Our Scarlett O'Hara Moment
by Gail Jarvis
by Gail Jarvis
They say truth is stranger than fiction and this is certainly the case in our contemporary society, as evidenced by these news stories I came across recently.
Politically correct types have demanded that sign language for deaf people be altered because it contains insensitive gestures.
A college professor has recommended that the military create a "Pink Beret" corps for Gay & Lesbian soldiers.
The rap group Outkast won the Album of the Year Grammy with its album "Speakerboxx/The Love Below." The album contains profanity-laced songs with titles such as "Where are My Panties?" "She Lives in My Lap" and "Vibrate."
Jesse Jackson is proposing a lawsuit against South Carolina because the state's percentage of black judges is less than the percentage of the black population.
Environmentalists have chided Christians for wearing palm-fronds on Palm Sunday because the harvesting of palms has the potential to destroy rain forests.
A senator has introduced a bill to create an "Office of Minority Health." He claims "it is needed to make sure that whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians all have the same rates of health problems, including being overweight."
These stories present a snapshot of a society that we couldn't have imagined a few decades ago. In fact, if someone had suggested that events like these would happen, they would have been laughed at. But they are happening now and they are a powerful indication of how our way of life is being radically altered. Yet, after reading about these events, I suddenly realized that I was neither shocked nor surprised. Because we read news stories like these everyday, my non-reaction is understandable.
On the other hand, I am surprised that there are those, and I receive email from them frequently, who maintain that events like the ones I am describing are making America "a better place." They insist our society is simply more "inclusive and involved" and we are "righting old wrongs" as we move from a monocultural to a multicultural society. My correspondents even claim that we have more freedoms now including more freedom of speech than in the past. Types like me are dismissed with the argument that throughout history members of previous generations have frowned on changes made by subsequent generations. Predictably, I am accused of wanting to turn back the clock.
But opposition to today's radical cultural changes is not limited to members of previous generations. It crosses generational lines. And there is a difference between turning back the clock and trying to rescue customs that have held our society together. Our traditions are being replaced with hypothetical theories that, although bolstering fashionable social trends, might have undesirable long-range consequences. Each of the news stories I listed is evidence of these trends. Regrettably, we have become so inured to stories like these that we have almost abandoned hope of salvaging any of our time-tested traditions.
However, it might be possible if enough people could be convinced of the seriousness of the situation. The difficulty lies in the fact that the things we value are eradicated incrementally over a period of time. So, while we might grumble about individual societal changes, in the end, we accept them. We don't connect the dots and envision their collective damage to our society. And our lethargy has encouraged cultural elites to accelerate the rate of change to where we now read about outrageous attacks on our culture on a daily basis.
Some rationalize their lethargy with the argument that many of the social changes being sought will fail because of their absurdity. Consequently, like Prohibition, certain social experiments will eventually be phased out. The misguided hate-crime laws are offered as a prime example. Already activist groups are attempting to abuse these laws for suspect reasons; i.e., a Jewish advocacy group wanted hate-crime laws used to ban Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. As more of these ridiculous demands are made, there is a strong likelihood that the unrealistic hate-crime laws will be drastically amended or repealed.
But we shouldn't assume that all ill-advised innovations will fail. We know that their proponents have been very successful in concealing their true agendas and stifling dissent. And even an absurd social change can thrive if its advocates have enough political clout. This is because politicians only listen to those whom they think can back up their words with action and money. Consequently, much of the counterproductive social legislation of recent decades persists even though the majority of Americans oppose it. Although we oppose it, our opposition has not been forceful.
But what if a substantial segment of "fly-over people" became heated enough to abandon their apathy and form a mutiny against this tyrannical captain: the cultural elites?
I know it is quite a stretch, but with your indulgence, I want to draw an analogy between "fly-over people" and Scarlett O'Hara. (No. I'm not kidding.) Most of you recall the powerful scene that rings down the curtain on part one of the film version of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind. Scarlett, on the brink of despair, is suddenly gripped with an unflinching determination to overcome all odds.
The scene unfolds like this:
After cautiously making her way through the smoldering ruins of Georgia left by General Sherman‘s march to the sea, Scarlett is elated to see that Tara, her family home, is still standing. But her excitement slowly fades. First, she learns her mother is dead. Next, she is informed by the two remaining house servants that Union troops have confiscated the livestock, torn down the barn for firewood; taken all the food, and stripped the house of anything of value. Finally, Scarlett realizes her father has become mentally deranged.
So Scarlett, who has led a pampered life surrounded by servants, realizes that, without provisions or resources, she is now responsible for an unbalanced father, her two spinster sisters, a newborn infant, the infant's feeble mother and the servants.
In a daze, she leaves the house and slowly makes her way to what remains of the garden. Spotting a green stalk, she grabs it and pulls a radish out of the earth, wipes off dirt and, like a wild animal, savagely gnaws on it. She chokes, retches and falls to the ground, weeping. Eventually, she becomes quiet. Then, with an effort, she stands. Raising a clenched fist she exclaims: "As God is my witness, they're not going to lick me! I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again! No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill, as God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"
Scarlett O'Hara's personal epiphany is as dramatic as the events leading to it. The events we face are not as dramatic but are a serious threat to our society. Scarlett's world was annihilated by war; ours is being systematically undermined by cultural narcissism and short-sighted social experiments. Whereas much of the destruction to Scarlett's world was physical and therefore capable of being repaired, it is our American traditions, the foundations of our Western civilization, that are being willfully shattered and these cannot be resurrected.
Like Scarlett, in the beginning we stayed aloof from these noxious cultural changes because most of us felt we weren't personally affected by them. But on one level, we sensed that the appalling events we read about would one day touch our lives and the lives of our families. At that point, we could circle the wagons but until then, like Scarlett, we could blithely pursue our preferred lifestyles. We could remain spectators until the realities of the outer world intruded on us. The threats to us are not as immediate and severe as those Scarlett faced, but the consequences of our inaction can be just as devastating.
Scarlett O'Hara's circumstances escalated fairly quickly and she had to choose between capitulation or resistance. Our circumstances are moving at a slower pace that allows us to capitulate gradually and hope for a deus ex machina. Sadly, outside of Greek drama, deus ex machina seldom appear. So the responsibility for salvaging what we can of our culture rests on our shoulders.
The action we take could be as simple as being willing to state publicly what we say in private conversations. We could write letters to newspapers and our congressmen; make complaints to government agencies. Or it may require something more drastic, drastic enough to make politicians fear us as much as they fear grievance groups. To develop the doggedness necessary for such a confrontation, we might need something to push us into a "Scarlett O'Hara Moment" where we raise our clenched fists and vow adamantly : "They're not going to lick us!"
Such a moment cannot be anticipated. It will spontaneously occur when we experience something that can be defined as "the last straw."
Possibly, it will happen when we truly examine our children's textbooks and notice the marginalization of religion, especially Christianity; the mockery of the benefits of heterosexual marriage, and the gender-bias against boys.
Or it might happen when we are making an emergency call to a government agency. Now we have to choose between English or Spanish before we can proceed further. But how will we react when we have to wait for a list of choices — English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Filipino and Korean?
The powerful moment might be precipitated if we are forced to attend a mandatory diversity workshop and suffer through the facilitator's ongoing praise of moral relativism coupled with the obligatory harangue against "Straight White Males."
Whatever it takes to trigger our much needed Scarlett O'Hara Moment, let's pray it happens soon.
April 6, 2004
Gail Jarvis [send him mail], a CPA living in Beaufort, SC, is an advocate of the voluntary union of states established by the founders.
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com