The Adults in the Room

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“The symbols of freedom and equality that battle during the life of an individual also have a correspondence to their battle in culture. American history in the 20th century offers a good example of this battle between the symbols of freedom and equality.” — John Fraim, Midnight Oil Studios.

We were the first and only nation, Mr. Fraim asserts, to stake a claim at the perilous intersection of opposing symbols — equality and freedom — via foundational proclamation: that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain unalienable rights (freedoms). Equality is conferred by our Creator as a default condition of birth. Freedom and the pursuit of happiness, however, are postpartum endowments that can only be activated by a deliberate decision to live free as adults: precisely what the process of adolescence is designed to invoke. Absent that process, absent that eventual decision, the endowment of equality at birth is squandered. Over time, aspiration turns to desperation, victory to victimhood.

The above, of course, assumes we emerge from childhood in the first place — a metamorphosis that modern consumer culture and the forces of equality will do anything to defer or prevent. All of woke culture — including gender politics, critical race theory, safe spaces, micro-aggressions, incessant victimology, political correctness, moral relativism, identity politics, and soul-crushing student debt — is designed to manufacture a collective infantilism and schoolyard mentality of bullies and victims. Uncorrected, it defers adulthood and produces generational adolescence.

Absent any challenge from the freedom of adulthood, and combined with the compliance mechanism of a default meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital, this artificially induced state of permanent pubescence eventually converts the birthright of equality into a childish and shrill schoolyard demand for equity: fairness, not equality. Conformity, not freedom.

Not surprising, therefore, that in the culture war of the 21st century, fewer and fewer adults (or aging adolescents) are willing to claim what Bahamian minister and leadership consultant Myles Munroe described as the “burden of freedom” for themselves. After all, why risk the burden of freedom when, after six decades of stealthy infiltration into every aspect of public and private life, the forces of equity have already won the institutional war?

Academia, major corporations (including and especially the commercial media, entertainment, and technomedia giants), federal agencies (including and especially the DOJ, DHS, law enforcement and surveillance agencies, and the DOD), major municipal governments, the unions, and global NGOs are already controlled by the adolescent cultural forces of equity, and the inevitable attack on freedom is now everywhere evident: from authoritarian responses to Covid to the extortion of state-sponsored BLM and Antifa violence in the streets. The bottom line is a frontal assault on every freedom enumerated in the Bill of Rights, either by the imposition of authoritarian decree or by the threat of mob rule (including McCarthyite cancellation).

After three generations of treading the fetid waters of the kiddie pool, the defense of freedom is just now starting to reassert itself in the deep end of the world stage. The populist movements that resulted in Brexit and the election of Donald Trump reflect the sentiments of disaffected and disenfranchised citizens in numbers large enough to reject generations of oppressive trade policies and character assassination fashioned and enforced by distant and imperious bureaucrats who know nothing about the lives of the feudal serfs they lord over, and — in the end — care only about their own hegemony and enrichment. We see the adult forces of freedom at work also in the demise and irrelevance of the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, the cacophony we hear and write about today is the sound of a once great political party, the self-proclaimed defender of women, gender rights, people of color and the working man, writhing in agony along with its duplicitous proxies in academia, entertainment, commercial media, the unions, and government agencies at all levels. Hoisted on their collective petard, they are finally being exposed as the perennial defenders of the very institutional racism, sexism, corporatism, and oligarchy they claim to reject. The liberating resistance forces of the 1960s became the institutional enforcement forces of the status quo in the 21st century.

In retrospect, it’s easy to understand why the forces of equity reacted so violently to the election of Donald Trump. Compelled to stand on the sidelines while Trump wreaked havoc on their entire game plan, they could only watch in horror while almost six decades of patient nation building, domestic and global, were systematically attacked by a former reality TV star. What should have been another eight years of elitist control by the forces of equity under Hillary Clinton was reduced instead to an endless tantrum from the children in the room.

The anguished schoolyard whine from the left is especially strident from those in the biggest media markets on both coasts, where the institutional responses to Covid were and remain most childish and extreme: utter acquiescence on the one hand and brutal violence on the other. It’s in these perennially corrupt one-party towns that disingenuous calls to follow the science accompanied uncontested lockdowns at the hands of disdainful autocrats and technomedia elites who deign — from the safety of gated and guarded enclaves — to applaud and describe the looting, murder, and mayhem on the other side of the tracks as mostly peaceful protests. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell would be appalled and vindicated in equal measure to witness the remarkable confluence of their respective dystopian visions — as Huxwell — in such vivid UltraHD relief.

The youth counterculture and anti-war movements of the 1960s were about personal freedom and liberty. The primary targets of their protests at the time were the universities, reviled citadels of an oppressive status quo. Fade out, fade in: Three generations later, the young radicals of the 1960s are now tenured Ivy League professors, the high priests of tortured and toxic insults to humanity like gender and critical race theory. Now ensconced as first-line defenders of the very institutions they once attacked as oppressive, they care far less about freedom and liberty and far more about the ideological purity of their own ranks, far less about the liberal traditions and disciplines of critical thought and far more about their own pensions.

Three generations later, the universities remain as the citadels and gatekeepers of oppression — only immensely enriched and empowered. As the financially indentured product of elitist, neo-fascist activists rather than responsible educators, the entitled youth resistance movement of today is the exact opposite of their 1960s counterpart: with little or no interest in freedom and liberty. They concern themselves only with the manufactured diversity of everything except thought — a bill of goods sold to them ad nauseum by the wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs in history. Just follow the money and ask yourself who really profits from public fealty to Covid-19 lockdowns and BLM/Antifa riots in the streets. Ask yourself who really profits from mask and vaccine mandates. Who really profits from student debt?

The children in the room will always argue for equality and fairness above all else because society rightfully grants them the freedom to behave like children without the burden conferred by the contemplation of deferred gratification or long-term consequence. By contrast, the adults in the room will argue for freedom above all else because they have worked hard — in spite of all inequality and injustice — to wrest it from the forsaken bonds of childhood and adolescence. And because they are old enough to remember the lessons of the 20th century.

Long story short: the defense of freedom and liberty requires the adults in the room to behave like the adults in the room.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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