“Dream Faith”: The False Christianity That Feeds Our Society’s Sickness

There should be substantial irony in my posting on Christmas Eve an essay lamenting organized Christianity’s abandonment of its solemn duties.  I didn’t plan to have the day and the theme run head-on into each other.  In fact, I wasn’t fully aware that Christmas week was approaching when, in closing my last post, I wrote of…

a theme which deeply preoccupies me, and to which I would like to return soon: the betrayal of organized Christianity.  Our betrayal by organized Christianity.  “Humanitarian grounds”… : how many of us have heard from pulpits that Christ compels us to relinquish our earthly boundaries and welcome every wanderer to our hearth?  “Brotherly love”: how many have heard that Christ preached a religion of peace and would deplore the presence of self-defensive weapons on our person or in our home?  “Love-affirming, life-affirming”: how often have churches responded to a dictatorial command that they shut down while COVID rages with the meek acquiescence of, “Oh, yes!  Whatever we can do to save lives!”  Some phrase worthy of gracing a marquee in Podunk Baptist’s weekly message is wrapped around stupidly ineffectual, morally tainted, and physically destructive behavior… and we’re sent home with our painless lobotomy to marvel and drool at the collapse around us.

Why not just leave the subject alone for another week?  People don’t read blogs over “the holidays”, anyway; and I, like most of you, have family gathered around the hearth today in an abundance that rarely occurs any longer.  Just let it ride for now: laugh, hug, sing, eat… can’t we do that just for a bit, when it’s almost never done throughout the rest of our sad year?

And yet… well, here’s why I see no irony in the timing of my protest against the Church: because the celebration of Christmas should be about the birth of Christ, of all implied therein—and warm embrace of family during a wintry gathering of the clan is really not anywhere among those implications.  On the contrary, the Festival of the Sun’s Return after the Winter Solstice is a major celebration on the pagan calendar (so major that Christian missionaries decided to adopt it as Christ’s birthday, too, rather than try to explain to their crude proselytes that the earth’s rhythms are not the highest expression of God’s will).  It seems to me, rather, that the irony lies in our trying, year after year after year, to pretend that all is not lost in formal Western Christendom if only we can continue to bring Aunt Gussie to the table annually, to get Liam and Caroline out of their rooms and off their iPhones while presents are unwrapped, and to record (on the latest device) Laurie’s fitting a sweater on her dazed grandmother for a posterity that couldn’t care less.  We’ll trudge through such personal rituals once more, because we desperately need them.  We’ve never needed them more.  But in revisiting them, we are very mistaken to suppose that we remain, after all—after still another year of giving vital ground—Christians at heart.  We remain humans… but not every human is a Christian.  That’s the irony: the dwindling evidence of our humanity impresses us more and more as incontrovertible evidence of our faith.  It’s not, you know.  It’s just not.

I invite you to join me in a simple exercise.  Think of any ridiculously naïve hope or “vision”—one so absurd that a child who should cling to it beyond fourth or fifth grade might be thought a little behind the developmental curve.  Let’s try, “I want peace everywhere, and forever.  No more wars!  We have to stop fighting.”  Now look for some resonance of this childish platitude in the contemporary Christian church.  Not very hard to find an echo, is it?  “Christ enjoined us to live in peace.  If we are the people of faith we claim to be, then we should not be deterred in seeking that peace by taking apparent existential risks.”  Do we need to secure the power grid?  Why, no!  Why should we assume that other societies in the world want to harm us?  Do we need to update our pitifully decrepit nuclear arsenal?  Heavens, no!  Let it rust away!  The only reason other nations build such Doomsday weapons is because they see us doing so.  It’s time to lead the way, to offer a Christian example.

And so the day comes when we have a choice between having all our children injected with computer chips to serve some secular overlord day and night or, in the event of non-cooperation, being annihilated.  Yes, all of us owe God a death, sooner or later.  But the “visionary” Christian leaves innumerable masses of innocents with no alternative to denying their spiritual identity other than Auschwitz.  Is that really how faith works?

When our southern border was being inundated by unvetted immigrants (as it will soon be in exponentially greater volume), the “good Christian” raised the cry in public opinion polls closely followed by political hacks, “The children come first.  These are children in need.  Christ said, ‘Suffer the little ones to come unto me.’  We dare not turn these children away.”  No… so a child-abuse trap was created, stupidly connived at by the “good Christian”, wherein criminal thugs bought or stole youngsters from their parents, tutored them to say Este hombre es mi papacita, sí, often shuttled them back across the border to run the same scam again, and along the way beat or raped them to secure abject obedience.  And this humanitarian nightmare, as I say, was aided and abetted by good little suburban Christians who gave themselves a big virtue-hug at night before dozing off to sweet dreams.

Again, no awareness of the depth of human depravity: not much awareness, indeed, that depravity is embedded in the nature of the human animal.  The concept of original sin was warped to cover all the curmudgeons and sourpusses who resisted the “vision”, who declined to take the “leap of faith”.  It was never allowed to cast a shadow over the creatures of envy and lust at society’s fringe who had always waylaid utopian visions before.

Speaking of implanted computer chips… a friend sent me a link about a month ago to a video that spliced together a series of candid utterances, made by “visionaries” as recognizable as Bill Gates, in favor of extracting and inserting information directly into the world’s human masses.  An attractive young woman struck me, especially, with her fervent insistence that “we need to take this step if we are to create the world we want.”  I wouldn’t necessarily suspect any of these people of being Christian.  The shame of it all is that I wouldn’t necessarily suppose that a mainstream Christian today would roar in protest.  He should observe that such as we are do not create worlds—that the job has already been filled, and that our puny efforts to encroach upon it must always send infinite ripples of greed, arrogance, lust for power, and all the rest through the evolutionary brew.  Instead, I can well imagine our casual Christian appropriating the language of “a better tomorrow” the way the early missionaries appropriated the Return of the Sun for Christ’s birthday.  “Hey, that’s my gig—a better tomorrow!  Yeah, we can do that!  Eradicate poverty, extend health care to everyone, see that no child is left behind… we can all get to a better place if we suppress our egotism and serve Christ.”

And on and on.  May I assume that this very brief characterization (which, alas, is no caricature) has brought two points to the surface?  One is that late Western Christianity endorses a categorical suspicion, if not rejection, of limits.  Our faith (sayeth the New Age preacher) exhorts us to admit no traditional restriction to the possibilities.  If we only dream bravely enough, we can create the world of our dreams—a perfect world, without war or poverty or disease; for this is what Christ called us to do.  Halleluiah, halleluiah!

The second point is that no effort is invested among such “faithful” in pondering the failures generated by “dream faith”.  A particular peace hasn’t lasted because elements among us have too little faith; perfect health hasn’t been restored because elements among us have refused to join in an unprecedented initiative (e.g., universal masking, vaccinating, and locking down).  The dream is always insulated from scrutiny.  Why, Christ walked on water!  Do you suppose He could have done that if the least thought about sinking had entered His mind?

The seamless fusion of “dream faith” with the secular-progressive political mentality should be evident to anyone with ears to hear.  Is it any wonder that the formal, organized Christian church has reliably worked against the Christian worldview over the past four or five decades (with accelerating commitment)?  “Social justice” is what matters, not the struggle of each human individual to hear God’s call through the cacophony of unfair circumstances around him.  “Love” is what matters in marriage, not the acceptance of several strictures (duty to children, abstinence from other partners, embrace of self-sacrifice, etc.) which severely reduce our future options in our fourscore years on earth.

Every inspiration of “dream faith” is open-ended, and hence impossible to restrain from collateral damage or assess for deficient responsibility.  The “believer” is caught in an orgy of star-gazing that spins him into delirium but advances him toward his higher identity not a single step.  True faith, by accepting that Creation has thrown up barriers here, here, and here, humbles us as we conform our progress to those barriers and impresses us, ultimately, with the immutable truth that the destination for all our inklings of perfection must be a world beyond this one.  He of “dream faith” will not accept—on principle—that perfection cannot reign here and now.  He of true faith accepts daily shortcoming and imperfection as the inevitable cost of not yet having arrived in heaven.

Yes, our social regeneration would profit immensely from organized institutions of faith.  The latter may even be necessary to accomplish the former.  Right now, however, our religious institutions reflect an unbounded faith only in the decadent world for which they were organized.  As the old Italian saying goes, we won’t find figs growing on a thistle bush.

My Friend Vlad (Part Two)

You won’t like what I’m about to write.  I don’t like it myself—not one bit.  I wish things were otherwise.  I wish we could strap on our magic masks and be transported back in time to the days when our layers of government were virtually invisible except in the matter of protecting us from criminals and invaders: when we would take our kids to the park and throw a Frisbee, plan a Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s where the height of all the little ones was penciled on a door frame, worry over no greater crisis at work than how to deal with a congested parking lot.  But…

but no.  Only in our dreams now.  In this, our waking Hell, the concern—the one resonant, irrepressible concern—is government, government, government.  No malingering in the park after curfew, and no presence on any sidewalk without a mask.  (Absolutely no concealed weapon, either, to protect your family in case a released rapist takes advantage of “stand down” police protocol.)  No assembly in Grandma’s house to exceed X warm bodies… and, very soon, no travel in vehicles that burn carbon fuel.  No going in to work physically, or at least no opening of the doors to more than three people at a time.  No refusal of the restroom to homeless wanderers.  No new hire for less than twenty bucks an hour.

You’re a slave, a helot.  So am I.  This is our new world.  Let’s be clear: it’s not our revised world, our old America amended constitutionally to create a kinder, gentler republic.  It’s the new totalitarian regime against which most of us voted, and whose ascendancy was nonetheless ordained by our thought-controlling class: the broadcast media, the entertainment media, the journalistic propaganda-mill, the academic brainwash-tank, the high bench of judicial mandarins, the globalist banking industry, and the careerist guns-for-hire teeming in our bureaucracy (including our elite security forces).  The 2020 presidential “election” served formal notice that our votes no longer count.  We have arrived.  The next train you climb aboard will pull nothing but cattle cars.

Assuming that 2021 opens as most pundits now predict, I do not have a president.  I do not have a country.  I serve my own formal notice here and now: this state under the plunder of a vast band of Huns is not my nation, and the band’s teetering, morose, incoherent, through-and-through corrupt Attila is not in any wise my leader.  He is my enemy unto death, the murderer of due process, accountability, rule of law, individual rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of dissent, open exchange of ideas… he and his flock of circling, mask-draped vultures (masked like highwaymen—how appropriate!) are the antithesis of everything I have devoted my life to preserving, everything our forebears devoted and sometimes sacrificed their lives to sustaining.  This squalid, diabolical assassin of humane society is now in possession of our home turf.

So… what to do about it?  I’ll attempt to restrain myself from further flights of indignation, and to complete this essay with something like icy objectivity.  Otherwise, I’ll never be done.

I offer three recommendations.  All three respond to the necessity of redefining “we”.  The Vandal has defeated us by dividing us.  Let us therefore accept the divisions which we were too dull to resist when we might have saved ourselves.  Let us instead play the hand which the Vandal has dealt us.

Race: the race card.  Let us play it—but not in the manner scripted for us by the Vandal.  For decades, I have read commentators like Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter with interest, but also with a deep spiritual dyspepsia every time the theme, “demography is destiny,” emerged.  (And it emerged frequently.)  We were supposed to dread the dissolution of “white European” society in the rising tide of Third World peoples.  They would ruin everything: they would vote for the Nanny State until we all had Orwellian surveillance devices in our kitchens and bedrooms.  Non-Caucasian people… for some reason, they just couldn’t understand that they were being led to the slaughterhouse.  And, by popular vote, they would take us all there.

At this instant, it’s unclear in my state of Georgia whether or not the kind of election fraud reported verbally over and over and caught on tape by Project Veritas—state employees deliberately tallying a “Trump” as a “Biden” in the recount and harassing observers who point out the error—it’s uncertain, I say, whether these shenanigans will have surrendered our nation’s future into the hands of Beijing’s lackey.  Many of my acquaintances sermonize in hushed tones, “It’s those Atlanta blacks.  The Democrat Party offers them anything and everything, and they keep selling their souls for an empty promise.  Look at all the unprincipled party hacks caught cooking the books: black, every one.”

