Allow me to write, if I may, a little bit about some of the doings in our little town.
The proleptic tone was set many years ago, in one of our earliest culture war clashes. There was a proposition on the Idaho ballot that would have forbidden the granting of any special rights to homosexuals. Looking back, we can see how prescient that measure was. At any rate, that measure was on the ballot, and I was invited to sit on a panel discussing the controversy over it at an event sponsored by The League of Women Voters. When we got to the venue, the place was already chock full of activists flown in, I believe, from New York. The room was crammed with signs that said, if memory serves, “Idaho Is Too Great for Hate,” and “No Hate Here.”
As the evening proceeded, the crowd was pretty surly, and it got to a level that caused me to write out a note beforehand so I could just slide it over to the moderator, suggesting that he call the cops. If something happened, I wouldn’t have time to write. The air was just a-crackling with ironic tension, a conflict having arisen from all the peace emanating from the signs and all the hatred emanating from the people holding them. It was really something.
One of the high points of the evening was when it concluded, and a heckler gent who had been sitting near the front on my left stood up, hoicked up a No Hate Here sign with one hand, and flipped me the bird with the other. This was before we all had cameras on our phones, but I can ask you to imagine, can’t I?
But probably the most exciting moment of the evening was in the hallway outside afterwards, when a woman with the Lesbian Avengers (I think) started repeatedly screaming at us something along of the lines of “in ten years, your kids will be ours!” By the way, it has been twenty-five years or so now, and they still don’t have any of our kids. Or grandkids. This is in no small part because we were not foolish enough to turn our kids over to these people for their moral formation. Chatting with our Rachel last night, she informed us that she and Bekah recorded their thoughts on this whole incident for their What Have You podcast that will drop later this week. You should tune in to that if you want to hear how funny the whole thing was.
But back to our theme.
I do not write about any of this because I am in any way asking you to feel sorry for me. I do not play the violin, and if I did, this would not be a sad song. My goal lies elsewhere. For someone in my position, if you stick your head through the hole in the canvas at back of a booth at the county fair, you cannot be astonished if people subsequently throw wet sponges at it. That part of it is something that just comes with the territory.
My interest rather is in analyzing the incongruity—and not the incongruity between my views and the views of my adversaries. That would just be a simple clash of perspectives, and quite simple to understand. I am rather talking about the incongruity between what my adversaries are actually doing, and what they think they are doing.
Over the Last Six Months
One of my personal life goals currently is for people, when they wave at me on the street, to use all their fingers. Over the last six months, I have had multiple people yelling various, um, exhortatory suggestions at me, flipping me off, running away from me down the street, the gamut.
Try to envision being attacked by a raging band of pacifists with machetes. After you had gotten safely away, you might want to sit and ponder the situation for a short while. These are people who have Buddhist wind chimes on their front deck. These are people who put signs in their living room windows announcing to the world that there is no hate dwelling in their house. These are people who have Elvis Costello’s (What So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding on their playlist. They do this without any notion that the first answer to that question would be what Costello does with his mouth while he sings in the official music video. That’s what so funny about it.
So we are not talking about ordinary levels of hypocrisy, of the sort that all humans with our foibles are susceptible to. We are talking about people who have persuaded themselves that their hardened hypocrisy is actually their central virtue, and who have then had that hypocrisy bronzed and placed in a glass case behind a velvet rope. They actually believe that when they give way to some kind of raging hypocrisy—screaming at someone on the street because of that other person’s lack of moderation—they are showcasing to the world how virtuous they are. They really think that.
And That Is Because . . .
Let’s try to bring this kind of thing down into ordinary life and see how it works. Say a group of friends go out to a restaurant, and one of your group starts picking on the waitress. He calls her fat, calls her incompetent, deliberately spills his water so that she will have to clean it up, and so on. In short, he is the restaurant patron from hell. He is so bad that one of your group runs back into the restaurant in order to apologize and triple the tip. Got the picture? Now suppose that out in the parking lot he starts talking about how rude that waitress was. The reason this wouldn’t fly is because at that point, all of his friends having had it with him, would climb down his throat. In other words, he would venture his insane opinion, and there would be absolutely no social reinforcement for him. He would be hung out to dry all by himself.
