Some years after the heady idealism of the sixties vanished into the mists of history, and Dr. King was taken from us by another gun without a brain, the cult of the Cadillac Liberal reared its ugly head. Not unlike the hardcore Conservatives of today these people were intractable, intolerant of disagreement or any suggestion of compromise, smug, and egotistical beyond description.
They took up the cause of the disaffected and made it a cause-celeb. They postured and pretended and projected a watery compassion that had very little to do with real world solutions to social grievances. When they began to make rules and set standards – they could because they had money and loud voices in the media, the entertainment industry, higher education and government – like their Conservative counterparts today they too accepted the idea that some people matter and some people don’t. In the Cadillac Liberal’s worldview the way to address social problems was to turn the system upside down. Thus, the people who mattered and had once been on the bottom would be on the top. The people who didn’t matter and who were once on the top would be on the bottom. Since most of these “Liberals” – like the fanatics on the Right who talk of doing away with the social safety net today – were insulated from the ramifications of their actions by their money and social position, they had no skin in the game. Perhaps that is why they never did address the authentic issue, Dr. King’s issue, of equality and freedom for all.
Eventually, like all tyrants these peacocks and clowns found that they had to shut people up to avoid being hoisted on their own petard, humiliated by their own hypocrisy and betrayal of the humanity that they never stopped bleating about. Enter Political Correctness which is not only a disgrace in terms of the language and the life of the mind, but a real threat to people who are prevented from seeing the haters coming.
Accordingly, certain words were taboo, certain phrases were off limits, certain writers who lived decades even centuries ago, Goddess help us all, could not be taught no matter how important they were to the art form or the lexicon. From my own experience I once threatened to rip the tits off of a woman who vociferously and belligerently objected to my teaching “The Merchant of Venice.” In her estimation it was anti-Semitic. Suffice it to say I stood my ground with only a thinly veiled contempt. She still has her tits. I completed my presentation of the play with great delight, as I am always delighted by the Bard no matter his subject. That sums up my feelings on both political correctness and the cult of the Cadillac Liberal.
Except for places like Hollywood, where reality is only a part-time job, these masqueraders have largely lost their influence on the Left, although their stain remains on the cause, their specter haunts our public image and those of us who had no use for them are often identified with them. In their wake a festering pustule of rage and bitterness waiting to rupture and backlash came slamming home in 2008 when President Obama was elected. He was not the reason for it, only the catalyst. Even though he is often the object of it, the power with which it crashed into the body politic in the form of the Tea Party, for instance, attests to its long existence and exponential growth over the years. Of course the rising repercussion had its complement of parasitic, opportunistic and cynical politicians who will ride the wave for as long as it carries them to power.
Hence, as I write this the Right is endeavoring to create more backlashes, from women, minorities, disenfranchised voters – more rot, more potential for gangrene. Will we never learn, never change, never grow up? We are like children playing at tug-of-war and dragging one another through the mud and toxic filth of a polluted river.