Over the last few years, social phenomena seem to have been growing not merely more menacing, but also simply stranger. My memory, for practical purposes, goes back to the Mid-Sixties. All kinds of things were going on at the time — but they made a kind of sense, even if one didn’t approve. Few would doubt that the Great Society was well-intended, even if it didn’t work out. Ditto for the sexual revolution; even if one would contend it wasn’t a good idea in the end, the motives of the participants were certainly clear enough. They thought it made sense.
Of late, though, we seem to be adopting ’causes’ that amount to point-blank lunacy. It’s demonstrable that the police arrest and shoot blacks in almost exact proportion to the extent to which blacks engage in crime. One might as well argue that men are victims of ‘systemic misanthropy’ because they are shot more often than women. But never mind: blacks are victims of ‘systemic racism.’ There’s no rational reason to think so — so let’s insist on it anyway.
Children — usually simply unhappy teenagers — are to be permitted to opt for hormone treatments and irreversible genital mutilation, whether or not their parents consent. We must, of course, admit anyone to the country who wishes to come. Heather has two mommies grows up and joins the army.
This is an ad targeting someone who doesn’t exist. We’re to fight our wars with the sensitive children of lesbian couples who were into ballet, then joined a sorority, then decided to join the army. Who is this person? She’s not even there — let alone likely to join the army on account of seeing this ad.
Unlike the above examples, the post below may strike some as concerning something very trivial. It does concern something very trivial — harmless, even. REI Co-op could use whoever they liked in their advertising, and life really would go on. But the material struck me nevertheless; it seems to perfectly illustrate the insanity that is overtaking us; it simply makes no sense.
So this post is about the field of backpacking in general and Recreational Equipment Industries Co-op, the chain of outdoor suppliers, in particular — but only as an example of a wider and more general malaise that seems to be infecting our society.
I’m not quite the stereotypical backpacker. I’m much older than the average, inclined to drift in and out of physical condition, and decidedly uninterested in heroic feats of self-denial and physical endurance; If I could bring an ice-maker on the trail with me, I would. Worse, after about five days, my mind turns irresistibly to thoughts of hot showers and flush toilets.
Still, I do get the urge to wander off every two or three years, and off I go. I’ve been a member of REI for a good forty years now, and on the whole, they’re an excellent source for boots, tents, packs, socks, sleeping bags, and all the rest of it. They also, incidentally, cater to kayakers, bikers, and the whole gamut of Leftwingish, environmentally conscious, lily-white, outdoorsy activities. See the animals; don’t shoot them. Also, pack out your trash.
I include the adjective ‘lily white’ advisedly. I suppose somewhere there are some non-white backpackers or kayakers or whatever — but I can’t recall seeing any. That’s thinking back over nearly sixty years now. Nope — not a one…
And that’s fine. It didn’t bother me that REI invariably seemed to include the token mulatto in its advertising photos of young, fit, lightly burdened backpackers happily smiling as they scampered up three-thousand foot sets of switchbacks. After all, it is advertising, and it’s the sort of the thing we’ve all been used to for close on to half a century now: the inevitable white, black, and Asian triad of children, happily playing in the model real estate development, etc.
No apparent harm in it. If it makes everyone feel good…
But this is ridiculous. The photos from the latest REI literature:
The biker, as it happens, is an American Indian…what are the odds? There is exactly one white among the images, and she is — inevitably — explicitly representative of the homosexual community. Nobody here is a white heterosexual — a group that, as it happens, must make up ninety percent of REI’s customer base. What kind of lunacy is it when one avoids using any images at all that most of your customers could reasonably identify with? Does your typical twenty-something outdoorsy type from Portland really see himself as a rather plump Pacific islander who enjoys spear fishing? When did anyone ever see a two hundred pound black girl deep in the back country in Zion National Park?
But it gets worse.
Fat black girls — doing something Eastern Religiony in Utah or some such place.
If the intention wasn’t so obviously sincere, one could almost accuse REI of caustic mockery. After all, here we’ve got here are obese negresses — plopped into a setting where no obese negress has ever gone before. One could as reasonably portray them bouncing through the floor exercise in the Olympic gymnastics final.
What is the point of this? To whom is it intended to appeal? Who would actually feel flattered or exalted by these images? Surely, the negresses themselves must feel at least mildly ridiculous.
Equally to the point, how likely are they to shop at REI? Who is this for?
I’ll leave you with the sentiments with which REI closes out the missive from which these images were drawn.
One can see the massed ranks of people of color, assembling in their local REI store to implement the store’s ‘Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion strategy.’ Presumably, they then troop off into the woods.
Send me photos. While you’re at it, explain to me why we are doing this. What is the point? What is it all for?