US: Does Roe v Wade Foreshadow The End Of The American Dream?

Does Roe v Wade Foreshadow The End Of The American Dream?

by Rajeev Srinivasan - Jul 6, 2022 06:10 PM +05:30 IST
Does Roe v Wade Foreshadow The End Of The American Dream?US Supreme Court (Wikipedia)
  • In a single week, SCOTUS has hit three of the Left’s hot buttons: abortion, guns, and climate change.

There are only two US Supreme Court judgments deemed epoch-making enough to be called ‘landmark’ every time they are mentioned. One is Roe v Wade, and the other is Brown v Board of Education.

Both favorite liberal causes, one about abortion and therefore about womens’ rights; the second about ending systemic black segregation in education, which had a signal impact on the rest of their Civil Rights movement.

On the face of it, both were unexceptionably positive. Roe surely reduced the number of young women bleeding to death when some backstreet quack terminated their pregnancies with a coat-hanger. Brown made it possible to end the ‘separate-but-equal’ idea of racial segregation.

When the SCOTUS overturned Roe v Wade recently, that was another landmark. There are legitimate questions as to whether things have regressed badly in the US: the worry is that whatever women have managed to achieve over a century, in what is frankly a conservative Abrahamic patriarchy, is suddenly in jeopardy. Is the US going back to Stepford Wives and suffragettes struggling for the vote?

It is also true that despite decades of protests and hard work, and Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, the American woman still has miles to go.

Despite the Pill and the sexual revolution and equal rights, I believe the average woman gets paid only about 70-80 per cent of what an average man gets paid for the same job: not very different from the Biblical worth of 30 shekels to a man’s 50. Vast number of women struggle in single-parent households.

Curiously, American women, despite failure, bravely export their feminism. This is a sort of recursive feudalism, where white men and white countries treat white women and non-white (‘Third World’) countries as lower castes they are entitled to dominate. And the white women market their nostrums to Third World women as the ‘White Woman’s Burden’.

An entire cottage industry of grifters and true believers are now offering these panaceas to India.

What is bizarre is that S N Balagangadhara in “What Does It Mean to be an Indian?” pointed out that this is all old hat for Indians. India has been suffering from a surfeit of identity politics for half a century and the results are not pretty.

Does Roe v Wade Foreshadow The End Of The American Dream?

This stuff is not going to end well for the US. But it’s also true that their framing of issues elsewhere is laughable: and here’s a sarcastic take on the kind of breathless negativity the US media applies to other countries.

Does Roe v Wade Foreshadow The End Of The American Dream?

The US Supreme Court is providing a backlash to an excessive move to the Left by the entire political class. That is a benign interpretation. There is a more malign interpretation of a wholesale retrogression by the Court (and some politicians) that will take the US back to some benighted era of racism, bigotry and unabashed patriarchy.

The fact is that the SCOTUS has in quick succession issued several significant rulings: Roe, then it refused to curtail gun rights, and most recently, it ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot regulate greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change. In a single week, it has hit three of the Left’s hot buttons: abortion, guns, and climate change.

This may suggest a sharp ideological shift engendered by ex-POTUS Donald Trump “packing the court”. In that case, given SCOTUS judges don’t retire until they die or quit, the Left is in for a long dry spell. Which is a good thing. They have driven the average US voter to distraction with their gender antics, climate fanaticism, law and order craziness, victimhood narratives, fiscal imprudence, and tendency to go to war on what appears to be a whim.

Therefore, if it is a useful corrective to deranged Left certainties, it should be welcomed.

On the other hand, some observers, including Indians living in the US, have painted a darker picture of regression to some mythical golden past, which would have been golden mostly for white males. I defer to Indian-Americans on this as they live it, and two of them I follow had warnings for all of us.

The first, a finance man, wondered if the US will revert to a point where immigrants, especially non-whites, would not be welcome. It reminded me of the 1900-era decisions that a) offered citizenship only to ‘Caucasians’ to exclude Chinese, and b) when some Indians got naturalised on the basis of being ‘Caucasians’, they amended the rule to restrict it to ‘white Caucasians’, thereafter revoking their citizenship.

The second, a journalist, painted a picture where the coastal ‘liberals’ were being overwhelmed by rural, white, working-class voters (he didn’t call them that, but he did mean ‘rednecks’).

Both are voicing a concern that cannot be ignored. There were, for example, the shooting deaths of two Indian-Americans in their new SUVs just this week: 25 year old Nakka Sai Charan on a freeway in Baltimore on 22 June, and 31 year old Satnam Singh, in Queens, New York. I also remember a spate of shootings of Telugu-speakers in the US a few years ago.

An America that reverts to its undeniably brutal and racist past would be extremely unfortunate. Its soft power will diminish, and its standing in the world will diminish as a result. Its institutions, including the SCOTUS, have been held up as role-models all over the world. They all seem to be under attack: e.g., the SCOTUS, once held in breathless reverence, is now being berated by many Americans on the Left.

The Federal Reserve is another. I remember times when its chairmen like Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan were spoken of in hushed tones, and their every utterance was pored over as though they were magic incantations that had the power to move markets. Many observers treated them as though they were as inscrutable as the Kremlin or the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Greenspan’s reputation was ruined after the 2008 crash; and now, along with POTUS Biden, the hapless Jerome Powell, and his immediate predecessors are all being criticised for having failed to anticipate or prevent roaring inflation, and it is feared, an imminent Recession.

The NIH, FDA and other medical bureaucracies also suffered loss of face as the result of the Wuhan virus. Francis Collins and especially Anthony Fauci were accused of gross irregularities including being on the payroll of Big Pharma, and of secretly funding biowarfare research (‘gain of function’) in Wuhan. Like The Lancet and the NEJM, they too suffered loss of credibility.

If one were to extrapolate from all this, it seems like a fin-de-siecle malaise is afflicting all of America. Is it really the end of the American Century, despite its extraordinary endowment, with all the resources of a vast continent, and its human resources constantly renewed by the best and brightest from around the world?

As someone who loves the US, I hope this isn’t so. I hope this is a passing phase brought on by bad politics and the military-industrial complex. I really hope this is not the end of the American Dream.

Also Read: Spheres Of Influence: Growing Chinese Ambitions And American Laxity In Latin America

Rajeev Srinivasan focuses on strategy and innovation, which he worked on at Bell Labs and in Silicon Valley. He has taught innovation at several IIMs. An IIT Madras and Stanford Business School grad, he has also been a conservative columnist for twenty years.

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