According to the adage, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Edward Albee, a playwright of the first order, portrayed conjugal discontent and academic hypocrisy in one of the memorable plays of our time “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”
We are not truly imitating but rather seeking inspiration in this explosive dramatic work. Consequently, there will be major deviations from the original plot line. The ferocity of marital disharmony that this play encapsulated will remain the nexus of our novella. Political affiliations and acrimony will replace the original jealousy and spousal conflicts in this tale.
It is painfully obvious that “Identity politics” divides us into warring groups or clans. This story is a fable of sorts; it delves into why we can admire people who are very close to us yet violently disagree with their ideas and preferences. Do the seeds of discord always weaken the bonds that unite us?
Greg and Alicia Reynolds, a young academic couple, were very compatible and happy in their marriage. Greg was an assistant professor of English at an elite private college in the New England area. He was very ambitious and could imagine himself one day becoming the chairman of the department.
Alicia had been in graduate school with Greg and, like so many other young scholars, they had fallen in love and married. She was also three months pregnant and working on a part-time basis at a local university teaching freshman English composition. She had postponed finishing her doctorate to prepare for motherhood and handle the vast quantity of student essays she had to grade.
Richard and Elizabeth (“Beth”) Hernstein were an established presence in that small but distinguished school. Richard was chair of the English Department, a widely published scholar, and quite a force in academic politics. If he liked you, your future was assured. If, for some reason, he took a dislike to you, your career would be seriously compromised. Staying on his good side was very important.
Richard’s wife, Beth, had been his student some twenty-five years ago and had fallen prey to his seductive manners and open pursuit of her as a sexual partner. Power, as they say, is a powerful aphrodisiac.
In due time, Richard divorced his wife and introduced Beth into his world — first as a mistress and then, a short while later, as a bride who catered to his every wish. Over the years, she had become an indispensable hostess who carefully managed their social calendar.
In his field Richard was well known and his charismatic personality won over those who had doubts about his sincerity and competence. The department became a fiefdom and he was the feudal lord who commanded his vassals.
Greg and Alicia had been invited to dinner at the Hernsteins and the young couple was very excited about strengthening their relationship with the departmental head.
Greg was appropriately liberal and had learned the “narrative” of progressivism that other faculty members also embraced with conviction but, to be frank, sometimes out of necessity. Conservative minds were not welcome in the humanities and certainly not in the English department.
Greg was very “woke” in his beliefs and championed “systemic white racism” with the usual platitudes that he had been carefully taught during his graduate school years.
At home, his brothers and sisters were moderately liberal but seemed conservative in his eyes. Upon occasion he would preach the new social philosophy of diversity and inclusion but it fell on deaf ears for the most part.
As the youngest of the family, Greg appeared out of touch with their interests and strongly-held principles. They believed in being good citizens (which was never mentioned in Greg’s screed), faithful Christians who sought to do good works for those in need (also rejected by their brother’s anti-religious ideas), and an unconditional patriotism that justified the sacrifices of many relatives who had served in the Armed Forces (contrary to Greg’s globalist and “citizen of the world” tenets. Progressives firmly believed that militarism and neo-colonialism were black marks on America’s history.).
Needless to say, family get-togethers at the Reynolds could sometimes end up in tense political debates that made everyone feel uncomfortable.
Alicia came from a conservative background, but, like so many young people, she had initially rejected her parents’ beliefs in favor of globalism and the woke ideology that was omnipresent among graduate students.
Once she met Greg, she got involved with students whose progressive commitments seemed almost revolutionary. Many would take time off and demonstrate for radical causes, sometimes out of state.
There were “Black Lives Matter” and “Antifa” proponents in their ranks. These radicals brooked no opposition to their “wokish” ideas.
Leftists did not work for the good of the whole. The legal introduction of a socialist and anti-military lifestyle was the initial step towards the acquisition of power without which there would be no leverage for societal renovation.
In time, America could be restructured to conform to a new version of a compliant and quasi pacifist nation–freely accepting minorities from all countries. Adventurous militarism abroad would be a thing of the past. Fossil fuels would be phased out no matter what the immediate consequences might be. As the German and Italian fascists predicted during the nineteen thirties, “tomorrow” would belong to them.
Globalism and the unification of progressives from all countries would be the focus of our foreign policy. America’s massive wealth and military prowess would be used to unite and not to divide or conquer our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
Greg and his classmates had been lectured repeatedly about the need for economic parity among nations. As citizens of the world they would adhere to the regulations established by international organizations whose resolutions would apply to the United States as well as impoverished nations in Asia and Africa.
