Everyone Is Revealing Who They Really Are

Whatever you’re gonna do
Please do it fast
I’m just glad it’s over
I’m seein’ the real you at last
Bob Dylan

You heard about Whoopi Goldberg, right? The nonsense she blurted out about the Holocaust, and the two-week suspension ABC slapped her with? For what it’s worth, in my opinion, saying that the Holocaust didn’t have to do with race just shows stark ignorance on the subject, since you learn right from the start that the Nazis were obsessed with the concept and the alleged perniciousness of the “Jewish race.” And when Goldberg followed that up with the even more jaw-dropping comment about the intentional murder of six million people being nothing more important than White people attacking other White people, it didn’t exactly prove she is a Jew hater, but rather that she lacks empathy for anyone who is not Black. It’s no better than a White person saying she doesn’t care about the Rwandan genocide, because that was just Black people killing Black people. That’s not racism, exactly, but it is a small-minded and mean-spirited refusal to care about people you don’t immediately identify with. It’s also self-destructive in the final analysis, for what safety do any of us have in a world where such things happen?

It is a central characteristic of the present time in America that all sorts of bad behavior have been normalized, and all kinds of hateful people feel liberated to put their worst selves on open, proud display. Yes, Trump bears a lot of blame for this, the leader who leads everyone into the filth and the darkness. But how did he become so popular with half the country in the first place? By “saying what he thinks” and “not being politically correct,” the latter apparently a euphemism for having the manners of a toddler in full meltdown. A lot of folks were just looking for an excuse. And not all of them are MAGAs. As for those “anti-maskers,” they already have everything they want: Everyone’s masks are coming off, and we can see them for who they really are.

The whole contrived apparatus of Freudian psychology has been demolished, and deservedly so, but there are certain uncomfortable insights the man had that should not be discarded. He was very clear that the point of psychoanalysis wasn’t to free people from all repression, because civilization can’t exist without self-restraint. And if that makes some people unhappy, there are worse things than that. He got to experience some of those things himself, when the Nazis took over Austria, another time in which people gleefully ripped off their masks and showed off to the whole world all the hatefulness they had been concealing. Freud was forced to flee his home country and ended up dying in London just a few months later. What was the lesson the world took from that whole era? For too many people, it’s not, it must never happen again, but wow, look what those guys got away with! We can do it, too! The slogan, “Yes, we can!” turns out to work for those who want to deny others their civil rights, including the right to life, as much as it does for those who want the opposite.

Every day, the news offers up fresh outrages from people who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! They scream racist insults at kids working in fast-food joints when their orders can’t be filled right away. They start a riot when the restaurant runs out of steak. They break a flight attendant’s teeth when she tells them to sit down and put their seatbelts on. They rage and spit on those who ask them to put on a disease-preventing mask, please, for everybody’s protection. They assault health care workers distributing a lifesaving vaccine. They load up a rifle and gun down their classmates because they want to be famous, right now, stat.

And the very worst of them, increasingly, find validation. A punk kid guns down two people at a riot, and is feted as a hero. A mob sacks the seat of the U.S. government, and one of the two major parties proclaims this to be “legitimate political discourse.” So we will all have to endure more of this behavior, and more, and ever more. Yes, there are still “good people” in America. Those inspiring news stories they stick at the end of the parade of horribles that passes for news broadcasts these days are true: children and old people organizing to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted, the way the prophets of every religion said we should. But there are not enough of these humane humans, I fear, to stem the tide of madness and social breakdown, the onrushing darkness once all those real yous rip off their masks and we can see them, at last.

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