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Apathy at home is hurting America’s global presence

By Matthew Delaney

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV. 

War is on in Ukraine. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” turned out to be a full-scale invasion, with the capital of Kyiv under siege, dogfights taking place between jets, and amphibious assaults coming from the Sea of Azov.  

I’m not a foreign policy wiz, but I’ve gathered a few things from reading people smarter than me:  

  1. It doesn’t look good for Ukraine;  
  1. It looks equally bad for the world economy, with fuel prices expected to spike thanks to sanctions;  
  1. That’s because the Western world has caved to climate activists who don’t like those icky fossil fuels, causing those countries to rely on Russia for its natural gas, and;  
  1. The West has a serious values crisis on its hands. 

It’s this last part that I’d like to address most of all, because I’m sensing an inner conflict among American observers of the war.  

We don’t want to join the fight — 74% of people in an Associated Press poll verified that just as much — but we also don’t like to feel like punks. Our cowardly evacuation from Afghanistan humiliated us. Now, we’re watching a rival dictator kick an ally’s ass barely seven months later while we sit on our hands. 

Americans are doers by nature. We’re fighting our instincts because we want to do something to help Ukraine. However, we have no guiding philosophy that informs what we’re trying to do other than defeat the bad guy in Putin. 

That’s where our values fail us. 

We’ve built a culture that largely operates like a machine: data-driven, punctual, and hyper efficient. So, many of our survival needs have been streamlined — where we get our food and water, the proximity of emergency services and the reliability of electricity, and so on — that they’ve been taken for granted. 

Organizing a well-run society has been the crowning achievement of liberal democracies. Every task has a process, and every process has a controlled outcome. That predictability has built a solid foundation for us to grow into a developed nation and let us help spread prosperity around the globe.  

It seemed as if we had solved all the world’s problems. Life was easy. So easy that we became bored and started embellishing the threat of human defects like racism, sexism and so on. That’s when we tackled life’s more complex questions, such as: What are your preferred pronouns? If a white person puts cornrows in their hair, are they racist? And why don’t we install 4,000 solar panels to power a toaster?  

I’m being facetious, but just barely. This intellectual junk food no one took seriously has been treated as the next frontier of human understanding by our nerd class. That was because the rise of the internet destroyed the popular monoculture and its hierarchy. 

Left-wing acolytes such as journalists and academics saw this as their chance to finally tip the social scales in their favor. So, they took things we all previously agreed on — like thinking racism is bad — and began qualifying how virtuous your position against racism was. Do you not like racism because you don’t see color, or do you not like racism because Black Lives Matter? The wrong answer could get you canceled. 

Voila, the new woke hierarchy was created, and our values became whatever served the elite interests in that moment. 

Ever since the left appointed themselves the shepherds of our moral progress, we’ve endured one of the most divisive times in our history. They set off a cultural civil war that intensified under Donald Trump’s presidency and then again during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s gotten to the point that we no longer try to associate with those “others.” Our national pride is in tatters because we have no idea what we stand for. 

I suspect that’s why there’s a soft spot for Putin’s narrative to justify this war.  

In an hour-long speech earlier this week, Putin talked about the shared history between Ukraine and Russia. While occasionally criticizing Ukraine’s anti-Moscow government for its corruption and incompetence, he spent most of the time laying out the intricacies of how Ukraine is a Soviet creation.  

He crafted a narrative that this invasion is actually a rescue mission; one that honors peoples’ desire for economic security, functioning governance, and connection to their nationality (oh, and don’t forget “denazification”).  

We can’t relate to any of that. As if they wanted to give us a reminder, our moral shepherds labeled us as unpatriotic or disloyal for not wanting to automatically stop Putin. It’s not like we’ve lost sight of who the bad guy is here. Putin’s a thug who poisons political rivals, jails dissidents, and just invaded a brother country for no reason other than to satiate his ego.  

But as Tucker Carlson noted, Putin isn’t the guy who calls us racist, attacks Christianity, outsources our jobs overseas, tries to brainwash our kids with Critical Race Theory, or gets us fired for having the wrong opinions. Outside of causing our gas prices to go up — something we can fix if we summon the political will — Putin is more of a troll than a danger to our existence.  

What Putin has really shown us is that even a rival power can’t convince people to grab a helmet and rifle and hop on the next flight to eastern Europe. If we went to fight Russia tomorrow, how would that decision be viewed? Would it be as protecting the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people, or as further solidifying America’s white settler colonial military industrial complex? I’m sure you know the answer.  

I’m not saying we need to start a proxy war with Russia to prove a point. I’m saying that the values that once made our position on such a matter so clear no longer exist. We have no idea who we are and no interest in working with each other to figure it out. 

Our apathy is causing America to shrink on the world stage. You can bet that’s giving our enemies plenty of hope.

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Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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