The Fourth of July holiday is typically a time for reflection — and a reminder of what makes our country so special.
But nothing is normal these days, especially perspectives on the U.S. of A.
We on the right tend to focus on American greatness — our country as a singularly successful land of opportunity that (still) captures the imagination of so many of those who yearn to be free.
On the progressive left, it’s increasingly about America’s shortcomings — poverty and homelessness and a history that has fallen short of equal opportunity for all.
This year, I am preoccupied with two issues that have dominated our national conversation for over a year: the advance of so-called “wokeism” and the unique challenges to American hegemony presented by the People’s Republic of China.
The former is a movement that was viewed as unserious until three seismic events took place: the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd and Jan. 6. The combined impact focused on almost exclusively by the left and the mainstream media has changed America as we knew it.
The change agent is a cultural “revolution” that seeks to overturn many of our most sacred values. Here, a pseudo-religious movement seeks not only to revise our history but to reinvent it.
Here, a dumb, ignorant, silly stunt pulled decades ago can become the instant focus of cancel culture — a process that employs no right to appeal.
Here, gender can be blended at the singular turn of a mood.
Here, every opinion contrary to the dominant media narrative — often even absent any racial components — is fully and incessantly deemed “racist.”
Here, our most prized individual rights are daily indicted in the interest of protecting the easily annoyed.
Here, students at our most exclusive schools are ignorant of what went down on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, or for that matter, on July 4, 1776.
Here, privileged white college brats show up at antifa-inspired riots in order to curse African-American policemen holding the line in inner-city neighborhoods.
Here, an unnecessary southern border mess and resulting human tragedy are so far outside the preferred media narrative that we no longer hear much about the chaos these days.
We now see more reports of parents, police officers, elected officials and just plain ol’ citizens finally fighting back against “woke” initiatives.
But make no mistake. Progressives have made tremendous progress in their campaign to transform America. Just about every source of political and social influence is in their corner. They accordingly are not going away anytime soon.
Hence my preoccupation with this latest chapter in America’s culture war.
And then there is the malignant government of communist China. At the outset, we must admit that China has played the Western democracies like a fiddle for decades.
You will recognize two of the most overused Washington establishment lines: The West must treat this relatively poor empire of 1.4 billion people more like a benign junior partner in order to encourage its entrance into the league of civilized nations. And the equally familiar, “Once they understand capitalism they will buy into democratic ideals.”
But 50 years after President Richard Nixon opened the door to engagement, the world (especially the U.S.) is reaping what it naively sowed.
To wit: The end of civil liberties (and order) in the formerly prosperous protectorate of Hong Kong, saber-rattling in the Taiwan Strait and artificial island-building in the South China Sea, an uber-sophisticated and wide-ranging campaign of intellectual property theft, a system of domestic detention camps worthy of a Solzhenitsyn novel, a “belt and road” initiative aimed at increasing Beijing’s political influence on every continent, and a (likely) cover-up of a lab leak that has resulted in over four million deaths and additional economic devastation around the world.
And that’s not the half of it. If you thought that the autocrats in Beijing would lighten up a bit now that China truth-teller Donald J. Trump has exited stage right, forget it.
The Biden administration’s initial face-to-face with its Chinese counterparts resulted in an embarrassing lecture about America’s myriad racial sins replete with the now-familiar rhetoric of woke culture. Our new Secretary of State Tony Blinken was left with little to offer in response.
At least Xi Jinping and his acolytes have a sense of humor.
For me, however, the rise of woke consciousness and an empowered Mr. Xi leave little to cackle about.
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