“History Does Not Repeat Itself But It Rhymes” is an apt way to put the trends I’m witnessing in contemporary society. I liken it to the temperance movement of a century ago. If I were in that time period, I would agree with the basic idea that excessive alcohol consumption is damaging to the user and society as a whole. I don’t think making alcohol consumption illegal would do much good, since it wouldn’t stop anyone from drinking and most likely lead to many unintended consequences.
As we enter the early 2020s, we are in a new temperance movement, which in my opinion is more sinister than the prohibition of alcohol. I liken it to the prohibition of expression, the drowning out of the common voice, and perhaps due to lockdowns a society that has simply become too hysterical.
Similar to the temperance movement of a century ago, the proposed solutions are reactionary, poorly thought out and lead to many unintended consequences that only make society worse, not better. Remember, that the mafia was born during prohibition and besides some good movies, I can’t say society benefited in any way from it.
Hitting the Delete Key on Society
In a short period of time, we’ve witnessed the elimination of mostly harmless elements of our society in some vein attempt to improve the situation. In the wake of 2020’s summer protests, it was decided, not by myself, not by you the reader, I’m not even sure who, but Uncle Ben’s rice was the big problem in our society.
Now I can appreciate the claims that the name was considered derogatory, but as early as 2007 he was appointed chairman of the board, a position from which he dispensed “grains of wisdom.” Nobody had a problem with Uncle Ben until quite recently. The problem I have with the decision to so quickly scrap Uncle Ben’s is that it lines up perfectly with what a white supremacist would do. Think about it, if you are a racist in the true sense of the word – not to be confused with how it is used today as a club to attack people – the last thing someone is going to find in your cupboard would be a box of Uncle Ben’s rice. Furthermore, I imagine that racists applauded the decision to get rid of Uncle Ben’s.
Have race relations improved since the removal of Uncle Ben’s? I doubt it. Now that his namesake is gone, what would be a better replacement? It obviously couldn’t be a white chef, and if you select a different race, then it leaves out the others, and who decides who should be the representative? If it’s a committee of mostly white people then that won’t do. Some have argued that it wasn’t fair to the likeness of Uncle Ben since his image was used to promote the product upon which no royalties were paid. The problem with that reasoning is you could make the same argument for the Sun Maid raisins sponsor. But nobody is coming to the defense of the face of Sun Maid and ironically she hasn’t been cancelled.
Similar to prohibition, many unintended consequences result in the hysteria to cancel things without thinking them through. Once again, white supremacists will be vindicated that Aunt Jeremiah, Uncle Ben’s and the Land of Lakes butter representative have all been removed from products, leaving only white faces as our representatives: Wendy’s, Colonel Sanders, Mr. Clean, Pringles, the Lucky Charms leperchaun, Chef Boyardee, and the Rice Krispies mascots are now the most recognized corporate images.
Defund the Police
In the wake of the summer riots, the next thing to get cancelled was the police force. I liken this to the Sim City experiment that anyone who can afford $20 is able to conduct. Go about building your model city with the neat rows of industrial, residential, and commercial areas. Now, when it comes to taxes, move the slider for police all the way to the left so that the deparment gets no budget. Or, just don’t build police stations in your city at all. I’d love to see if you can build a prosperous, “virtual” city without having any police departments.
Why we must perform the same experiment in the real world, with real people is beyond me. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that even lousy police are better than no police. A year after the George Floyd incident, homicides in Minneapolis were up a staggering 89 percent from the previous year; violent crime up 14%. Not only was defund the police one of the most asinine decisions in recent history, it never held any major support from our population as a whole, which is why I mentioned in the beginning that these decisions are not taken by a plurarlity.
As the Pew Research center points out, only 25% of respondents wanted the police to be defunded, with half of that support being “a little.” So the report basically shows that from those who responded to the poll, roughly 12% of the population actually wanted to radically defund the police. This means that a large part of our media apparatus does not represent us and in my opinion should not be paid attention to.
Not only were police called to be defunded but there could be no more positive images of police to be found in society either. The cancellation of Cops and Live PD are once again a silly, emotional reaction that will only worsen the image of police. At least when we had Cops you could judge for yourself as to the extent of police brutality. Now we have to rely on social media, and we can see how that has played out so far.
This once again goes back to where we are in society when the unruly mob quickly decides to make a mess of established institutions. It’s been a banner year for white supremacists who are having a field day knowing that police forces in predominately minority communities are being defunded.
While I’m not a conservative and think Fox News is just as bad as CNN, it is a strange state of affairs that the only advocates for upholding police budgets in mostly Democrat cities are found on the right who aren’t advocating for their constituents. It’s obvious they are pandering to their base, it just so happens that incentives, as perverse as they are align. In any case, it proves that they are propagandists for sure but not bigots. If the hosts of Fox News were truly racist, they would simply ignore the uptick in crime in these cities as most CNN anchors do.
It’s Easier to Do Nothing
The sum of what I’ve outlined above is that those who have advocated for everything above feel that their job is accomplished. It’s as if all racism in this country will end now that a few street signs are changed and corporate images “updated.”
Similar to prohibition, the issues that these movements are attempting to resolve are deep rooted and can take years, if not decades to work on. But that’s now how this mob operates, taking short term goals for all the wrong reasons. Putting a black square on Instagram or sharing an article about Cops no longer being aired doesn’t solve anything, it’s purely superficial.
True change requires effort, failure, and plenty of ups and downs along the way. Personally, I am disappointed with the leaders who represent my generation. We had a chance in 2020 to turn around the direction of the country and allowed the machine to give us the caricature of what the exact same party says is wrong with society: an out of touch old man who is not physically fit to be in office.
The world is changing rapidly and we need real, young leaders to guide us through it. There are some exceptions but most of our young leadership class are too caught up in the moral posturing of this temperance movement to enact change.
Similar to the short life of prohibition, I am confident that this movement will not have lasting impacts on society and as the pendulum swings back we can start the work that is badly needed. Until then, free thought like this will have to be relegated to the speak easys of the Internet.