But it is amazing how delusional a human being can get when there is wide-spread social reinforcement. And when it comes to any of the causes of the progressive left, that is precisely what we find. And to give them credit, everybody associated with the causes of the left knows how to stay on this particular script. There has been an agreement, signed and ratified somewhere, that will deem anything that comes from conservatives as being violent, extreme, threatening, seriously transgressive, and so on. And all this, despite how moderate the demeanor was. And anything that comes from the left, no matter how violently out of control it might be, will be seen as the genuine voice of democracy.
This is why the words of conservatives are literally violence, and the violence of leftists is literally free speech. This is where we are now. The screamers are the voice of moderation. The polite and restrained are on watch lists for the FBI, and their Lego purchases are being closely monitored.
So the real culprit in this social insanity is that broad agreement, running in the background, to treat the same kind of behavior in completely different ways, depending on whose agenda is furthered and whose retarded.
I mean, think about it. Everybody is still in all of a doodah over the January 6 unrest at the U.S. Capitol. Resident Biden has said that it was the “worst attack” on democracy since the Civil War. I see. And what was it when protesters occupied the state capitol in Wisconsin a few years ago over their grievances from the left? Oh, that was solidarity. That was democracy. That was the voice of the people. That was different.
Back to Our Little Town
I have said for some years that what is happening in our small town is a microcosm of what is happening all over. I still believe that is true. But there is one significant difference. What we see happening in many places is this. Blue states are becoming unlivable, and as a consequence people are fleeing them in droves. But many of them are failing to wipe the blue off their shoes as they settle into their new residences. A number of these people are not true refugees—they are more like carriers.
Boise is a case in point. Idaho is one of the reddest of red states, and yet Boise is going purple. And why is Boise going purple? Because of all the people fleeing the blue—but what they are actually doing is fleeing some of the more egregious elements of the blue while failing to recognize that the blue stuff they still like, and want to bring with them to Boise, is simply their old dystopia in seed form. They opted for the surgery to take out the big tumor, but don’t want the radiation treatment that will nuke the rest of it.
Here in Moscow, it is different. Moscow is going purple also, but from a different direction. For many years, Moscow—a sleepy little college town—took pride in being a small blue dot in a very red state. How red was the state? There was one election, a number of years ago, when in all the contested elections throughout the entire state, no Democrat won anywhere. But in Moscow, because we were a university town, where people know how to operate xerox machines and all, we were above all those troglodytes out in the boondocks. You know, the ones feeding us all. But with the remarkable growth of our various ministries here, the empurplization is running the other way—and the voices of diversity are taking it ill.
This is because they want everybody to look different, but to think the same way. They want us all to look like a Shutterstock photo of a very diverse executive team for a woke corporation somewhere—wheelchair, check, black guy with dreads, check, cute Asian girl, check, middle-aged white guy in the back, check—but who are all standing compliantly in front of the rainbow flag.
There are many layers of irony in all of this. One of the layers is this observation—my closing thought. Because the city of Moscow has been treating us the way they have—psalm sing arrests, selective and illegal Stickergate prosecutions, irrational outbursts on the street, and so on—and because we have shown absolutely no intention of backing down, the progressives of Moscow have made this little town of ours (I almost said theirs) one of the most attractive destinations in the country for conservative Christian immigrants. And by conservative Christian immigrants, I mean the kind with seven kids. I have never seen anything like it.
So the irony is that the driving engine of all this empurplment is a driving engine that is painted bright blue. Am I afraid of giving the whole thing away by talking about it in public like this? No, not at all. I think we are past the point where any of that matters.