The Crowning Glory of Atwater’s Heirs

The Crowning Glory of Atwater’s Heirs

We used to call it compassion. Empathy. Regard for the lived experiences of others—especially others who differ from us.

            Now, the heirs to Lee Atwater have twisted compassion and made it into something ugly. Kindness, consideration, and curiosity about other people have become, in their political lexicon, something to be despised. Loathed. Feared. Stomped out.

            We used to call it history. The unflinching acknowledgement of our founders’ original blessing, as well as our original sin. The thrilling principles upon which our nation was created, and the brutal acts that belie—but have not undone—those ideals.

            Now, consultants wield law-school-level constructs as catchwords. Bogeymen. Signifiers of outrage.

As if the work to undo our country’s shortcomings were not among our most glorious achievements.

As if Americans were unable to handle the truth.

As if nostalgia for times warped by memory weren’t a stupor-inducing drug.

As if their words don’t wink and nod to the violent heirs of white supremacy.

            We used to call it American. Equal protection of law. Justice. Freedom of speech. The free commerce of ideas. A burning desire to better our country.



            Now, what?

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