Herbert London: Torquemada Invades America
Torquemada has landed in America. This nation of free and open inquiry has been seized by totalitarians who refuse to entertain other points of view. The debate about global warming is over say adherents of this position. When, if ever, has the debate about any scientific issue been over?
That is the least of it. So complete is the feminist assault on the culture that one can no longer say men and woman aren’t interchangeable. Should a military officer challenge the faith, he can be sure promotion is not in his future. Common sense is in retreat before the gods of cultural reformation.
It is now part of the orthodoxy to contend that all nations and cultures are equally good, with the possible exception of Israel. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of Infidel, had the temerity to challenge this “truism” and was denied an honorary degree Brandeis authorities had promised her. Skeptics are not welcome at American universities. In fact, should one leave the herd of independent thinkers, he will feel the full wrath of faculty and student chastisement. The orthodoxy will not accept a challenge.
Here is American fundamentalism with a vengeance. A business executive gave money to an organization that supports traditional marriage and he is hounded by homosexual activists. A photographer refuses to take pictures at a homosexual wedding and he is treated as a sinner who must be punished. A business executive argues against homosexual marriage and his entire food chain is imperiled until he repents.
This is secular religious fervor as passionate as any formal religion. Kids are indoctrinated at the earliest age to imbibe the “truth.” In fact, “critical thinking,” the goal of education, involves neither a critique nor thought. The imposition of belief is right out of an Orwellian playbook. A search for truth has been subordinated to the acceptance of belief. To be an outlier in the nation is to be a recluse, cut off from social exchange, a leper in the modern age.
We do not yet have reeducation camps since the educational institutions are “doing their jobs,” albeit there are always sensitivity training sessions. Stigmata are effective tools in holding back dissent. Who doesn’t fear being described as foolish or the equivalent of a Holocaust denier? The instrument of social ostracism is almost foolproof.
Now a generation of scientists is saying the human mind is programmable like a software program. Life is no longer unpredictable, a human centered world view. Instead it is within the reach of programmers who can manipulate thought. The sacred is being desacralized, a humanistic vision made blind.
In the midst of this totalitarian attack the public has been mute. One wonders why there isn’t blind rage. How can people be indifferent to the casual take-over of their thinking? So immersed in self-gratification and popular culture are John and Mary Q. Public that they do not recognize what is happening around them. Schools and colleges promote the orthodoxy and not a peep form the academics whose bread and butter is being usurped. If there is thinking in Academe, it is only whose thoughts that fit a priori conclusion. Dogmatism prevails.
Where did we come from? Where are we to end up? Questions involving the unknown are no longer unknown. The dogmatists have an answer. It is in a scientific equation or the mind of the grand inquisitor. The answers are known or about to be known. No need to ask questions. In fact, there isn’t any need for debate.
Yet I hope there is a day when there will be a cri de coeur heard throughout the land. The words “I disagree” should be loud and forceful. At the moment, however, I regard this hope as wishful thinking.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org
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