Esquire magazine’s cover story is a profile of Ryan Morgan, a white middle-class teenager growing up in a blue-collar, red-voting Midwestern suburb. The magazine says it’s the first of a series about what it’s like to grow up in America today (editor says there will be further pieces about being a queer kid, a black kid, a girl). It’s a really interesting piece. Most of it is merely descriptive of Morgan’s life. Here, though, are some key excerpts:
The fight with the girl was just one of a long string of recent events, most of them politically tinged, that have shaken Ryan’s sense of self. “Last year was really bad,” he says. “I couldn’t say anything without pissing someone off.” He says it started around the time of the presidential election—the liberal students became enraged and the conservative students emboldened. “Lots of drama over politics,” he says. “It ruined friendships and changed social groups. People were making friends based on their politics more than anything.” Kids started advertising their beliefs by hanging flags and posters on their lockers. They wore T-shirts that promoted Hillary for president, or Trump for president, or LGBT rights, or feminism, or Black Lives Matter. The most popular opinion at West Bend seemed to be anti-Trump. Ryan, raised in Republican households, was surprised by the vitriol. “Everyone hates me because I support Trump?” he says. “I couldn’t debate anyone without being shut down and called names. Like, what did I do wrong?”
This past year, Ryan ran another gantlet: social media. He does not use Facebook or Twitter, which he thinks are mostly for older people. And he has no interest in Snapchat. But he, like most everyone his age, uses Instagram. “I’d post a comment,” he recalls, “and the replies would all be the same thing: ‘You’re stupid and that’s dumb’ or ‘You suck’ or ‘You’re straight, you can’t talk about something LGBT.’ ” One time, on a post he describes as “a feminist thing that said something about what men do,” he commented, “It’s not true, and that’s really stupid to say that.” The woman who’d posted it responded with something like, “What do you have to say? You’re a white man.” Ryan is still confused by her response. “Doesn’t she promote equal rights?” he says. “What if I posted the same kind of thing but about what women do? Like, if I posted a photo of a feminist march? But wait, feminist people hate when white men talk about stuff like that. That would be the end of me.” He pauses. “I guess they think since I’m not a girl, I don’t have an opinion.”
Ryan began to feel like social media was more trouble than it was worth. He even thought about erasing his Instagram account. “But I haven’t said anything too bad,” he says. And more to the point, he decided it is better to engage with other perspectives than to drop out of the conversation. He now watches both Fox News and CNN. He says he’s inched toward the center politically, and so have his friends. He’s even changed his wardrobe and now avoids shirts with words or anything else, save for an American flag, that makes a statement. “It’s better to be a moderate, because then you don’t get heat,” he tells me. “We want everyone to be happy.”
Read it all, you hater you. What you’ll discover is that teenagers can hold obnoxious opinions, and have a lot to learn about the world (think of yourself at 17). But mostly what you’ll learn is that life is pretty ordinary for Ryan Morgan, but the last line of the piece — I won’t spoil it for you — tells a core truth about his life, and the lives of young men like him in 2019.
You will not be surprised to learn that the Woke Menace mob has been pounding hard this morning on Esquire for … well, let’s let HuffPo explain it for us. Excerpt:
While there’s no question that being a child in today’s cultural climate is difficult, this reporter and many people on Twitter were confused as to why the magazine chose to profile a white boy in lieu of, say, any other American teenager. There are countless narratives of white men in history. Why, in 2019, are we adding yet another?
“Were confused” is doing a lot of work there. There’s a social media mob now calling Esquire racist and sexist simply for telling the story of a white boy in Red America.
I believe the word that the SJWs have for this is “erasure.” They are so wound up that they do not believe this white teenage boy should have a voice at all — thereby vindicating the Trump view of the world!
As Damon Linker writes in his Week column today about how Trump can win in 2020:
Democrats are more culturally left-wing than ever, and the hourly outrages of the Trump presidency have emboldened them to abandon the restraints that once bound them. At the same time, Trump’s very immorality — his embodiment of so many of our ailing culture’s sins — along with the narrowness of his win in 2016 have convinced these social conservatives that their every victory is precarious, a mere hair’s breadth away from a reversal that will usher in the final triumph of absolute moral degradation in America and an end to their own freedom to live and worship as they wish.
This is what Dreher means by “socialism” — the attempt by the left to seize total control and use every power at its disposal (political, economic, cultural, technological) to smash its moral opponents, once and for all.
Last fall’s Kavanaugh hearings delivered a red-pill to many of us #NeverTrump and Trump-resistant (me) conservatives with the force of a sadistic veterinarian worming a frightened cat. The Covington Catholic media pogrom was a fresh dose of reality. Now, this — and it absolutely will not be the last thing between now and November 2020. Linker writes:
“It’s me or progressive totalitarianism” — that’s how Trump wins in 2020.
