Our New American Renaissance

My favorite headline from the last week or so came from our new paper of record: “People Who Ruined World’s Economies Gather To Discuss How To Fix World’s Economies.” That’s what’s so great about the Babylon Bee, what makes it so painful-funny. You generally can’t tell where the satire ends and the documentary begins. It was just that which infuriated our former paper of record, the New York Times, which actually threatened to sue the satirical paper for being “a far-right misinformation site.” That didn’t go so well, and the pathetic excuse for a newspaper had to walk back its attacks. 

Never mind. Everything is going great. I know this because David Brooks just told us so from his shiny pulpit at the Times. “The American Renaissance has Begun,” his headline declares. COVID-19 is over and prosperity and comity are breaking out all over. Item: “[A]s more and more immigrants settle in rural areas and small towns, their presence might reduce nativism and increase economic competitiveness.” 

I rubbed my eyes, too. Was this the Times or the Babylon Bee? Can we tell the difference anymore? What about the story that points out that “as more and more immigrants settle in rural areas and small towns, crime rates and disease skyrocket.” I couldn’t find that one in the New York Times so I wrote it myself. As I did so, I wondered whether David Brooks had bothered to take a gander at what is happening at our Southern border. That’s where most of those “more and more immigrants” come from, you know. 

Never mind. It’s all wistful soap bubbles and unicorns. “People are shifting their personal lives to address common problems—loneliness and loss of community. Nobody knows where this national journey of discovery will take us, but the voyage has begun.”

Prize essay topic: What do those sentences mean? Be specific. 

Meanwhile, as we get set to enjoy the new American Renaissance, can there be any more cheerful propaedeutic than Joe Biden, our first Alzheimer’s president. Back when Biden was campaigning against he-who-shall-not-be-named—back in the bad old times before the new American Renaissance—I used to refer to Biden’s campaign appearances, such as they were, as a form of elder abuse. 

I misspoke. I didn’t understand that having a mentally incompetent president was actually a sign of what great shape the country was in. “America is back.” That has been the mantra of the administration since the beginning. In Anchorage in March, our snickerdoodle Secretary of State Anthony Blinken assured his Chinese counterpart of that interesting fact just before the Chinese rolled over him as the tanks rolled over protestors at Tiananmen Square. News reports on the G7 meeting, when they weren’t celebrating the new American Renaissance or commenting on Biden’s London fog, kept telling us that “America is back” now that what’s his name is gone and normality has reasserted itself. 

Nietzsche once observed, “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” As it happens, that is not true, but when he said it, Nietzsche was well on his way to occupying the state of no-mind that Joe Biden is splashing around in. As I say, though, I used to think it was mean of Jill Biden—that’s Dr. Jill Biden, educationist, to you and me—to allow her husband to face the glare of campaign scrutiny when he often had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to say. 

True, the press treated him with kid gloves (even as it treated him to his favorite flavor of ice cream) and the wretched Chris Wallace, tickling the president’s ear lobes, went so far as to describe his inaugural address as “the best” he had ever heard. Yes, really. 

But the main point is that now I understand, since we are on the threshold of a New American Renaissance, why it isn’t at all mean to parade Joe Biden around in front of cameras and reporters even though (speaking of Nietzsche) he blinks vacantly like Nietzsche’s Last Man. It’s fine, really. Joe doesn’t mind it, unless someone asks him a real question—then he gets testy, as old folks sometimes do. The point is that the Chris Wallaces and David Brookses of the world can rejoice that the formerly free world is once again, at last, being run by someone other than you-know-who.

It’s great to be living through a new Renaissance. I am going to tell that to my children when they ask why their money is worthless and why their teachers tell them that all whites are racists. The signs of the new Renaissance are everywhere. We just got a brand new national holiday, for instance: Juneteenth. How great is that? Pretty soon, perhaps, all the days will be national holidays, one for every left-wing interest group going. 

It was not so long ago that we were warned hourly about “Russian collusion.” Here in the midst of our new American Renaissance the president of the United States can meet with Vladimir Putin and ask him pointedly please, pretty please not to launch cyber attacks against any of 16 critical infrastructure entities. I am not sure whether that meant that it was OK for Russia to engage in cyber attacks against the other 57,826,894 entities that are on the internet, but I assume President Putin was gratified to know which entities we regard as critical and “off limits.” 

Really, I am delighted to learn that we have embarked on a “journey” through a new American Renaissance. Had I not been told that, I might have naively assumed that the country, which seems to me to be more divided than at any time since the 1850s, was on the verge of implosion. I am so happy to learn, then, that we are in for unicorns and rainbows, not attorneys general warning about “domestic terrorists” and “white supremacists.”

As Winston Smith learned in a different story, it was not enough to accept Big Brother. One also had to learn to love him. I think that is part of what David Brooks was trying to express, though my offer of a prize for the student who can parse those two sentences about our “national journey” still stands. 

 

About Roger Kimball

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).

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