Of Bitter Wheat, collective guilt, and willful blindness.

Malkovich as Fein

Famous, fabulous playwright David Mamet almost always gets rave reviews for his plays from “theater critics.” His latest, Bitter Wheat, did not fare well with these same TC’s. Has he lost his touch? No, according to Andrew Mahon, a Canadian-British writer whose work has been published in the Spectator, New English Review and Catholic Journal, among other publications. This new play is a pisser for the left-leaning TC “community.” How so?

The central character, Barney Fein, is modeled after Harvey Weinstein. He’s a left-wing saint. In the play, Fein supports a charity for immigrants, passionately rejecting the term “illegal immigrant,” and lauds the bravery of migrants seeking a better life. He expresses his corporate leftist virtue most directly when he’s trying to persuade the reluctant young actress, played by Ioanna Kimbook, to sleep with him, commenting with dismay, “I’m not sure you realize just how much money I give to the Democrat Party.” The audience exploded with laughter; the critics….not so much. The next three paragraphs are from Mahon’s review.

“Barney Fein’s function is to illustrate that one can subscribe to all the corporate morality that liberals pontificate about and still be a despicable human being. Left-wing dogma — from global warming, to social welfare, to family planning, to extremism prevention, to unconscious bias — is all about collective guilt. The left-wing belief is that all wrongdoing is a consequence of the collective failings of society as a whole, and for this they will happily flagellate themselves and us, preach, act, and donate to liberal causes, to the adulation of their fellow progressives. Racism and sexism aren’t about one individual considering another individual to be of less intrinsic value as a human being because of race or sex; no, they are systemic problems that society is infected with, which must be eradicated by re-balancing the system with positive discrimination and affirmative action.

“It’s easy to trumpet collective virtue and to take collective responsibility for collective sins. It’s doubly easy to criticize those who don’t accept this ideology — in left-wing eyes, conservatives are evil because they don’t acknowledge their share of the collective responsibility for society’s systemic problems. (Perhaps because they’re too busy dealing with their personal failings as individuals, but no matter.) There is no personal guilt and therefore no personal responsibility in any of the leftist catechism. There’s no understanding of personal sacrifice. There’s no love. It’s a philosophy that denies personal sovereignty altogether, which can only lead to contradiction because no matter how much they deny the fact, we have to live in the world as individuals. And so by the standards of the Left, Weinstein is a great humanitarian, but he’s also a despicable man. How do they reconcile this?

“Fein, himself, resists facing the contradiction, to comic effect. When an Islamic terrorist kills his mother, crying “death to the Jew,” Fein is at pains to explain how society has let this poor man down in ways that induced his violent outburst. It’s a logical corollary of left-wing dogma that terrorists can’t be responsible for their own actions, because the root cause is society’s oppression of them. Fein wants to meet this terrorist, not to forgive him, but to ask his forgiveness. It is “we” who are the problem, not any one individual — not the terrorist, and by extension, not Fein either. Only by excusing all individual sins, including the murder of his own mother, can he escape culpability for his own sins and go one living the leftist delusion.”

During the peaceful protest outside of Mitch McConnell’s home, a protester is heard saying she wished McConnell had “broken his little, raggedy, wrinkled-ass neck” and that someone should “just stab the motherf—er in the heart.” What was she inveighing against? He isn’t agitating for even more gun restrictions than the ones currently not being enforced. You see, she is passionately in favor of saving lives while wanting to stab in the heart someone who doesn’t agree with her superficial “solution”. MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes,” contributor and legal blog editor Elie Mystal had some fiery words for Equinox and SoulCycle chairman Stephen Ross, who hosted a fundraiser for President Trump: “I want pitchforks and torches outside this man’s house in the Hamptons.

Those are only two examples of the blindness that the “collective-guilt” mentality engenders. My question is, “is this moral blindness willful, or unconscious?” I think of Cindy, who worked for AT&T before their “breakup” in an antitrust action. She was in management, was very well paid, and by day helped one of the biggest true monopolies extend their reach. When work time was over, she became super-communist Cindy, turning out anti-capitalism leaflets and getting into Antifa-like scuffles with police and counter protesters. She was a terrible manager, treating those under her with disdain while being obsequious to those over her in the hierarchy. She was the embodiment of Winston Churchill’s description of “the Hun.” He said, “the Hun is either at your feet or at your throat.” I asked her many times, “what motivates you to pursue all these communist activities?” Her answer was always the same. “I love the people, and want to free them.” She embodied that great contradiction of leftism: she loved the concept of “the people” but hated individual people. It’s the issue that Mr. Mahon raised in his play review: How do you resolve the paradox of a great humanitarian being a despicable person? Enter the concept, Collective Guilt.

