I love my son. That is a declarative statement with no interjection of a “however” or “but.” That being said my son is a self-described “Marxist” (wince) and an atheist (obvious cringe while simultaneously making the sign of the cross). How his extreme (and make no mistake when he waxes politically it is extreme), political bent evolved is no mystery at all. His thought derived from the very liberal college and graduate school he chose to attend.
The fact that my son absorbed leftist political thought from the institutions that were paid to educate him for an occupation is exactly what David Mamet is excoriating in his book “The Secret Knowledge.” A Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, he writes well, but he also lays out very simply and concretely the views held by the left in this country and then counterbalances them with his conservative thought, that came to him gradually, over time.
He believes that the very liberal doctrine that is infiltrating our public schools and continuing into the graduate schools is not reason, but “devolution from reason to belief.” And the graduates who are spoon fed this belief and gravitate towards it like moths to flame have no employable job skills upon graduation, so they continue in their ivory towers to be employed as professors and eventually administrators.
They become accepted and reinforced by that herd; as Mr. Mamet says, their repetition of liberal thought is how they get their “pellets,” and then they continue to indoctrinate their students into this herd mentality. The students are encouraged to “criticize and dismantle a culture they, in their adolescence, are equipped neither to understand nor participate in.”
Mr. Mamet as a young person in Hollywood and In New York was a liberal who was very successful in his chosen trade of playwriting. But as he grew older, he began to question his own belief system politically and became disillusioned because it was not based on sound reason or proven history.
He suggests that phrases that sounded correct and were accepted by the left as truth then became a code that identifies members of the left and accepts one into the group not based on thought but on the ability to repeat catch phrases. Something he was doing himself. His private thoughts on government, taxation, social justice were anathema to the liberal doctrine he was espousing.
An example: People on the left claim to believe passionately in social justice. But what does this mean? To the liberal mind social justice is a way of caring for the underdog and trying to change his circumstances by not asking them to “do” anything but by persuading people who are successful in this society “to care” about them.
But there’s the rub, we are a nation of law. We have laws in place that state there is no discrimination of opportunity based on race, creed, gender or religion. But, our laws cannot predict that life’s outcome will be equal for everybody. There will be richer, poorer, more successful, and less successful. The social justice mindset wants to manage the outcomes so everybody is raised to a more equal, read affluent, level, not through hard work and equal opportunity but through redistributing the wealth of the successful people.
In other words, the successful give more money to the government and then the government decides who is most worthy to receive the largess. Never mind that the government has not proven to be good stewards of people’s money, and with all our government programs from the New Deal and the War on Poverty the poor and the homeless populations have grown, as well as our national debt.
What is important to the liberal mindset is that the “rich” will have and should have less. The rich show they “care” not by creating more jobs for the populace but by giving away their earned money to a benevolent government. The government’s belief, however erroneous, is that there are people who simply cannot help themselves, and who must depend on government and the opportunity this country offers does not include them, which is an oppressive way to view any set of Americans.
Mr. Mamet gives more examples of liberal beliefs as he explains his transition to conservatism and he is realistic in his approach. As a Jewish man in America, he admits there is anti-Semitism that he experiences that non-Jews probably do not decipher. But he is quick to point out that because of our existing laws of no discrimination in the workplace, being Jewish did not stop him from exploring his talent and bringing it to a level that enabled him to earn a living. As a matter of fact, he and many Jews who assimilated in the American culture have done quite well along with other minorities and immigrants.
Mr. Mamet does acknowledge that the transition from liberal belief to conservative thought was not an easy one. He realized that not being part of the liberal group was losing acceptance and being met with scorn because his liberal group thought they were beyond question and exceptional in their self-righteousness. And like all individuals we like being part of a group especially if many members are our friends.
When my son comes home from school, I would like him to read this book and then maybe we could discuss it civilly without acrimony and perhaps maintain a scintilla of humor. Currently we are mired in this quicksand of bad feeling that we can’t seem to escape. I don’t even understand why politics has to infiltrate our conversations but it has.
A recent phone conversation:
Son: Mom, did you see that Congress is saying that pizza is a vegetable and want to keep it in public school lunches?
Me: (laughing) Yeah. That was pretty funny.
Son: (outraged) How can you laugh? I don’t believe this! They put sugar in the sauce, they add sugar!!
Me: I don’t think pizza at lunch is that big of a deal. And coming from you, laughable, because you refused to eat hardly anything except pizza when you were growing up.
Son: Mom, they are liars. Pizza is not a vegetable.
Me: But isn’t this the same congress of liars you want the wealthy to give more money too? At least Barney Frank is not running for re-election so there will be one less liar.
Son: Barney Frank is a great guy.
Me: (aghast) Barney Frank was/is up to his eyeballs is that Freddie Mac mortgage fiasco that ruined our economy.
Son: Where did you hear that Mom, Fox news? Fox news lies.
Me: Maybe I read it in the Times. It’s still true.
Son: (still outraged) I can not stand this! I gotta go to class. Bye.(hangs up)
Me: (sadly) OK. Still love you. Bye. sigh
Dagger Book Columnist Susan Kelly will appear Thursday, December 8 at 7:30 a.m. on the WAMD 970 AM Morning Show with Maynard Edwards and Cindy Mumby to discuss her review of “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture” by David Mamet.