Think about it in light of James Kirchick’s powerful Washington Examiner piece today about the clear and present danger the Woke Menace poses to free speech. Excerpts:
Magazine giant Conde Nast is making contributors sign contracts with “morality clauses” which allow the company to annul if the writer “becomes the subject of public disrepute, contempt, complaints or scandals.” Such a move institutionalizes the career enhancement of mediocrities, milquetoasts, and other espousers of safe, predictable, bien pensant opinions.
When New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma deigned to publish an essay by a Canadian radio DJ accused of various sexual offenses against women, a Twitter mob arose and demanded Buruma, one of our greatest public intellectuals, be fired. They got their scalp and, in so doing, set a new and dangerous precedent. In the age of #MeToo, one doesn’t even need to be accused of committing a sexual transgression to lose one’s livelihood, but merely publish a piece by someone who has. Whatever the propriety of Buruma’s original decision, or his somewhat clumsy reply to critics in an interview published shortly thereafter, as a writer I far prefer that the editorial ranks be filled with people who are at least willing to risk crossing the line of propriety than those who never even approach it out of fear that they will anger a bunch of self-appointed Internet commissars.
… Censorship inhibits the ability to persuade. Progressives used to understand this.
In The Benedict Option, I wrote about how Vaclav Havel’s parable of the greengrocer illuminates the conformist fear that sustains political correctness. I’m thrilled to see Havel’s insight appearing more and more often in American media. More Kirchick:
To explain the stultifying effects of Communism on the individual, he relates a story of the greengrocer who puts a sign in his shop window proclaiming, “Workers of the World, Unite!” The grocer doesn’t believe the Marxist credo. Rather, he displays the sign “because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble.” The sign, Havel writes, conveys the following message to passersby and society at large: “I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.”
So much of what passes for journalism and political conversation today mimics the pathetic self-abnegation of the greengrocer. People are constantly writing and saying things of highly dubious merit — “Hannah Gadsby is funny,” “Islam is the religion of peace,” “Trans Women are Women,” “’Black Panther’ deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Picture” — as if they were religious incantations. The whole lamentable phenomenon is utterly totalitarian in spirit and has been abetted by social media, where one can instantly and constantly display his or her correct opinions and righteous outrage in the hope of keeping the wolves at bay. Depart from the consensus, fail to display the correct slogans in the proverbial shop window, and “there could be trouble.”
You watch: these progressive hate mobs are going to keep forming around various issues between now and next fall. The Democratic presidential candidates are so sold out to these totalitarians that they won’t dare confront them — or if they do, it will be in a feeble, entirely unbelievable way.
This is why Trump will win in 2020. Not because everybody who votes for him believes in him, but because a meaningful number of Americans fear, for very good reason, the progressive totalitarianism of the alternative.
UPDATE: Reader Annie, speaking for me:
Reading progressive news, checking twitter to see the mob converging for its hourly hate-check, it’s nauseating. Seeing what passes for educated commentary among the blue-checks and their fanboy-“yah-slay-queens” makes me see red.
I can’t point to one thing America is doing right. Every standard of what should make life worth living has been trashed, crushed, and kicked to the floor. By the very standards progressive America holds, the modern project is a failure. Unhappiness, obesity, pollution, mental illness: they’re all real. The blue-checkers and magazine-cover-obsessors and pop culture fetishists then rush from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis, sending blood pressure skyrocketing everywhere, while then covering the earth with howls if anyone suggests the path we’ve been on for the past 75 years has had some negative consequences. They dare to want it both ways, to be always angry and always demanding more sacrifices.
I read a book recently which briefly featured an old farmer in South Africa who pities the incoming Englishmen because they don’t have roots. Even after one generation, they lack the historical memory the farmer has going back 300 years. I put the book down to reflect a moment. Who here has that memory? My kids live in a town that means nothing to my husband and I; I was raised in a town where my parents always had their eye on their old hometowns; my parents where raised in a city where their parents had their eye on their home countries.
Honestly, the red-pilled narrative about intentional global mass destabilization of peoples matches what I see with my own eyes but am required to be silent about. Rootless people, completely dependent and unable to take pleasure in any kind of satisfying physical work, unhappy, with a few of the successful becoming cheerleaders for yet more destabilization.
Everyday I’m asked to disbelieve in cause and effect. Everyday I’m asked to kiss Big Corporate-Socialist Brother’s ring. Everyday I’m asked to make my house a hotel, my family mere roommates, and to give my life over to the Progressive Cause, to seek peace in Netflix and this Brightest New Podcast and so-and-so’s new woke album (to be forgotten in 8 months). Everyday I’m asked by fellow Christians to put a smiley face on the worship on the Fashion of the day and just be nice and respectable and empathetic. Everyday I see the consequences of being respectable and empathetic: the complete destruction of everything that makes life worth living in favor of a phony, shallow, hateful pop culture. To hell with it and may God have mercy on its wicked propagandists and all the ostriches.