Joe Biden’s Happy Things

McDonald’s has its “Happy Meals,” so it’s only fair that Joe Biden has his “Happy Times.” The Fourth of July weekend is one of those bright, smiling occasions that normally begets happiness, though in truth the White House occupant was not smiling on Friday when reporters ventured to ask him about the decision (I won’t say his decision) to turn over Bagram Airfield to the Afghans after nearly 20 years, $2 trillion in taxpayer money spent, and thousands of U.S. casualties. 

Question for the future: what did we get for all that blood and treasure? Don’t answer now, just put it on your mental to-do list. 

Anyway, the leader of the free world didn’t want to talk about Afghanistan. “I want to talk about happy things, man,” he snapped. The Taliban is such a downer, you know, and besides “It’s Fourth of July” weekend. “I’m going to celebrate it. There’s great things happening.” 

Like gasoline prices about double what they were last year? Out-of-control inflation? A humanitarian and national security crisis on our Southern border? 

Mr. Happy did not mention those items. 

Nor did he dwell on the deeper question, viz what are we celebrating on the 4th of July? After all, many college students say they are “embarrassed” to be Americans. “Are you proud to be an American?” an interviewer asked. “Hell no,” was the answer, or words to that effect. 

Not that this is surprising. Most of the major institutions of the country have been telling us that America is irredeemably racist, sexist, and exploitative. The wretched “1619 Project,” which argued that America was founded as a “slavocracy” and that the American Revolution—whose culmination we celebrate on July 4—was fought to perpetuate the institution of slavery, was promulgated by the New York Times, supposedly our paper of record. The tendentious and historically inaccurate contentions of that disgusting anti-American broadside were then packaged for school curricula by the Times and other outlets of dubious national loyalty. As of this writing, elements of the 1619 Project’s ideology are part of the curricula of more than 4,500 schools. 

Then there is critical race theory, a catechism that teaches students to hate their country and whites to hate themselves. As Christopher Rufo has shown in meticulous detail, the wild ideas of CRT are being force-fed in mandatory training sessions not only to students but also to government employees. 

This is old news by now, but we should not let familiarity breed complacency. (Contempt is something else: there is plenty of room for contempt here.) Is it a “happy thing” that the U.S. Treasury, for example, has spent more than $5 million on indoctrina—, er “training” sessions teaching its employees that “virtually all white people contribute to racism”? The 8,900 employees of the National Credit Union Administration are being treated to a similar catechism. America was “founded on racism,” they were told in a scripture right out of the 1619 Project, and “built on the backs of people who were enslaved.” 

America’s nuclear arsenal is manufactured at the Sandia National Laboratories. You might think that such an institution would be careful to distance itself from radical, anti-American sentiment. But Rufo has shown that Sandia held a “three-day reeducation camp for white males,” teaching them to “deconstruct their ‘white male culture’ and forcing them to write letters of apology to women and people of color.” Similar programs have infested many other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, whose “Office of Diversity and Inclusion” (who knew?) hosts weekly “Intersectionality Workshops.”

No wonder Joe Biden is looking forward to happy things this weekend. 

So, I have no doubt, are most of us. But amid the requisite chirpings about the real meaning of July 4, and the rote attestations about what a great (“the greatest”) country the United States is—in between the reels with Ronald Reagan and JFK and other telegenic patriots—behind all the happy times and invocation of Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington, once we’ve dabbed the uplifting teary moments from our eyes, I wonder whether it might be worth pondering what happened to the United States to make possible something like the 1619 Project or the tsunami of self-hatred that fires critical race theory. 

Alas, all that is the veritable tip of a hitherto unfathomable iceberg. We can’t take its measure yet, but we have tasted the jagged outcropping that accuses millions of citizens of being “domestic extremists,” even “terrorists” because they persist in questioning a questionable election and continue to declare their support for a cancelled politician. Other hard minatory planes lurk close to the surface, which is why hitherto respected institutions like the FBI are now regarded by large swathes of the public with fear and loathing; the military, once unimpeachable, is increasingly regarded with derision and contempt. 

Nancy Pelosi is just about to launch her investigation of the free-for-all at the Capitol on January 6, but the more we know about that event, the less it looks like an “insurrection” or attack on “our democracy” (which is not, by the way, your democracy). On the contrary, with every passing day it becomes clearer that the protest at the Capitol was to a large extent managed if not organized by the very forces that now thunder in denunciation while exacting horrible retribution on those caught by their surveillance machine. In the fullness of time, we will learn that the real danger to America are not the sad sacks who populate the tiny ranks of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, or QAnon but rather those wielding the police power of the state to stymie their political opponents and perpetuate the perquisites of their bureaucracy. 

It may almost go without saying that Joe Biden plays an ambiguous role in this malevolent charade. He is not the prime mover but merely the public face of the machine. 

I remember the sad history of King Henry VI. He succeeded a wildly successful warrior king when he was only nine months old. He knew no other life but life at the Court. Mentally feeble, he was always directed by a battery of advisors who took most of the real decisions upon themselves. Foreign emissaries who got an audience reported that he said virtually nothing but smiled a lot. Later, when his powerful wife, Margaret of Anjou, was overseeing a battle, he is said to have sat under a tree singing. Eventually, he broke down entirely. For a while, others managed the affairs of state. He sort of recovered, but was consumed by forces beyond his ken and was deposed. 

The record does not specify what flavor of ice cream Henry favored, but I have no doubt that he, too, looked forward to happy times. 

 

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).

Photo: Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

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