I've been re-reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism for a longer term project, and I was struck by the following passage:
Orwell's was a daddy-dystopia, where the state is abusive and bullying, maintaining its authority through a permanent climate of war and the manufacture of convenient enemies. Huxley's is a maternal misery, where man is smothered with care, not cruelty. But for all our talk these days about manliness, individualism, and even the ‘nanny state,' we still don't have the vocabulary to fight off nice totalitarianism, liberal fascism.
With that distinction in mind, let us revisit It Takes a Village. On page after page, Clinton extols the idea that just about everything is a health issue. Divorce should be treated like a "public health issue" because it creates stress in children. The very basics of parenting are health issues because "how infants are held, touched, fed, spoken to, and gazed at" determines whether our brains can be "hijacked" by our emotions, potentially making us murderously violent.
This jumped out at me because, just last week, the group of Indians trying to force the Washington Redskins to change their name—by law, if that's what it takes—has decided to couch their argument in exactly this sort of language:
During their meeting, [Oneida Nation representative Ray] Halbritter cited that Native Americans have the lowest life expectancy, the lowest quality of living, and one of the highest rates of teen suicides in the nation. He said that the team's name, which is a dictionary defined racial slur, has destructive effects on his people and Native American people everywhere, and introduced a psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Friedman, who conducted a report on the psychological effects of the Washington football team's name on Native American people.
Can we first note how absurd it is for Halbritter and co to blame the endemic problems of the Native American community on something as trivial as a football team name? A football team name that, as Rick Reilly has noted, is proudly embraced by a number of Native Americans and Native American institutions? It's Dan Snyder's fault that Native Americans are psychological train wrecks? That their communities have been ravaged by any number of social pathologies? Let's leave aside the fact that the buck-passing here is extraordinary: "Our neighborhoods are trainwrecks, and it's all Dan Snyder's fault!" Are we actually supposed to believe this tripe?
Of course we are. And we are not only supposed to believe it, we are supposed to actively work to help ameliorate this utterly manufactured controversy. And how better to fix it than by using the naked force of the government to bend Dan Snyder to our will? The people have spoken! How dare Snyder stand in the way of progress? Doesn't he understand the damage that he is doing to the fragile egos of our nation's most vulnerable citizens? What sort of monster is he?
As Goldberg noted, "We still don't have the vocabulary to fight off nice totalitarianism, liberal fascism." And I doubt we'll develop one in time to help Dan Snyder.