by David Warren
For the Shah was not the only thing overthrown during the Khomeinist takeover of 1979. In their attempt to reconstruct abiding Persia as a utopian, "revolutionary," quasi-Muslim quasi-state, the mullahs launched an attack on reality itself. Predictably, it has failed and, as we see today, a generation raised entirely on their doctrines and under their watchful thugs shows no gratitude.
Yet, as we saw before, during and after the fall of Communist regimes in Europe, tyranny does not evaporate like the morning dew. It is a spiritual poison, leaching into the soil. The effects of tyranny outlive the regime of tyranny, in the victims of tyranny. A typical side-effect is a kind of double-vision, in which reality and unreality remain simultaneously in view.
It becomes almost impossible to recover reality, because the tyrants so assiduously tampered with it. "The people" still half-believe the indoctrination; conversely, many of them openly embrace real evils, simply because they appear the opposite of the evils the regime embraced. Confusion reigns. Everything has been demonized; time is required, and the longer operations of nature, to sort what is good from what is bad.
Today's column is not about Iran, but I mention the country because we watch from a distance. That is what makes smugness possible. Nothing as horrible as what happens there has yet happened here. We feel secretly superior to people who've had to face circumstances we cannot imagine.
I remember the outrage of a Czech exile, a generation ago (before the Communists had fallen), receiving an uptight, self-righteous lecture from a shallow Canadian acquaintance. The latter said the enslaved Czechs should be blamed for co-operating with their Communist masters. Why didn't they just refuse to obey orders?
He was speaking to a man who had spent 12 years in labour camps for disobeying orders. Yet that was beside the point. The Canadian was speaking about things beyond his comprehension. My Czech friend, who had turned almost purple from his effort to contain himself, said only: "You are a fool." His Canadian interlocutor walked off, looking even more pleased with himself than usual. This Czech could have said more. I will say it for him.
In contemporary Canada we also face tyranny, but of a sort that we have brought upon ourselves in ways no Czechs, no Persians, ever did. There is no regime in Ottawa that seized power by violence, and imposed the "politically correct" ideology on us from a party manifesto. The advance of this tyranny -- of the Nanny State and all its trappings -- has been accomplished in plain view, by incremental advances, with our co-operation.
In two generations, we have witnessed a transformation, and nearly an inversion, of all the moral and ethical principles that guided us through countless generations before. The "revolution" has been accomplished by such means as George Orwell predicted: by changing the meanings of words.
Most overtly it has been done with "rights language" -- by the construction of new, artificial and quite abstract "group" rights that are anathematic to individual freedom. But beneath this, we have watched court and legislative interventions to redefine such basic ideas as manhood, fatherhood; womanhood, motherhood -- a purposeful destruction of the family in the cause of extending the powers of the state. We have likewise watched the religious order of society being systematically undermined, so that atheism or "irreligion" has become the default position from which the state now issues its ukases.
And we have allowed this and more, through the very laxity that shallow Canadian condemned in Czechs. We have accommodated the new powers, for fear of being isolated and ostracized.
I wrote last week about the evil of "feminism," and of the need to reverse its advance. It is typical of the present pseudo-reality that I am then attacked for being "anti-woman." It is further assumed, most obnoxiously, that I blame "women" for feminism -- thus playing the same game, of using one sex as a club to smash the other.
But no, I blame cowards -- most of them men.
Contemporary feminism did not prevail on such argumentative points as Betty Friedan included in her psychotic ravings. The movement had practical sponsors, who, for the most part, weren't female. They were men who wanted "free love" (read: copulation); who embraced contraception because it would free male pleasures from male responsibilities, and turn women very much into "objects" of their desire. That is how men conceded the high feminist ground.
Tyranny -- dehumanization -- advanced, because men failed to be men, women failed to be women, and both sexes pretended to become "persons" on an analogy more animal than divine. And today, nothing in our country is quite as it appears.
© Ottawa Citizen, 2008