The Making of Democratic Memory

For almost a year now, we’ve been hearing the sermon that any officer killing any suspect of color under any circumstances is proof, not only of the inherent racism of the officer in question, but also of the systematic racism of institutional policing. That’s still “true” within the orbits of the increasingly ideological Left but we new have a corollary to that dogma: An officer killing a suspect of color to save the life of another person of color is also racism.  

The girl Ma’Khia Bryant tried to stab in Columbus, Ohio will never be able to use her attack as a means of shooting to fame, as David Hogg did after the Parkland shooting in 2018; for the simple reason that she’s an inconvenience to the powers that be. Their sympathies must lie completely with Bryant. Less than 24 hours after her death, Bryant had become the feminized version of George Floyd, a girl gunned down by a trigger-happy white cop who brought a gun to a knife fight because, apparently, he was looking for any excuse to kill a black teenage girl.  

The “gun to a knife fight” screed is of particular interest since it’s not only an inversion of a popular (and, in the correct context, true) aphorism but also because it makes the entire incident between the girls seem far less violent than it actually was. A CNN anchor even compared it to a schoolyard fight and activist Bree Newsome made the asinine observation that teenagers have been getting into knife fights “for eons.” Which, tellingly, is never an excuse offered when the weapon of choice is a gun.  

More to the point, however, it demonstrates what many knew or, at the very least, expected: The postmodern American Left doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about life, minority or any other kind. As far as anyone on the Left is concerned, the only real crime is that the officer killed Bryant; not that Bryant was in the act of stabbing another girl with a steak knife. That’s the real crime because that is the narrative that allows them to repeat their mantra that the police need to be abolished. If Bryant’s intended victim slips into the shadows and is forgotten in the sound and fury of new protests, new riots, new demands, new memorials to a potential killer, that’s just the price of doing business.  

It also shows something deeper and more troubling: That, for the modern Left, justice is about as relevant as the dodo. In a just society, we would mourn Bryant’s death (because no one should be happy when lethal force has to be used, particularly on one so young) but the mourning would be heavily tempered with the honest acknowledgment that she was in the wrong and needed to be stopped before she deprived another girl of her life. We can no longer have that without the risk of being dubbed a white supremacist or something equally horrible. And that places us in a very precarious position because it illustrates that none of us can expect to receive justice if we are wronged. 

For decades now, the fringes of the news have been scattered with outrageous stories—of burglars getting trapped in attics or garages for a week while the owners were away and then, in all seriousness, suing the owners because they should have provided a means for the local thief population to get in and out without any trouble. We laughed at these stories. But now laughter is getting harder and harder to force since we are finally realizing that what was once the fringe is now the main current. 

The Left’s reaction to the Bryant shooting is a clear indicator that maintaining the ideological narrative trumps giving a person his due; even if that involves the alchemy of making a criminal a victim at the expense of the real victim and the real hero. It also raises another question. If the end of society is justice, as Alexander Hamilton said, then what are we left with when justice is wadded up and thrown into the trash?

The answer is a totalitarian society, operated entirely by the woke as a caste of Brahmins. And, as is the case with totalitarian powers, the Left’s power is extending further and further. 

As many have pointed out on social media after the shooting: George Floyd’s videotaped death was said to be so clear that it was obvious Derek Chauvin was guilty; there was hardly any point in even having a trial. A blind man, we were told, could see that he was a racist murderer. Ma’Khia Bryant’s videotaped death, on the other hand, is so unclear that anyone who actually believes what his eyes tell him must be said to be aiding and abetting the killing of black Americans by racist cops. 

In other words: The Left has gone from mind control via the creation of thought crime and the tying of everything to racism (which is the distinguishing characteristic of totalitarianism as opposed to authoritarianism) to now controlling even the raw, sensory data that we intake. Our senses, through which we learn about reality and process reality, may now only be believed if and when the Brahmins tell us. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the “truth” of this will be guilty of thought crime. We are well along on the road to becoming automatons programmed entirely by the Left, our final destination no longer far off on the horizon.

This doesn’t mean that the Left has abandoned its attempts to control what and how we actually think. On the contrary; with its play to control our senses, the Left is also putting out the pieces for what could very well be the endgame of its campaign to control our minds through what Spanish socialists have dubbed, “democratic memory.”

Writing in First Things, Hillsdale professor Stanley Payne reports that the Spanish Socialist government is attempting to ram through a “Law of Historical and Democratic Memory” which, if passed, would reshape the fabric of the country itself by reshaping its memory. Although there are elements of historical rewriting in the Spanish proposal—for example, it calls for the mandated honoring of Republican “heroes” whom, Payne notes, “were likely involved in mass killings and extra-­judicial executions”—it goes further than that. It would create a Council of Memory comprised of “public officials as well as professional ‘experts’ and representatives of nongovernmental but politically reliable organizations” which would act as a truth commission. “Symbols, meetings, or statements judged to approve of the Franco regime and the victors in the civil war are deemed infractions against “historical and democratic memory” with penalties of up to €200,000 and mandatory closure for up to two years of any guilty entities. 

For the American Left, Ma’Khia Bryant (and George Floyd, if we’re honest) are the cornerstones for its own “democratic memory” where any questioning of the official narrative (or “memory”) will be considered an act of racism and violence and thus, a criminal offense. This will, naturally, create a cycle where people afraid of being charged as thought criminals will stay silent, allowing the “democratic memory” to become the memory that we all remember; lies officially alchemized into the “truth.” In true Orwellian fashion, we will all love Big Brother; because Big Brother will be us.

About Nathan Stone

Nathan Stone is a storyteller who looks at culture, politics, and religion from a different point of view on his YouTube channel "Nate on the Stone," and who exercises the moral imagination in his writing. A lover of books, music, and the outdoors (especially with dogs) he earned a master's degree in American history from Liberty University in 2016.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.