That’s what Hillary Clinton thought was inscribed, in English and in Russian, on the button that she gave to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in early 2009…actually she got the translation wrong…(why on earth, with all the linguistic resources that were available to her?…but that’s a subject for another day.)
I don’t think I need to provide a slew of links to prove that the reset didn’t work very well. Russia-US national relations are currently pretty bad, and Russia is now perceived as a threat to many other countries in a way that would have seemed unbelievable back in 2008. Resetting institutional and societal things…complicated, intertwined, human things…is generally much harder than rebooting a computer or flipping a circuit breaker back to ON.
Yet the RESET button is a good metaphor for the entire worldview of the Obama administration, and of the “progressive” movement generally. Remember that line about “fundamentally transforming” the United States?
One tactic employed by modern-era leaders who wish to “fundamentally transform” their societies is to transform the use of language and other symbols. The French revolutionaries pioneered in this: even the names of the months of the year were changed. The Nazis required that the traditional greeting “gruess gott” (roughly, “God bless you”) be replaced with “Heil Hitler.” It was part of their version of what I have called the politicization of absolutely everything.
In the US today, the politicized transformation of language has largely originated in universities, especially in their various “studies” departments, and is now being transmitted and amplified by certain corporations.
For example, it is credibly reported that JP Morgan now discourages its employees from using terms such as “wife” and “boyfriend.” According to the internal memo, not referring to your wife as your wife “offers up the opportunity for more inclusive conversations.”
Presumably, the idea is that those who lack wives or boyfriends…on account of being gay or transgender…will be hurt and offended by the use of the terms. Which makes about as much sense as the idea that religious people shouldn’t refer to their “minister” or their “rabbi” because to do so might be painful to the non-religious. Or that people with children shouldn’t refer to their “child” or their “kid” because it might be painful to those who only have cats…maybe a more neutral term like “dependent companion creature” might be used.
What this is really all about, of course, is sucking up to what somebody at JPM thinks the zeitgeist is among those who may have power over its future.
Apple Computer, also, is following a similar course. They have banned the use of the Confederate flag even as a marker for units in Civil War simulation games sold on the App Store. (Specifically, they have banned any such marker appearing on a screenshot of the game which will appear in the store.)
Several days ago, I linked an article arguing that modern “liberalism,” or “progressivism,” or whatever they call themselves, is now almost purely a symbolic project. The Apple policy that I described about represents symbol-obsession taken to a level that is truly insane.
While banning the use of the Confederate flag even for purposes of unit-identification icons, Apple has apparently not restricted the use of the Nazi swastika for similar purposes in WWII simulation games. I don’t conclude from this that Apple is a group of Nazi sympathizers, rather, that they are a group of herd-followers and enforcers of the “progressive” herd’s current direction, whatever that direction may be. (Apple once used the slogan “Think Different”…now, it seems, their slogan should be “think like you are supposed to!)
And that’s why all of this is so disturbing: because it represents an attack on independence of thought. The official line, as announced by Obama and The New York Times, must not only be followed, but followed enthusiastically.
It is important to think seriously about where all this leads. Maybe you think that it is so important to be kind to nontraditional couples that terms like “husband” and “boyfriend” should be eschewed. Maybe you think the Confederate flag is such an icon of utter evil that is should not even be used to identify a unit in a simulation game. But are you really comfortable in creating a social environment in which lupine packs of “activists” endlessly push the entire American population in their chosen direction, with corporations and other economically-powerful entities standing at the ready to destroy the financial future of anyone who even thinks about going in another direction? Even if you like the specifics of the JPM and Apple policies, consider the possibility that some day the “activists” are going to point the herd in a direction of which you do not approve.
In A Man for All Seasons , a play about Saint Thomas More, the protagonist’s daughter and his son-in-law argue that a particular man should be arrested, even though he has broken no law, resulting in this conversation:
Roper: So, now you give the devil himself the benefit of law?
More: Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get at the devil?
Roper: Yes! I’d cut down every law in England to do that.
More: Oh? And when the last law was down and the devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide…the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down, …do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I would give the devil the benefit of law for my own safety.
“The winds that would blow then” are now being stirred up aggressively, and the thickets of laws and customers that protect against such winds are being systematically clear-cut.
See also the inimitable Sarah Hoyt, who notes that tribal cheering always ends in tears, and, for a sense of just how fun and how free things will be if we don’t change the direction in which we are heading, read my posts Life in the fully politicized society and Life in the fully politicized society, continued.