I try to avoid the sort of lazy blogging that consists of quoting someone else at length and then adding “What she said” and “Read the rest.” But some things just demand to be passed along.
Shortly before she died, my grandmother—one of the people, naturally, I loved the most in the world—broke my heart. Celia Perlstein, like most of our grandparents, didn’t get out much in her final years; in fact, for the last few years of her life, I’m not sure she got out of her old folks home at all. I don’t think she really wanted to. She was sure that beyond its threshold lay dragons: far-far-far leftists out to steal her Social Security; turbaned terrorists just itching to fly a jet into the First Wisconsin tower a few blocks to the south; quisling Democrats itching to help them do it; grandma-gutting criminal marauders just outside her door.What he said. Watch the video. Read the rest.
I’d look out of her eighth floor picture window, down at the scene she saw every day, half expecting to find that nightmare landscape before me. Nope: same as always, the brightly colored sailboats on Lake Michigan, kids and their parents feeding the ducks (Grandma used to take me to feed the ducks), happy, strolling Milwaukee couples—paradise. Where was she getting these fantasies?
One evening’s visit, all became clear. She gestured at the blaring TV set. The excruciating grandma-volume was even more excruciating than usual, because she was visiting with her best TV friend. She told me how much she adored Bill O’Reilly. My wife and I cringed. Watching our latter-day Joe McCarthy on TV every night, she had learned, late in life—for this development was entirely new—how to hate her fellow Americans. I almost cried, because one of the people she was learning how to hate was me.
If “the arc of history bends toward justice,” it’s only because people got up off their behinds and started bending it for themselves. Moral progress isn’t something we can count on the rest of the world to take care of for us. If you want to live in a world in which multimillionaire perverts pile up ever-higher fortunes by encouraging Americans to hate and fear one another, simply do nothing. If you want a better world, start thinking about how to make this stuff stop.