Well, not every one.  And if you want to assign the Georgia debacle to a particular racial influence, I should think the “white, college-educated, upwardly mobile professional” demographic would be a much better choice.  It’s primarily white people who have created all the engines of moral squalor enumerated a few paragraphs above: the media, Hollywood, journalism, academe, the judiciary, the banking industry, elite bureaucracies like the FBI and NSA… white people, overwhelmingly.  White people who patronize—and, to be sure, often promote—black people in ostentatious flourishes of high mission (and in the implicit, largely unconscious presumption that people of color can’t make it on their own merits).  In the vanguard of virtually every “social justice” initiative decrying racial inequity is a band of “superior to thee” Caucasian crusaders.

Sorry, Pat and Ann… but your race of choice has in fact authored our gravest miseries.  One of the few hopeful developments I see in the tea leaves left behind 2020’s bitter draught is the emergence of outspoken resistance from the likes of Col. Allen West, Candace Owens, Kimberly Klacik, John James… from black athletes of high recognition-value like Burgess Owens and Hershel Walker… from entertainers, even, like Kanye West and “Ice Tea”.  The leadership supplied by the socially pampered, morally supercilious Caucasian anomists who pullulate in our universities has proved lethal to our free society.  People of African descent are beginning to tire of serving as their “pity pets”.  A slave upon whom you lavish gifts just for scowling sullenly—and oh-so-cutely—from your couch’s cushions all day long is no less a slave than the wretch who sows fields under the whip’s lash.

People of Latin descent, Buchanan et al. notwithstanding, are also showing a new propensity for preferring individual freedom to government patronage.  What has historically driven the Hispanic vote to the Democrat Party is stuff, much of it free: more and better jobs than anything “back home” (even though, by American standards, the pay is poor and the benefits negligible), free schooling for the kids, free health care for the extended family (illegal aliens regularly receive Medicaid in many states, contrary to federal law), relatively uncorrupt police services, hands-off tolerance of petty infractions in sanctuary cities, and a host of quota-driven head-starts into white-collar careers.  Who wouldn’t grab that deal?  But the shelf-life of the pantry’s more extravagant goodies is mere months—perhaps mere weeks—from expiring.  The national debt is careering toward thirty trillion, the Chinese are busily laboring to supplant the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and the Vandal has promised more lockdowns and the strangulation of our domestic energy industry.  Tens of millions of Hispanics, legal and otherwise—and the Democrats have now endowed the latter with the right to vote in many locales—may soon be without work and without government subsidy.  The party that engineered such misery will not inspire patient devotion.

If conservative America has given little thought to constituencies of this composition, my next suggestion will be vastly more shocking: the Muslim community.  Like black Americans and Hispanics—rather more than they, in fact—traditional Muslims deplore the core values of the new Democrat Party.  They’re dismayed by the extent of sexual liberation in the Western world.  They have no doubt about the number of genders Mother Nature has assigned to human beings.  Their family units are extremely tight-knit.  They weigh the individual male’s dignity to some considerable extent upon his ability to make his way by the sweat of his own brow.  They believe in a higher power whose authority must not be eclipsed by the whimsy of human institutions.  They intensely dislike public obscenity aimed at deriding or vilifying figures and symbols held in honor by their culture.  Culturally, they could not be more antithetical to the New Left.

In the unsorted rubble which is all that remains of the United States, friends of the Constitution would do well to strike up a common cause with the Muslim community.  Of course, in Europe and in many Canadian cities, Muslim “no-go zones” enforce Sharia law and defy civil authorities to set foot in their streets.  A constitutional conservative would naturally prefer to have another sort of Muslim at his side.  I don’t propose that the friends of individual freedom stockpile explosives for a cultic religion’s lockstep-marching suicide-bombers: that would be a bridge too far.  Yet during the ongoing ruination of our republic, counter-revolutionaries need not collaborate in the neutralization of radical Islam’s homicidal “scare value”.  The energy of violent jihadism will steer itself by nature in the direction of the Constitution’s nihilist destroyers, even though it tramples upon constitutional principles in doing so.  If nothing else, the totalitarian state’s zeal for collecting all defensive weapons from its citizenry might be blunted when a subset of that citizenry proves to be too hot to handle.

I understand the ghastly undertones of what I’ve just written.  I wonder if everyone reading my words understands equally the horrors of the progressive totalitarian state now descending upon us, whose proponents (e.g., AOC, the Lincoln Project) have already boasted publicly about rounding up dissidents and dissuading them with all the finesse that Xi Jinping has employed with Xinxiang’s Uighur population.  We are not now in a position to choose friends fastidiously: we can only survive by matching potent enemies against our enemies.

And I hasten to add that I’m not among those who view all Muslims as closet-jihadists.  As a retired educator, I remember many chaste, gentle, humble souls among my students whose simple decency put many of their ostensibly Christian classmates to shame.  In fact, I’ll say candidly of the Muslim community what I said above of black Americans: if we white Christians sincerely want to pinpoint the rot that has gnawed away our free republic’s sinew, we might as well start with a session in front of the mirror.  Too many imams, yes, incite fanatical violence among their abject faithful… but the Catholic faith is led by an overt socialist who considers all traditional teachings negotiable in the light progressive revisionism.  The Muslim community, true, is scarred by the presence among its members of such barbarities as “honor killings” and female genital mutilation… but the Christian (and especially Protestant) community finds itself, in its “blanket tolerance” caricature of Christ’s example, unable to condemn any trespass or atrocity of any kind—except, of course, intolerance.  “Fake Christianity” has played no minor role in our surrender to the Vandal: it has, indeed, repeatedly unbolted gates for him.  Can you confidently affirm that your priest or pastor does not regard the faith as a) an ideological framework for redistributing worldly possessions rather than for combating worldliness, b) a vehicle for ushering in a “better” society rather than for saving individual souls, and c) and inherited body of quaint tropes effectively modernized by Marxist formulas rather than a metaphysical fortress raised against the measurements of manmade value systems?

If your spiritual guide is not of this toxic sort… good for you.  God be praised!  Yet it remains a raw statistical truth that institutions posing as the Christian Church have hazed us into the slaughterhouse of Xi’s Maoist worldview.  In our sick society—in our defunct United States—the Muslim is sometimes a better Christian than the Christian, and the black or Hispanic American is beginning to resent the Herd more than does the white pillar of virtue who has designed privileged pens for all “dark people”.

I abhor the tactic known to advertisers as “teasing”, and it was certainly not my intent to skirt a full explanation of my “friendship” with “Vlad” a second time.  Yet I’ve once again more than filled up my allotted space.  Just as well.  I will need a full post just to present my case for why the freedom-loving fragments of our shattered union would be very wise to court a closer relationship with… Vladimir Putin.  I’ll end with this very condensed, slightly melodramatic observation, then: we can be insects on Xi Jinping’s ant farm, or we can offer strategic advantages to Russia’s nationalist leadership.  We have no other play on the board.  Under the Vandal’s administration, we are useful idiots serving the needs of Communist China.  That’s all we are.  We’re not the children of the Greatest Generation, and all that.  No, we shoveled our “Americanism” into the bonfire of the vanities.  If some of us are to preserve life on this earth under the United States Constitution, we shall need the help of an earthly power not traditionally friendly to constitutional values.  We shall have to dine with one devil or be eaten by the other.

Or, of course, we can all just consent to die, like a massive holocaust of Christian martyrs.  A respondent to my video, Must a Christian Be a Doormat?, wrote me, “Christ made a doormat of himself, and we are called to do the same.”  Yes, we can do that: the millenarian Doormat Cult, that stands by and sings hymns while children are abused and innocents are butchered.  Yes, we can do that.  Just spare yourself any further visits to my column, would you, if that’s the nature of your conviction?

Politics Hasn’t Created This Division: It Rose From the Soul’s Abyss

With the political and social coherence our nation dissolving before our eyes, I naturally feel drawn to comment on the meaning of the dissolution.  Yet I’m going to reserve that chore for another day.  I think a further week of watching events unfold can’t help but leaven my observations.  I need to settle myself down.

Frankly, my nerves have lately been shattered far more by a very personal confrontation than by the very public collapse of our nation’s rule of law… though the two, it turns out, are not completely unrelated.  I received a call last Saturday night from a very close relative of mine.  I will identify her simply as S, though none of my readers is likely to know her—and it’s even less likely that she would ever read this or any other of my columns.  S was the closest person to me on earth when we were growing up.  Somewhere along the line, a lot of things changed.  Now that we’ve both passed well beyond our sixtieth birthday and are also separated by a thousand miles, we seldom speak to each other.  The gaps in time and space appear to mar transmissions.  Neither of us seems readily to understand what spiritual wavelength the other operates on.

Of course, S knows all about my round with prostate cancer this summer.  If for no other reason than that, she tries to check in with me at least once a month.  Our exchange of last Saturday night went along amicably for a while… and then, for some reason that I can’t seem to reconstruct in retrospect, the subject of the Corona Virus floated malodorously to the surface.  I believe the first mention was hers, and that my response was simply to try to soothe her—to convince her that she needn’t worry about an illness whose infection-to-fatality rate was equal to that of a bad seasonal flu.

Shots fired.  I was at once assured that I was completely wrong—that I had in no wise done research equal to S’s, whose dogged pursuit of the truth (I was told) could be matched by no one else in our family.  She knew for a fact that children were dying of COVID-19: this was a five-alarm warning to our society.  Everyone needed to be taking it with the utmost seriousness.

Fallen son of Adam that I am, I pushed back at the charge of being an ignoramus—and a bigot, to boot, who only processed information from a single source.  (Don’t know where that came from: S never bothered to ask about my sources and never volunteered any of her own.)  

I didn’t get really heated up, however, until a third person’s came into the discussion: someone who is as important to me as anyone on earth, and who I’d supposed was almost as important to S.  This young man had checked himself into the emergency room last month in an incipient suicidal state which deeply alarmed him.  The cause was, of course, the lockdown in which he and all his peers were living—are still living—day in and day out, week in and week out, in a vast Midwestern metropolis.  I observed to S that older people like us should be prepared to run a two-or-three-chances-in-a-thousand risk of death if doing so might flatten the fearful spike in young suicides.  Despair, in my opinion, was a much more formidable adversary than the flu.

Then came the response that touched a match to my powder keg.  It was the baked-in-hell blarney about how kids shouldn’t be preoccupied with their amusement when their social activity jeopardizes the lives of others.  This is what I propose to write at about some length today (perhaps because my attempts to dissect the claim in live conversation only met with being shouted over—and occasionally f-bombed: offensives which I ended up countering blow for loud, profane blow… God help us).

On the table, then, sits the propositions that you pose a menace to the lives of all around you if you circulate publicly in a normal fashion but do not strain your body almost to suffocation in an extremely abnormal fashion.  If you decline to wear a mask, that is, you are engaged in a murder attempt.

My objections to this preposterous, insane, rabidly totalitarian groupthink are basically of two classes.  To begin with the practical: respecting the claim above would bring us instantly to an absurd standstill—a train wreck of insoluble situations where life would simply have to go into a deep freeze.  Consider the following few cases which spring to mind instantly.

Most contagions are primarily spread by hand: hands are constantly touching our faces and then proceeding to door knobs, paperwork, furniture, light switches, faucets, and so on.  If we’re serious about not spreading SARS-COV2, then all of us should be required to wear gloves.  The gloves themselves, as ersatz hands, must be shucked and replaced at intervals of no more than half an hour.

Infections of most varieties are spread through travel: ergo, we should impose rigorous travel bans.  Trips should be permitted if we’re making an essential run to a nearby destination: e.g., a grocery store. Otherwise, wayfarers must be seized and punished.

We certainly shouldn’t permit people to smoke anything, whether nicotine, marijuana, or vaping compounds. We shouldn’t allow our fellow citizens to strain their lungs, because this would make them more tempting targets for respiratory infection… which, in turn, could be spread to us innocent bystanders. The same reasoning might be extended to obesity. People who are overweight tend to huff and puff, and one cough from their ample lungs… well, there you go. Potential murderers, every one!

