November 20, 2018

The Silenced Majority

“Most ordinary people found it unbearable to live under communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The reasons varied: shortages of consumer goods, incessant propaganda, restrictions on travel.

Nothing was more psychologically exhausting than the constant pressure to watch every word one said, and to pretend to believe things one did not, for fear of negative repercussions. Dissidents called this “double morality” or “double consciousness.” It drove people crazy. Actually, it drove some to suicide.

Only among trusted family and friends was it possible to speak one’s mind, yet even that was not guaranteed. Of all aspects of totalitarian life, citizens of the former Eastern Bloc say, this is the hardest to explain to those who grew up in the democratic West.

Until now, perhaps. A new study of political attitudes in the United States offers stunning evidence that most Americans censor themselves, except among people they regard as like-minded, on a bundle of sensitive topics: immigration and immigrants; race and racism; gay, lesbian and gender issues; and Islam and Muslims.”

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