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Is There a New Silent Majority in America?
On November 3, 1969, as protests over the Vietnam War racked cities across America and a left-wing counter culture was taking hold, President Richard Nixon went on television and said, “And so tonight, to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for you support.”
“Silent majority” was an old expression, a euphemism for people who had died. But in the midst of demonstrations and riots, Nixon brought the term back to life. It was an appeal to all those “ordinary” Americans who, Nixon suspected, were not happy with what they were watching on television.
Jump ahead to today.
Now we turn on our TVs and watch the mob that has taken over part of downtown Seattle – after the liberal Democratic mayor ordered police to abandon their precinct station house.
We watch a police station in Minneapolis burn to the ground, a city run by another liberal Democratic mayor.
We watch peaceful demonstrators protesting police brutality and what they call systemic racism in America; but we also watch rioters burn and loot businesses both big and small while, in many cases, police do nothing.
In Atlanta, we watch rioters burn down a Wendy’s fast food restaurant – outraged that a white police officer shot and killed a black man running away. Never mind that the black man was stopped because he was inebriated; that he fought with police and stole one of the cop’s tasers; that as he ran away he fired the taser at one of the officers. None of that mattered to the mob.
We watch the angry mob tear down and deface monuments. They also vandalize war memorials in Washington D.C.
We watch as white liberals tell us that the United States is a fundamentally racist country. Anyone who doesn’t buy into that message is seen as part of the problem.
Some demonstrators want reasonable change. Many want an all out revolution.
So I wonder: Is there a silent majority in America today? Or have the progressives taken over the culture, just as they’ve taken over our elite universities?
Victor Davis Hanson, the conservative scholar, has written in National Review about the movement that is taking root in America.
“The current Black Lives Matter revolution has ‘canceled’ certain movies, television shows, and cartoons, toppled statues, tried to create new autonomous urban zones, and renamed streets and plazas,” he writes. “Some fanatics shave their heads. Others have shamed authorities into washing the feet of their fellow revolutionaries.”
What would a new silent majority – if it exists -- think of all that?
And Hanson wonders if the older elite liberals who have joined the youth movement to “cancel” our current culture have played the movie all the way through in their heads.
“If racists understandably do not deserve their names on national shrines,” he writes, “what to do with the iconic liberal graduate program at Princeton, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs? It was named for a president who did more to further segregation and racial prejudice than any chief executive of the 20th century."
“Stanford and Yale, coveted brand names of the progressive professional classes, are named after men whom protestors now deem racists."
“It is easier to target Fort Bragg, the iconic military base named after a Confederate general, racist, and military mediocrity than to see one’s MBA or Ph.D. lose its Yale luster, or to confess that a liberal presidential icon perpetuated racism.”
And what about the liberal icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt? He put more than one hundred thousand innocent Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II -- Americans whose only “crime” was their race. Doesn’t that make FDR a racist? How can they let any monument to him remain standing?
For that matter, how much longer can the mob tolerate the name given to our nation’s capital? After all George Washington was a slave owner.
How far will the “cancel culture” go before its enablers – those white liberals who are witnessing the revolution from the safety of their suburban homes – abandon the movement?
“When quiet sympathizers conclude that they too may be targeted, they turn on their former icons to survive,” writes Hanson.
“We are seeing that now. Liberal sympathetic bystanders are wondering whether downtown arson and looting will go private and reach their suburban homes. Do they really want their marquee universities or the Washington or Jefferson Monuments defaced or renamed? What happens when calling 911 gets a constant busy signal? When a liberal mayor or black police chief or progressive governor or white leftist who diverges from the party line is targeted by the mob, then who really is safe?"
"Answer? No one.”
And no one knows how revolutions will end – not even the revolutionaries. But if there is a new silent majority, like the old one that didn't like what they were watching on TV, November 3, 2020 may not turn out the way the revolutionaries are hoping.