What is This Strange World We Find Ourselves In?

I woke one day several years ago after a sound sleep and quickly found myself completely disoriented.  Somehow, while I was sleeping the world I lived in had profoundly changed.  It looked the same and smelled and sounded the same.  Gravity and the other physical laws of the universe were still in force.  But the people I encountered, particularly those who looked a lot like me, white, male and Christian, seemed to be living in an alternative reality.

I went to sleep in a nation in which it was widely accepted that people like me, who had run the country pretty much forever, were relatively advantaged in relation to those who were not white, male and Christian, and it was acknowledged that racism, sexism and religious prejudice not only existed, but were bad things that we should continue working to correct.  This was not a controversial thought.  Our entire history and reams of scientifically collected data supported those facts.

I woke in a nation gone completely crazy.  OK, to be fair, only a percentage of it had gone completely crazy.  But those who had gone crazy looked a lot like me, and I was concerned.  Maybe whatever was causing this insanity was catching!

I looked and white people were portraying themselves as “victims” of “reverse discrimination”.  They formed these groups called the “alt-right” or “White Lives Matter” (as if they ever had not) and other such nonsense, and instead of people laughing at them and denouncing them, a lot of people who looked like me defended them and attacked those who did denounce them and laugh at them.  They even took the side of neo-Nazis when they got in a brawl with counter-protesters down the road in Charlottesville.  Neo-Nazis!  What the hell was going on?

I looked closer and saw that not only that, but that people who looked a lot like me had elected as President a buffoon and charlatan who ran a campaign that smart folks said was based on white anger and resentment.  Anger and resentment over what?  That for the last eight years (out of the 240 or so that our country has existed) the country had been run by something other than a white male?  That black people were protesting proven endemic racism in our justice system and other areas of life?  Gees, people who looked an awful lot like me suddenly seemed like a bunch of pathetic whiners.

Then I looked again and say something called the “men’s rights movement”.  I started to laugh at these clowns.  Surely no one took them seriously.    I mean, every woman I know has been sexually harassed at one point or another in their life, and the top ranks of pretty much every facet of our society (political, business, educational, etc.) was still heavily dominated by men, and these clowns thought their rights were endangered?  But a lot of people who looked like me were taking them seriously, to my astonishment.

I watched in a mix of horror and disbelief as that same buffoon of a President, then just a candidate, was exposed in a recording bragging about sexually assaulting women, and it didn’t end his political career!  People who looked a lot like me shrugged it off and voted for him anyway.  Not only that, when women (including my wife and daughter) had the gall to protest against sexism, they found themselves under vicious verbal attack from people who looked a lot like me, who called them crude names and used the word “feminist” as if it were a deadly insult.  What strange hell had I awoken to?  What madness infected people?  Had we somehow entered a time warp to an earlier time when women were widely believed to be inferior and people did not even believe they deserved equal rights?

While I was pondering this I took refuge in my faith.  Even thought the ranks have been thinning in churches lately, a majority of Americans still claimed to be Christian.  Surely they weren’t going to put up with this nonsense of false victimhood, nonsense that ran completely against the teaching of Christ.  Surely they couldn’t be supporting the sexist, racist charlatan.  Then I looked at the polling results, and…WHAT THE HELL?  The charlatan had taken a huge majority of those who called themselves evangelicals, who had always prided themselves on being the most Christianest of Christians (even though I myself had always had severe doubts about that).  How could that be?  Hadn’t these same people risen in near unanimous and self-righteous denunciation of another President twenty years before when it was revealed he had consensual sex with a much younger woman and lied about it?  Surely they couldn’t be that hypocritical, couldn’t be that corrupted by politics, could they?

Then I looked closer and discovered that many of my fellow Christians had also embraced the mantle of victimhood.  They said there was a “War on Christmas” because some people said Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas.  I laughed when I saw it, until someone told me it wasn’t a joke, that a lot of people who looked and supposedly believed just like me, actually thought Christianity was “under attack” in the United States.  My God, they actually thought Christians were more persecuted in the U.S. than Muslims or Jews!

While I slept, somehow the entire fabric of reality had shifted on me.  Suddenly people like me, white, male and Christian, did not see themselves as blessed with advantages by our history and the prejudices still deeply ingrained in our culture.  Suddenly, they didn’t agree that women and racial and religious minorities faced additional obstacles and that further progress was needed.  Instead, they somehow though that they, despite all historical and scientific evidence, were the disadvantaged ones!  They thought they were the real victims!  This was completely nuts!

I managed to half convince myself that this was all just some strange, nightmarish dream, and that I would soon awaken to a sane world where everyone worked from the same set of basic historical and scientific facts.  I’m still waiting for that to happen.

 

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