Our collective attention these days understandably has focused on the left’s violent protests against America’s cities. Buildings are being burned, mobs are attacking federal employees, and innocent people are being murdered. Meanwhile, a deeply more destructive war is being waged by the left; one that seeks to dismantle the essential values that sustain the very soul of our country.

In some ways, the left’s attacks on America’s traditional values is not new; conservatives are used to hearing comedy hacks like Bill Maher mock God, and rich Hollywood starlets and pop singers scold us about the inequalities of capitalism. These are not serious people.

The people who are serious about undermining values such as God, freedom, and individualism are abandoning the public bully pulpit as the forum of choice from which to corrupt our values. One of the insidious tactics they have learned to employ is destruction of the one essential tool whereby ideas and values are collectively understood and transmitted from person to person, and generation to generation — language.

When words no longer have meaning, beliefs and values atrophy. Manipulation of the masses is made far easier. Examples abound.

Undermining the Second Amendment by enacting gun control measures is facilitated by describing it not as what it is — depriving individuals of a God-given right to protect themselves — but by defining the problem as something it is not, and in terms that garner broad (if superficial) public support; namely, protecting the “public health” against a public health “crisis” (gun violence). To further this unscrupulous but clever attack on a fundamental liberty, the left has worked relentlessly since the 1970s to convince Americans how important it is to have to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) empowered to enact gun control measures as a means of stemming a “public health crisis.”

Now, it is “racism” that is the new “public health crisis” needing the heavy hand of government intrusion to cure. Official resolutions by government bodies declaring “racism” to be a “public health crisis” are becoming commonplace. The non sequitur of declaring a disgusting and long-discredited practice such as “racism” to be a “health” issue, much less one of “crisis” proportion, is swept aside in favor of using it as a political hammer with which to attack and undermine traditional American values — which are not and never have been “racist.”

Of what possible value can the term “public health” have if something as subjective as “racism” (which liberals now use to describe essentially anything they do not like) can be classified under it? The answer is obvious — none — which is the precise goal of the left.

What is happening with America’s trusted institutions is only a precursor for what is to come if this type of language corruption is allowed to continue. What is to come of the next generation when they are told as children that “gender” is fluid and anyone can choose to be a boy or girl whenever they feel like it? That wanting to achieve the American dream is “toxic whiteness?” Or when they are physically attacked for having ideas or saying things that others consider offensive and which therefore constitute “violence,” and when remaining silent is also “violence?”

In this Bizarro World you cannot win. It brings to mind Ellsworth Toohey’s character in Ayn Rand’s masterpiece, The Fountainhead. Toohey understood the greatest tool for control was breaking a society of any objective truth about what it valued; leaving him to decide for them. To do so, he used his position as a “social critic” to trash excellence and elevate mediocrity, so that his audience lost all touch with their values, and more importantly, with their ability to judge for themselves what is valuable. “Don’t set out to raze all shrines — you’ll frighten men,” Toohey lectures; “enshrine mediocrity — and the shrines are razed.”

As America’s shrines to individuals such as George Washington and Frederick Douglass are defaced and pulled to the ground, and as values such as hard work and individualism are criticized as being racist, how hauntingly appropriate are Toohey’s words at this moment in our nation’s history. May they also serve as a reminder of what is at stake.

Buildings can be fixed. Our nation’s soul and the values on which it has been sustained for almost two-and-a-half centuries, once lost, cannot so easily be recovered.

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Bob Barr is president and CEO of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation. From 1995-2003, he represented Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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