And when it comes to jeopardizing the lives of others, why stop at the Corona Virus?  Driving itself claims around 40,000 lives each year in this nation.  We know that operation of cell phones while attempting to drive is risky behavior, and in much of the country it’s now illegal; but we also know that sustaining a conversation with someone in the passenger seat is distracting, as is attempting to manage food.  Therefore, vehicles should not be allowed to move on the road that have an occupant in the passenger seat—unless, perhaps, that person is wearing a gag; and any driver caught behind the wheel with a Big Mac or a Smoothie King should be sent to Reeducation Camp for half a year.

As practically idiotic as any program must be that aims to ensure the “health of the collective”, I’m infinitely more disturbed by the moral assumptions—the immoral presumption, I should say—behind collectivist hygiene.  The very idea that my society has the right to make me impede my airflow out of consideration for others is the most maniacally self-centered inversion of selflessness imaginable.  I exist.  You exist.  Each of us poses certain potential threats to all others around us through the mere fact of our existence.  We might misstep on an escalator with dozens of people below us.  We might swipe an incautious pedestrian starting across an intersection while we’re peering at street signs.  We might drop something that creates a sudden racket in the presence of a cardiac patient.  Human life is a constant stream of such risks.

I’m not threatening your existence because I choose to have an existence.  If I choose to sing, I’m not a threat to your life because I open my mouth and expel air.  If I choose to sit at a table and eat a meal, I’m not a threat to your life because the juices circulating on my teeth may be ejected invisibly and borne away by the wind.  If I hug a child who may go to the same kindergarten as yours, I’m not a threat to your life because an infection may be passed along from me the next school day that could eventually terminate you.

All such considerations are a selfish paranoia of unimaginable proportions.  The spiritual sickness oozing from these equations  is almost as baffling to me as it is disgusting.

Well… the phone conversation degenerated very quickly as its volume rose.  I’m not proud of having lost my control to the extent that I did; and as a matter fact, I paid the price for it this past week.  I won’t claim that I came down with a nice new case of COVID-19… but something flu-like certainly overtook me once my nerves were shattered and my resistance level bottomed out.  Headache, congested lungs, extremely painful aching in the joints, neck pain, chills, weariness, a low-grade fever… I got almost no sleep on Saturday night, and this is the condition which started overshadowing me on Sunday morning.

Just to cinch the argument—not that I’m going to phone S with an update—my duel with this baleful flu-like adversary was treated by… staying quietly at home, nursing myself, taking lots of naps, minimizing my physical activity, and sustaining a good diet.  I’m feeling immensely better as I sit here dictating this article.  I didn’t need to go to the hospital.  I didn’t need to sit in the emergency room.  I didn’t need a physician prescribing Remdesivir or Hydroxychloroquine.  I’ve had the flu before.  I treated my round of plague sensibly, and… what do you know?… within three days it had virtually disappeared.

Am I now supposed to quarantine myself for two weeks?  Why?  I wear a mask in most public settings—and the mask absolutely prevents the Corona Virus from exiting, right?  Besides, all the people around me have masks on, too, so they cannot breathe in my toxic exhalation. And since we’re both masked, everyone is doubly protected, yes?  So the world is absolutely safe from any threat that might come from my direction.  I’m so happy!  Aren’t you happy?

It’s become a bromide that politics is now destroying civility, friendships, and even family relations because we’ve grown so intransigent in our views.  We can no longer agree to differ.  Um… true and not true, I would say.  If you deny to me the freedom to take a few steps on God’s earth, enjoy God’s golden sun, and breathe God’s fresh air—if you even revile me as the author of a moral atrocity because I go down the sidewalk humming a tune—then we’re not disagreeing over whether the jogging trail should be plowed under to make a traffic bypass.  You’re not even just committing an outrage against me personally.  You’re blaspheming against Creation—you’re adoring Moloch.

I miss that little girl in those black-and-white photos, S.  I’m sorry she exists no longer.  I miss her so much!  Who did that to her?  Who kidnapped her and transformed her into what you are?

People of the Twilight: The Masked World Between Being and Non-Being

They fear life.  In many ways, they hate it.  It hasn’t been kind to them.  Mother Nature may have burdened them with unattractive faces, or the luck of the draw may have given them a single parent who bothered about their childhood needs a quarter of the time—and never on weekends.  Perhaps their temperament (who knows if such things are bestowed more by nature or nurture?) has prevented a comfortable degree of socialization.  They are oddball, alone, and without a cast of supporting characters or even a stock of pleasant memories to offer them refuge.

They’re likely to thrust a tremendous investment of affection upon a dog or a cat—the childhood- or bosom-friend they never had whose big eyes can always be interpreted as limitlessly loving and whose muteness as perfect agreement.  They tend to eat too much.  Whatever care they give to personal appearance often borders on self-mutilation, either to channel the loathing they feel for an unprepossessing body or, perhaps, to ground the argument that they could make a swan of the ugly duckling if they gave a damn.

Males, more often than females, seek escape in the virtual reality of video games.  The feminine taste leans more toward romantic fantasies available ad infinitum in ebook form.  Both sexes exploit social media in search of escape or relief—the male more likely to slash and burn with a lexicon learned from public toilets, pretending to be the buccaneer iconoclast he hasn’t the intellectual depth or moral courage to play in real life; the female more often curling up warmly behind an avatar and a trove of cliches that render her easily “friendable”.

The female is much more likely to have an above-average exposure to formal education.  One may even say that she is magnetically drawn to certain of the “social studies” in college because of the patented rationalizations they offer for her misery—the absolution of any personal guilt and the accusations lavished upon others.  Graduate-degree mills in several fields are indeed nothing short of a “crutch industry”, thanks to an abundance of her kind in the post-grad population.

The male of this species that dwells in twilight, while not so successful academically (and, for that matter, distinguished by his unsuccess in all endeavors), isn’t stupid.  He has a measure of intellect that might have been tapped for more-ambitious-than-average projects if only a means of motivating him existed.  He has dedicated whatever talent he possesses, sadly, to sneering and snarling at the system that walls him in with evidence of his failure and inadequacy.  He might possibly construct a bomb some day, and it might possibly be of the small nuclear variety: he has the acumen necessary for something of the sort.  The question is… does he have the courage, the hellish courage (think of Milton’s Satan), needed actually to make other humans who’ve never done him wrong suffer far more than he ever has?  Probably not.  Mercifully, in most cases, no.

As a footnote, I should add that another kind of male exists: more sociable, much more “female”.  Oddball yet eloquent, alienated yet readily found in company, he plays at the edge of twilight and represents an unstable ally.  His companionable qualities make him risky: he may withdraw in a given crisis from endorsing outright anarchy.  While he may follow whatever crowd forms to overthrow everything, he’s also apt to follow that hard day’s work with an evening at the theater or the cabaret.  He’s not a bomb-thrower; and if you yourself are one, you shouldn’t assume that he has your back.

Whether courtesy of the Ivory Tower or simply through natural attraction, both “pure” sexes of Twilight People are idolaters of the future.  The future is not now.  In Baudelaire’s grand phrase, it’s anywhere out of this world.  The details of that better—that oh-so-very-best—future are yet to be hatched out.  Why bother?  At the moment, the present needs annihilating, for Future Perfection cannot come to dwell among us until a place for it to dwell is swept clean.  A mind even of average intelligence, to be sure, would grasp early in “the struggle” that the Golden Age isn’t going to show up during the lifetime of its footsoldiers.  The Twilight People “get” this.  They embrace it, indeed.  The indefinite delay—the perpetual postponement—is more attraction than obstacle to the true believer.  After all, the future’s real gift is its looming, its approach.  One may devote one’s life to preparing the glorious way with far more zeal than one might bring to actual day-to-day life in any well-defined utopia.

The zeal’s the thing.  Life is hateful, miserable, loathsome… but zeal for tomorrow makes today tolerable—and may tomorrow, always almost here, never complete its disillusioning arrival!

Two further characteristics will likely have struck you about the People of Twilight as I wrote the previous couple of paragraphs: 1) they have no faith in any metaphysical reality, and 2) their zeal for “unreal reality” has been nudged into the gap of that missing faith.  It couldn’t be otherwise; for, as much as they shun daylight, they also fear the night.  They hate life, but they hate death, too.  They flee life, but can’t flee it too far—not beyond its edge; for in that chasm lurks the unthinkable, infinite and permanent oblivion.  Precisely because they’ve made nothing of life, they must cling to it.  It’s all they’ve got.  Maybe it will yet yield something pleasant, something worthwhile.  Probably not.  But at least there’s that chance in a million.  Beyond the pale, in the outer darkness… no chance of anything.  Ever.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of faith is its taking the terror out of death… and perhaps an advantage very nearly as great is its bestowing purpose on life.  Imagine the misery of having neither purpose nor a means of escape from purposelessness.  A difficult spot to find oneself in.  Twilight is the only alternative: a world that isn’t here-and-now but also isn’t the hereafter: a kind of ongoing suspension, a transport in cryogenic immobility from the hated world to the same world no longer hateful.  And you get there by dreaming of a world no longer hateful… on whose behalf you ignore, or actively incinerate, all in the world around you.

I’ve come now to masks.  I might have come to firebombing and Antifa, or to broadcasting made-up dramas in full awareness of their fantasy, or to translating every single human event into the plots and assaults of racists as ingeniously as John Donne transformed a flea into sexual intercourse.  But masks will do.  In fact, they are surely the supreme trope, the most expressive creation, of the People of Twilight.  The masked face breathes, but does not partake of your filthy public air.  That face may speak to you, but “socially distanced” and muffled by a sheet.  Its features are not those of a “death mask”, for the eyes remain open; but without contributing gestures from mouth or nostrils, the intent behind the eyes remains always equivocal.  Are they warm and simpatico… or are they hot and fuming?

The new face is half in the dying daylight and half in the clammy fingers of night.  It’s neither fish nor fowl.  Hands off!  You don’t know it—you have no hermeneutic key to its thoughts.  Wherever you may suppose it to be… it’s elsewhere.  Welcome to the brotherhood of the stay-away-from-me’s.

The rationale undergirding (or hiding behind) the mask is similarly evasive.  We are told that the mask keeps deadly microbes from exiting the wearer, and also that it protects the wearer from deadly microbes.  (Yet mask-cultists never appear to register anxiety about infecting others: their concern is always for their own vulnerability.)  The mask’s weave blocks minute viral particles… but it does not compromise the wearer’s lungs by trapping larger contaminants and bacteria before the mouth for hundreds of inhalation cycles.  The mask is security against a virus traveling everywhere—everywhere—in aerosol form… yet it’s unnecessary outdoors, and its challenge is largely met by social distancing.  Your mask will protect you from me… yet I must wear one, too, because yours may not protect you.  COVID virons are so tiny that two mask-walls scarcely suffice to impede their attack… yet the visible gaps around the chin and the nose bridge are too small to open a passage.  Bare hands are constantly in contact with noxious “naked air”… yet those same hands are forever readjusting the mask, with a thumb or fingertip slipping past the gate every time.  Or if the wearer always “purels” and/or removes gloves before every adjustment… well, didn’t a bare hand grasp the second glove to come off, or didn’t a bare hand hit the pump of the Purel bottle?  And there’s always that potentially lethal three or four feet between the bottle and the face, filled by ever-untrustworthy free air.

Neither dead nor alive.  The People of Twilight are among us, and they are legion: just how many, we’ll soon find out.  But a house divided against itself cannot stand, and a people half of whom flee the daylight cannot grow and prosper.  What the deranged cultists of the fleeing half refuse to understand is that twilight, by definition, is unstable, ephemeral: a flight into night.  To reject life is to run into death’s arms.  To deny God is to affirm fearful oblivion.  There’s no third option.

FREE EBOOK: From Sunday (October 11) to Thursday (October 15), this text that I created for a college class is will be available as a Kindle download at no cost whatever. Mainstream academic publishers, of course, didn’t want to take a chance on my thesis: that medieval scribes had faintly Christianized the ancient Irish legend of Cu Chulainn’s journey to the Other World and the Welsh Owein’s transits through the same interface. They bristled even more when I added Marie de France’s Eliduc to the list, these days treated only as an indictment of toxic masculinity. Yet the redemptive allegory, at least in the last two, is unmistakable… except to the unredeemed.

