Why anarchy has come to America

Nov 27, 2021 by

by Mary Harrington, UnHerd:

Public order has been sacrificed on the altar of empathy.

As Britain is only a distant province of America’s soft-power empire, it’s been relatively easy to turn the volume down on Kyle Rittenhouse discourse. Even so, it’s been unsettling to watch the same events assembled into two irreconcilable stories.

In one, a white supremacist shot anti-racism protesters in cold blood, and was acquitted because of his skin colour. In the other, a teenager tried to defend a community from violence, and ended up shooting two criminal lunatics in self-defence.

But why are these stories so irreconcilable? It’s a good rule of thumb that where people find it impossible to agree, it’s usually because there’s a fundamental difference in their assumptions about the world.

The Rittenhouse argument is just such a case. It’s powered by a profound disagreement about human nature: one that fuels many of the most intractable modern culture wars, from Mumsnet bunfights about babycare to arguments about classroom discipline and what the police force is for.

Are humans naturally good given the right circumstances? Or are we flawed and in need of threats and guidelines to keep us on the straight and narrow? The split is a legacy of radical ideas stretching back to the revolutionary 18th century.

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