Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: “Without ideas held in common there is no common action and without common action there may still be men but there is no social body in order that society should exist and a fortiori that a society should prosper it is necessary that the minds of all the citizens should be rallied and held together by certain predominant ideas.”
Grandiose infantile delusions of entitlement; what a spectacular expression. I first learned it in the 1990s when I took my 2000 hour residency in clinical pastoral education to be a hospital chaplain. And here we are in the 2020’s and the entitlement has expanded. Now it includes calls for the right to free stuff: education, healthcare, housing, food and a get out of jail free card. My, my, aren’t we so entitled.
But this entitlement has taken on a more sinister meaning because of critical race theory and diversity politics. “Critical race theory (CRT), the view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of colour. According to critical race theory (CRT), racial inequality emerges from the social, economic, and legal differences that white people create between “races” to maintain elite white interests in labour markets and politics, giving rise to poverty and criminality in many minority communities. The CRT movement officially organized itself in 1989, at the first annual Workshop on Critical Race Theory, though its intellectual origins go back much further, to the 1960s and ’70s.”
Critical race theory is nothing more, nor less than a divisive political ideology diametrically opposed to the concept of one nation, one people and the common good. Diversity politics promotes the same divisiveness by dividing all people into smaller groups based on “identity.” As the late Rabbi Sacks wrote, they “promote the selfish gene, not the gene of compassion and cooperation.”
Now we have new words of entitlement- Racist and Karen.
We should all know the meaning of racist by now. Karen is relatively new. “Karen” has, in recent years, become a widespread meme referencing a specific type of middle-class white woman, who exhibits behaviours that stem from privilege.
I was called Racist and Karen by a young, non-white woman who was upset when I informed her that she was parking illegally on my street which is more or less a one lane road. How dare I? But heaven forbid that she move because she was just there to enjoy the view with her boyfriend. It seems she didn’t like to be told what to do. I guess it reminded her of her parents. She suddenly turned to me and the language that came out of her mouth would’ve given her mother a heart attack, but that wasn’t enough. She decided to take out her phone and video the conversation as she screamed, “You Racist Karen.” I had to laugh because she was not much darker than I am. Except it wasn’t funny: Her sense of entitlement to break laws because of race is dangerous.
She has learned that Black Lives Matter and apparently no one else. I am done with BLM. DONE. All lives matter. Period.
There were two women walking up the street and I asked them to witness the event. Oh no. Not today. They did not want to get involved! Perhaps they feared being on video and then, heaven forbid, on social media! And possibly “canceled” by strangers on social media. When bystanders are too afraid to stand up to hate and intolerance we all suffer. How sad they did not realize that their freedom, too, was at stake. Cancel culture has canceled the Golden Rule: Do not do to others what is hateful to you. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I think that says everything about the fall of our democracy and freedoms.
Racist and Karen are the words used today by young people who have nothing to say. No logical retort. They have learned that screaming Racist or Karen let’s them feel righteous while ending the conversation. The parking signs did not exclude non-white people but she seemed to feel that her rights were being trampled because she was told not to park in a no parking zone. She had learned from school that she was special; she was entitled. She didn’t have to follow the rules because she wasn’t white. White people are bad people. They are oppressors and privileged (Tell that to “white” families who have lost their meagre income because of Covid); so we can never listen to anything they may say. This attitude comes from critical race theory. It has overtaken our concept of dignity of the person. And that dignity includes equality of respect. Somewhere along the way we have moved away from “freedom to” commitment to “freedom from” commitment and that commitment included caring for others and respecting our elders.
This is also the result of teaching the pursuit of self. All about me. I am so special. And now we have added hate of the other into our culture through critical race theory and diversity politics – dividing us into multiple groups based on race, colour, creed, and sexual orientation, pitting one group, one tribe, against another, rather than uniting us as one people, a nation held together by common shared stories, common values, common morals, a common language. The teaching that all people are born with equal intrinsic value and all life is sacred. As I quoted in my book Back to the Ethic: Reclaiming Western Values: “Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious stutterers in their actions as in their words.” (Alasdair MacIntyre).
It seems those who scream Racist, Karen, are “stuttering” in response to anything with which they disagree. They have embraced race over compassion; personal rights over group responsibilities. They have themselves become oppressors, silencing the “other” because they have not been taught our shared stories, our shared humanity based on the Judeo/Christian ethic that underpins the Constitutions of all Western democracies. That is a failure of our education system and a failure of government to teach the wonders of freedom and democracy.
The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote about covenant in his book, “Morality.” He wrote “Covenant is about what we have in common despite our differences. It speaks to us as activist citizens sharing collective responsibility. It is not the politics of “Us” against “Them”; it is the politics of ‘all of us together.’
Our society is devolving. Western culture is declining.
We have become a house divided. And a house divided will fall.
From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”