Monday, April 9, 2018

Conquest By Insisting

     There are days it’s all just too terribly clear. Consider this recent piece from Glenn Reynolds. It’s short; please read it all. But I will quote the part that got my engine turning over:

     It’s like stupid and crazy people have too much power to set agendas nowadays.

     As our beloved Instapundit himself might say: Heh. Indeed.

     Most people are at least somewhat confrontation-averse. Confrontation is unpleasant; if there’s a less-unpleasant alternative that doesn’t cost a lot, we’re likely to take it. But recently, it would appear that that tendency has gotten out of control. It seems that to far too many Americans, confrontation is now the greatest of all evils; they’re willing to sacrifice anything and everything rather than to be forced into it.

     The attitude expressed by their practice of preemptive surrender is that “There’s nothing worth fighting over.” Nothing, capital N. Even Gahan Wilson had some trouble with that one:

     Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth had a bit of fun with that one in their novel Wolfbane:

     Some men think by poking problems apart; some think by laying facts side by side to compare. Tropile’s thinking was neither of these, but a species of judo. He conceded to his opponent such things as Strength, Armor, Resource. He didn’t need these things for himself; to every contest, the opponent brought enough of them to satisfy two....
     He walked to the door and shouted to Citizen Harmane: “Keeper! I must see my wife! Have her brought to me!”
     It was impossible for the Keeper to refuse. He called gently: “I will invite the Citizeness,” and toddled away....
     Tropile turned to Citizen Boyne. “Citizen,” he said persuasively, “since your death poem is ready and mine is not, will you be gracious enough to go first when they—when they come?”
     Citizen Boyne looked temperately at his cellmate and made the Quirked Smile.
     “You see?” he said. “Wolf.”
     And that was true. But what was also true was that Boyne couldn’t and didn’t refuse.

     Now watch as Tropile engineers an escape from his death-row cell, simply by making demands of his gaoler:

     Tropile said harshly: “I wish to see the new sun from the street....”
     The Keeper stammeringly said: “May I—may I let you see the new sun from the corridor?...” The keeper had never since babyhood given a flat no to anybody about anything. No Citizen had. A flat no led to anger, strong words—perhaps even hurt feelings. The only flat no conceivable was the enormous flat no of an amok....
     “That will do for a start,” Tropile snarled. “Open, man, open! Don’t make me wait!”
     the Keeper reeled and unlatched the door to the corridor.
     “Now the street!”
     “I can’t!” burst in an anguished cry from the Keeper. He buried his face in his hands and began to sob, hopelessly incapacitated....Whimperingly, the Keeper flung the keys at Tropile and tottered brokenly away.

     Imagine engineering a jailbreak merely by making demands of a gaoler unable to refuse you! That’s only the most absurd consequence of an avoid-confrontation-at-all-costs mentality.

     The irrational, the crazed, and the self-deifiers are getting away with everything short of murder — and don’t expect the “everything short of” part to remain as it is, friends — because the persons at the levers of society’s power have become too confrontation-averse to refuse them anything. It’s in the nature of things, as I’ve written on other occasions, that success breeds emulation – that others watching this process will draw the lesson and decide to “get on the gravy train” while it’s still running and there’s room to board.

     We are witnessing the open, unresisted conquest of all our institutions and customs by madmen, employing the unprecedented tactic of insisting — by a horde capable of doing nothing else. Some angry group of useless bloody loonies mounts a “protest,” and an important component of American life, perhaps an individual right, gives way and is demolished. Someone engages an ethics-challenged lawyer to threaten a lawsuit on some absurd pretext, and a major corporation immediately bends the knee to lunacy. Someone feels “offended,” or “unsafe,” or “discriminated against,” and innumerable others are immediately compelled to alter their longstanding practices and preferences and conform.

     Yes, they’re mad. Completely bonkers. Off the wall. Froot Loop City. But are we the putatively sane any less mad for having accommodated them?

     Think about it.

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