The Nice Age: The Curdled Milk Of Liberal Kindness
History has seen the Bronze Age. And the Pleistocene Age. And the Stone Age.
Now welcome to The Nice Age. Humanity— alright, humanity in the western world— has entered into a time when the tender sensibilities of humans have become the organizing principle of society. Be Nice, clean your ice. And what’s wrong with people being nicer to each others? A little civility, giving the other person a little space, a smiley face. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with reminding others that they’re not the only ones on the planet.
Especially that Trump character.
In practice, however, the Nice Age has been as Nice as a sling blade. What began as an attempt at encoding politesse in schools and daycares has blossomed into a dizzying dialectic of approved behaviors backed by an army of humourless apparatchiks. In short, Political Correctness and its dastardly cousin, Identity Politics.
Under the gaze of the Nice, the brutish patriarchy and real politik have been subsumed by the civil assumption that “people will treat you the way they want to be treated themselves.” In his role as the Pied Piper of the Nice Age, president Barack Obama apologized to everyone from Islam to the U.S. Postal Service for sins stretching back to the first millennium.
Osama Bin Laden said "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse”. But Obama found a Nice way to ride his horse from behind. And he has the Iran nuclear deal to prove it.
Racism, sexism, and ism-ism were put to the torch to make the world a safer space for Citizen Snowflakes. Obama helpfully catalogued all the put-upon groups in society for the benefit of those who’d managed to live their entire lives unaware of indignities experienced by citizen brothers and sisters. His was the face that launched a thousand grievances.
POTUS 44 wasn’t alone. When brutal Book Haram guerrillas captured 276 African school girls, Michelle Obama pitched in with a stinging hashtag campaign to remind those nasty men they were on her shit list. (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls/bringbackourgirls-boko-haram-n340491) Sure, it achieved sweet Fanny Adams, but her heart was in the right place. A Nice place.
Social media filled in where the Obamas Nice exertions failed, helpfully creating terms like mansplaining and micro aggression to assist offenders in seeing the error of their loutish way. On campuses, gender-studies professors and their pupils created safe spaces. When the federal government asked sanctuary cities to give up criminal illegal aliens, the Nice people in San Fran and NYC and Baltimore and dozens more, said Heck no, we think deportation isn’t Nice. Now go fish.
The byproduct of such ceaseless toil was a freedom all could enjoy— so long as they didn’t get too far off the Nice reservation. To quote Robert Tracinski in The Federalist, under the stern eye of the Nice, freedom now means “you're free to question, within narrow limits. Which keep getting narrower and narrower.”
The great irony of a Nice Age that began with such genteel goals is that it is being enforced by a whole lot of not-so-Nice behaviour from its devotees. The speech enforcers from Berkeley, Ca., to Middlebury, Vt., to Washington D.C.— with their fires and vandalism— have no time for sniveling and compromising when there’s a Nice revolution to be won. Their rationale is believing that history is an arc that bends to the Nice, and they will be seen as visionaries in such enlightened future.
But these are flagrant examples of whipping the vote (literally). More subtle Nice coercion is on the march too. This past week, for instance, New York Times columnist Brett Stephens, recently brought over from the Wall Street Journal to propagate his anti-Trump sentiments, was publicly rag-dolled by Times subscribers for suggesting that maybe the settled scientists of global warming should keep an open mind. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/opinion/climate-of-complete-certainty.html?_r=1)
Despite stating in the piece that he thought climate change was real, Stephens was curb-stomped by Big Green which, not very nicely, still called him a climate-changer denier.
Hundreds of letters and cancellations poured into the Times from its Nice zealots. The collective priests of the movement excoriated Stephens and the Times for his timid attempt to question the orthodoxy. Prince Barack had pronounced, and now the Nice people were reminding Stephens there will be no deviation from the Obama doctrine.
To placate the bilious Times readership, the paper then printed a sentimental ode to communism, a philosophy that sent over 50- 100 million to their deaths in the 20th century (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/29/opinion/sunday/when-communism-inspired-americans.html.). Because genocidal lefties have feelings, too.
Then there was a volcanic outburst from one-time funnyman— now doctrinaire polemicist— Stephen Colbert. In his role as self-appointed voice of Nice nation, Colbert launched a profane rant at Trump over journalism. Homoerotic imagery and sight gags with toilet paper were the “high” points of this display. The machine-gun delivery was meant to scold the president over his own unhinged opinions on the press.
But the real intent was to remind holders of the little red book of Nice what happens to wayward souls who question the plan. You will be savaged by the likes of Colbert and some other culture commissar.
That’s not Nice. But in the world of the Nice people, it’s a vey effective method for getting people you don’t like to shut the hell up.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)