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Why do ‘progressives’ live in the past?

During the tv panels I used to do, inevitably Sid Ryan or some other dissipated old lefty would smirk and say, “Why do all you people want to go back to the 1950s?”

“You mean to the time before AIDS and rampant divorce and assassinations and epidemic drug use and…?” I took to replying.

But it’s really progressives who live in the past.

Be it the labor conditions of a century ago, or “life” in Dickensian England, or those “evil” 1950s, or a 1998 Law & Order episode about some “Timothy McVeigh” type — progressives see almost everything through the lens of the past, often a semi-fictional one, helpfully distorted by Hollywood and Howard Zinn.

We’ve seen it again with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Victor Davis Hanson makes the point well, writing about “this well-connected, well-paid Harvard resident apparently wants us to believe that he is living under something like the United States of many decades ago.”

But why? What causes this particularly persistent mental tick?

The answer is simple: when your movement’s best days are behind it, when you could still excuse your stupidity and cruelty by claiming you had no idea your “brilliant” solutions to the world’s problems would actually make the world worse… those seem like the good old days indeed.


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