If there’s one thing that scares me more than North Korea with a nuclear weapon, it’s the artwork in downtown St. Joseph.
There’s a huge mural on the side of a building down there—depicting the Civil War. It’s interesting and well-done. Among the Civil War symbols depicted are a huge Union soldier and…that’s it. There is no Confederate soldier. They’ve literally painted the South out of history down there. A friend of mine said this is going to make Civil War re-enactors look silly. The Union will haul out their guns and cannon and horses and start shooting at nobody, apparently.
You probably have an opinion about the South, the Rebels and the Civil War. So do I. But now, in the name of “political correctness, “ we’re starting to say they weren’t there.
As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s true. While we’re re-writing history, art in downtown St. Joseph is merely the tip of the iceberg; it’s part of a much larger issue. I think it’s at the core of something very important and very wrong in our society today. I’m talking about the nagging fear of being “politically incorrect” in today’s society.
Let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Political correctness is the conscious, designed manipulation intended to change the way people speak, write, think, feel and act, in furtherance of an agenda. It is neither political nor correct. It is cultural Marxism disguised as “tolerance.” It has been correctly defined as “tyranny with manners,” and it is a direct and dangerous assault on free speech—yours and mine.
It is one thing for me to refrain from a derogatory term because I believe it is hurtful and thoughtless. I’m sure we all wish that everyone would mind their manners. Yet it is altogether a different and dangerous thing to silence me by law or something that calls itself “correct.” Let me speak for myself here: Let’s say we disagree. If you are allowed to silence my thoughts and words, then it logically follows that your argument can be voiced without challenge. That is an Orwellian nightmare.
In previous times, free speech was inviolate, yet there were limits born out of common sense. The old saying was that you can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theatre. We were supposed to be self-regulating. Times have changed, and not for the better.
At the end of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the animals stared at the pigs who had taken over their lives. They then looked at the side of the barn, where their Seven Commandments had been reduced to one: All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others. They were vaguely aware that someone had changed the rules. As I stared up at the Civil War mural, I may have unconsciously bleated. Like a sheep.
Orwell wrote a preface to Animal Farm. It was not included in the book. In that preface, he wrote “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
8 thoughts on “We’re Starting To Talk Like Sheep”
It is a scary trend. It defies a basic understanding: You learn from the mistakes made in history—you don’t deny they happened.
Dick you always amaze me with you thoughts and your ability to match my thoughts through your pen (or computer) I totally agree with this article…it is totally on board with my own views regarding the Civil War! What in the world are people thinking?
I’m curious how you would feel if there was a confederate soldier dragging around a slave in shackles, or perhaps bloodied in defeat. The civil war has suffered from revisionist history since the last gun fired. Instead of it being war about slavery it was changed to simply a war about state’s rights. Taking down monuments to people who faught to keep their fellow man in chains doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. It just means we as a society struggle with the idea that they should be idolized. Those men will still have existed, still faught as valiantly, but now the institution they faught for is becoming part of the conversation of their legacy. I don’t know anyone clamoring for confederate cemeteries to be dug up. There will still be places to mourn our dead countrymen and remember their fight without glorifying what they faught to preserve.
Shawn, thanks for your comments. I was using the mural as a vehicle to get into the “political correctness” issue. As to the particular mural, the Civil War et al, I doubt there are many people in the country today who feel that slavery is or was a good thing. But for that majority, there’s nothing wrong with saying “This is what we did. At the time, we didn’t feel it was wrong. Now we do.” The post wasn’t about the downtown art particularly, but rather the overlying fear of saying the “wrong” thing, writing the wrong word, thinking the “wrong” thought. I think if you look at my argument carefully, you’ll see that I was defending YOUR right to say the things you said in your comments 🙂
You said the mural scared you more than a nuclear weapon. How is it the artist came to their decision on what to paint? Did they desperately want to paint a triumphant south but were forbidden to do so by the city? Do you think St Joseph has a law against privately commissioned works of art depicting unsavory characters? I just find it quite a stretch to go from a painting depicting the victory of our country to an Orwellian nightmare. As far a political correctness in and of itself, there is a large difference between someone being black listed for having communist sympathies, and somebody being shunned by neighbors for being a racist. Most people railing against political correctness these days are upset they might be judged for making racist, sexist, or homophobic comments. It is perfectly legitimate for the people around you to judge to content of your character by the statements that you make. Being judged by your peers and prosecuted by the government are two completely separate things. Maybe you’re worried about someone having to serve a person against their closely held beliefs. Separate but equal has long been debunked. If you open your business up to the public you are agreeing to a bare minimum of nondiscrimination. Nobody will force you to perform good customer service. You can be as rude as you like, but you can’t discriminate, and refuse service. If that bare minimum is too much of a burden you could simply open a private club. There are no discrimination laws regarding private clubs. Simply make people become members of your wedding cake club, and then you can refuse service to any black, gay, or tall person you want. Nobody will arrest you, but I do hope your community would treat you accordingly due to your lack of common decency. Now, I don’t know you, and I hope you don’t have any of this hatred in your heart, but I felt the need to point out that there is a big difference between judging someone giving the Nazi salute and Orwell. I would stand against any law saying someone had to think a certain way, but if someone chooses to make statements the aren’t politically correct they then have to live with the social consequences.
Again, thanks for your comments.
Dick you always amaze me with you thoughts and your ability to match my thoughts through your pen (or computer) I totally agree with this article…it is totally on board with my own views regarding the Civil War! What in the world are people thinking? A side not unrealated to your article….our 50th is next year…would you PLEASE consider writing about our classs of ’68? I personally would Love to read your thoughts regarding what a charmed life we lived! Love you!
Dick, Kay is spot on. Would you please write an article for the reunion edition of the THS Alumni News celebrating our class and the blessings of experiencing high school at Trenton High School? I know an article written by you would be well read and enjoyed, and for those in our class, cherished. Thanks, and keep writing until then.