Finding Peace as Willy Wonka Socialism Closes In

A few weeks ago, I joined a new social-media outlet dubbing itself CaucusRoom.  I will recommend it at this point only insofar as I‘m seeking “followers” for my newly created “cause”: to wit, the securing of our lamentably exposed power grid.  In our present state, we could easily be plunged into a genocidal paralysis devoid of refrigeration, central heating, air-conditioning, communication (beyond earshot or line-of-sight), home defense (of any electronic variety), transportation (unless we own a pre-1980 vehicle—and even then, understand that gas stations won’t pump fuel), cash resources (if related to credit cards or online banking), medical resources (if they run on electricity or require transport to hospitals, which in any case will have shut down)… we’ll become prime candidates for being starved, frozen, or murdered, in short.  Most of us—predictions have reached the figure of 90 percent—will die within a year.  And there’s nothing tendentious about the science, though mainstream “journalists” skimpily cite 40-year-old papers to poo-poo the threat. Unlike “climate change”, which relies on a lame “greenhouse” model (the earth’s many active volcanoes do not simulate greenhouse conditions) and ignores the saw-tooth history of Earth’s climate over the past ten millennia, a massive solar flare is as much a cinch to happen as an 8.0 quake along the San Andreas Fault.

Okay, are you concerned yet?  I have been so, for a long time—about this and several other “causes”.  But my brief exposure to most of CaucusRoom has confirmed in me a lesson I was taught by cancer this past summer.  It’s this: life on earth for all of us, as individuals and as vast human (or even biological) aggregates, is finite.  At some point, we have a spiritual duty to prosper from our time here rather than to fret about how to make that time last indefinitely.  Quantity is not quality.  Inner peace—union with one’s Creator—is not achieved by digging a moat and throwing up stone walls of defense.  Most of the participants in this new SM platform, as with those who populate its cousins, appear to me to be “dug in” as they pay exclusive attention to some enemy at the gates, ignoring the state of the palace at their backs.  As long as there’s a “they” to fight, the value of the cause for which one is fighting doesn’t come under much scrutiny.

I began nursing this bitter (though strangely soothing) thought after I commented on someone’s post of a P.J. O’Rourke article… or I believe it was a review of the humorist’s new book, rather.  Now, taking humorists seriously is always an exercise in self-mutilation.  I should have known better.  But then, I don’t know that comparing our young “snowflake” generation to spoiled kids who want everyone to have a free doughnut (or something… I can’t recall the terms of the analogy, which was pretty lackluster) struck other CaucusRoom readers as tongue-in-cheek.  I don’t even know that O’Rourke himself had traces of wryness on his mug when he penned the words.  To a great many of us, exhausted with “wokeness”, our children appear to be over-educated brats who haven’t learned that (for instance) electricity doesn’t flow from Sheetrock if you just screw in a plastic outlet panel.

But some of us, too, have watched our children struggle with depression—and the ordeal is no joking matter, no comedy sketch about poor-little-rich-kids in a pastry shop.  Imagine that you’ve graduated from college and are starting your eight-to-five existence, which is supposed to carry you through most of your time on earth and to compensate or fulfill you over those decades with a rising salary.  There’s nothing remotely spiritual in the equation.  No deep satisfaction in the work you do has been factored in.  You know better—for that work is often service to an inscrutable machine whose ultimate objective is… well, the handsome profits responsible for your salary.  Higher motives be damned!

So, on that arid spiritual savanna into which you’ve wandered, you purchase gadgets and gizmos to amuse you over weekends. Eventually, as bank account and credit rating prosper, you spring for a 3,500-square-foot house just outside the taxable zones of Dallas or Denver. You take vacations to Vegas and Tampa one week out of the year, you smoke a little weed and acquire a fairly non-toxic alcohol dependency, you join a big church where you flutter dangerously close to flames lit by an abundance of highly discreet divorcees… and then the sand runs out of the glass.  That was your life.  You were a success, a good American: supported your church, never got caught cheating on your wife, sired and raised a couple of kids whom you reintroduced to the same assembly line (prep school, State U, desk at Merrill Lynch)….

Yeah, that’s your life.  That’s it.  What do you want, a free jelly roll?  I suppose you want everyone to have free jelly rolls… is that what you want?  What are you, a snowflake?

I don’t recall my precise comments upon the CaucusRoom post, which I haven’t managed to relocate, or the responses to my comments; but as telegraphic as all the “communication” was, I think it implied the tragic disconnect that I’ve tried to describe more amply in the last few paragraphs.  We “conservatives” don’t seem to have any detectable regard for quiet streets with shaded sidewalks and front porches where our aging neighbors rock.  Where those venues continue to exist, they characterize once-desirable settings (desirable in the Fifties, perhaps) which have now become “run down” and seem nearly devoured by adjoining overpasses and interstates.  Our “way of life” is the make-money paradigm that requires a constant purging of such neighborhoods, along with all other relicts and habits of the past.  What do you want… you want us to hold out for quaint corner drugstores and steeples nestled among tall trees in the Age of the Internet?  You want free doughnuts for everyone?  That scheme’s not economically viable any more.

Pardon me… but I think the miserable, anguishing poverty of this “conservative” rationale is why our children are Willy Wonka socialists.  Yes, their mother’s-day-out conceptions of how an economy might work if only we built chocolate factories everywhere are constructed of colorful, round-edged blocks that should have been left in the playpen; but… but is the sole alternative really spiritual annihilation?  Is that really all we’ve got to offer—is that how we intend to win them over?

I don’t begin to accept that the majority of these young, clueless wonders with worthless college degrees are lining up to enlist in Antifa.  My experience is that they really don’t like anything vaguely scented with politics.  They supported Bernie four years ago because he was their Willy, their clownish guide to an alternative world not slick with blood from cut throats and poignarded backs: the corporate world, the advance-at-all-costs world.  And they’re not all unemployable, you know.  Many of them have already doubled my best-ever annual salary, though they go to work dressed very casually in rags that do nothing to hide their rings and tattoos.  They fool around with computer code and in sound studios helping capitalist enterprises to exploit the dreamy gullibility of the masses—unaware of any potential hypocrisy in their labors since they themselves move in the vapors of a dream.  Thanks to their inspired work in the make-over room, DuPont or Halliburton or General Motors now comes off seeming infinitely more concerned about ushering you through the deadly pandemic than selling you… whatever it is such conglomerates sell today.  (Sometimes it’s hard to tell amid all the passionate dedication to “keeping you safe”.)  Insurance is peddled by a gecko or a flaky cop with an emu partner.  Red Bull gives you cartoon wings.  Suddenlink connects you in Instagram-length vignettes.  And of all the happy people dramatically or graphically represented on your screens as made safe, thoroughly insured, energized, and connected, a good half seem to have drawn their significant other from a different race.

I mention that final detail only to stress that, when Generation Z’s graduates do find jobs in some tech-related enterprise, they eagerly lend their gifts to imagining a world socially and culturally different from the one we actually see.  Yes, it’s a happy world: it always has been, in these industrial make-overs.  (When I was a kid, Paul Parrot would assure us that P.F. Flyers “make your feet run faster, as fast as I can fly”.)  But it’s also a more racially integrated world.  It’s a world where women don’t need fathers to raise their children, where svelte vegan retirees enjoy their golden years on endless Caribbean cruises, where energy really does appear to course from the Sheetrock.  I think the young designers of these Never Never Lands half-believe, in some spontaneous fashion, the utopian claptrap they grind out.  (Even the most alcoholic cartoonist, in contrast, didn’t believe Paul Parrot existed.) In the old days, you tried to convince the public that eating spinach would make them look like Popeye because you had an unsavory vegetable to unload.  Nowadays, fantasies are being packaged for the public by producers who themselves yearn to locate reality in fantasy.

Eventually and inevitably, some of these raptured cherubs accede to the control of their own enterprises… and they support leftist, statist causes.  Conservatives are shocked.  They protest, “It was free enterprise that made you a mogul… and now you want to throw it all over for socialism?”  But… but the Young Turks became rich by marketing their naïveté to others of their generation who were equally naive.  To some extent, you see, living in illusion can be profitable in a capitalist system.  I mean… if you thoroughly believe in your own illusions, aren’t you especially well suited to convince others of their truth who yearn to believe?

The yearning to believe… this is why, sooner or later, our society is doomed to become a socialist anthill.  Our children appear to us spoiled brats in a candy shop because they can’t “get real”, because they don’t understand “what it’s really like”.  Yet that bitter panacea—the well-paying job—which was flung back at me on CaucusRoom as the answer to their problems is part of the poison driving them to candy.  They don’t need money; or, at least, if they turn into the kind of human being who only needs money, then they will become as sick as if they’d gorged on socialist sugar.  What they need is higher purpose, which they misidentify with an egalitarian utopia. They don’t understand that Uncle Bernie’s Candy Factory must end up being Treblinka or Auschwitz because trying to better humanity within merely human boundaries always results in vast slaughter.  The visionary do-gooder must forever be melting down and remolding the millions of little morsels trundling along his assembly line; for the batter of which we’re concocted is flawed, and it doesn’t rise properly under heat.

They can’t see this, the children.  Our children.  They won’t see it until they live through their own nightmares on the assembly line.  The evils of socialism, I’m afraid, aren’t something you learn to assess by reading a conservative book or listening to a conservative professor (assuming that you could find either one).  They strike you between the eyes only after you come to understand human nature.  My brother and sister remain left-of-center, I believe, because they were relatively popular in their adolescent high-school-and-college cocoons, and the habits acquired in that insulated existence have clung to them.  I, on the other hand, while the least worldly of human beings, learned the deeper meaning of the Crucifixion after years of being an ugly duckling.  My misery was a blessing.  I came to grasp that people are fatally warped by their egotism—their unconscious, self-indulgent dedication to a script that casts them in an enviable role.  And the contradictory evidence from the “real world” that might have made their well-rehearsed lines taste foul in their mouths becomes, instead, the raw material for weaving ingenious new narratives….  So passes an entire lifetime, in many tragic cases.

This analogy portrays much more accurately what I see in young people than any facile comparison of them with spoiled brats surrounded by Krispy Kremes.  Of course, all of us parents want our kids to be well-integrated and “happy”—to be shielded in some measure from bitter truths about human nature.  Hence we send them forth into the adult world, all too often, as if it might be a place where they could simply share out confections to the hungry masses from miraculously self-replenishing shelves.  The fault for that, however, clearly lies in ourselves as much as in them.  We have fashioned this seductive Siren-shore of socialism by loving our little ones not wisely, but too well.

Now our society is poised to enter a period of rotting bones—of victims who have heard the sweet song and thrown themselves into the brine, thinking they could live forever on its melody.  We’ll have to get through that… or not.  We’ll have to get through a period of not getting through it.  We’ll have to rediscover true faith: the confidence, I mean, that peace and joy are already assured us in a higher reality, a “real reality”.  We’ll have to stop trying to substitute our own provisional, earth-bound realities for the genuine article—the very sin of which we so justly accuse our socialist offspring.

Take whatever November and the new year bring, and live in peace.

Free Download of the Week: Starting today (September 26) and extending through Wednesday (September 30), my collection of short stories, A Sleepless Man Might Earn Two Wages, is available as a free Kindle download.  Written over a period of two decades, all of the stories are intended to evoke the quality of a dream in some manner. Events, that is, are bizarre or even physically impossible in certain respects, yet their portrayal is simple, straightforward, and tantalizingly humming with truth.

The Invasion of the Puppets: BLM and the Last Days of Civil Society

Somebody should perhaps write an addendum to The Screwtape Letters.  My suspicion is that somebody already has, either in the “People’s Republic” of China or in the upper echelons of American academe.

