Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won’t. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle’s question: whether “democratic behavior” means the behavior that democracies like or the behavior that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.
You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the worddemocracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of human feelings. You can get him to practice, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.
The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you.
The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the center of his life a good, solid, resounding lie. I don’t mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.
Nichols continues his editorial by literally blasting our culture, and particularly the younger generation, for what he claims is an intellectual arrogance caused largely by the "University of Google" and the rearing of "over-entitled and emotionally delicate kids."
That last paragraph has been haunting me for years as I’ve watched not only the “death of shame” in Western society, but an even worse by-product: the rise of the angry loser, the over-entitled and emotionally delicate kids who never grow up, who refuse to believe that anyone has ever learned anything they haven’t, and who believe that when things don’t go their way, it’s only because dark forces — rather than their own mistakes or the natural limitations of their own talents — have conspired against them to deprive them of their rightful due.
This has created a world in which children lecture scientists about the future of technology, in which cowards lecture soldiers and spies about national defense, and in which pop culture pinup Jenny McCarthy proudly proclaims she went to “the University of Google”and is therefore qualified to advise mothers that they shouldn’t vaccinate their kids. It’s a place where commentators like Eric Bolling show off pocket-sized copies of the Constitution (as he does on Fox’s The Five regularly) as though someone’s going to ask him to straighten out Brown v. Board of Education or Ex Parte Milligan like it’s a pop quiz he can answer easily.
After all, what do people with doctorates in astrophysics know? Why defer to someone who’s spent a lifetime studying a foreign country when you, after all, took some Spanish in high school? And why listen to medical doctors, who are just tools of Big Pharma or Big Medicine or Big Band-Aids or whomever you’re pissed off about at the moment?
In fact, why listen to anyone? Who are they to think they’re better or smarter than you?Because after all, snowflake, you’re unique and special, and you know this because you won a lot of trophies just for being you.
If you were to read the rest of this article you will even sense a large dose of vitriol in his tone, where he predicts it will be, not a foreign power, but this very attitude of arrogance that will eventually lead to the demise of our culture. In your response I would like for each of you to be self-reflective and honest about yourself and your generation. While a certain amount of "push back" against authority is to be expected among youth (it has always been present, regardless of what we may tell you about "the good old days"), I am wondering if there is truth in Nichols' thoughts. Have we become a nation where inexperienced people mistakenly believe themselves to be experts because they have read an article on the internet? Do young people think that they can learn from the experience of their elders, or do they generally think they "deserve" special treatment, since they are "special and can do anything they put their mind to"? Is this generation exceptional in its sense of being "angry losers?" Or are all of his claims more symptoms of youth in general, characteristics that have and will inevitably be a part of most adolescent personalities?