The urge to purge has deep roots in human culture, and in the U.S., we can look to the Puritan reformers for models of what can happen when some people believe they have answers that apply to everyone – and are willing to impose their beliefs, no matter the costs. Margaret Atwood considered the Puritans when she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, and Anne Applebaum looked at these religious zealots in her piece, “The New Puritans” for The Atlantic. Applebaum’s conclusion:
“…if we drive all of the difficult people, the demanding people, and the eccentric people away from the creative professions where they used to thrive, we will become a flatter, duller, less interesting society, a place where manuscripts sit in drawers for fear of arbitrary judgments. The arts, the humanities, and the media will become stiff, predictable, and mediocre. Democratic principles like the rule of law, the right to self-defense, the right to a just trial—even the right to be forgiven—will wither. There will be nothing to do but sit back and wait for the Hawthornes of the future to expose us.” — Anne Applebaum
I wonder if we’ll ever learn that forcing people to be or see what we want them to be or see, doesn’t work. It does, however, effectively lead to lots of unnecessary misery.
READ | “The New Puritans” | By Anne Applebaum | The Atlantic | 9/7/2021