The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale

When Margaret Atwood wrote her novel, The Handmaid's Tale, in 1985, the Left warned that a hard-right Christian theocracy might take over the United States. Her novel was a allegory that depicted women's plight under such a theocratic regime. Like most things that the Left tells us to worry about, the right-wing theocratic regime never materialized, but Atwood's novel (now a popular HULU show) has become a rallying point for modern-day feminists.

As an aside, there is only one theocratic ideology that truly does represent a threat to Western woman. It's radical Islam (some would argue any conservative interpretation of Islam), but since the Left is Islamophilic, that threat is never considered in polite (read: politically correct) company. It's therefore ironic that the allegorical antagonist in The Handmaid's Tail has morphed into radical Islam, even though most progressives don't realize it.

With the advent of the #MeToo movement, the allegory takes on even more currency. But #MeToo has itself morphed into a pogrom-like attack on men. So much so, that some on the left (to their credit) have begun to push back. Margaret Atwood herself writes:
My fundamental position is that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They're not angels, incapable of wrongdoing. If they were, we wouldn't need a legal system.

Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we're back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote. There are powerful groups in North America pushing this agenda, but they are not usually considered feminists.

Furthermore, I believe that in order to have civil and human rights for women there have to be civil and human rights, period, including the right to fundamental justice, just as for women to have the vote, there has to be a vote. Do Good Feminists believe that only women should have such rights? Surely not. That would be to flip the coin on the old state of affairs in which only men had such rights.
Yet many social justice warriors do believe that every accusation of sexual impropriety MUST be believed; that a man is guilty when he makes a woman "feel uncomfortable" (even if he never touches her) and that as a consequence, he should be stripped of his rights, his job, and his reputation. In some cases of egregious harassment, that may be deserved. In many, it is not.

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice generally sympathizes with the #MeToo movement, but she warns that feminists should not characterize woman as "snowflakes"—too fragile to withstand boorish, but unthreatening behavior.

Atwood characterizes the current hunt for sexual transgressions and/or harassment as a "witch hunt" with a structure that has had a predictable history:
This structure – guilty because accused – has applied in many more episodes in human history than Salem. It tends to kick in during the "Terror and Virtue" phase of revolutions – something has gone wrong, and there must be a purge, as in the French Revolution, Stalin's purges in the USSR, the Red Guard period in China, the reign of the Generals in Argentina and the early days of the Iranian Revolution. The list is long and Left and Right have both indulged. Before "Terror and Virtue" is over, a great many have fallen by the wayside. Note that I am not saying that there are no traitors or whatever the target group may be; simply that in such times, the usual rules of evidence are bypassed.

Such things are always done in the name of ushering in a better world. Sometimes they do usher one in, for a time anyway. Sometimes they are used as an excuse for new forms of oppression. As for vigilante justice – condemnation without a trial – it begins as a response to a lack of justice – either the system is corrupt, as in prerevolutionary France, or there isn't one, as in the Wild West – so people take things into their own hands. But understandable and temporary vigilante justice can morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit, in which the available mode of justice is thrown out the window, and extralegal power structures are put into place and maintained. The Cosa Nostra, for instance, began as a resistance to political tyranny.
The Left, more than any other group, love, loves, loves to talk about "revolution" as a mechanism for creating their definition of a "better world."

What concerns the rest of us is that their "revolution" already stinks of subtle oppression and just might "morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob" that does more to restrict our freedoms than it does to protect aggrieved groups.