Our ailing culture has, sadly, moved a lot farther in the wrong direction since then. We live in a radically intolerant epoch in which, on a wide range of subjects, only certain prescribed views may be expressed without inviting punishment. The most sensitive subjects are related to race, class, or gender, the ideological sledgehammers used by acolytes of Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci to smash Western civilization. Their cardinal obsessions have spread like stains and now cover just about anything the woke avant-garde says they do. You may adopt their views voluntarily or under compulsion, but adopt them you must. Otherwise, you’re a racist or a -phobe of some sort.

It’s chilling to see people forced to accept what they know is rubbish. But watching them willingly embrace fraudulent ideologies and wallowing in their own humiliation is almost worse. Creepy scenes are being played out across America of people dropping to their knees in ritual submission to confess their complicity in systemic racism. It’s like the sheep in Animal Farm falsely accusing themselves of peeing in the water trough. In the Washington suburb where I live, a crowd of perhaps 1,000 white people, mostly kneeling with their hands held up in surrender, recently intoned the words of a young man leading them with a microphone: “I will use my voice in the most uplifting way possible and do everything in my power to educate my community. I will love my black neighbors the same as my white ones.” The sentiments are fine, but the manner of their inculcation is appalling.