The way that mass consciousness—if one can use those two words together—has been manipulated by the BLM movement (shakedown? insurrection?) is pure Satanic genius.  When I read about the conduct of both Kansas City and Houston players as the anthem opened the NFL’s initial game, I realized what a tight little box had been sealed upon our national psyche.  One team’s fifty stalwarts linked arms and bent knees; the other’s simply refused to take the field.  Now, I couldn’t possibly care less about football at any level.  I despise the game.  As a boy, I knew several kids who were crippled for life while playing high school football, and one who actually died after a year on a respirator.  Suits me fine if we just hand the whole sport off to the feminists. It’s about blindsiding or mobbing your adversary, not going mano a mano face-to-face.

But there are much more important issues involved here that we ignore at our peril.  And, of course, the buffoonery is spreading.  We all know about basketball‘s “woke” transformation, even those of us who couldn’t readily name six NBA teams.  (Yeah, I’ve raised my hand.) Now baseball is crowding in for a piece of the idiot action—idiot on the surface, that is; for the genius is in the Puppeteer’s mind and not in the wooden heads of his Pinocchios.  Several Major League clubs refused to perform in their empty stadiums (all stadiums in COVID America being empty nowadays—that’s part of the behind-the-scenes brilliance) after the shooting of Jacob Blake.  None of these blockheads knew the details of the shooting: “cop shoots black dude…” okay, let’s roll.  The ratiocinative chain went no further than that.

But consider the “meta” of these moron-level associative responses.  Their very fuzziness is part of the mire wherein we have all waded and been trapped.  Exactly what are you protesting, Mighty Casey?  How about you, Slag Bronkowsky—and you, D’Shondrick Hayes?  “Well, it’s the cops.  They’re killing young black kids.”  So… your best way of addressing the social disease underlying these fatalities is to squat on the flag or simply refuse to fulfill your player’s contract?  “Gotta draw attention to the abuse, man.”  Attention you have certainly drawn… but to what?  To the police?  To which police?  “All of ’em, man!”  So let’s suppose that all police are racist executioners disguised in blue.  Doesn’t disrespecting the flag send the signal, rather, that you find the whole nation guilty?  Doesn’t walking out on your job send the signal that you think everything’s a contemptible scam?  “It is!  Everything, just like you said.  And yeah, everyone’s guilty.”  Okay, we’re getting real clarity now.  Gimlet precision.  So it’s not about the cops: it’s about mainstream America and her political system.  “Yeah, that’s right.”  Because all of it—because everyone—is racist.  “Yeah, that’s right.”  So why didn’t you take a knee a long time ago to protest the quarter-of-a-million-plus black babies who are aborted every year?  “Come on, man!  You’re just trying to make this political!”

Wow.  There’s a coherent, resonant message for you.  Every passive spectator out there who doesn’t applaud me because I’m calling his eight-to-five world a load of crap is part of said load.  It’s a world, by the way, that supplied him and other spectators with the means to blow a couple of Franklins on a ticket and watch me play.  Yeah, I’ll play—but first you’ll open up for a scoop of this, cracker, and you’ll swallow!

Result: average Americans—hard-working, practical, common-sensical—are repulsed by all the self-righteous arrogance and logic-hostile bullying.  The ordinary adult, being sane and responsible, grows angry.  He turns his back on sports, which actually darkens his mood (because we do genuinely need some sort of frivolous escape-valve in our routine); and before very long, he may even begin to mutter thoughts only to himself, or at most to a very tight circle of familiars, that people of color are a tremendous annoyance.

Brilliant, I say.  This is a huge accomplishment in the Puppeteer’s bid to subvert society.  For we now have significant rifts opening up in our social fabric; and even better, the strain producing the splits isn’t merely economic or cultural—it’s the beginning stage of true racism.  Not the phony kind, but the real thing.  Well done, Master Screwtape!

Furthermore, the rifts are numerous and running in several directions, as opposed to reflecting a simple black/white antagonism.  Whites who cannot bed down at night without mentally checking some box that confirms their moral superiority rush to endorse anything with “BLM” scrawled along its edge.  It seems to me, honestly, as though their voice is much louder than any football team’s—their need of this bizarre bedtime prayer-of-the-Pharisee more urgent than any black athlete’s of publicizing abuses in racial profiling.  The neo-fascist Antifa draws its most committed footsoldiers from the ranks of the “woke white”.  If BLM didn’t exist, Antifa’s white buccaneers would have to invent it (which, you know, some of them—or their bloody-handed captains—actually did: few of the puppeteers are genetically African).

The presence of anti-white racist whites in the melee ensures that no sane discussion of specific cases or of appropriate generalities can occur.  Any sentence that begins, “But did you realize that Jacob Blake… did you know that George Floyd…” draws immediate artillery fire.  Yours not to question.  Do not dare initiate the observation, “But if so many black kids were not raised without fathers…”.  Oh, don’t you dare!  Shut up!  SHUT UP!  SHUT THE F— UP!”

So now we have at least three phalanxes launching missiles at each other, with the Woke White appearing to be one with the black protest but, increasingly, distanced from it by their own zealous excesses.  I really can’t say how numerous a fourth battle line (or, more properly, defensive line) may be, consisting of people with African DNA who claim the right to open, peaceful discussion; for few human beings have the courage of Candace Owens, Kimberly Klacik, or Allen West.  Most of this happy few (or secret many, let us hope) do their claiming in a whisper, since they see how gaudily the outspoken are crucified.  And the grumbling white mainstream, of course, hasn’t much interest in coming to their rescue, and probably would do so very ineptly if it tried. (I took a lot of flak from the White Right when I tried to publicize Kim Klacik’s campaign with my little trumpet last spring.)

Because of unique (and accidental?) circumstances, our ongoing social fragmentation is turbocharged in 2020.  Most of us are already on the verge of suicide or homicide thanks to COVID lockdown.  When you cook up a potful of people who have long since been denied their constitutional right to associate freely with fellow citizens, season it with paranoia about a “pandemic” whose fatalities approximate the curve of a bad flu year, and finally stir in racial hatred and armed bullying (with faces all duly masked)… well, old Screwtape outdid himself this time.  Hell is boiling over into Middle Earth.

For the record, I fully grasp that young black males are profiled by police with excessive readiness.  While it’s true that this demographic is disproportionately involved in certain crimes (such as possession of prohibited substances or of unlicensed firearms), the law requires probable cause to pry into a person’s private space… and “driving while black” is not probable cause.  How many white parents would get the call that their college student has been incarcerated on drug charges if a single stop-and-search protocol were applied with equal rigor across the board?  Yes, I understand.

But—as the words run in some Rap song that I recall from my son’s high school days—“dat ain’t dis, and dis ain’t dat.”  The BLM frenzy is in fact drawing effective attention away from issues which might be ameliorated.  A simple “stop profiling” would have done the trick; and I don’t know if kneeling for the anthem would remain the best delivery system, but at least it would not involve the open disrespect of—say—turning the back.  So kneel, if you like.  People of all creeds, classes, and colors could chime in, as well, without all the virtue-miming.  Attorneys like Kathleen Zellner have made us aware that repeat petty offenders or “poor white trash” can get railroaded all the way to Death Row by detectives who cut corners.  Buddy Woodall is serving life here in Georgia for a double murder because cops exploited his insomnia and despair to wring a confession from him in the absence of solid material evidence.  Buddy is white… but he’s also a “nobody”.  He grew up on a country lane lined with trailer homes.  (And the locals, by the way, still will not discuss the case two decades later: too many figures that once wore badges are implicated in it.)

Patsy Ramsay, in contrast, was definitely somebody.  She was beautiful (Miss Virginia at age 20), married to a wealthy Atlanta businessman, and—yes—Caucasian all the way.  She passed the final twenty years of her life fighting, in court and before the public eye, the perception—shamelessly encouraged by Boulder, Colorado, detectives—that she had a hand in murdering her young daughter, JonBenét.  One can scarcely imagine a more miserable existence: to know that your child died a violent death, to know that the crime occurred in your house as you slept, and to know that the killer is living free as the police push and squeeze to make the evidence point to you… all because your profile fits their boilerplate culprit for a domestic homicide.  Who’s taking a knee for Patsy?

What misery!  In a humane society, we would recognize that injustice is a thread binding us all together; but as subversive puppeteers try to rip our society apart, we are asked—no, required—to believe that only one race suffers.  It’s insulting to the intelligence—and, by the way, demeaning to the race at issue, as if its members were condemned deterministically to slings and arrows and needed special protection.  A black friend of mine once protested, during our discussion of my book Key to a Cold City, “But Dr. Harris… black ballplayers in Jackie Robinson’s day never ceased being black.  Out of uniform, walking into a restaurant or hotel, they were still black.  A white player might get dumped on by the fans or the press—but put him in street clothes, and he can go anywhere he wants.”  That’s true… and so is this.  It’s a remark that Larry Doby made about Yogi Berra, and I wish I’d found it in time for inclusion in the book.  “… I repeated a few of those jokes myself [about Yogi’s being a dope, a caveman, etc.].  And it never once occurred to me in those early years that I was hurting Yogi’s feelings.  The black guys around the league, there weren’t many of us, but when we would get together and talk, we knew we were all going through something together.  That made the abuse a little easier to take.  Now that I’m older, I wonder who helped Yogi take all that abuse” (Allen Barra, Yogi Berra, Eternal Yankee, pp. 62-63 [2009]).

We all have our struggles.  Everyone’s travail is unique in some way, yet all of us are alike in having to bear heavy burdens.  If we forget that, then we will become incapable of true compassion or true justice.  We will be animals that belch words, lots of words, without any regard for or suspicion of their meaning. I believe we’re already there.

P.S. In keeping with my bid to offer certain of my ebooks free at regular intervals, I’ve created a promotion for two of my fictional works about academe in the late twentieth century. Worse By Seven is a psychological novel about a professor who surrenders to despair amid the nihilism and debauchery that swamp him on an elite campus… but who at last finds a truth greater than this world’s. Ivory Gutter Shining Bright is a large collection of short stories, most of them wry or burlesque, some a little fantastical, about the pompous insanity that prevails in our towers of learning. Both ebooks may be downloaded free through this Tuesday (September 22).

Might “Corona” Be Latin for “Slapped Upside the Head”?

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Thanks to two acute conditions (neither of which is CV-19) concurrently afflicting me at the moment, my keyboard time must be limited… so what I have in mind for today is a kind of annotated list.  It’s a bundle of Post-Corona awakenings that may or may not shock us from our collective stupor in time to save Western culture. Personally, I hope they slap us hard upside the head.

Our mass media are a vast propaganda machine.  We should have known this long ago: many of us did… but not enough of us.  Now, however, the volume has been turned up.  Chris Cuomo’s faux confinement to sick bay, Brian Stelter’s narcissistic tear-letting, Anand Giridharadas’ denouncing the “freedom-obsessed” hypocrisy of our having built the nation on slavery and genocide… this is what we hear on CNN and MSMBC.  Our local channels open their nightly blather with death tolls unindexed to numbers of infected, to preexisting conditions, to post mortem testing actually verifying cause of death.  Their roving reporters compete to see who can wear the jauntiest mask in the most deserted locales as they chirp into a microphone half of whose layered microbes will easily penetrate the mask’s weave.  Social media: Facebook accepts the W.H.O. as supreme arbiter of medical fact, glibly vaporizing any post that strays from the party line (the Chinese Communist Party line)… both FB and Twitter join in trying to airbrush Judy Mikovits from human history; and Wikipedia, in handling Mikovits’s career, explodes the rules of style to lard single sentences with the word “discredited” (like the “het hey, ho ho” refrain of a wind-up-and-go protest).

You can only serve up buffalo chips so many times to the customers before they begin to complain that they’re not getting pancakes.  At least, this is a hope that I cherish.

The university system has burned down its own propaganda mill in a rabid zeal to be politically correct.  I heard Dr. Mark Siegel declare to Tucker Carlson the other night that this hasn’t happened and will not happen—that universities are too conscious of their role in conditioning statist automatons to keep their gates shut.  I disagree.  I think the Ivory Elite may be hoist on its own petard here.  After all, adherence of the masses to the will of Experts—surrender to the point of seeking permission to cross one’s threshold, of avoiding friends and family, of renouncing one’s livelihood, of depending exclusively on Big Brother for a monthly check—is game, set, and match for the progressive phalanx.  This is everything the leftist professoriate has ever dreamed of.  That the dream’s fulfillment also just happens to leave professors massively unemployed is… well, one of the innumerable contradictions besetting the utopian vision from every angle.  The totalitarian utopia is mass suicide.  We know that, we who have ears to hear.

