January 27, 2017
IT IS DIFFICULT to avoid a smile whilst reviewing these recent events, which are so characteristic of our day. A certain professor “tweets,” on the eve of Jesus’ birth, his Christmas wish for “white genocide”; many angry voices debouch, denouncing what is called a flagrantly racist and inciting speech; to which the good professor replies, no doubt most candidly, that he was clearly being ironic, was but pricking humorously at various soft-skinned movements of the American far right, and that his irony is most clear in light of the fact that “white genocide” has never been perpetrated, and so is an imaginary menace. Erupts a general scandal, an uproar and counter-uproar as some demand the professor’s resignation, or at least swift penal action on the part of his university, and others, who would almost certainly not be so lenient had the color of his statement but differed, vehemently defend his words and his right to say them. The university replies at once that it will inquire into the matter, to see what is fair in it, and then—nothing more is ever heard of any of it, but the affair is quite lost to the dark.
Of course, it is no smiling matter, as many will remind me. There are real questions concealed in this simple debacle, questions regarding the freedom of our speech and the nature of our race relations, to say nothing of other and equally relevant political issues of our day. But if the good professor can with justice defend his right to his good humor, then certainly so can I: for I say, nothing is more serious than cheer, and nothing so frivolous as this bearded, frowning moral indignation which we ultramoderns like so much to wear upon our chins.
Well. We leave that matter where we find it, and do not deign to comment on the justice of either of the two positions—save to observe that both of them have atimes been even embarrassingly hypocritical, insofar as neither of them can with any consistency claim to have fallen on the right side of that “freedom of speech” which they both claim to cherish and protect. But that is egalitarian politics for you: one holds oneself to a different set of standards than one’s adversaries, and calls it justice. For the rest, this is a passing event, a mere sideshow, and not even so much as that, to the news of the day.
But no one can deny that it had its moment of incendiary fame; aye, it had hearts pounding righteously on all parts of our politic patchwork, and throughout all the many piebald regions of our country. Nor does one even need to ask why, the answer is so clear: our good professor’s “tweeting” struck so deep a chord for no other reason, than the appearance within it of those three potent little Grecian syllables.