I’ve been told by many people that social justice cultists will eventually grow out of it once they get into “the real world.” (I thought that myself at one point.) I’ve been told that political correctness is just Fox News/Koch brothers propaganda, and that real power in “the real world” is held by ruthless realpolitik types (who are invariably “right-wing”). I’ve seen ostensibly-adult women working themselves into a frenzy over the imminent threat of Mike Pence and his shadowy network of fundamentalist allies making The Handmaid’s Tale into reality.

But here we are. It doesn’t get any realer than a global pandemic. Push has come to shove. The rubber has met the road. And when it mattered most, what I saw wasn’t snake-handling fundamentalists in positions of power telling me I could pray the virus away and socially mingle in large groups as long as I was right with Jesus. It was Ivy League epidemiologists and public health officials speaking the fundamentalist language of critical race theory, telling me that anti-racism has disinfectant properties, telling me that the spiritual need of guilt-ridden white people to gather in public and seek absolution from their privileged, racist sins took precedence over the need to protect the non-white people who, let’s recall, were reportedly being affected in higher proportions. It was the professional explainers at Vox telling me that “many have decided the risk is worth it,” after having stressed for months that your individual assessment of risk was not the point, that it didn’t matter what you personally were willing to risk; your actions would inevitably harm more vulnerable people who didn’t choose to take that risk. It was those same public health officials who decided that the comparatively-insignificant problem of single, maybe double-digit deaths from police violence was a “public health crisis” of equal magnitude to the virus which has already killed more than 100,000. But lol, nothing matters, least of all words.

And here we are. Everything takes a backseat to the insatiable need of progressive whites to indulge their performative, expressive individualism. From declaring a virus moratorium to their deeply-serious calls to “defund the police,” the “real world” exists as a backdrop for them to act out their puerile fantasies and neurotic obsessions. I could use a consoling bedtime story about how the forces of corporate conservatism are secretly in charge of everything, please.