On a purely practical level, Dr. Siegel, where will universities get the funding to remain open with the student body so depleted?  Even if certain “scab” campuses cross the “virtue” line and resume business in August, many students and their parents will have used spring and summer to rethink their insane investment in such an undependable and very dispensable program of conditioning.  People move on.  Whatever endures in the Halls of Ivy, at any rate, will probably not feature the words “studies in” beside its catalogue description.  The more objective disciplines will likely make a comeback: the squishy-mushy cults of victimhood will dry up and blow away.

So, too (may one hope?), will the top-heavy administrative bureaucracies that police pronouns and hound boys from campus after pushing “free sex” upon them.

The home-school movement will achieve escape velocity.  I’m not an inveterate enemy of public education; but, in a matter obviously related to the one I’ve just mentioned, K-12 education has degenerated into Western-hostile, race-baiting, grievance-coddling claptrap.  Bill Gates, who has become highly recognizable as one of the more twisted, wicked human beings on earth during these months (I won’t bother to devote a separate item to him), apparently sees a chance to cash in here, as he does in just about every incidence of calamity.  His offer to educate New York State’s youth remotely by selling his software to every household appeals to fellow totalitarian travelers Cuomo and De Blasio… and that, of course, is no hope at all for the friends of freedom.  On the other hand, when we consider that Germany is already introducing toddlers to sex games in the public curriculum (straight from the pages of Brave New World), we have to understand that the progressive objective for tomorrow’s little red schoolhouse in this nation is, likewise, nothing less than the dissolution of the nuclear family.  Pulverizing public schools as they currently exist wouldn’t be a bad thing.  What we rebuild from the fragments of rubble is another question… but I’m not convinced that megalomaniac psychos like Gates will have an easy time gluing kids to screens and weaning them from their natural craving for social contact.  Teaching children isn’t equivalent to coaxing “Polly wants a cracker” from a large bird.  Progressives wish it were so, and their vision requires that it be so—but here’s another point where fiction collides hard with reality.

The importance of the Second Amendment has suddenly become very apparent, even to slow learners.  I confess that I myself used to be a little skeptical of the proposition that our neighbors who wear the blue would turn their guns on us if ordered by some tinpot dictator.  Cops are human beings; and more than that, they’re good citizens who serve the community.  They risk their lives to help innocent people survive and prosper.  They also swear the same oath to the Constitution as do state and federal legislators, and most of them understand the words to which they’re pledging allegiance.  How likely is it that such people, upon some maniac’s vaulting into the saddle of power after a mayoral or gubernatorial election, would suddenly turn about and draw their weapons on one of us for using the wrong gender pronoun or for flying an American flag on Cinco de Mayo?

How likely?  Somewhere between “not unlikely” and “very likely”, it now appears.  For every story about an Officer Greg Anderson (the Seattle patrolman suspended for posting a video confirming his fidelity to the Constitution), there seem to be four or five about cops cuffing mothers for taking their kids to the park or not wearing their masks properly.  A SWAT team was unleashed upon a bar in West Texas last week where “social distancing” was not being practiced adequately.  Is it so difficult to imagine a Governor Northam or a Governor Whitmer in the future sending in an armed shock-team of “child care services” Gestapo to steal children and cuff parents because Daddy refused to let Emily attend Trans Storytelling Day at the library?

This is precisely why we have a Second Amendment: i.e., so that the mindless henchmen and ambitious lackeys who surround tyrants will hesitate to invade a quiet neighborhood.  If Daddy has a gun, and Daddy’s neighbors have guns, and their neighbors have guns—and if there’s a good chance that the whole block will pour into the streets locked and loaded if squad cars come to spirit Emily away—then our basic freedoms have a chance of surviving in the all-but-lawless future that awaits us.  Otherwise, we might as well start packing for the gulag (and, as Solzhenitsyn has told us, there’s really not much need to pack).

Leftist mayors and governors have so eagerly slapped all their megalomaniac cards on the table that they may well be turned out massively in November.  Even if Donald Trump fritters away the presidency and its coattail opportunities in House and Senate by refusing to admit that the Gates/Fauci Big Pharma/Wall Street complex duped him, how does totalitarianism survive at the state level?  Northam, Whitmer, Cuomo—Newsom, Beshear, Mills, Hogan, Murphy, Wolf, Evers, Scott… what electorate would choose to have more lockdown, surveillance, moralistic harangue, frisking, home invasion, and arrest without warrant under these petty fools, lunatic harpies, and jackbooted utopians?  Maybe some of them endure after those who would have resisted have fled to other states.  Otherwise… well, I mustn’t risk my credentials as a pessimist by projecting that the masses may have struck a rock-bottom of self-debasement and are now poised to rebound.  But one can hope, I suppose.

Finally—at long last—the rank and file may be primed to understand the extreme peril in which our unsecured power grid sets us.  President Trump deserves much credit for his executive order in spring of last year and a second this year, both targeting the Sword of Damocles that has swayed over our heads for decades.  Trump has fought this good fight virtually alone, among elected officials.  Bush did nothing, Obama did nothing, Democrat super-majorities did nothing in past years, the recent Republican super-majority did nothing—only Trump has stood up to stingy, stupid power companies, on the one side (the conventionally Republican, big-business side), and to Russia-and-China-placating, New World Order ideologues, on the other (the conventionally Democrat—but ever more “Swampublican”—side).  The President desperately needs to trumpet his virtuous defense of the nation instead of satirizing his opponents in the media and defending his role in locking down a once-healthy economy.  He needs to swallow his ego and think of the millions—the 300 million, approximately—who would lose their lives within a year if we went dark all across the continent.  He needs to emphasize what his obtuse predecessor failed to remark: that no hostile attack is required to fry the grid—that an especially powerful solar flare (overdue by some estimates) would suffice.  He needs to tap into the hysteria created by a hyped-up round of particularly nasty flu and redirect this paranoia to a sensible apprehension.

People are afraid for no reason at the moment.  Presumably, as the Black Plague dissolves into fifty shades of gray, they’ll go back to worrying about fish on their front lawns by the year 2030.  Now is the time to give them something rational and substantial to worry about.  It’s also a great time to brand naysayers (since Trump so likes the game of branding) as Chinese Communist Party collaborators, or just plain useful idiots.  It’s time for a touch of Joe McCarthy; because McCarthy—oh, by the way—was dead right about our system’s being infused with those who would destroy it.  Today he would be more right than ever.

If Donald Trump, instead, continues to kidney-punch Brian Kemp and to mince words about Anthony Fauci’s disastrous leadership, then we quite probably get no securing of the grid in 2021, or 2022… and, maybe the following year, politics simply ceases to matter to the nine in ten of us who will painfully have checked out of this world.

Mayberry’s Meltdown: Whiny Males and Shrill Harridans

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The year 2020 doesn’t seem particularly apocalyptic on its surface, but I doubt that many of us who survive it will remember it as one of our best.  I was already having first-in-my-lifetime health problems when “the lockdown” slammed certain medical doors in my face… so that hasn’t gone well; and none of us who has children can be very happy about trillions of bucks more being added to the debt which they will all inherit from us.  Yet somehow we must blunder on.

One of my preferred escapes is baseball—which isn’t being played this year, thanks to the Wuhan Black Death; but then, I’m less a spectator than an excavator.  I research long-lost ways of hitting and throwing a ball, and I try to distill something that may help boys of smaller stature find a means of winning a place on the team.  I’m convinced that boys, especially, need a sense of physical achievement to develop a healthy outlook.  Call it “toxic masculinity”, if you wish; but far more toxic, to my mind, is self-defeating surrender to unopposed obstacles.  Which of us wants our son to grow into a living exemplar of that feminist construct: the unmotivated, irresponsible, adolescent, forever excuse-tendering couch-vegetable?

I’m in the process of trying to upload a second edition of a hitting manual based upon “Deadball days “ (c. 1900-1920), although the designers of Amazon’s software apparently do not conceive of anyone’s ever producing a second edition and are scarcely easing my task’s fulfillment.  I won’t even name the book here: publicity is not my aim.  I will, however, reproduce the final paragraph, unique to this latest edition:

The best of luck to you! Play hard, play smart… and play fair. No one who cheats will ever pile up enough lucre to buy self-respect, nor will he ever be able to counterfeit it from all the cheers he’s suckered from his adoring fan club. Playing this game, ultimately, is about winning respect for yourself as someone who did all he could with what he was given. Believe me, not many people ever get that trophy!

I’ll return to the sentiments contained in those few words.  Bear with me now as I shift to a different scene.  Most of us have wiled away a few minutes in lockdown by sitting through some fare on the idiot box that we ordinarily wouldn’t tolerate.  My wife and I tentatively explored Roku (never a very inviting experience before, since HughesNet can’t vanquish the tendency of shows to “buffer” for minutes at a time)… and we eventually settled on a British comedy (as it was teased) titled Doc Martin.  The serial seems to have run a full decade across the pond.  How bad could it be?

The narrative pretext is that a brilliant London surgeon, having discovered that he can no longer stare into people’s bleeding viscera without panic attacks, retreats to a vacation spot called Portwen off the Cornish coast.  Absurdly overqualified to treat runny noses and soothe upset tummies, he nonetheless longs to settle his nerves in peace and poverty.  Surprises await him, though… and this story, you know, has been told a thousand times, so my wife and I presumed that we knew what was in store for us as viewers.  The old Andy Griffith Show that our parents watched must have devoted dozens of episodes to “flatland touristers” who go half-crazy when they discover the hidden complexities of small-town life in Mayberry.  Portwen would surely be something in the same genre, with Doc Martin (who hates both ends of his popular rechristening) forced to abandon his big-city assumptions and navigate the quirks of colorful local characters.

Well… yes and no.  We laughed through three and a half episodes—kind of—until we agreed that our laughs were uncomfortable and wrongly timed.  The trouble, as we saw it, was that Doc Martin wasn’t the bookish, introverted, urbanized boy-wonder having to make adjustments to the human race, such as was clearly intended of his character.  No: the problem was that, for all his abrupt and stodgy ways, the doc was actually more sensible, civil, and mature than the nasty little islanders into whose midst he had plunged himself.  Locals ran him off the narrow, winding roads with a shrug, as if he didn’t know how to drive, and never reduced speed, moved over, or peered back to see what wreckage they had caused.  Lazy, incompetent workmen destroyed his property yet received his frowns with indignation.  Gossips and malingerers flooded his waiting room to gorge on tea and “biscuits” (cookies, we call them), then bristled when he shooed them out.  A need-burdened, impertinent teenaged receptionist (she certainly acted teenaged, anyway) virtually hired herself and wouldn’t do any part of her job efficiently; yet when her runaway sloppiness almost cost a life and stirred the Doc to dismiss her (for a day or two), the incensed townspeople immediately boycotted their one medical professional as if he’d been caught setting cats on fire.

These pastoral Arcadians, in a few words, were arrogant, self-important, indolent, “entitled” (in their minds), undependable, unaccomplished, unconscientious, intrusive, cliquish, clannish, and often downright boorish.  None of the Old School mannerliness that one expects to find out in the boondocks was detectable in them; no Old School reluctance to embrace city life in the moral fast lane restrained them.  In fact, the snapping point for me (when buffering just wouldn’t come often enough) was midway through Episode Four, when it became apparent that everybody on the island would potentially copulate with anybody else and that the good doctor, thanks to all his hang-ups, was some kind of “nun” (pronounced to rhyme with “noon”).  His wizened—but less than wise—auntie, intended to be a kind of Sibyl on his Other World Journey, iced a sleazy country cake by offering a few details of her extra-marital affair and sneering at her nephew’s prissy Puritanism.  I was reminded of many a grad-school confrontation in Austin during my own youthful transit through the corridors of Hell.

