Lessons Not Learned, by Thomas Sowell – a guest post by Amanda S. Green
Most of us grew up hearing the cautionary tale about how we must know history or else we’re doomed to repeat it. If we paid attention to the warning and looked back at history, we’d find more than a few examples where lessons hadn’t been learned and tragedies were repeated. Professor Sowell drives home that point in this essay, included in Controversial Essays.
According to Professor Sowell, “we have missed some of its most blatant and most horrifying lessons.” (CE, p 222) These horrors came under Nazi Germany and from Communist regimes. They resulted from “from concentrations of political power, brought about by heady rhetoric, powerful visions and emotional manipulations.” (CE, p 222)
Looking at that single comment, it almost sounds like the Democrats have been reading Professor Sowell. After all, how many times have we heard them decrying the rhetoric of Trump, condemning him for playing to the emotions of the white supremacists in this country? The problem is they need to look into the mirror and see it applies to them as much, if not more, than it does to the current president. These are the candidates pandering for votes by promising they’d erase college loan debt, free college for everyone, universal healthcare, etc., etc., etc.
Professor Sowell quickly gets to the heart of the matter—and the real danger presented by those liberals who so blithely brush aside the foundations of our republic.
“The constitutional barriers that stand between us and the tyrannies that have swept over other peoples around the world are treated as things to be brushed aside or finessed when those who are skilled with words manipulate our emotions.” (CE, p 222)
We see this at work after every “mass shooting”. Hell, we saw it in full media focus a little more than a week ago after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. It seemed like every liberal politician, and a few so-called conservative ones as well, climbed onto the gun control bandwagon. They did so before all the facts were in and certainly before they learned whether or not the two shooters had obtained the weapons used in the attacks legally or illegally.
You see, those facts don’t matter, not when it comes to the gun control narrative. All that does is that they media and willing politicians whip up enough emotion with the voters of this country to limit our Second Amendment rights. Now the media is going after Trump because he is focusing the gun control conversation on mental health concerns. How dare he even suggest there might be some other explanation for why someone decides to shoot up, or stab or firebomb or anything else a group of people! Doesn’t he know it is the gun that causes the evil deed?
Then there’s this quote, one even more important to remember today than when Professor Sowell first wrote it:
The constitution’s proclamation of “equal protection of the laws” for all Americans is swept aside by saying the magic word “diversity,” while creating preferences and quotas for some at the expense of others. (CE, p 222)
I’ve been alive long enough to remember how the “reverse discrimination” movement in college admissions was hailed as the next best thing to come along to help heal the inequities of years of preferential selecting of whites over minorities for admission. I’ve watched my son have to worry about getting into the college of his choice because he didn’t fit the current diversity requirements. Unlike Lizzie Warren, we chose not to capitalize on our Cherokee heritage and, trust me, we have a hell of a lot more Native American blood in us than she does.
Yet, to challenge these diversity laws and rulings is bring condemnation down on your head. Forget hiring the most qualified person for the job. If you receive state or federal funding for your business or institution, you have certain quotas you must fulfill. Forget about making money for your shareholders. That’s an evil capitalist idea. We must make up for the so-called sins of the past, no matter what the impact on the present or the future.
The first amendment to the constitution says that the right of free speech cannot even be infringed, but that is all forgotten in the stampede for ‘campaign finance reform.’ (CE, p 222)
But it goes beyond that. We have politicians wanting to make it a crime to be critical of them or to make jokes about them. We have colleges and other institutions giving First Amendment protection to AntiFa and similar groups but shutting down the free speech rights of more conservative speakers and organizations. To those “woke” institutions, the fundamental right of Free Speech applies only to certain types of speech, certain “approved” types.
But we are playing with fire when we simply ignore the constitution or find clever ways around it. Without a constitution, we are at the mercy of whatever phrase or fashion sweeps across the political landscape. . . Yet our judges, politicians and the intelligentsia play with fire as if they had never seen the conflagrations. (CE, pp 222-223)
The example Professor Sowell gives is campaign finance, but it applies to so much more. The scary thing is both sides of the political aisle are guilty of trampling on the Constituion when it suits their purposes. We’ve seen presidents use executive orders to circumvent it. We’ve seen Congress passing laws it should reasonably have known would be struck down on appeal. We have even seen the Supreme Court, or at least members of it, trying to rewrite the meaning of certain parts of the Constitution because those portions aren’t, in their opinion, “woke” enough.
Sowell points out that the protections given us by the Constitution are protections millions of others on this Earth would love to have. Unfortunately, we have “agents of change” who have made it their life’s work to dismantle those protections or, at the very least, water them down to insignificance.
The professor hits the proverbial nail on the head with this:
In short, we and our children are being trained to be sheep and to respond automatically to words that strike an emotional chord. We are being set up to be played for suckers by anyone who wants to take up where the totalitarian movements of the 20th century left off.
The very tactics of those totalitarian movements—intimidation, demonization, and disregard of all rules in favor of politically defined results—have become hallmarks of political correctness today. Some people think political correctness is just silly. But many people thought Hitler was just silly before he took power and demonstrated how tragically mistaken they were. (CE, p 224)
Those two paragraphs say it all. The Left wants us to react with emotion, not intellect. They want us to follow blindly. The freedom to question and doubt is not to be allowed. March in lockstep, Comrade, of hie thee to the gulag.
It is up to us to say not only “no” but “hell, no!”. We do that by voting. We do that by speaking up and speaking out. We do that by not supporting media outlets that are nothing more than mouthpieces for the Left that would tear down our Constitution. We do that by teaching our children history, philosophy, economics and so much more. We do it by not abdicating our roles as thinking human beings.
Our country has survived serious trials before. But for it to survive this one, we must be willing to step up. I am. What about you?