Issues & Insights

This Is Not America, Part II

We remember the turbulent ‘60s and how our parents, having grown up in more stable times, could not help but worry that the country was headed toward a disastrous end. But America survived, and eventually became stronger and wiser. At least for a while. Today we see a nation sliding away from the ideals and convictions that set us apart.

The U.S. is not perfect. We acknowledge that right now. It’s made up of humans, all of whom are imperfect. We were before the pandemic, and we will be after it’s over. But rather than reveal the best in us, the coronavirus outbreak has brought out the worst in many. Consider a few events that we’ve learned about only in recent weeks:

  • A New Jersey gym owner was sentenced to a year for the “crime” of keeping his doors open when the petty tyrants of his state told him to close. He’ll be on probation for 12 months rather than serve jail or prison time. It’s nevertheless alarming that the government became involved in the private affairs of an ostensibly free people. If officials can shut down businesses, and rob people of their livelihoods, which they did all over the country, then they can do whatever they wish to whoever they wish whenever they feel like it. Why aren’t more Americans bothered by this?
  • At Yale University, “​​an anonymous reporting system” has turned the school into a “COVID ‘Surveillance State.’” A student who apparently didn’t share the neuroticism of others, refused to live in the “masked paranoid world,” as Bill Maher has called it, sat alone in a school library at least 150 feet from others one evening last fall. At some point, the Free Beacon reports, “another student walked into the library and demanded he mask up.” Because he didn’t have one, the student volunteered to leave. The other student then “pulled out her phone and began filming him.” When he asked her for her name, she “raised her middle finger and stormed off.” And he was the one who landed in trouble, receiving a notice from the administration, informing him “that he had been reported for violating the school’s ‘Community Compact.’” The administration also threatened him.
  • A couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles, a school called police on unvaccinated teens, even though they had tested negative for COVID-19, Reason reports. The school “​​cordoned the teens off, denying them chairs and bathroom breaks.” The were treated like animals. Watch the video.
  • U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that Big Tech has an “important role to play” in pushing back against the “misinformation” about COVID-19 treatments, and clearly indicated that he believes government should also be a part of any censorship – our word, not his – of information that the ruling class doesn’t like.

A little more than a year ago, about nine months into the pandemic, we expressed concern about what had become of our country. Had it become a nation of elitists vs. the rest? A culture that had given up on itself? A land of censorship? A nation in which policies and political orientation are not merely matters of disagreement but causes of internal and irreconcilable turmoil?

We quoted Pat Buchanan, who was, as we were then and still are today, wondering if “a nation so divided as ours” is able to “still do great things together, as did the America of days gone by, to the amazement of the world?” It’s a valid point.  

The pandemic turned out to be the ideal opportunity for the authoritarians and smug self-appointed superiors among us to continue to split us apart, accrue more power unto themselves, marginalize dissenters, force compliance with a narrative of the deranged, crack down on speech, and use fear as a means of control. No longer does the U.S. reflect the founders’ vision of a nation of free people. It more closely resembles a junior high school, where status is craved, and the unpopular kids are bullied and cast aside. America grows more shallow by the day, more catty, less joyful.

Nevertheless, we are optimistic. The hour is dark, but we believe there will again be light. Too many of us still remember a better time before wokeness, the cancel culture, modern-day book burning (deplatforming), lockdown tyrants, mask tyrants, hateful Karens, millions gone mad because of Donald Trump, and a hopelessly corrupt press. No, not perfect, but a far better environment than the toxicity we’re living in today.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • This is a thought provoking piece. I was surprised at the assertion in the first sentence that our parents grew up in more stable times. Mine grew up in the depression and World War II. Those were not more stable times. But in the midst of the chaos they faced, “The Greatest Generation” found comfort and safety by standing strong in the traditional value system that made this nation great. Today, when we face adversity, the left insists that we run from those values. Therein lies one of our biggest challenges.

  • This article holds out hope for the Future of The Greatest Constitutional Republic in the History of the World! We have faced difficult times before and later thrived!

  • Sorry, but I can’t share your optimism. Compare this year with last year, last year with the year before, and so on. Can anyone say that things haven’t gotten monotonically worse? The trend is long–50-60 years at least. Why would anyone expect that to reverse abruptly?

  • This is typical exaggeration and hyperbole from I&I – a group that loves conspiracy theories. The pandemic did NOT split us apart – that has been done by partisan GOP politicians who want to demonstrate fealty to trump instead of saving the lives of Americans. Is there a lot of tolerance for people who do not want to wear masks? YES. But the anti-mask crowd has turned it into an antagonistic, often violent, contest.

    How has any group accrued power? By cutting the tax base with closing businesses? By trying to save the lives of Americans?

    If the trump administration hadn’t been so disorganized, so lazy, and so petulant – they would have used the pandemic plan that President Bush left us. They would have done a far better job of containing the virus – except they let it into the US and let it spread.

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