Your boss doesn’t want you to discus your salary with your coworker; this has been drilled into you from the time you start working. The reasoning given comes in different forms. You may be told that it’s just unpolite to talk to other people about their income. You may be worried about coming off as nosy or braggadocios. But the one thing your employer is definitely worried about is if you discuss your salary with coworkers, one of you may find out that you aren’t earning your worth. The knowledge that someone who does a similar job makes significantly more money would certainly be a factor in a pay increase negotiation. Some employers have even gone so far as to make it against company policy to discuss your salary with coworkers. Some of them ingrain it into you that in fact, the reverse might happen. If you go in with a complaint that you don’t make as much as your coworker, your boss may just say, “Okay, we’ll lower his salary to be comparable.” With that threat, employees are less likely to complain, lest they gain nothing for themselves, while losing something for their colleague.
Well, a version of that last part is happening in society today. Throughout the fight for equality, dating back to the emancipation proclamation (Happy Juneteenth, by the way), the goal has always been to elevate the “Have Nots” to the level of the “Haves.” The fight against slavery was to free the slaves, not to enslave the free. Brown v. Board of Education was not fought to reduce the quality of education of white people, but to elevate that of black people. Even movements in equality today are based on elevating the Have Nots. Bernie Sanders wants to provide the same level of healthcare to those who don’t have it as those who do. His goal isn’t to decrease the level healthcare of the Haves; he only wants to elevate the Have Nots. Likewise, the fight for so-called “equal pay for equal work” does not have the goal to reduce pay for men, rather to elevate pay for women.
And until very recently, the fight against police brutality was not dissimilar. For as long as I can remember, the argument had always been that black people were disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police than were white people, and we should be fighting to reduce police brutality against black people. Whether or not you agree with that sentiment is irrelevant. That was the argument. However, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, we are seeing that many of the demands are moving the other way. No, the demands do not include “the police should murder more white dudes to even it out,” but many of the actual talking points we are seeing now do not decrease the problems facing the black community; rather, they extend these issues to other communities.
Let’s start with something I mentioned last week – the Nickelodeon commercial. In case you missed it, children’s television station Nickelodeon, a network known primarily for dumping slime on the heads of willing children, ran an 8 minute and 45 second commercial featuring the words “I CAN’T BREATHE” while playing breathing sounds. While many parents protested that they didn’t want to have to explain this commercial to their five-year old while she was watching “Dora the Explorer,” the conversation could have gone into areas of historical racism, police officers murdering a man, and slavery. Rightly, parents shouldn’t be forced to have this conversation with their little children. However, the argument became that if little black kids have to confront this reality, so should everyone else. You see, it’s no longer about elevating the black kids out of that situation; it’s now about bringing everyone else down into it.
Another obvious example would be the arguments to defund the police. I also mentioned this topic last week, but I want to go in a different direction this time. I can remember a time earlier this year where the Jewish community was begging for more police officers. Anti-Semitic attacks were at an all-time high in the country, and one of the solutions was widely considered to be an increased police presence in Jewish neighborhoods. I am now being told that the mere fact that I feel safe enough to call the police (lest they kill me) is, in and of itself, an advantage of white privilege. When asked who people should call if their house is being broken into in the middle of the night, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender answered that the notion of being able to call the police “comes from a place of privilege. Because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine that reality, where calling the police may mean that more harm is done.” Bender was saying this as a way to promote the dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Department. It’s no longer enough to try to change policing - we now must have all people living in constant fear. We must not alleviate the fears of one community; we must do everything in our power to inflate the fears of all communities.
This move towards bringing everyone else down to the lowest form should not come as a complete shock. For years now, the slogan “No justice, no peace” has been shouted at rallies. What do you think it actually means? It means that if we don’t get to experience justice, nobody does. Everyone has to suffer equally. We are only now beginning to see that message making its way into the legislative side of things.
And don’t think the dragging down of societal norms will stop with forcing everyone in America to educate their five-year-olds on historical racism, or live without being able to rely on police protection. Oh no! Remember those areas I mentioned earlier? It won’t be long before you start hearing calls to force the decrease of salaries for men because of a perception of unequal pay, or the call to decrease health coverage for those who can currently afford it, or how about the complete collapse of youth sports should transgender children be disallowed from competing against a particular sex.
These movements never end at the places they start. It’s why it is so important to make sure they don’t get off the ground here. It’s why conservative talking heads are wrong when they point out that the Left is only interested in equality of outcome. It’s actually much worse than that. These radicals are not merely interested in equality of outcome. They are interested in equality of outcome even if it means doing damage to themselves and the people they claim to be protecting. If we lower the standard for everyone in every sociopolitical arena, we will have nothing to aim for. We will completely demolish every standard way of living. We will not be safe. We will not be healthy. We will not be able to earn a living. We will not be able to have recreation. All of this in the name of equality.
But this is the goal. The goal has always been to completely upend our way of life. It’s just taken until now for these reformers to realize that the best way to annihilate society is by decreasing everyone’s best-case scenario to the point where we don’t even have something to aim for anymore. I just hope we can all realize this before we reach the point of no return.
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Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.