The U.S. as Dorian Gray. Plus: Pressure on social media to ban alt opinions. And, RIP Prince Philip

By Gary Abernathy

In a closet somewhere is a decaying picture of the U.S.

I recently re-watched the classic 1945 MGM movie, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” based on the Oscar Wilde book. In case you’re among those who are somehow unfamiliar with the story, it’s about a man who wishes that he could remain forever young and beautiful while, instead, his portrait grows old and reflects the ravages of time and sin. Of course, his wish is supernaturally granted. Dorian hides the portrait in a secret room so no one else can watch it decay. But after several decades, the magic wears off and time catches up – Dorian falls dead, his face aged and ravaged, while his portrait returns to its youthful glory.

I can’t help but relate the cautionary tale to what’s happening in the United States, where we made a deal with the devil to forget about fiscal reality and spend money that is nonexistent to pretend that the results of intentionally crashing the economy, forcing businesses and schools to shut down and throwing millions of people out of work will have no consequences. Let’s pretend everything’s fine by having our government spend trillions of phony dollars, including checks to most Americans and “free” money to businesses and manufacturers who were ordered to close.

It’s that line of thought that led too many governors to quickly shut down their states when blanket shutdowns were not necessary, knowing that sooner or later the federal government would make sure there was no pain for such irresponsible decisions. Politicians, including then-President Trump, insisted that Americans should not suffer from things that weren’t their fault.

I noted a year ago in a Washington Post column, “In real life, bad things happen to us that aren’t our fault, but we still have to find a way, usually on our own, to cope and recover. Only in the land of make-believe that is our government would anyone think that no one would miss a paycheck no matter how many businesses were closed or jobs were lost. Airlines and the hospitality industry can be rescued. Businesses large and small can get bailouts or low-interest loans. Millions of Americans will receive $1,200 checks, maybe multiple times. Without having every reason to believe that Uncle Sam would step in, perhaps governors around the nation would have hesitated to close business and industry. We’ll never know.”

The checks keep coming, thanks to fake money. To the naked eye, America looks healthy, while somewhere in a closet sits a picture that shows the United States in all its real decay. It’s just a matter of time until the self-deception wears off and reality catches up.

Pressure on social media to ban alternate opinions

Numerous state and federal officials, including state attorneys general, are calling on the social media giants to ban “anti-vaccine” posts from their platforms.

The calls we are witnessing to curtail free speech and expression are more than alarming, especially coming from media outlets that should be ashamed for suggesting restrictions to different opinions, even if the opinions are considered dangerous. It’s another example of thinking of Americans as too stupid or gullible to separate fact from fiction, or good advice from bad advice, on our own. No, we need social media nannies to protect us from the big, bad wolves of misinformation.

I’m not an “anti-vaxxer,” as they say. For the record, I’ve received my first of two covid vaccines and look forward to the second one soon. But I defend the right of people to argue against the vaccine if that’s their opinion. It’s frightening to see support by too many in the media to crush thought and opinion. But that’s where we are.

Prince Philip seemed the royal of the most substance

News came of the death of Prince Philip, at the impressive age of 99. While I’m not much for tabloid royal watching, and I’m particularly annoyed at the attention paid to Harry and Meghan, Philip always seemed the stuff of more substance. How he is portrayed in the Netflix series “The Crown” by actors Matt Smith and, later, Tobias Menzies seems to reinforce that. A USA Today profile today also lends credence to that notion. Check it out here.

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