Are you desensitized yet?

From Matt Walsh at TheDailyWire.com: “At bottom, the answer is that we have become a country filled with numb, detached, and desensitized people. Mass shootings are the ultimate manifestation of that detachment. Our reaction to them — rhetorically slinging dead bodies at each other to score points in a political argument — is a slightly less severe but very much related manifestation. A survivor of the El Paso shooting reports that the shooter casually smirked before unloading on a crowd of innocent people. This echoes many other reports from many similar shootings. The killer is always smirking like he’s slightly amused, or else he’s blank-faced and emotionless. Rarely do you get a picture of someone running around enraged and screaming. We call these acts of ‘hate,’ but they are much more acts of brutal, murderous indifference. These are empty, numb, detached people slaughtering their fellow humans because they are bored and frustrated with their meaningless lives.

“But this only kicks the can another mile down the road. If it is detachment and desensitization causing these attacks, the next question is, what causes the detachment and desensitization? The culprits here are manifold, but the internet has to be one of the first places we look. Though it has of course existed for several decades, the internet has only been ubiquitous for the past two. The rise of social media is even more recent than that. As with any massive societal shift, we will not fully understand its effects until we are a good distance from it. But it’s already fairly clear that our cyberspace obsession causes us to be increasingly detached from the physical world and each other. It’s a cliche to point out that our connectedness has made us disconnected, yet there’s truth to most cliches, and this one is no different.

“A fascinating and disturbing article from Robert Evans details how the users on the message board where the El Paso shooter liked to spend his time not only cheer on these killing sprees but discuss them like the innocent people being butchered are just characters in a video game. Evans calls it the ‘gamification’ of terror. You could just as well call it the ‘internetification’ of terror. Mass shooters are simply translating their internet personas into the real world. People on internet forums, social media, YouTube, and other sites routinely wish death and worse on each other. ‘Kill yourself’ and ‘I hope you get cancer’ are almost standard greetings at this point. But what’s often lost in all of this mundane vitriol is that actual human beings are saying this stuff to other actual human beings. After a while you get so used to being treated this way, and maybe so used to treating others this way, that you no longer appreciate the dignity and beauty of human life. It is not hard to see how someone who spends hour upon hour and year upon year wallowing in the darkest and vilest corners of cyberspace, treating other humans like filth, wishing violence and death on anyone who crosses them, may eventually become the monsters they already appear to be online.

“A man who thinks he can be a despicable, stupid sociopath in cyberspace yet remain a basically decent guy in the ‘real world’ loses sight of the fact that the internet is the real world. It is technology used by people in the real world to communicate with other people in the real world. Who you are while using the internet is simply who you are. However you act on the internet is simply how you act. If you’re a dirtbag on Twitter, you’re simply a dirtbag. The idea that internet is a morality-free zone where grotesque behavior somehow ‘doesn’t count’ not only encourages people to be despicable but numbs them to the impact their behavior has on others. And this is all to say nothing of the fact that the internet gives disturbed and violent people the chance to congregate anonymously and egg each other on.

“The internet isn’t the only source of our cultural emptiness. 24-hour cable news gets us accustomed to watching human tragedies as entertainment. Broken homes foster emotional confusion and feelings of hopelessness in children. Psychiatric drugs, while necessary in some cases, can also create a chemical numbness and detachment, as evidenced by side effects like ‘suicidal thoughts’ listed on the packaging. And underlying all of this is our dwindling sense of the transcendent — our rejection of a higher purpose to human life. All of these factors accumulate as the snowball rolls down the mountain. Eventually the snowball is an avalanche, and more innocent people are buried underneath it, and all we do is stand on the pile flinging little clumps of snow at each other.”

I agree that what he’s saying is true, but the real underlying cause of all the negative effects he is describing, is that lack of a higher purpose than self, and perhaps even the rejection of the desirability of having a higher purpose. Once an Internet-social media junkie becomes truly addicted to cyber life, their numbness becomes a feedback loop. The more you imbibe of any addictive substance, the more you are hooked on it. Very few addiction rehabs end well. That’s even truer for something you don’t think is harmful.