It’s not 1984 and This is the Opposite of Thought Control
Apropos our discussion this week, here is something I saw on Facebook last week in response to the news that HBO Max decided to stop offering GONE WITH THE WIND:
Any book or film that doesn’t meet present Politburo standards is apt to be removed by a subservient corporate America. Buy hard-copy books and physical media while you still can.
This is a classic example of the butthurt white conservative treating himself as the victim instead of learning to cope with what his tribe used to call the the Genius of the Market.
Here’s the deal. The Politburo was the governing body of the centralized economy of the Soviet Union. HBO Max not wanting to platform a spectacularly racist film celebrating the glories of the Confederacy and featuring a number cringeworthy racist stereotypes is not the Politburo. Nor is it the Holocaust, Orwell’s 1984, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Rouge’s war on the intellectuals or a dystopian nightmare of mind control by Big Brother.
Indeed, it not any kind of state body dictating what we may and may not think. In fact, it it’s the exact opposite of all that. It’s a company in a free market in a country with freedom of speech deciding that platforming a film to tell millions of Americans that the Confederacy was a fairy tale wonderland of grateful slaves loyally serving a master race of knights and southern belles is, you know, not really what the consumer is buying these days except inside a very suffocating MAGA bubble. In other words, it’s a triumph of the free market, not of a tyrannical world state.
If you are still desperate to see GONE WITH THE WIND, that same free market makes it available to you in a host of venues in both its film and book forms. That’s why you can, if you are desperate to do so, still rent, stream, and buy GONE WITH THE WIND in all sorts of other venues besides HBO Max and you won’t be sent to a Soviet re-education camp or shot in Lubyanka prison for it. Nobody will lock you in with the rats in Room 101 or send you to one of Obama’s famously imaginary shariah re-education camps. In point of fact, you just are not a victim here at all.
Yet, In the comments on this thread, virtually everybody responding to this story saw themselves suffering some great outrage and standing like Irish monks, preserving a vanishing civilization against the encroaching barbarians of the State Thought Police.
Most significant for me, as a Catholic continually embarrassed by the witness of butthurt white conservative Catholics, was the commenter who asked if THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was likewise on the alleged purge list from Global Mind Control. Lots of murmurs of approval for this from the rest of the commenters, natch.
What none of these Real Catholic[TM] saviors of civilization in the conversation seemed to realize for one second was that questions like that communicate one thing and one thing only: to oppose racism is to oppose Christianity. That this was the automatic and reflexive assumption of everybody there is repugnant to the teaching of the Church, though not, alas to millions of MAGA Catholics. None of them dreamed that such an assumption was damning. Not one of them considered for one second what a black Catholic would feel in listening in from faaaaar outside the Universe of Discourse that cramped ideological bubble occupied.
Meanwhile, in the actual Magisterium, which has existed ever since Jesus promised that “many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 8:11) and the apostles declared that in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, black nor white, male nor female” the Culture War priorities that obsess American conservative are definitively rejected (yet again) in Nostra Aetate:
“We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).
No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.
The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.”
The most pernicious myth of white conservative American Christians is that they are persecuted. They need to believe it because they live in comfort while Christians around the globe really do suffer and because, on our soil, the Christians who are persecuted –namely the brown and poor ones–overwhelmingly suffer at their hands.
It’s a deeply rooted defense mechanism. They are classic butthurt bullies, like their great god and savior, Donald Trump. Having to click over to Amazon Prime instead of HBO Max is not the Trail of Tears or Stalin’s Famines or Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Get over yourselves. It’s embarrassing. Think about somebody else for a change.