And that’s the point, really, I guess: Austin or Berkeley of the Eighties is now picturesque rural Europe of the twenty-first century.  The God-is-dead, guaranteed-minimum-income dystopia of simmering socialism has now softened the spines and brains of every yokel in the pot.  Everyone has rights, rights upon rights.  Everyone is constantly offended if he or she isn’t accorded special favors while doing nothing that might appear energetic or exceptional.  “Everyone belongs to everyone,” in the phrase piped through the cradles of Huxley’s Brave New World.  With what dismay would that extraordinarily clairvoyant prophet have viewed an “entertainment” in which his countrymen can’t perceive the grim irony of “everyone being everyone’s”, but instead milk idiot laughter from the isolation of a single resisting individualist!

I need hardly observe to anyone who labors through my paragraphs that this reformed ethos now belongs to our shores, as well.  What was His Excellency Judge Eric Moye telling Shelley Luther in a Dallas courtroom other than that “everyone belongs to everyone” and that her individual concern for feeding her children was obscene?

The irony here—one fully worthy of Huxley’s pen—is that Ms. Luther showed us a rare display of “manly fortitude” as a tinpot dictator nanny-wagged his finger at her and sent her into time-out.  It’s no accident, I think, that the fictional Portwen abounds in outspoken, aggressive, sarcastic female characters and invertebrate, whiny, directionless males.  The Brave New World we have fashioned for ourselves is an effeminate one—a place where competency is insensitive, where honesty is rude, where independence is anti-social, and where objective logic is “mansplaining”.  Doc Martin embodies all of these despicable male attributes… and, of course, he must be brought to his knees to beg forgiveness of the communal idol, the mute stone Moloch of conformity.  Just like Shelley Luther, who apparently possesses more courage than the typical American man within the age of discretion, he must confess publicly that he has been “selfish”.

Meanwhile, the rest of us shoot and post selfies of our now de-individualized faces wearing their communally supportive masks (the best of which are seldom more than half effective against microbes, by the way—and then only if they are discarded and replaced after each outing).  We are somehow saving lives… my life, your life, our own lives and other lives… if we do so, while we are no better than perpetrators of manslaughter if we refuse.  And we know this because… because it is repeated endlessly around us, in Huxleyan fashion.  We know that when medical opinion argues otherwise, it isn’t real science, because it’s rude: it doesn’t put the collective front and center.  All science must begin in the promotion of the collective, because… because people like Judge Moye (and Xi Jinping, and Mao Tse-tung, and Joseph Stalin) tell us so.

God help our boys!  Was there ever a time when a fella needed more courage of conviction, more dedication to objectives outside himself but not defined by the herd?  In a small but not insignificant way, a boy might learn such courage by turning his natural liabilities into assets—his short stature into productivity, for instance.  That’s why, in my leisure, I love to imagine some passed-over kid at batting practice elbowing the big guys aside and saying, “Watch me shoot line drives through infield!  You’ll strike out twice a game and homer once, maybe.  I’ll be on base for you all afternoon!”

Was there ever a moment when the block cast aside by the builder was more essential as a cornerstone?  God created every little thing and every person to reach up to Him in some special way—to flower in that manner darkly caricatured by Darwinian evolution, but much more accurately portrayed as resistance against the Domination of the Bully.  There is no greater bully than the herd, nor any more loathsome crystallization of herd will than those individual bullies who appoint themselves herd-interpreters.  Our mission in this world is to prevail over the great Downward Pull, a vector that perversely becomes “progress” in the grubby, squalid scramble to survive.  The florition of the unique, the surpassment of mere physical parameters through a burst of inspired intelligence—of spirit: this is why we are alive.

And this is what the dark force among us has always sought to throttle.  This is why he or she who will not bend a knee to the collectivist’s design has always become a scapegoat.  It’s why Mayberry and Portwen become Deadworld without new generations of boys who play hard, and play fair.  May God have mercy on the throngs of us who allow ourselves to be led like sheep!  We may be assured of this: He will have no mercy at all on those who lead the children to destruction.

“Expertise”: Ideology’s Contemporary Battering Ram

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As I recall now with an effort, my very first attempt at submitting a scholarly article involved an interpretation of a few words in Book 2 of Virgil’s Aeneid (line 749).  The hero is narrating his frantic return to the flaming ruins of Troy in search of his wife Creusa.  He uses the phrase, cingor fulgentibus armis, to describe… what, exactly?  A scholarly tradition has evolved which holds that the poet simply whiffed on this one.  Aeneas, so runs the wisdom, has already “girded myself with bright arms” several verses earlier.  My objections to the collective wisdom were multiple.  I argued that a) it’s too late in the narration for Aeneas to arm himself—he has left the rendezvous of refugees well behind, as the verse’s first half declares in the present-tense words, “I return to the city”; b) the style of the full verse (ipse urbem repeto et cingor fulgentibus armis) would be perfectly Virgilian if the latter half were reiterating the former (i.e., “I myself return to the city and am hemmed about by glistening arms”); c) Aeneas is indeed being figuratively “girded” by arms as he creeps among the pillaging Greeks—the scoffers are missing the drama; and d) the verb cingere is used both of girding oneself, as when buckling a belt, and of encircling a city with defensive walls.  There’s a bit of a connotative strain created, perhaps, by having a human figure girded with the contents of a city.  But we’re talking about poetry, right?  About a poetic genius, in fact… right?

Wrong.  We’re talking about “scholarly consensus”.  It’s more acceptable to condemn Rome’s Shakespeare of not describing his scenes with pettifogging precision or of not purging his scribbles of daringly figurative language than it is to call into question the collaborative nods of a hundred academic jackdaws on a clothes-line.  If the poet (as I was informed by the rejection letter) had employed the verb cingere in this novel fashion, it would be the only instance of its being used with such intent in the entire epic (what classicists call a hapax legomenon—a “once read”).  Actually, that’s not true.  “Gird or surround” remains the verb’s meaning, here as elsewhere.  The collective result is called a figure—as in poetry!

But since something done once is a suspicious oddity to the pettifogger (even if a glorious discovery to the poet), any unique instance is likely a mistake.  Therefore… therefore, nothing unique is ever plausibly said or written, and consigning the “apparently unique” to the much larger body of things already said and written is the “sensible” course.  Naturally, that bit of high-handedness makes the body things already said and written grow yet larger, and… and tendency becomes inflexible rule.  Creativity becomes impossible.

That was my professional introduction to “expert opinion”.

Now, it also happened that I came of age in a time when all conventional wisdom was being trashed as irrelevant or hopelessly corrupted by special interest; and there’s no question in my mind that literary studies proceeded to collapse during the Seventies and Eighties under the toxic influence of various slovenly, self-serving “reader response” approaches.  My own loyalties, then, were torn between my almost religious regard for artistic inspiration (a truly religious regard: read my Literary Decline and the Death of the Soul) and a profound disgust with the politicization of art to serve trendy crusades.  I say “between”, yet what I’ve just written doesn’t support those polarities.  The Old Guard was not my ally at the spiritual end of the tug-of-war.  The ”scholarly consensus” had rigidified our literary heritage to “gird in shining armor” its patented theories and its long, long baggage train of publications; the New Guard had dumped that heritage (along with the baggage parasitically attached to it) in the nearest bin and was now celebrating Simone de Beauvoir and Rigoberta Menchu as the superiors of Sappho and Marie de France—just to keep it female.  Different politics… same politicized motivation.  Careers, egos, authority: the Tower of Babel.

And so it is, alas, in the sciences—or so it has become.  I and the very few of my colleagues who somehow smuggled an appreciation for the spiritual into closely guarded ivory corridors would occasionally look with longing across the quadrant at Chemistry or Engineering and dream about what it must be like to work in an objective discipline.  Pipe-dreams… mere pipe-dreams.  For as scientific research became funded more and more by grant money, the assumptions of that research acquired more and more of a parti pris.  Why would a pharmaceutical company underwrite a study of a new cure for insomnia if a dozen harmful side-effects were to be unearthed and published?  Oh, but surely government grants wouldn’t import such sordid pressures into the lab… surely not!  No one in government has an agenda that requires a particular worldview to be validated!

I’m trying to tread warily and tastefully into a subject that bears an incalculable amount of significance for our future as a society: the reliability of “expert opinion” in the medical field.  In all of the sciences, as life grows ever more riddled with high-tech, strict integrity becomes more important; for we laymen must be able to rely on recognized experts as critical facts drift farther and farther from the reach of our intellectual competency.  How do we know, drawing purely from our own resources, whether a huge solar flare will toast the continental power grid or not?  How do we know whether GMO’s are safe, or whether a light coating of Roundup threatens the health of Third World nations more than an unimpeded swarm of locusts?  How do we know whether Extremely Low-Frequency Waves are still being directed into the stratosphere, whether their activity might cause the Earth’s magnetosphere to reverse its polarities, or whether the effects of such reversal might settle down harmlessly in an instant or end all terrestrial life over a period of months?

In the particular case of medicine, the stakes rise (or appear to).  Somehow, solar flares and locust swarms and the magnetosphere seem awfully distant to us.  They’re not distant at all, and maybe, indeed, they’re seeming less so every day.  The susceptibility of many average Americans to outright panic about the weather should prove that the paranoia stirred in us by our own cluelessness sits very near the surface, ready to erupt (like the supervolcano under Yellowstone that may or may not kill us all) at the slightest provocation.  Still, when you can’t even breathe the air with confidence… when you dare not even leave the house without a mask, and when you’re reluctant even to leave the house… then a face perching on a white coat and stethoscope becomes the Voice of God.  That’s understandable.

But it’s also understandable—only too much so—that those who want minute control over our behavior would enlist (or dragoon) the support of the medical community in their authoritarian project.  And, as with all other academic disciplines, the more government has become involved in medicine, the better it’s been able to enlist (or dragoon) support.  Grant money, yes; also board reviews and licensures, federal mandates, control over the means of payment, awards of access to resources funded by the “inexhaustible” flow of tax revenue… policy-makers can finesse intimate decisions reached between doctor and patient in dozens of ways.  You may remember the controversy Obamacare kindled about a medical exam’s resulting, perhaps, in the confiscation of the patient’s personal firearms.

Such concerns have diminished only to the degree that we’ve now surrendered the principles underlying them.  Peter Helmes published a piece at his Die Deutschen Konservativen site a few weeks ago about an interview between Gert Scobel and psychologist Thomas Metzinger.  Primarily, the exchange concerned the future use of hallucinogens like LSD to treat depression.  The “medical man” expressed eagerness and optimism about the potential of mind-altering drugs to promote a “universal consciousness” highly amenable to the Green Movement’s radical political objectives.  The scenario is more Orwellian than Orwell: a populace fed delusion-inducing substances to sway it toward the vision of a world that doesn’t exist and can’t exist.

Okay, yes: that’s Europe, this is America.  But our supreme medical expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, publicly foresees the day—without the least indication of personal alarm—when citizens will be required to have a battery of injections and to produce on demand documented proof of compliance.  On the bankrolling side of this “expertise”, Bill Gates proposes further that the “document” might take the form of a microchip injected (with or without the citizen’s knowledge) during the mandatory inoculation.  That an astroturf initiative to “debunk” Gates’s connection to such authoritarian fantasies is raging on Twitter and Facebook should not soothe inquiring minds.  (Diana West informed Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio [4/15/20] that explicitly incriminating comments had been scrubbed from a Gates TED Talk.)

I don’t like Anthony Fauci.  I don’t like Bill Gates, either.  I don’t like either one of them at all, at all.  I wouldn’t break bread with them; and, were hand-shaking still permitted by the Faucian hygienic protocol, I wouldn’t shake his hand or his one-time patron’s.  Not either hand of either one of them.  I intensely dislike them, as American citizens and as human beings.

