment media (if there is in fact even a difference between the two). We are at a critical crossroads, and the current climate of fear of retribution and confusion over the assault on traditional values has silenced many people. A feeling of not being able to speak out and be heard with courtesy has driven us into silence. The result is the silence of the lame.
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