As I read about the recent forcible removal of the Ten Commandments in Alabama, I find myself thinking: How managed the United States has become! How well and subtly it has been done! I am filled with astonished admiration. In the heart of Bible country, swoop, Washington speaks, and Alabama obeys.
The home of the brave, and the land of the free. Are we either?
The quest for power by the government, and its subsequent abuse, are no surprise. The robber barons, unions, pols, this and that ethnic group, organized crime and such have always sought power and wealth. But there is a difference. Today it is not money but the culture itself that is being hijacked. It is not our pockets that are being picked, but our souls. We are being shaped.
And it is working.
The Three Cities — Washington, New York, and Hollywood — tell us whom we may hire and with whom we must associate, where we may express religious faith except in hiding, what our children must be led to believe, and what morality we must profess, or at least endure. There is no talking back. The federal marshals will come.
It is most curious. America is not governed by Congress and the presidency, which have been reduced to the rank of legitimizing stage props, but rather by a permanent class of likeminded people of whom the formal government is a subset. The franchise remains, but has no power. Perhaps it never did, but neither did the governing class have power over the culture. Now it does.
The trick behind the whole dodge is the centralization of power at a distance, plus a docile population. The media are no longer based on the principle of countervailing lies, in which each owner of a newspaper prevaricated as suited his commercial interest. Today the principle is that of unified lies: The media are in the hands of a few companies, run by a class of people who all believe, or want the country to believe, the same things. New York controls what the public believes by controlling what it sees, what it is told.
The press looks free, but isn’t. For practical purposes we might as well have a Ministry of Information in charge of the whole lash-up.
This is very clever.
As regards events in Alabama, the media endlessly speak of the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state, which doesn’t exist. (How many times does the phrase appear in the constitution?) But a requirement doesn’t have to exist, the majority of people being willing to believe anything they hear often enough. ("Weapons of….") New York understands this well. So does Washington. So does Hollywood.
The public having been prepped by the press, the Supreme Court can with little difficulty impose anything at all. The Court now serves as a crowbar with which the Three Cities force on the country things which would never pass in a legislature. Many of them have no basis in the constitution, which might as well no longer exist.
Consider abortion, racial integration, gun control, unrestricted obscenity on television, and the banning of Christian symbolism. My point here, note, is not that these things are good or bad, but that there is no constitutional basis for permitting them. The authors of the constitution, who may be presumed to have known what they meant, saw no objection to crèches or to the Ten Commandments, which were common; nor to laws against indecency. If memory serves, in 1896 in Plessey vs. Ferguson the Court explicitly said that separate-but-equal in matters racial was constitutional.
None of these would have gotten through Congress. But then, none of them had to. Americans are nothing if not obedient.
Constitutionally permissible doesn’t mean constitutionally required: Legislatures could have permitted abortion, for example, or eased the laws against obscenity as public standards changed, or ended segregation. The constitution can be amended. This is how things work in a democracy: People shape the law. But we do not live in a democracy. It just looks that way. In America, the law shapes the people.
And this too is very clever.
The techniques by which an illusion of democracy is sustained are not always obvious. For example, the media by their nature do not permit lateral communication. The newspapers and television constantly bathe you in their values, yet you have no way of responding as they will simply ignore you. Perhaps equally important, you have no way of communicating effectively with others like you.
It may be that ninety percent of people in a given state detest the latest intrusion of the Federal Hollyork complex. To mount resistance, or even to recognize each other’s existence, they would need to talk to each other, which can only be done through the media, which are not about to permit it. Gotcha.
Another useful implement of artificial democracy is the principle of distant anonymous centralization. When you live in a small and reasonably autonomous political unit, as for example a small town or county with a small population, you can wield influence. You can collar the head of the school board, for example, to express your views. You may not get what you want, as others may disagree, but you will be heard.
Today however educational policy is set far away in the state capital, and to a large extent in the federal capital. You as an individual have no influence whatever.
What are you going to do? Call the federal Department of Education? Who would you ask for? To Washington, citizens are nuisances to be sent form letters. Will you write your senator? The lobbyists of the education unions have lunch with him. They give him money, and he listens. You are just a crank to be handled by a soothing secretary. To get the attention of a remote and uninterested government, you would need to mount a massive campaign across the state or the nation. You have neither the time nor the money. You won’t do it. Democracy made sufficiently difficult isn’t democracy.
And then there is that glistening meretricious falsehood: "Ah, but you can vote the rascals out of office." You can’t, really. You have to vote for a party rather than a policy. The two parties are nearly indistinguishable. Both will orate about our precious children who are the future, etc., but neither will buck the teacher’s unions. Both will endlessly engage in sonorous half-literate solecisms about Goodness and Compassion and Diversity. Neither will ever let you vote on race, immigration, affirmative action, diversity, or the Ten Commandments.
It has been brilliantly done.
Fred Reed [send him mail] is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well.