Thursday, June 4, 2020
Lao Tzu Leaves For the Mountains
Pundits are twisting themselves into pretzels as they wrestle with the death of George Floyd and the ensuing demonstrations, riots, murders, looting, and government enabling of said chaos. The self-righteous and sputtering circumlocutions call Looney Toons to mind: “George Floyd shouldn’t have died … but lynching the police officer who kneed Floyd isn’t justice … but we must acknowledge and respect the understandable anger of American blacks … but looting and arson are never right, especially when the businesses and homes belong to blacks … but protestors and rioters must be distinguished from one another … but ….” Absurdity has overtaken and overwhelmed even the cleverest commentators.
The mythical Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu–credited with authoring the Taoist wisdom classic Tao Te Ching–left his city to live alone in the mountains during an analogous period in Chinese history. The takeaway from the legend is clear: wisdom and virtue have no business in a civilization coming unglued. Ideas don’t matter; dialogue isn’t useful or appreciated; and traditions distilled from millennia of life might as well be a third antler on a deer. In the midst of the confusion, many Americans are coming to realize that–particularly in big, progressive-controlled cities–moral and law-abiding citizens no longer have any reason to persist. Politicians have no interest in protecting or encouraging urban middle-class citizens, only dancing a jig to the social justice tune played by underclass minority demagogues and wealthy liberals. Law enforcement’s hands are tied from keeping order, lest even a single racism unfold and provoke Armageddon. Citizens are certainly not allowed to protect themselves, their homes, their communities, or their businesses. That would be vigilantism, and the police are uncharacteristically enthusiastic about squashing anyone who stands up to casual lawlessness and intimidation.
As W.B. Yeats observed more than a century ago, we have entered an era when “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Herein lies the crowning absurdity. The opera of ‘St. George and the Blue Dragon’ unfolding across America’s stage has nothing to do with the unfortunate story of the man George Floyd and everything to do with panic over President Trump’s campaign to lay bare both classical and progressive liberalism’s inherent contradictions and impending collapse. The hastily concocted George Floyd myth is one more pawn advanced up the board to corner the King. Liberals do not apprehend they are committing the age-old fallacy of hating the player instead of the game.
As I write, looting continues and police are being violently attacked. Meanwhile, law enforcement leaders are kneeling with protesters to show their “solidarity”. Winston Churchill’s quip comes to mind: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough it will eat him last.”
Excerpted from a longer essay by CLINT FARGEAU