Their level of expertise has nothing to do with my dislike.  It is the traitorous American and the corrupt human in them that I loathe.  Anyone who would seriously consider, even for a moment, tagging you and me the way Marlon Perkins used to tag zebra from a Jeep has renounced his membership in the family of decent, responsible adults.  No one gets to tag me.  No one gets to stamp your profile on (or in) your forehead.  People who have notions like this are monsters.  I don’t care how well they understand viruses—and Mr. Gates, for that matter, understands them no better than I do.  I personally am not a virus in a vial, or a white rat in a cage.  I’m a man.  I am your equal under God, Dr. Fauci; and if you were my age (I’d even give you ten years), I think I might bust you in the chops—after which I would carefully sterilize my knuckles.

Let us please clarify the nature of expertise.  The expert on Virgil is restrained by a humble veneration for poetic genius and artistic mystery: he isn’t a mandarin on a throne who gets to gird up a classic text tightly within verbal statistical analysis and historical minutiae.  The expert on human health respects the spiritual mystery of the human being: he isn’t a master technician for whom the behavior of viruses in a sack of guts is no different from their behavior in a Petri Dish.  To hear such a supposed expert descanting about how future societies should be organized is equivalent to hearing the New Age scholar interpret the Aeneid as a mere work of militaristic propaganda.  That is, a “literary scholar” who can do no better than say, “The people’s Will was held in check by these creaky old epics that exhorted them to die for the patriarchy”… that person is no better than a “medical expert” who says, “We could avoid pandemics in the future if people would just move in designated zones, eat designated foods, and touch each other in designated ways at designated times.”  Damn.

Yes, the scholar who knows the history of the Augustan age inside-out is certainly superior in some manner to the quasi-literate Ph.D. who rates every art work ever created by how well women and minorities make out in it.  The researcher who has actually logged decades of experience before a microscope is also superior to a Bill Gates who fantasizes about vaccinating all humanity with whatever he deems good for the race.  But a genuine expert is neither of these.  A genuine expert would say, “This is odd with respect to available linguistic data… but it’s also poetry”; or, “This risk could be reduced if people would do less of thus-and-so… but life is complex, and the choice among possible behaviors isn’t mine to make except for me personally.”

One could say that playing God is above the expert’s pay grade; but when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy volunteered this flippant excuse for ignoring the Constitution, he was de facto putting himself in the position of God Almighty.  Part of being an expert is understanding the limitations of your expertise.  To claim authority over the destiny of humanity because you have a rare knowledge of human diseases is like labeling a hundred deaths a calamity without identifying the number of lives that survived the specific threat.  Knowledge without context is magnified ignorance.

“The Federated States of America”: Looking for Words in the Constitution’s Ashes (Part III)

[The following post should have appeared three weeks ago. We’ve just become aware that it was published to the wrong page and was probably not accessible to the public.]

I promise to go no farther (for a few weeks, anyway) than today’s remarks in my series of speculations about how we might reassemble some of our Humpty Dumpty republic’s pieces.  It’s a depressing subject.  I have not engaged it with the excitement of a utopian brat entering grad school who is pleased to treat people’s lives—and entire institutions of multi-generational pedigree—as chess pieces.  I do not believe in man’s “perfectability”: on the contrary, I am convinced (like our nation’s founders) of the ineradicable corruption hiding within all things human.

It’s precisely for that reason that I have so far advanced the following ideas:

1)      A defensive federation is essential.  Individuals or individual states must not have the right to undermine the security of the whole.  Undermining shared defenses in a persistent, deliberate manner and/or with obviously homicidal ends should be judged treasonous and punished with severity.  (Hence my proposals are not secessionist, despite my frequent sympathy with secessionism in the recent past: quite the opposite.)

2)      Within our restructured federation, states may do what they wish about marriage, consumption of mood-altering substances, possession of firearms, restriction of foods, provision of health care, and so forth.  Their freedom to regulate the quotidian lives of their citizens will be almost unbounded, inasmuch as the federal authority’s interest is exclusively in defending the union rather than micro-managing lifestyles.  Yet I write “almost unbounded” of state authority because (among other reasons) education and the news media, in their debased contemporary form, inevitably plunge us into issues of malevolent propaganda that must at last subvert the federation.  I think objective boundaries are easy enough to draw.  It really isn’t difficult to present both sides of a controversial issue in a classroom or newsroom setting: not doing so takes determination and requires design.  Professors who preach embrace of Red China’s mass mind-control practices in the morning, therefore, should be dismissed that afternoon under federal law.  Nobody’s telling them how to think—but the Federation must keep thought-hostile thinkers off of government payrolls. Institutional suicide should not be permitted. (Perhaps incurable malcontents could be resettled in other parts of the world that they suppose more amenable and that, for some reason, would consent to have them.)

3)      Thanks to the liberality implicit in Item 2, many citizens will no doubt want to emigrate from State A and take up residency in State B.  In the twenty-first century, this should pose few problems.  There are no mountains or deserts to cross in Conestoga wagons.  Yet new immigrants may have to abide in their adoptive states for a decade before being allowed a vote in local elections (with the terms of registration to be determined by each state).  One of the most effective fulcrums employed in toppling our late great United States was the abuse of enfranchisement—abuse both unintended and designed: new residents flooding healthy states but voting in the manner that polluted their forsaken states, residents from far-flung societies with no republican tradition who embraced paternalistic government on reflex, illegal aliens who were allowed to vote in the certain knowledge that they would support the party providing them with cost-free benefits… this must not stand as universal practice.  If certain states allow it to do so, then they must be permitted to crash, burn, and learn without dragging down their neighbors.

4)      No Supreme Court will sit to adjudicate the essential, God-given rights of citizens; the federal bench’s role, rather, will be to determine when individuals or states have acted seditiously or traitorously against the interests of the federation, as a necessary measure of self-defense.  Even in this function, one can readily imagine instances of excess and abuse, so the high court’s mandate would certainly have to be pondered much more deeply.  Yet the clarity of risk in the single area of determining treason only underscores the folly—so visible in our routine affairs as I write—of allowing unelected arbiters to have thumbs-up-or-down power over how citizens worship, how they converse, how they hire and fire, and so forth.  Our founders were uncharacteristically naive in supposing that an elite of robed Olympians would resist natural egotism and remain humble before the august authority of legal precedent (or dare I say “before God’s law”?).  No such luck.

5)      A corrupt executive appointing a supreme body of corrupt judges could conceivably do much damage, even in a looser federation; but it is to be stressed that the executive officer would himself be elected by a one-state, one-vote mechanism.  No popular vote… and no electoral college, either.  Since each individual state in this system potentially represents an experimental alternative (the phrase “crucible of democracy” has been used), one might view the fifty experiments as casting a collective vote.  Item 3 ensures that no experiment may be manipulated—legalistically and against the will of long-abiding residents—by the sort of population games that the Left ruinously practiced upon the decayed United States.

6)      Individual states would be free to form cooperatives within the federation for specific purposes dictated by clearly shared interests.  Certain states might wish to address a regional water shortage or flooding problem together, for instance, since the root causes of such concerns seldom respect boundaries drawn on a map.

Among the few final recommendations I would make is an insistent one about tax structure.  In the current (i.e., collapsing) system, we pay local sales tax and also locally varying property taxes (not to mention innumerable “stealth” taxes on licensures, franchises, and so forth).  Everyone pays the sales tax: it’s the most equitable levy in the world.  If you don’t want to pay so much of it, you learn to consume less.  One might say, indeed, that it is a morally instructive tax, in that it teaches frugality and suppression of frivolous whimsy.  In contrast, the property tax is a yearly fine upon citizens for the crime of daring to marry, save money, and purchase a residence as the foundation of family life.  There’s no counter-balancing tax, of course, upon those who prefer to spend their wages on parties and vacations as they maximize their personal pleasures.  The assumptions underlying the property tax, if they can be excavated from a century of mind-numbing habit, are morally outrageous.

Then we have the graduated income tax, exacted by the federal government and by most states.  No secret here about its moralistic underpinnings: soak the rich.  From those to whom much is given, much is required (even our secularist utopians can quote scripture when a context-less snippet props up their predation).  The truth is that extremely wealthy citizens know all too well how to skirt the tax man: hence Warren Buffett’s notorious claim during the Obama years that he paid less tax than his secretary.

The real opprobrium of the graduated income tax, however, lurks in the presumption that resources not taxed are resources removed from any benefit to the commonwealth.  This is absurd.  The only reason any millionaire would transform his portfolio into gold and silver that he hides under a mattress is that his government’s catastrophic mismanagement of the economy terrifies him.  Normally, this same Ebenezer Scrooge would seek out profitable investments so that his substantial capital continues to grow; and these investments, in turn, would finance new business start-ups and other opportunities for small players to prosper.

Money siphoned away from such activity by a greedy Nanny State, on the other hand, passes through dozens or hundreds of public-bureaucrat fingers before reaching its “charitable” destination: a paternalistic bribe, essentially, to secure struggling people in whatever trough life has set before them and, thus, to solidify them into a permanent constituency.  In the process of handing off revenues down the line, unholy alliances between public and private sectors also build up like an economic arterial sclerosis.  Industries selected by “corruptocrats” (after bribes, kick-backs, and campaign contributions) to supply the forever-needy grow fat and squeeze out legitimate competition.  This is the squalid underbelly of capitalism which so justly outrages our know-nothing youth poised to vote for Bernie.  The correct word for it is corporatism.

Here’s my recommendation.  End all income tax and property tax (or allow states to mix whatever “tax cocktail” they wish… and then stand back to let citizens vote on the brew with their feet).  Revenues spent in provision of the national defense would all be raised from sales tax.  The ordinary Joe and Josephine would thus be able to understand with visceral reality just how much an effective national defense costs; and furthermore, no resident within the nation’s borders—legal or otherwise—would be able to skate on making a fair contribution.

To be sure, the outcry of protest would be deafening in any given fiscal year.  It probably ought to be: that’s probably healthy.  Government contracts allowing Lockheed to put champagne upholstery in a transport plane (or to charge champagne prices for wormwood product) would evaporate.  Pressure would also be placed on state and local government to carve out a smaller piece of flesh.  And… need I add that our immigration debacle would somewhat self-correct if “guest workers” absorbed a proportionate cost for the society from whose security they profit?

The lynch pin of the whole thing is a relative independence of states within a rigorously maintained defensive unit.  We see the disastrous results of a system featuring the reverse emphasis when we look across the Atlantic (if, that is, we insist on being blinded to our own disaster).  The member nations of the EU have only obligations to Brussels: the oligarchic elite, in return, recognizes no duty to defend any national border.  If our entire planet is not to decay into an Orwellian dystopia, then we must allow our “visionaries” as free a hand as possible in designing their terrestrial paradises… and also insist—absolutely insist—that they face any consequences of engineering malfeasance that don’t involve mass die-off.  People who want to live the lives of spoiled children or gibbering idiots should be free to do so unless they are, in fact, children or idiots.  Otherwise, as adults, they have a solemn right to the harsh consequences of their folly.

In postscript, I will briefly acknowledge that I have written nothing directly this month about the two most subversive elements, perhaps, gnawing the marrow of our moribund republic: our broadcast media and our university system (whose tentacles reach ever deeper toward the toddler).  The truth is that I don’t exactly know how we might chastise the worker-bees of “hive ideology” eagerly staffing these cultural hornet’s nests without echoing their mindless buzz.  In the dark, prickly Garden of Manmade Eden where Sanders supporters are fist-pumping over the prospects of American gulags and Elizabeth Warren has magnified Obama-era “Net neutrality” into prison terms for those who speak against her royal will, one wants to reach for a pitchfork instead of wag a finger.  Knocking heads in defensive reaction is hard to resist (and is also, let us never forget, the very response to which the propaganda machine would goad “deplorables”).  For that reason, I am more than half inclined to rescind my suggestion above that college profs who dish out totalitarian indoctrination from the rostrum be cashiered: it may be a bit too Warrenesque.

Yet how exactly do we defend ourselves, and especially our youth, from these Satanic evangelists—these “murder is love” Mansonists?  I don’t entirely know.  I can only repeat, in parting, that allowing citizens who leap into that pot to simmer away without interference strikes me as the best recipe for stimulating a postponed adulthood.

The risk is that the witches tending the brew may call for adding, say, a Chinese or Iranian seasoning whose resulting stench threatens surrounding states.  Somehow, the union’s safety must be thrust to the fore in daily practice.