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The progressive left is hard at work transforming itself into a lovable huckster selling solutions to problems that don’t exist. Think of it as “The Music Man” on steroids.

You know the story of the con man who convinces an early 19th-century Iowa town to invest its hard-earned savings into an imaginary boys band in order to save the citizenry from the imaginary danger of children shooting pool:

Ya got trouble, my friend…
Trouble! Trouble! Trouble!
Right here in River City! With a capital ‘T’
And that rhymes with ‘P.’
And that stands for pool.
We've surely got trouble! Trouble! Trouble!

Except the trouble being sold by today’s progressive stand-ins for “Professor” Harold Hill is not about pool, and it isn’t child’s play. But it is most definitely a con game. They want the American public to believe the most blatant lies:

  • We will be safer without police.
  • Trump caused the border crisis by closing the border.
  • Requiring voter ID will end fair elections.
  • Oppressing your enemy is a sign of tolerance.
  • Free speech is a danger to democracy.
  • Equality means some people get special treatment.

The list is endless. Everywhere you turn, you are confronted by absurd falsehoods and being told you must accept them or risk losing your job, your privileges or even your freedom. And if you happen to question whether the trouble is real or imaginary, you will be shouted down or worse. So-called cancel culture has outsourced authoritarian power to the private sector, and has reinstituted public shaming as the main tool to control the populace.

Unfortunately, this is where “The Music Man” analogy falls apart. By the end of that bit of Americana, Harold Hill had been exposed for his chicanery and was under threat of being tarred and feathered, but was also repentant and ready to go straight. There is no such reckoning on the horizon for the progressives, including many Democrats, who stoke fear and promote mass hysteria everywhere they go.

In that regard, the current crisis more closely resembles the Chinese Cultural Revolution, where accusations could be recklessly lobbed against innocent people — and the more extreme the accusation, the more likely it was to be believed. Cancel culture operates the same way, targeting nonconformists with scorn and seeking to isolate them and elicit from them some form of apology, confession or renunciation.

Recently, the absurdity of the woke ideology was on display when its claims of domestic terrorism and white supremacy veered briefly off of the left’s favorite target — Donald Trump — and landed almost randomly on a hapless “Jeopardy!” champion, who made the mistake of bragging about his third consecutive victory.

Contestant Kelly Donohue, while being introduced as the returning champion upon his fourth appearance, made a gesture with his hand that is commonly called the OK symbol. As virtually everyone above the age of 3 knows, the sign is made by holding the thumb and index finger together, with the other three fingers extended. Although it would be reasonable to assume that Donohue’s gesture was a signal that he was confident about winning another round of “Jeopardy!” (“It’s OK! I’ve got this in the bag!”), in fact he was just acknowledging his third victory by holding three fingers out. This is established pretty much incontrovertibly by the fact that after his first and second victories, he held out, respectively, one and two fingers when he was introduced the following day.

What is not reasonable, and yet what hundreds of supposedly intelligent former “Jeopardy!” contestants alleged in a scolding letter, was the theory that Donohue’s hand signal might be a racist neo-Nazi salute. I don’t know why left-wing trolls are never dismissed as purveyors of wack-job conspiracy theories, but in this case they certainly should be. Even if some tiny sliver of humanity has adopted the OK hand signal as their coded confession of insanity does not mean the rest of us should be prevented from continuing to be “OK” with the three-finger salute that quite harmlessly means “I’ve got this.”

Of course, the 500-plus former contestants knew that Donohue didn’t mean the hand signal as a racist symbol, but they didn’t care. “This [gesture], whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been coopted by white power groups, alt right groups, and an anti-government group,” these super-nannies worried out loud. In fact, they were so loud in their deprecation that Donohue had to eventually prostrate himself in the public square (aka Facebook) and make a “forceful condemnation of white supremacy” in order to clear his name, which had been wrongly smeared in the first place.

Nor is this an isolated incident. It can’t be. The left wants total control of all aspects of your life, and it won’t be satisfied until you have completely surrendered every inch of your dignity and free will to the mob. Nothing better exemplifies this than the COVID shaming we are taught by President Biden and his handlers. Vice President Kamala Harris, for instance, recently demonstrated the politically correct method of COVID kissing when she and her husband were caught smooching through their masks. Talk about social distancing!

But most of us simply can’t live up to the left’s endless list of strictures and demands. How could we when they are so absurd? Last week, a Baltimore man got the shock of his life when he was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight for failing to put his mask on while eating Twizzlers. He was told there was a new federal mask mandate “requiring passengers to wear face masks at all times, including ‘in between bites.’”

Of course, there was no such mandate — just the usual hysteria that is meant to (and usually does) terrify normal people who may know they are being conned, but don’t want to run the risk of being the next person put in the public stockade just because they talked back.

It may seem like a joke now, but rest assured this is no musical comedy. People’s lives are being damaged by the hectoring mob that has taken over the White House, corporate boardrooms, social media, and the Democratic Party. Like the song says, we’ve got trouble -- terrible, terrible trouble. We all know it, and the sooner we say it out loud, the sooner we can get our freedom and dignity back. Aren’t those still worth fighting for?

Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His new book “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution” is available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter or Parler @HeartlandDiary.



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