Philosopher George Santayana's rubric, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it," resounds down through the years. But his words fall on deaf ears as far as today's post-schoolers are concerned. Somehow, despite 12 years of free education, most secondary-school graduates, and dropouts, have never, or only minimally, been exposed to the discipline of history (defined as the study of what happened in the past); and now the famous Santayana quote is about to catch up with them in their adult years.
The most crucial period of the 20th century was the 12-year lifespan of the Third Reich (1933-1945). Even if you don't know a word of German, there is one German word you should know: Gleichschaltung ("bringing into line," "making the same"). The word or term refers to the process by which the Nazis (National Socialist German Workers Party) gained control over every aspect of German life through a policy of enforced political conformity -- with emphasis on enforced. Conformity is synonymous with correctness. What we now call "PC" was already the master tactic of the Nazis 85 years ago. Millennials won't know about such things, of course, since their schooling didn't include learning about history.
Today what we have in America can very well be labeled "creeping totalitarianism." What Hitler was able to do overnigtht is happening to us but at a gradual pace, slow enough so that Americans do not grasp what is occurring. The process calls to mind the frog in the pot being heated slowly until it's too late for the poikilotherm to save itself.
Our neo-totalitarian PC police have taken it upon themseloves to patrol the confines of the First Amendment, that great guardian of free speech. For the "neo-tots," who are in the ascedency at the present time, speech must now pass their litmus test; otherwise, if you happen to be of a conservative persuasion, you run the risk of being shouted down, accompanied by rotten tomatoes or bricks and fists, and you wind up ignominiously and undeservedly branded as a racist, sexist, homophobe, et cetera.
"The majority rules" used to be a fundamental statement of our democracy. Used to be, but since the Sixties "minorityism" has supplanted the old democratic standard. The latest contretemps: 99.7% of the population isn't transgenderized, 0.3% is. But the majority must accommodate itself to the needs -- or whims -- of the 0.3% minority, according to the dictates of the President oif the United States.
From my own recollection, I can trace the early stages of what would develop into the current neo-totalitarian movement back to 1973 with the travail of Dr. William Shockley, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics (1956) for his role in developing the transistor, named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, et cetera. Shockley was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Staten Island Community College on the subject of human intelligence but ran up against Marxist protests. (He had donated sperm to the Repository for Germinal Choice, "the genius sperm bank.")
A leftist writing in the local Staten Island newspaper fumed that "students and faculty at SICC...kick Nazi Shockley and his genocidal ideas into the ground...NO FREE SPEECH FOR RACISTS!" SICC's president proclaimed: "The First Amendment will be respected at Staten Island Community College." It wasn't. Shockley was pelted with tomatoes and hooted off the stage.
In 1920, three years after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, America's most celebrated lawyer, Clarence Darrow, in defending the right of 20 Chicago communists to express their views, wrote: "You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free."