Sacrifices would be made to insure that those in Sudan who were suffering from internecine warfare would be fed. Our farms surpluses would be donated to needy villagers in every country where starvation ravaged the countryside. We were the breadbasket of the forsaken throughout the world.
Our mission was clear: make those in need better off even at the expense of our fellow citizens.
Socialism in its modern form was categorical: we could not hoard our plentiful agricultural resources for personal or national use. Even our petroleum reserves were being sold off to combat rising gasoline prices and, in some cases, being transferred to foreign nations in need.
It was only through sharing and freely giving that we could fulfill our true historical destiny. As citizens of the world, we are morally obligated to combat misery and deprivation from all national or ethnic origins.
Social science professors at Greg’s university underscored this reality to all their students; it became a leitmotif of progressive beliefs that warned of rising sea levels and the carbon-laden extinction of life on the planet if drastic measures were not taken.
The recalcitrant hard-liners in the Republican Party, who believed that Americans should put their own needs first, were nativists who disdained the suffering of the less fortunate.
Through unity of purpose and political activism, the national ethos and world order could be changed—it was simply a matter of time and commitment before geo-centric militants would succeed in their undertaking.
Greg had participated in many demonstrations during his graduate school years to insure a more equitable future. He had waved banners and shouted slogans demanding a carbon-free world and new power resources from wind, solar, and electrical means.
Like so many young dissenters, he was staunchly opposed to nuclear plants and the use of highly radioactive materials that leached into our biosphere substrata.
Alicia, however, had the uncomfortable feeling that a certain number of students were members of an underground cabal that envisioned the overthrow of the current government. A Marxist economic system and a complicit judiciary would rectify the misdeeds of the past. A “green” way of life with the cooperation of corporate America would prevail.
Progressive representatives would have to be elected to Congress who would fight for the new social order. The progressives would be the foot soldiers of change. The outdated institutions of the past would be modified to meet the demands of a modernized country that was charged with making the world a safer and more livable space.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were old-fashioned, white-engendered documents that no longer served a functional purpose. After all, everything had changed since 1787; no political treatise was appropriate for all ages. The new era would be “post-Constitutional” and open to laws that responded to current exigencies, not the rules of the eighteenth century.
The Electoral College had become a racist body that downplayed the importance of the majority vote. It would have to be abolished at the earliest opportunity. “One man, one vote” would be the criterion that determined the outcome of presidential elections. This was the case in the vast majority of industrialized democracies.
The Supreme Court should be expanded to reflect the greater diversity of the country. Nine justices, appointed for life, were too few to represent all facets of the nation. It was essential to return to Franklin Roosevelt’s wish to have at least fifteen justices who represented a wide-spread difference of opinion.
Change of any sort was difficult; those who resisted would be “cancelled” or eliminated in the most direct and effective manner possible. Legal protections would be circumvented by complicit prosecutors as well as indifferent or unresponsive law enforcement personnel. As President Biden recently warned, our democracy was at stake from the MAGA extremists together with the dictatorial agenda of Donald Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party.
The Trumpian message of “America First” would become “America for All,” a land of infinite plenty that would welcome everyone who suffered from deprivation or were politically alienated in their home countries. The FBI and other police agencies of the government were justified in intervening in MAGA affairs to suppress their undermining of our democratic way of life…planting the seeds of discord.
Millions of illegal migrants were now crossing our borders and flowing into the American heartland with very little supervision or vetting. The conservatives were sounding the alarm but Washington had no policy to stem their massive influx. It was our national destiny to welcome the oppressed and disenfranchised from all countries and walks of life.
Progressives assured us, however, that the newcomers would inject fresh blood and energy into the mainstream of a nation set in its ways. Conservatives had to be dragged into a pluralistic future. If they resisted, their voices would eventually be silenced by the progressive majority.
The doors to refugees would be opened wide not restricted; borders would be only geographical boundaries, not barriers to new generations who would populate our country.
The generosity of American citizens would provide for these undocumented migrants that we morally and ideologically had to take into our towns, cities, and places of work. The subsidies required to sustain them during their period of adaptation and “transition” would eventually be repaid by immigrant taxes and acquired wealth.
