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Your Woke Breaking Point

George Washington statue in Baltimore vandalized last weekend (WJZ screenshot)

Megan McArdle is old enough to remember that when Donald Trump said in 2017 that the people coming for Confederate monuments today would becoming for Washington and Jefferson tomorrow, a number of smart people said that was an outrage. And yet, today it’s happening. McArdle continues:

Trump is no great moral theorist, but he does have a certain cunning about human behavior, enough, possibly to foresee that the Great Statucide would proceed by what conservative writer Rod Dreher has dubbed “the Law of Merited Impossibility”: Conservatives warning about the dire consequences of some social change are dismissed as hysterical cranks — and then, when exactly what they predicted eventually comes to pass, denounced as bigots for opposing the new order. Implicit in Dreher’s law is an intermediate phase in which a large number of people sit uncomfortably silent as the radicals take the moderate majority’s well-intentioned efforts further than they ever dreamed.

If you had told me 10 years ago that same-sex marriage meant Christian bakers being legally required to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, I, or any supporter of marriage equality, would have dismissed this as conservative propaganda, too silly to even bother refuting. Probably someone did tell me that, at some point; probably I laughed and said, “Come on.”

Then, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled, activists began declaring that of course those bakers had to bake those cakes. Privately, one heard from a lot of same-sex marriage advocates who thought this went too far. But publicly, they found other things to talk about. And so the default position on the left became exactly the sort of thing that everyone had declared would never happen.

What Trump understood, and his critics perhaps didn’t, was that you cannot credibly declare that some revolution in social affairs has a natural stopping point unless you personally commit to stopping it when it goes too far.

Read it all. 

The provocative academic James Lindsay suggests a good challenge here:

Well, what is it for you? What’s your Woke Breaking Point? State it and defend it in the comments. If you can’t, then we all know which side you’re on, whether you do or not. Don’t play innocent. The unwillingness of decent liberals to draw a line in the sand and defend it is why these statucidal Stalinists get away with it.

UPDATE: If this doesn’t qualify for some of you people, there is no hope for you left. This statue was paid for by the contributions of freed slaves, and Frederick Douglass gave a speech at its dedication.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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