Nobody reads anything anymore, especially not Dickens. But if people still read Dickens, Bleak House, in particular, they would notice he had identified the ascendancy of our liberal do-gooders already a century and a half ago.
The most awful yet ridiculous character in Bleak House is that of Mrs. Jellyby. I don’t think we are ever told her first name, so I shall suggest “Karen.” Jellyby is a very good woman. Exemplary. Virtuous. She dedicates her time and her vast resources to the crown jewel of her philanthropic pursuits, the Boorioboola Venture in Africa.
The Booriboola are a tribe in an African land she had never visited. Yet Mrs. Jellyby is fanatically obsessed with their well-being, real or imaginary. In the meantime, her own children live in squalor and are completely neglected and ignored, receiving none of her affection, attention, or kindness.
What foresight! Dickens was a prophet. Indeed, the Mrs. Jellybys are now an ascendant female type, especially in America’s leafy zip codes. You know the type – they’ll place a “Black Lives Matter” sign in their northern Chicago yard, yet treat with contempt their fellow Midwesterners (“Racists! Waaa!”). They’ll care deeply about “Global Warming” but have no concern about the trashing of our national parks, or the dumping of migrants on our choked-up cities and disappearing wilderness.
They’ll preach to you about the importance of “Diversity and Inclusion” yet get you fired for defying the existence of the 39 genders now added to the original two. They’ll nod with infinite concern during a mandated “Cultural Sensitivity” training, then happily cheer when the statues treasured by their neighbors are defaced.
The keen observer can easily see through the philanthropic pretenses and see them for what they are: A total lack of kindness and a celebration of narcissism and contempt. As CS Lewis has commented, in such cases the benevolence is completely imaginary. Jellyby has no idea who the “Boorioboola” are, and the Karen down the street knows nothing about black people. But the contempt of these two for their own neighbors and countrymen is, alas, very real.
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