Dumbing Down in a Pollyanna Society
The disparaging characterization “dumbing down” has been resurrected to describe our current society. Today’s credulous folk rarely question leftist activists especially their claim that ‘all people are equal.’ All people might be born equal but only some have satisfactory lives while others do not. Social activists blame success or failure on society rather than individuals. They claim that lack of achievement is the result of societal flaws; racism, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, ageism and other forms of intolerance.
If activists can convince our leaders that society is holding people back then our leaders must reorder society. Activists have already implemented various ‘feel-good’ changes in order to create an accommodating society. Their imagined society would have been a powerful social panacea wherein differently qualified groups became equals. But the envisioned paradisaical society has never materialized.
Social scientists try to make groups equal with their impressive sounding theories: diversity, multiculturalism and egalitarianism. Diversity implies inclusiveness of dissident groups. However a nation cannot function as a collection of dissident groups. Minorities must assimilate into the majority but assimilation of groups goes against diversity.
We are living in a strange new time with a strange new vocabulary. This vocabulary involves what I would call manipulative terminology, an old political phenomenon once called ‘spin.’ I maintain that diversity, egalitarianism and multiculturalism are a sophisticated form of spin. They are not only questionable theories but political ploys.
Societal groups have been greatly affected by manipulative terminology like diversity. Black minorities have always assimilated into the White majority without abandoning essential aspects of their own culture. This Black/White assimilation has worked well. But segments of the Black minority, ostensibly influenced by concepts like diversity, have recently become reluctant to assimilate. Maintaining their independence is not economically advantageous, so it appears to be a political decision.
Pollyanna is an excellent characterization of today’s social activists. What keeps them going is focusing only on the positive and ignoring the negative. However, society has become so derelict that they can no longer look the other way. And it may be too late for activists to replace idealism with realism.
Our contemporary society has been variously described as broken, shallow, narcissistic, and without purpose. We've had flawed societies in the past but there was usually a feeling that normal conditions could be restored. But there are no hopeful recovery signs for our current defective society.
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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.