It is more of the “great leavening” of the people – a core principle of the Progressive/liberals – where equality means equal outcomes – not equal opportunity – not equal effort or struggle – for people to make of their lives what they will with what their creator has provided them. In the progressive/liberal world, the government will provide you all that you need to ensure “equality” – by which they mean “equal wealth” – more commonly known as “income redistribution”.
Just as equality is a code word with a special meaning for progressive/liberals, so too is fairness. In “liberalspeak” fair really means unfair because, to progressive/liberals, life is a zero-sum game. In order to have winners, there must be losers. Losers are identified through propaganda as the exploiters of the downtrodden – the rich, the white, the straight, the males, the religious, etc.
Throughout our history as a republic, but before the current age of overwhelming information, we have certainly had unique individuals who were also transcendent celebrities – people like Franklin, Washington, both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Sam Clemmons, Charles Lindberg, Babe Ruth and Albert Einstein – to name a few. (Lincoln was too busy with holding the country together to be a celebrity)
None of these however, were celebrated for their differences. They were celebrated for their accomplishments while being as normal as “the next guy”. Franklin fancied himself as Poor Richard; Washington went home when his service was done despite being offered a kingly throne; Teddy Roosevelt was a rancher and common public servant before the Presidency; Franklin Roosevelt forbade any pictures or references to the physical affliction he overcame; Sam Clemons was a newspaper reporter and riverboat captain before Tom, Huck and Becky, and so on.
The importance to society of being “normal” (again, the statistical term) is only reinforced today. How so? Perhaps the most popular institution in America is organized sport – amateur or professional, individual or team, indoor or outdoor. By far the most popular are the team sports; football (college or pro), basketball (college or pro), baseball and soccer. Even America’s only indigenous sport – NASCAR – has become a team sport.
But what makes a successful team? Exploiting commonalities and maximizing the talents of the players by designing a system whereby the individual talents are synchronized and complemented so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. No one individual on a successful team can make it a success. It is the quality of the teamwork that marks greatness. Only when individuals mature and subordinate themselves to the team does success come. Even in solo sports – like tennis or golf – the players have teams of specialists around them.
Why is that? If one individual on a team sticks out by performing at the expense of the team – doing what he wants, when he wants – two things will happen. First, his teammates will resent the selfishness because all have agreed to work together to win and second, the opponent will focus their energy on the “grandstander” and lessen his participation – perhaps even end it.
As mentioned earlier, tribal behavior requires an enemy. For Liberal/Progressives the enemy is the successful, white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian, heterosexual, sober mature male American father and husband. That makes the agnostic, LGBT person of color – or the adolescent acting-out, or the absent father, the very personification of diversity and therefore “favored” in the competition with the “enemy” – so let’s celebrate.
In fact, this is self-centered stupidity for a culture – adolescents act-out by exhibiting bizarre behavior to get attention – either positive or negative – which is success in their immature eyes. But then they grow up and they become mature by learning more productive ways to succeed.
Why would a segment of society celebrate acting-out? Only if it is an adolescent segment of society – a segment led by the immature – also characterized by wanting everything and wanting it “right now”. Maturity, on the “other” (pun intended) hand, values the struggle and appreciates the reward. But, “diversity” is more than that. It is a weapon used by the Liberal/Progressives for “social engineering”, a concept that found its heyday ( a ‘deconstructed’ form of “abject failure”) in the forced busing movement of the 1960s.
Social engineering became a political weapon in the 1960s – primarily in response to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, (overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine created by the Supreme Court in its 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson) – in various liberal urban jurisdictions around America, beginning in Boston, where court ordered busing of school children from historically racially segregated inner-city public schools to outlying schools in the suburbs around major cities and, in some cases, the busing of children from the outlying public schools to the historically racially segregated inner-city schools in order to achieve “racial balance” – what is known today as “diversity’.
To say that the parents of the children from the suburban public schools across America were outraged – especially in the South where minority populations were percentage-wise greater than in the North or West (in some places, whites were the minority) – would be an understatement. The reaction of these parents was immediate and overwhelming. Quite simply, where they could, they established affordable private schools, usually called academies, throughout their school districts and removed their children from the public school system entirely.
These academies have thrived and the associated public school systems have struggled ever since. With the end of forced busing decades later, some cities’ public school systems have recovered some of what was lost (by initiating an independent form of public school known as the “charter school” – free from teacher union control or influence) but those suburban families and their, now adult, children will never go back.
Our own state capital is a classic example. Before busing, the population of Nashville reflected the rest of the South with about a 60/40 split between white and non-white families that were reflected in the public school system as a whole. That racial breakdown of the population in Nashville hasn’t changed all that much in the intervening years but now, of the approximately 80,000 children in the public school system, only about 20,000 are white – and nearly all come from economically challenged families.
The result of this “social engineering” experiment has been the decimation of quality public education in America and the re-segregation of many cities’ public schools due to simple demographics. Almost no family who has a choice will move to a poorly performing school district when fairly affordable non-public education is an option.
Besides existing at all levels of public education, another example of social engineering masquerading as diversity has occurred in the labor force – in hiring-to-quota and artificial wage scales in both the public sector – through government fiat – and in the private sector – through labor union pressure, mob action, biased newspaper reporting and government contracting quota requirements.
Business owners, of course, are not only subject to government regulations and to the public mood, they are also subject to the laws of supply and demand, income and expense and profit and loss. They can only effectively control their expenses so that is what they must always focus on in order to survive. One of the largest expenses any business owner has is the cost of labor, so controlling labor costs – either in wage rates, employee hours or number of employees and the employee mix – is a vital line item.
As a result of the artificial pressures brought by government and their acolytes for “fairness” in the labor force (read federal minimum wage), economic activity for the past half-century has been constrained by artificially high costs and labor expenses have caused the percentage of the work force-actually-employed to fall to historic post-war lows, the poverty rate to climb by more than 50% since 1980 – as has the percentage of American families depending on food stamps. A rousing success for social engineering.
But the favorite spot for the liberal/progressives to employ social engineering has been the military – an area I know well. The military is a captive audience for the federal government. Their response to any lawful order is “Yes sir!” and they will then proceed to professionally carry out that order – no matter how absurd – and hope that it doesn’t cause any losses. What a great sandbox to play in.
Democrat President Harry Truman rightly and courageously ended segregation in the armed forces of the United States in 1948 because it was just plain wrong. Soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen of color had served with distinction in every war this nation has fought. With Executive Order 9981, issued on July 26, 1948, he abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and eventually led to the end of all segregation in the services in 1954.
This was not “social engineering”. It was good leadership on the part of the President who knew that this decision would strengthen the armed forces by making a large, new capable segment of the population look to military service as a viable career option. Unfortunately, that kind of leadership was not universal. Kenneth Claiborne Royall, the Secretary of the Army, was forced into retirement in April 1949 for continuing to refuse to desegregate the army nearly a year after Truman’s Order.
Since then, numerous Chief Executives have caved to pressure from liberal/progressive interest groups to force their most politically advantageous constituencies into the mainstream of the armed forces without regard for their ability to contribute to combat effectiveness – the “sine quo non” of any nation’s military. In fact, mainstreaming the various “favored” groups, has been detrimental to combat effectiveness for numerous reasons. Let’s look at several.
Women – the attitude of American women about their traditional role in society began to change during World War II as many thousands contributed to the war effort in American heavy industry. Unceremoniously sent home at the end of the war, by the mid-1950s, they were no longer willing to accept employment in the secretarial pools or the telephone company’s switchboards. The budding civil-rights movement and several influential books – the scandalous, for the time –Peyton Place by Grace Metalious and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan, as we shall see in a later chapter – focused a large segment of the population on an equal place in society for women. It was called “the women’s rights movement”.
“The Women’s Rights Movement marks July 13, 1848 as its beginning. On that sweltering summer day in upstate New York, a young housewife and mother, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was invited to tea with four women friends. When the course of their conversation turned to the situation of women, Stanton poured out her discontent with the limitations placed on her own situation under America’s new democracy.
Hadn’t the American Revolution been fought just 70 years earlier to win the patriots freedom from tyranny? But women had not gained freedom even though they’d taken equally arduous risks through those dangerous years. Surely the new republic would benefit from having its women play more active roles throughout society. Stanton’s friends agreed with her, passionately. This was definitely not the first small group of women to have such a conversation, but it was the first to plan and carry out a specific, large-scale program.
Within two days of their afternoon tea together, this small group had picked a date for a convention, found a suitable location, and placed a small announcement in the Seneca County Courier. They called “A convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” The gathering would take place at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls on July 19 and 20, 1848. In the history of western civilization, no similar public meeting had ever been called.
These were patriotic women, sharing the ideal of improving the new republic. They saw their mission as helping the republic keep its promise of better, more egalitarian lives for its citizens. As the women set about preparing for the event, Elizabeth Cady Stanton used the Declaration of Independence as the framework for writing what she titled a “Declaration of Sentiments.”
In what proved to be a brilliant move, Stanton connected the nascent campaign for women’s rights directly to that powerful American symbol of liberty. The same familiar words framed their arguments: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
In this Declaration of Sentiments, Stanton carefully enumerated eighteen areas of life where women were treated unjustly. Eighteen was precisely the number of grievances America’s revolutionary forefathers had listed in their Declaration of Independence from England.
The convention was convened as planned, and over the two-days of discussion, the Declaration of Sentiments and 12 resolutions received unanimous endorsement, one by one, with a few amendments. The only resolution that did not pass unanimously was the call for women’s enfranchisement. That women should be allowed to vote in elections was almost inconceivable to many. Lucretia Mott, Stanton’s longtime friend, had been shocked when Stanton had first suggested such an idea. And at the convention, heated debate over the woman’s vote filled the air.
Today, it’s hard for us to imagine this, isn’t it? Even the heartfelt pleas of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a refined and educated woman of the time, did not move the assembly.
Not until Frederick Douglass, the noted Black abolitionist and rich orator, started to speak, did the uproar subside. Woman, like the slave, he argued, had the right to liberty. “Suffrage,” he asserted, “is the power to choose rulers and make laws, and the right by which all others are secured.” In the end, the resolution won enough votes to carry, but by a bare majority.
The Declaration of Sentiments ended on a note of complete realism: “In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule.
After more than 70 years of struggle, in 1919, as the suffrage victory drew near, the National American Woman Suffrage Association reconfigured itself into the League of Women Voters to ensure that women would take their hard-won vote seriously and use it wisely.
In 1920, the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor was established to gather information about the situation of women at work, and to advocate for changes it found were needed. Many suffragists became actively involved with lobbying for legislation to protect women workers from abuse and unsafe conditions.
In 1923, Alice Paul, the leader of the National Woman’s Party, took the next obvious step. She drafted an Equal Rights Amendment for the United States Constitution. Such a federal law, it was argued, would ensure that “Men and women have equal rights throughout the United States.” A constitutional amendment would apply uniformly, regardless of where a person lived.
Continued in my next post.