The socialist orientation of the economy would take from those who had in abundance and redistribute this income to those in need. Taxes would be raised on everyone to offset the massive expenditures these policies would require.
Monetary policy was irrelevant; the Treasury would simply print the money it needed to implement these social programs. Inflation was a transitory inconvenience that all Americans should learn to accept.
Physical walls or other obstacles to entry would be torn down.
All things considered, this was the “American way.” We were and are the last hope for mankind, so we have been told. Our growing ethnic and national diversity would make us stronger than ever. Sacrifices during this adaptive period were required for the betterment of all.
The nativists and racists of the MAGA movement would be investigated and imprisoned when necessary. Due process was an outmoded concept in times of national emergency. The enemy that threatens our national sovereignty is within our borders and not primarily in foreign countries!
The progressives had every assurance that the Praetorian guards in Washington would enforce presidential diktats. Intelligence services would be used to intimidate and dissuade any form of conservative opposition. When necessary, these entities would be “weaponized’ in the service of a noble cause.
Indeed, those who do not conform to the precepts of the woke movement will be prosecuted. Homes will be invaded and anyone found “guilty” of a misdemeanor will be arrested if they oppose the “narrative” of the moment.
As we have recently learned with surprise and alarm, even past presidents, once assured of not being pursued for so-called minor “criminal” activities, have now become victims of the misdirected policies of the current administration.
No one is now safe from abusive police tactics.
As the Russian strongman, Vladimir Lenin, once said in defense of the massive social disorder that Marxism and the Bolshevik Revolution would cause in transforming Russian society: “to make an omelet, you must first break eggs.” And even more chilling: “Give me a child for eight years and you will have a Bolshevik.”
One of Stalin’s closest allies and head of the Soviet secret police, Lavrentiy Berea, is alleged to have said, “Show me the man, and I will show you the crime.”
Greg and his graduate school colleagues had been taught that the initial steps of this radical agenda would be to capture the minds of the young. This was currently being done nation-wide in grammar schools and then bit by bit in middle and high schools.
The woke ideology dictated that tolerance for all races and gender identities would be imposed by force. “Trans” individuals would be granted their legal rights and protected from discrimination; if not, the full weight of the law would be invoked to oppose those who objected.
Sexual identity would be a question of personal choice, not biological destiny. The physical reality of DNA would be shunted aside in favor of non-scientific beliefs that boys can be girls or girls can be boys by fiat.
Parents who objected to this brainwashing would be charged with criminal interference with school administrators and harassed by local authorities and even the FBI. The seeds of hate and suspicion had to be sewn at the earliest moment.
Next, the military, with the full cooperation of its commanding officers, would teach the inequality of American history and the fact that being white gave millions of citizens an undeserved advantage in life.
Homosexuality would be celebrated by “drag” and “queer” festivities as a sign of the new military consciousness. Any solider who objected would be sanctioned or dismissed from the military. “Transition” from one sex to another would be covered by military funds. The old prejudice against gays in the military had been disallowed. The exclusionary policies of the past were now non-operative.
Authoritarian discipline would be replaced by a more sensitive approach to training and integration into military life. A progressive social consciousness would be the mantra of military conduct. The armed forces of the future would be “woke.”
The ferocity of hand-to-hand combat had been replaced by sophisticated armaments that men and women could easily manipulate. An informed and digitally-aware soldier would be more useful than a “grunt” of the past with upper-body strength.
Next, as Greg and his activist students had learned, the university elites would preach the gospel of identity politics and systemic white racism to an entire generation of fertile minds who would then carry their doctrines from the classroom to the market place.
America would be transformed, not by electoral choice and enacted laws, but by rising generations who believed that the old ways were unjustifiable and a new country should be created to replace the sins of the past. A tsunami of progressive converts would lay the foundation for a world that rejected patriarchy and white domination.
The tenets of the nascent woke society would be: diversity is our strength and gender identity is malleable, not pre-determined.
“Whiteness” should at all costs be eliminated together with its privileges and malignant ideas about hegemony and national uniqueness. All of these transformations would occur once full power had been acquired by progressive advocates.
With these ideas firmly anchored in Greg’s head, he could face the future with confidence. His generation and fellow activists were on the right side of history.
On the other hand, Alicia’s concerns were not political but maternal for the most part. Out of habit, she and Greg would critique the nightly news programs on a regular basis. Left-leaning commentators were admired; right-wing pundits were ridiculed and summarily dismissed.
