Controversies and the Zeitgeist

“All our dreams were becoming nightmares.”

Fort McHenry in Baltimore is historically significant, as the place where the bombardment of Baltimore occurred during the War of 1812, which event moved Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Today it is maintained as a sort of park, which is a wonderful place to visit.

There is a visitors’ center, with exhibits of artifacts from the time, and a movie about the events; which I watched when I first went there, quite a few years ago, after already having lived here for many years.  The movie begins by relating that the decade immediately preceding the war was a time of great turmoil in this country, with riots happening often for different reasons, and rampant violence and crime.  A national figure wrote, “All our dreams were becoming nightmares” — All the Founders’ dreams of a prosperous democracy wherein free men would rule themselves in autonomy and peace — were becoming nightmares, in the midst of that turmoil.

I had had, till this moment, no knowledge that it ever was so.  I grieved for the people of that time.  But all the controversies that, at that time, set our countrymen at each other’s throats, are long forgotten now.


What about the controversies that set Americans at one another’s throats — today?

An advantage, perhaps, of old age is that I can look back and see how controversies come and go.  “Things come in waves,” as I titled one blog post; waves of shorter or longer duration; and the issue that had Americans all up in arms a year ago may be completely forgotten now.

The blog post mentioned, made the point first of all with reference to the ads that appear in my FaceBook news feed.  On any given day, or for a day or two, they will overwhelmingly all concern one subject matter; and then the subject matter will change.  Excerpts from my diary:

  • 09/04/22: Last night, my FB news feed was flooded with ads related to COPD.  The various advertisers used many of the same tactics as the scammers; I could not “report” any of them, as they all appeared legit.  But there were ads from many different sources, with many different landing pages; albeit, some of the ads from purportedly different sources were identical.
  • 09/05/22: FB news feed flooded with ads for CBD gummies tonight, but all legit.
  • 09/15/22: FB:  Last week, most of the “Suggested for you” posts were photos of owls.  This week, most of the ads have been for bedroom furniture and linens.
  • 09/24/22: FB news feed today full of ads for “psychics” and “prophets.”

Social controversies are normally of longer duration.  It is difficult to research what controversies occurred in what time frames, as web search results don’t appear in chronological order.  But here are some that I remember:

  • Fall of 2016: The scandal of whiteness, and campus turmoil.  Related:  “Appeals”; Keywords:  “Concerned Student 1950;” “Whiteness”
  • Summer 2018: The summer of the Karens:  Every day, Elise Solé had a new report of some white person calling the police with a flippant complaint about black people.  Related: “The Ph.D. and her pettiness”; “James Bible”; Keywords:  “Karen”
  • 2020: The politicization of COVID.
  • Fall 2021:  Critical race theory.  Related: “CRT madness”  Keywords:  “Christopher Rufo;” “CRT”
  • 2022: Conservative takeovers of school boards:  Keywords:  “Moms for Liberty”
  • 2022: Pediatric transgenderism.  Keywords:  “Jack Turban.”

As to that last, which is current, there was this article in National Review:

An Advocate Rather Than a Scientist:  The Compromised Research of Child Gender Transition Doctor Jack Turban | (National Review)

Jack Turban turns out to be the primary source of everything the press say “doctors say” about gender identity in children, about puberty blockers, etc.  It is the same as Christopher Rufo’s being the source of most of what’s been written about CRT; the same as  the GOP pollster Frank Luntz‘s influencing the world to stop speaking of “global warming” and instead speak of “climate change.”  Years ago, I did some research on the notion that a certain kind of — rock — music was, in effect, poisonous to the central nervous system.  (This may have been research for the sake of the post, “Psychopaths’ favorite music.”)All the references I found traced back to one individual, John Diamond, author of Your Body Doesn’t Lie; and this was merely one of Diamond’s many dubious claims.  There had been no actual scientific research.

So, on the one hand, Jack Turban has been the mainstream media’s sole source for “expertise” on child gender identity.

On the other hand, it turns out his research has been funded entirely by those entities that manufacture puberty blocking medications.

So, his objectivity, if not his integrity, may be questioned.

The article is mainly the product of a reporter’s interview with Stephen Levine, a scientist in the same field whom the mainstream media have, it seems, blithely ignored.  And the article poses the limitation, for me, that it sounds like a personal attack.

In the comments section of the Yahoo! copy of the article, this exchange occurred.  The first comment is mine:

Rich mentions the “zeitgeist,” the “spirit of the times,” which refers to the orthodoxy or whatever is held to be politically correct in a given place and time — or in a given subculture.  In the 1960s, among young white Americans, the zeitgeist was to blame all one’s problems, indeed, all the world’s problems, on one’s parents, or their generation.  Today, the Boomers themselves take the blame for all the world’s problems.  Today, racism remains politically correct among many whites in the American South, whereas among whites in the American North, the denial of racism prevails.

So I need not concern myself all that much with this controversy.  The zeitgeist is as changeable as the wind.  Whatever is politically correct today, may not be tomorrow.

Related: Political rage: America survived a decade of anger in the 18th century – but can it now? (

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