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The Thinning Skin of America

While reading a column this week about the pernicious effects of “micro-aggressions” on the psychological development of America’s young men and women, I thought to myself: what has happened to this rugged country?

police speechThis idea, born out of academia, that “micro-aggressions” and “trigger words” can cause lasting damage to the “delicate” human spirit is surely an insult to the memories of the millions of Americans, my grandparents included, who suffered through the Great Depression, fought in the trenches, cities, beachfronts and the forests of the World Wars, and the many millions more who labored through a lifetime of arduous, back-breaking, manual labor without the benefits of advanced safety equipment or robotics.

Does anyone really want to live in a country where the language police stand ready to declare a word as “triggering” at a moment’s notice and to subsequently label and stain the speaker with an unflattering adjective, while having to immediately provide a “safe space” for the delicate flower on the receiving end?

Does anyone really want to live in a country where social and ideological pressure from academic elites and society’s “thought leaders” force people into group identifications and allegiances in order to demonstrate the implicit discrimination acting against us through “micro-aggressions”?

Does anyone really want to live in a country where controversial speech is labeled “provocative” because terrorist savages feel that gunning people down in cold blood is the appropriate remedy for being on the receiving end of words that offend them?

Should these panels of self-ordained “experts” on the use of language, and the psychological and sociological reasons for the use of the language, really be given such power? The power to mark someone with the Scarlet Letter for grievances against society either real, or imagined, is a dangerous one in the wrong hands. More dangerous is the power of savage violence to suppress speech, and to create a climate of fear indicative more of a third-world tyranny than the world’s most prosperous democracy.

The danger of restricting speech, both controversial and ideological, creates an obvious slippery slope with no clear defining limits to the speech dragnet. A growing number of Americans sense the danger of operating on this slope, but some do not. Sadly, many have bought into the false narrative that the enlightened “elites” in academia, the government bureaucracy, the cultural “thought leaders,” and the media should determine which form of speech is acceptable and which form should be restricted.

America is exceptional because anyone is free to openly speak about and celebrate our country and its political leadership. Or you are free to lob endless insults at both (free of threats), without fear of imprisonment or harm. Sadly, this is the historical exception, not the rule. In order to preserve this going forward, I have a suggestion: MAN UP!

Now, I understand that the use of “MAN UP!” rather “man up” can be perceived as potentially “micro-aggressive” because I used capital letters and an exclamation point. I also understand that it can be perceived as “triggering” because I used the word “man” instead of using the words “man and woman,” but I refuse to issue any faux apologies to placate the speech police crowd and their Hester Prynne end-game. I am the son of a resilient single mother, the husband of a first generation immigrant who fought against nearly insurmountable odds to become a successful mother and small business owner, the father to two strong and determined young ladies who never settle for second best, and the partner of a core group of determined and effective female political strategists who run my political organization. I will not now, nor ever, be lectured to by a group of academic elites, who haven’t accomplished an iota of what these powerful women have, about what constitutes both constructive and destructive interpersonal interactions.

We, as a country, need to man up. One could spend an entire lifetime pinpointing real and perceived grievances against America for reasons both legitimate and not, but the real question is – where is this getting us? Race relations, community strife and the balkanization of America into separate groups have all grown worse under this administration despite their rhetoric otherwise, and the constant attention they shower on identity politics. There are both angels and fools among us, the world is a tough place

We should focus more on what we can do to empower our young men and women growing up under tough circumstances and on how to teach them to take a punch and then get back up. A vibrant national school choice initiative, tax rates which give businesses the opportunity to expand into struggling cities, personal control over healthcare and health insurance and, most importantly, a reduced role of government in all of our lives which is stealing away the pride of ownership over our efforts, are but some of the steps we need to ensure that the next generation develops the resolve to fight on in the face of adversity and accept nothing less than the success they deserve.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review.