Saturday, December 06, 2008


Cervantes added the above word to our lexicon by creating the character Don Quixote, a delusional man who sought to win chivalric glory for himself by fighting beasts and villains from his imagination. While Quixote did little damage to anything other than the occasional windmill, and of course, himself, our modern Quixotes--most notably the press and academia--however, often do terrible damage, not only to individuals whom they see as beast and villains, but to our society and culture. The source of their mischief is the way in which they define their adversaries: the "establishment", the status quo, Western Civilization, the "white" power structure, the capitalist economy--these are all seen by them as the enemy by simple virtue of being powerful. That which is less powerful they therefore view as more worthy of respect, objects of which they are protective and for which they fight. In this respect, anything seen as the underdog is esteemed; the powerful or successful are by default judged corrupt or evil.

Consider, for example, the antipathy with which the Western press characterizes anything to do with Christianity in comparison with the careful deference and respect afforded Islam. Radio talk show host Dennis Prager recently highlighted this in commenting as how journalists routinely use the religious honorific "prophet" when referring to Mohammed, yet would never consider an equivalent title with reference to Jesus. Why? Christianity is viewed as aligned with the prevailing power structure; as such their first impulse is to weaken and subvert it in any way they can, even in so benign a way as withholding terms of respect. Islam, on the other hand, is seen as vulnerable, and therefore should be given every advantage and courtesy.

To those of us who are believers, the efforts to undermine faith by the secular media are to be expected. It was Jesus, after all, who said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:18) But there are truly toxic ways in which our modern Quixotes attack and damage our society. Note the way our military is commonly portrayed by all forms of popular media: either as heartless killers and war criminals, or hapless victims; disparaged as bloodthirsty, or pitied as dupes. Who is the single "hero" to emerge from the media in the Iraq war? Jessica Lynch, a young frail girl, horribly wounded. Who, the single hero from the Afghanistan theater? Pat Tillman, accidentally killed by his own countrymen. And what is the result of this attitude as it has filtered through our popular culture? More and more colleges and universities are canceling ROTC programs and banning any military recruitment from their campuses. The ability of the military to recruit from large coastal urban areas has steadily diminished over the last two decades.

Or consider the way business--especially big business--is in all ways vilified by media. The results of this propaganda campaign are legion and too numerous to catalog, but a few highlights would be, 1)the ubiquity of theft by young people today of everything from music illegally downloaded online to clothing shoplifted from department stores, justified because it is taken from big "greedy" companies, 2) the willingness of taxpayers to accept the government take-over of health-care, and perhaps even the energy industry, and 3) punitive and confiscatory tax policy and draconian anti-profit regulation of business, large and small.

Why our Quixotes labor to tear down the pillars of American society--the religion that engendered the very values upon which our laws and culture was founded, the military that first won, and then preserved our freedom, the capitalists economy which has given even the lowliest of our citizens a standard of living unprecedented in human history--is address by David Horowitz in his book Unholy Alliance in reference to the American hard left. The motivation he describes applies as well, I think, to the larger contingent I am discussing.

"...they were motivated by an abstraction--the vision of a future that did not exist and had never existed, but which they were convinced they could create...The belief in this "reality" is the reason radicals discount the freedoms, and benefits of the actual world they live in. Their eyes are fixed on the revolutionary future that is perfect and just. Measured by this impossible standard, any actually existing society--including America's--is easily found deficient, even to the point where it is worthy of destruction."

On a personal level there is a more immediate motivation for their actions. Just as in my literary example, the venerable Don Quixote, they achieve a sense of nobility and chivalric glory in railing against the powerful and defending the "weak", real world results be damned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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