A ratcheting mechanism is one which resists motion in one direction, but freely moves in the opposing direction. A ratcheting wrench can be set to apply force when twisted clockwise, but freely spin when twisted counterclockwise, letting the user put a nut on a bolt without once removing his wrench or his hand. Even more useful, a ratcheting strap allows its user to tighten a strap, and maintain that tension while freely positioning the lever for another tightening stroke. The shorter the distance to be moved, the greater leverage is available to traverse it. Significant leverage can be applied to achieve minor progress, and the same mechanism prevents any and all backsliding. The system translates force in one direction into the desired action, but force in the opposite direction merely resets the mechanism for another stroke in the original direction.
Perhaps the most exasperating part of being anything other than a True Believer of Progress is the realization that progress cannot be undone. Significant leverage is used to move the system left, yet the mechanism slides right without result.
This isn’t the same thing as hypocrisy. That the same type of people who coined the term “white-Hispanic” to make a point with George Zimmerman are now attempting to ban police from using appearance to describe suspects is hypocrisy. The ratchet is the ineffective pushback. Try to imagine any Progressive cause reversed:
- Can you imagine a white Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton? One with equivalent socio-political clout? Whom minority leaders would be required to meet with following a minority-on-majority crime?
- Can you imagine a man claiming that rape culture propaganda on college campuses constitute a micro-aggression against him, subtly and unfairly blaming him for the actions of others?
- Can you imagine a country artist complaining that rappers had “appropriated” his style?
I would suspect that you cannot. Any and all forms of discomfort, inconvenience, and one might argue, accountability, imposed on a protected social class is a grievous injustice to be righted at any cost. Inflicting the same on a non-protected class is fair game (hypocrisy). Demands to be treated fairly are met with ridicule (the rachet).
To be fair, the demands to be treated fairly often do deserve ridicule. Not because of the details of a particular case, but because the entire class of cases deserves ridicule. Reactionaries cannot and should not attempt to find secure equal treatment from their opponents; there is little to be gained from reaching parity in insanity. Whatever short-term gains are achieved for a non-protected class pale in comparison to the overall effect of strengthening the overall influence of the belief in politicized justice.