Like most countries, the United States has flaws that need to be addressed. But a determination must be made regarding which flaws are doing the greatest harm and should be the primary focus of remedial efforts. For too long, mainstream media, academia, and the entertainment field have made that determination without consulting the public. And they have been able to convince a skeptical public of the correctness of their decision. One of the reasons they've had success manipulating the public is the phenomenon known as “dumbing down.” This term is not a recent creation, but actually was coined in the early 1930's movie industry. To attract a larger viewing audience, scriptwriters were told to “dumb down” screen plays “to appeal to those of little education or intelligence.”
When I say the public has been dumbed down, I don't mean they're stupid, but are easily manipulated by media. Since the late 1950s, dumbing down and media hype have had too much influence on the public. To sell an unacceptable social change to the populace, the establishment will claim the change is necessary to accomplish a virtuous goal.
The classic justification for an unwelcome societal change is that it combats “racism.” Over the years media has conjured up numerous forms of racism and finally hit the apex with “systemic racism” - racism so deeply embedded in all aspects of our culture that our entire society must be dismantled and restructured.
Can the establishment dismantle society against the public's wishes? The colonies broke with England to escape rule by a monarch. Consequently, for years the Jeffersonian principle of strong local governments and a weak central government prevailed. In the chaos following the War Between the States, the Lincolnian ideology replaced the Jeffersonian model with a strong central government which has gradually gained more control over the populace than King George ever had over his subjects.
The Founders thought three co-equal branches of government and public elections of congress members would prevent the development of a ruling class. But the government structure and the Constitution the Founders created didn't anticipate the circumstances of the War Between the States and its aftermath. Radical Republicans scrapped Presidents Lincoln and Johnson's minimal conditions plan for readmission of seceded states. And, with the defeated South under military rule, they attempted to punish the region and make it Republican while furtively describing their goal as granting rights to freed slaves..
Contrary to Left-wing historians, Reconstruction accomplished very little, did great harm to the Southern region, and barely survived a dozen years. Local citizens, like subjects under King George, were not allowed any voice in the reconstruction of their region. Eventually, Northern liberators lost enthusiasm and began returning to the Northeast, abandoning freed slaves. The callous treatment of the region by Radical Republicans made the recovery from the dismal war-torn conditions in the South even more difficult. Establishment historians are in something of a quandary. They are obligated to claim that Reconstruction was successful, but they also have to insist that “much more needs to be done.”
That has become the standard rationale of the Left regarding so-called reconstruction efforts - what was done was successful but much more needs to be done. And Leftist media, not the public, decides what “needs to be done.” Media tells us that opportunities for minorities are being hindered by lingering vestiges of Southern heritage. So Confederate monuments must be demolished. But tearing down Confederate monuments has gotten so out-of-hand that states had to pass laws protecting these memorials.
To get around these laws, activists use a semantic device described as “contextualizing.” Plaques are placed at the base of statues that “contextualize” them - explain their true meaning.
Consider these excerpts from a proposed contextualizing of a Confederate memorial in Georgia:“… this monument … bolstered white supremacy and faulty history, suggesting that the cause for the Civil War rested on southern Honor and States Rights—instead of its real catalyst—American slavery. This monument and similar ones also were created to intimidate African Americans and limit their full participation in social and political life of their communities. It fostered a culture of segregation…”
We see that contextualizing actually disparages the meaning of the monument – effectively tearing it down verbally.
Legislative and other societal changes during the civil rights movement (Second Reconstruction) were the most widespread and comprehensive societal corrections in our nation's history. But they didn't prevent Leftists from maintaining that individual racist incidents had worsened into systemic racism – racism so all pervasive that a third and more comprehensive version of Reconstruction is needed to correct it.
Third Reconstruction addresses the entire nation, so “White Privilege” has replaced “Southern bigotry” as the root cause of discrimination. Although we are told that minorities are being held back, we see them as surviving fairly well. We even see minorities highly successful and thriving. So we question the need for additional corrective measures - especially measures that would essentially replace the Founder's vision of America with a Marxist-Leninist structure that will level wealth and resources, creating an egalitarian society without class distinctions.
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Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. He attended the University of Alabama and has a degree from Birmingham Southern College. His writing is influenced by years of witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia.