At the start of Year 2021 and what also happens to be a new Administration, I’d list the following as our most important and far-reaching, political or social concerns facing the country:
- Suppression of free speech.
I never thought I’d write, much less see the day in America, when freedom of speech, the First Amendment, is no longer considered sacrosanct in America’s list of essential identifying ideals, but it’s here.
It’s not just Big Tech acting to censor crazies or extremists but also conservatives they don’t like, and Christians. It’s also universities, once the bastions of free inquiry, that now shut down opportunities for students and personnel to express views considered unacceptable.
Yes, it’s true the First Amendment applies to government, not to private enterprise, but then again there is two centuries of case law adjudicating tensions between a free society’s interest in open and free speech and a private entity’s or person’s concern for perhaps privacy or libel, etc. Clearly the idea of freedom of speech characterizes the American character and experience, and this is what is being challenged and endangered.
If we lose the First Amendment, i.e., freedom of speech, which also includes freedom of religion and freedom of the press, freedom of the people peaceably to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, we lose America. This is not an overstatement.
- Moral relativism.
When Francis A. Schaeffer was still writing in the 1970s and early 1980s, he warned us what would happen if culture set aside truth. He even coined a phrase, “true truth,” to convey what he was talking about, objective truth, truth whether you or I like it or not, truth that stands outside human definition. Perhaps this sounds “oh so philosophical” and not a matter practical for everyday life? But it is. In fact, the idea of truth affects every aspect of our society, beginning with public morality, law, education and science, politics, and culture.
But American culture has long since set aside any concern for truth, which is why we now have words like “truthiness,” why we have Fake News, and why no one any longer can trust any judgment or standard other than their own, including the Bible, the US Constitution, law and the courts, or any other authority.
What we have left is chaos. Schaeffer talked about “freedom without chaos.” Now we must say we increasingly have chaos without freedom. We hoped for E pluribus unum but what we now have is “pluribus” but no “unum.” We have only argument, rancor, and the disillusionment that comes from this, and the only way of determining truth in the absence of belief in objective standards is power, i.e. might makes right.
This is not the America the Founders envisioned and that we have strived for the past two centuries.
- Sexual progressivism.
The whole spectrum of sex and gender issues, including LGBTQ+, same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity now with its own acronym SOGI, and trans activism is the point of the spear advancing a Leftist, illiberal agenda on collision course with religious liberty. Sexual progressivism is about a wholesale worldview, value revolution in American society. Indeed, religious liberty is already being challenged with preachers who share biblical views about homosexuality being accused of “hate speech” and Christian organizations beginning to be harassed for their personnel policies adhering to biblical doctrine and thus not hiring or maintaining LGBTQ+ individuals.
But advancing sexual progressivism is threatening to more than religious liberty. It undermines social order. If a person is a Gay man, he likes men, but he’s still a man. If a person is Lesbian, she likes women, but she is still a woman. If a person claims to be transgender, he/she is what? Where do they fit in the social order? What happens not just to male and female bathrooms or locker rooms, which is a legitimate discussion, what happens to male and female sports? What happens to family law and children’s issues, and how is this to be handled in education, not only in university but now in elementary schools? The list goes on.
Those who embrace sexual progressivism in any of its forms, which is increasingly a calling card in Hollywood and now politics, are not satisfied with freedom to be. They want society to endorse and promote their values in everyday life. This is a threat to the existence of a free society.
Hypocrisy, what other word better describes American politicians and news media who ignored or even endorsed summer 2019 city riots, promoted “Defund the Police,” and then condemned the January 6, 2021 US Capitol riot? Surely the Capitol riot should be condemned and rioters prosecuted, but so should the summer and continuing riots in Seattle and Portland.
What we’re seeing is what Scripture long ago pointed out: “everyone does that which is right in his own eyes, (Judges 17:6).
A free society to be free must be one based upon law and order. Freedom does not exist in chaos or anarchy, and this is what we watched in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and many other cities in summer 2019. I am, of course, not condemning or wanting to limit peaceful protestors, and these people expressed themselves in each city. But even they and their purposes were overwhelmed by the foolish kowtowing of city and state politicians to what they considered politically advantageous mobs.
Laws matter, for they restrain the sinful nature of humanity. Government exists, Romans 13 tells us, to hold accountable evil doers. When governing officials abdicate their responsibilities, the people suffer.
Being “woke” and the antiracist racism that is part of its embrace of Critical Race Theory is now not simply a threat to American education, business, government, and culture but is now a dominant force. Basic woke ideas, masquerading under the umbrella of fighting racism, are being embraced by corporations, major league sports, and government as some kind of panacea for perceived “systemic racism,” but what these ideas really promote is division, race and class or oppressor and oppressed warfare, and identity politics.
Being “woke” is now an expectation on most public university campuses. Universities are no longer hallowed halls inviting free and open inquiry.
The Left pushes victim theory, the idea there is an oppressor (defined as white or as capitalism) and the oppressed (defined as minorities, people of color).
Wokeism is a worldview contrary to biblical Christianity, and as such, it promotes a radical view of not simply the Church but American culture.
- Cancel Culture.
Cancel culture is an extension of loss of freedom of speech and an embrace of Wokeism, but examples of cancel culture may be found that do not tie directly to woke philosophy. It’s a new way not only to reject people’s ideas but the people themselves, to ruin their reputation, and possibly to get them fired or not hired or otherwise make them kryptonite to any employer.
Cancel culture is about suppression. It seeks to silence ideas deemed out of alignment with the “acceptable narrative,” like for example whether masks really need to be worn in public and whether they are effective, whether virus lockdowns promoted by state officials are about health or about power, or whether there is such a thing as “systemic racism” to name a few.
Cancel culture is a child of the social media age, but it is not healthy or sustainable in a free and open society.
- Self-serving politicians.
I am weary beyond measure of politicians who act like immature, nasty children.
Insulting language, no standard of objective truth just subjective “your/my” truth, smug self-righteousness, autocratic attitudes or behavior, lying as a way of life—despite at times being caught yet continuing with no visible remorse, incivility, vitriol, venom with little concern for etiquette or politeness, victimhood, lack of grace or forgiveness, moral degeneracy, emotion-driven irrational thinking, and no apparent commitment to time-tested values or lofty ideals just an allegiance to a “narrative” or agenda built on a drive for power.
Gender, race, party, ideology, wealth, education and nominal faith—none of these inoculate people from nihilistic nastiness.
I know a lot of people. Nary a one of them act like this. Yet the nation’s leaders do.
Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men (women) are almost always bad men (women).” It appears he understood human nature.
But there was a time not long ago when civility triumphed over pettiness, helping to avoid polarization. It was when we believed in something more than ourselves, in liberty and truth, in an America where what mattered was character, opportunity, and sacrifice.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021
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