In their eyes, reason and common sense dictated that the past was heavily flawed and therefore had to be remade in the image of a more progressive and just future. That vision inspired their political choices.
Not all this propaganda was unquestioned, however. Alicia, without discussing the subject with her husband, harbored doubts about children being taught to despise their historical ancestors. Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and many others (all white, of course) had risked their lives to found a nation that was little more than a bold political experiment at the time. Representative democracy and states’ rights were unheard of in Western societies at the end of the eighteenth century. Monarchies and autocracies had been the proven forms of government for centuries.
Critical race theory, Alicia knew, condemned the founding fathers because the majority of them were slave-owners, in particular George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In those days, elected representatives to Congress were members of the landed gentry, especially in Virginia which depended on slave labor to survive in an agrarian economy.
This exploitation of human beings contradicted the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights.”
The term “men” referred only to white Europeans and not to tribal Africans or the Asian hordes. Without the free labor provided by slavery, the South could not have prospered prior to the Civil War. Economic progress would have been severely limited even in the North and America’s political and military readiness would have been compromised when facing its enemies abroad.
Conservative proponents observed that slavery was an institution that had been practiced world-wide for more than three thousand years and is still common even today in Africa and many other countries. In America Illegal migrants are held in servitude by criminal cartels and women are forced into prostitution to pay their debts to the drug lords.
This inconvenient truth was of little interest to the progressive media and politicians who sought power through promoting the victimization of those historically deprived of justice.
“White guilt” was at the heart of their political ambitions. The criminals from Third World countries were not mentioned in their reportages about the porous Southern border.
Inquiring journalists who brought these issues to the forefront would be “cancelled” by their colleagues and accused of being conspiracy theorists.
Both Washington and Jefferson either freed their slaves or proposed their gradual manumission after the Revolutionary War ended. Does this mean that slavery was somehow morally defensible? Were these men individuals of questionable character and not worthy of admiration from a historical perspective? Progressives dismissed their contributions as based on self-interest and blatant hypocrisy.
Greg and his student militants were convinced this complicity was irremediable; in their opinion, George Washington and other revolutionaries were not committed to the “equality of all men.” Slavery for them was a convenient means of preserving their wealth and social position. Desecrating their statues in protest riots was justifiable in light of the injustices of the past.
Conservatives have long argued, nevertheless, that the courage and foresight of these patriots were indispensable in the founding of a nation where people of color, especially of African origin, were in the long run given opportunities to overcome legal and social obstacles in their struggle for equality. How many blacks would voluntarily return to their home countries in Africa if given the chance?
If America is fatally corrupted by its racist past, why do hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of “people of color” from abroad seek to immigrate to our shores?
These were questions that Alicia worried about. She was hoping that her child would be accurately informed about the past but not forced to choose between universal condemnation or a mindless celebration of American history.
Would her son be “privileged”? Yes, undoubtedly, but he would also be forced to compete with his peers to secure a place in society. Competition and meritocracy, she knew, were aspects of “white supremacy” except in athletic events.
Academic disciplines that required right or wrong answers were also systemically racist. Mathematics and other scientific subject matters had to be modified to account for the negative outcomes of slavery.
The intellectual gaps between Whites and blacks were the result of white privilege and systemic racism. All progressives accepted these differences as a societal deficiency and not a genetic or natural phenomenon.
The tentacles of slavery and racism had coiled around generations of black youth and kept them from reaching parity with their white counterparts.
She had tentatively expressed these views to Greg who seemed conflicted about how they should raise their son. They agreed that the truth about many historical events would be presented in an impassionate manner.
The aftereffects of slavery, the Civil War, and women’s liberation among others would also be emphasized. Was America a “bad” country with a severely compromised past or was it forever changing and trying to adapt to a new and challenging dynamic?
Greg admitted that positive steps had been taken to atone for past sins but, as expressed in “systemic white racism,” the privilege of whiteness would forever relegate minorities to a secondary status. In addition, all these ideas were constantly being discussed in a media that was never critical of woke ideology and its concerns for planetary conservation and atmospheric purity.
There was widespread affirmation in the press and television news programs that progressives were right and advocates of the past were wrong. The suppression of conservative views was considered essential to the preservation of national unity.
Questioning left-wing ideas was destabilizing and could not be given credence of any sort. Introducing wedges of doubt in the narrative was counter to long-term policies.
Danger lurked at every turn and had to be dealt with aggressively.