U.S. Grant on safe spaces

Over at Ricochet, member “Gumby Mark” draws an interesting analogy:

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, written as he was dying, is one of the finest memoirs by a senior Civil War officer (the other is Fighting for the Confederacy by Edward Porter Alexander). In its conclusion, Grant gives his views on the underlying reasons for the war:

Slavery was an institution that required unusual guarantees for its security wherever it existed . . . Hence the people of the South were dependent upon keeping control of the general government to secure the perpetuation of their favorite institution . . . They saw their power waning, and this led them to encroach upon the perogatives and independence of the Northern States by enacting such laws as the Fugitive Slave Law . . . Northern marshals became slave-catchers and Northern courts had to contribute to the support and protection of the institution.

Prior to the time of these encroachments the great majority of the people of the North had no particular quarrel with slavery, so long as they were not forced to have it themselves. But they were not willing to play the role of police for the South . . .

Recently rereading this passage I was struck by the echoes of 21st century Progressive thought with its invocation of “safe spaces” that require ever wider scope to make those feeling threatened be secure (and what was the Dred Scott decision other than making the entire United States a safe space for slavery?). It emphasizes what has become ever clearer since 2008; because Progressivism is a philosophy in which everything in society is political and thus potentially subject to government control, progressives cannot feel safe until all of society is aligned properly with their values. For most of us non-progressives our “happy place” is internal to us, or a portion of our private lives; for progressives it encompasses all of society. That is why progressives so aggressively seek domination of all aspects of society.

The long-standing and flourishing civil society institutions of America can only be allowed to operate in conformance with progressive philosophy; if not, progressives feel threatened. No breathing space is allowable.

That’s why every baker and florist who objects to SSM must be crushed;

that’s why the Little Sisters of the Poor must be forced to pay for contraceptives;

that’s why those who donate to non-profits not aligned with progressive values must be publicly identified and intimidated from making further contributions;

that’s why those who express contrary opinions are fair game to be hounded from their jobs even if those opinions are not expressed at work;

that’s why the First Amendment must be changed so people can’t make movies critical of progressive political candidates;

that’s why the IRS needs to stifle opposition political groups;

that’s why, as Peggy Noonan noted last year, progressives are unappeasable – they simply will not feel safe until all opposition is eradicated, privately as well as publicly.

In the name of diversity and tolerance they seek to impose a stifling comformity of thought, a conformity unprecedented in American history…

It now seems evident to me that progressives felt the time had come to “run the table“, They held the Presidency, the permanent bureaucracy was staffed by their acolytes, they controlled most of the mass media, entertainment and sports worlds, the courts were increasingly in the grasp of living constitutionalists, academia and the major foundations were in their hands, the tech oligarchs and much of the financial services world on their side, and the rest of the business community mostly neutralized or even supporting parts of their agenda. To top it off, they believed demographics were inevitably playing out in their favor.

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