Scientists have created embryos for the first time that are part human and part monkey, according to a new study released in the journal Cell on Thursday.
The team of scientists who collaborated on the study stated the embryos were created as research for new ways to produce organs for organ transplants. However, the research has been controversial within the science community, with some bioethicists debating the ethics behind the creation.
“My first question is: Why?” Kirstin Matthews, a fellow for science and technology at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told NPR. “I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we’re just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do.”
The ethical concerns vary. One is that the research could go further and result in someone trying to create a fetus, in which the brain that develops would also be part human, part animal. Such entities are known as chimeras, stemming from Greek mythology.
“Should it be regulated as human because it has a significant proportion of human cells in it? Or should it be regulated just as an animal? Or something else?” Matthews said. “At what point are you taking something and using it for organs when it actually is starting to think and have logic?”
Another leading worry is the possibility it produces animals that then carry human sperm or eggs.
“Nobody really wants monkeys walking around with human eggs and human sperm inside them. Because if a monkey with human sperm meets a monkey with human eggs, nobody wants a human embryo inside a monkey’s uterus,” said Hank Greely, a Stanford University bioethicist. Greely co-wrote an article in the same issue of Cell critiquing this line of research, though he noted that the specific study in question was carried out ethically.
However, the scientists involved in the study stand behind their research and say it could be instrumental in solving one of medicine’s biggest issues.
“This is one of the major problems in medicine — organ transplantation,” Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences and a co-author of the study, told NPR. “The demand for that is much higher than the supply.”
This is not the first time scientists have created a human-animal hybrid embryo. Twenty-one years ago, J. Bottum wrote in The Weekly Standard:
ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, it was revealed that biotechnology researchers had successfully created a hybrid of a human being and a pig. A man-pig. A pig-man. The reality is so unspeakable, the words themselves don’t want to go together.
Extracting the nuclei of cells from a human fetus and inserting them into a pig’s egg cells, scientists from an Australian company called Stem Cell Sciences and an American company called Biotransplant grew two of the pig-men to 32-cell embryos before destroying them. The embryos would have grown further, the scientists admitted, if they had been implanted in the womb of either a sow or a woman. Either a sow or a woman. A woman or a sow.
There has been some suggestion from the creators that their purpose in designing this human pig is to build a new race of subhuman creatures for scientific and medical use. The only intended use is to make animals, the head of Stem Cell Sciences, Peter Mountford, claimed last week, backpedaling furiously once news of the pig-man leaked out of the European Union’s patent office. Since the creatures are 3 percent pig, laws against the use of people as research subjects would not apply. But since they are 97 percent human, experiments could be profitably undertaken upon them and they could be used as living meat-lockers for transplantable organs and tissue.
But then, too, there has been some suggestion that the creators’ purpose is not so much to corrupt humanity as to elevate it. The creation of the pig-man is proof that we can overcome the genetic barriers that once prevented cross-breeding between humans and other species. At last, then, we may begin to design a new race of beings with perfections that the mere human species lacks: increased strength, enhanced beauty, extended range of life, immunity from disease. “In the extreme theoretical sense,” Mountford admitted, the embryos could have been implanted into a woman to become a new kind of human — though, of course, he reassured the Australian media, something like that would be “ethically immoral, and it’s not something that our company or any respectable scientist would pursue.”
But what difference does it make whether the researchers’ intention is to create subhumans or superhumans? Either they want to make a race of slaves, or they want to make a race of masters. And either way, it means the end of our humanity.
You can’t say we weren’t warned. This is the island of Dr. Moreau. This is the brave new world. This is Dr. Frankenstein’s chamber. This is Dr. Jekyll’s room. This is Satan’s Pandemonium, the city of self-destruction the rebel angels wrought in their all-consuming pride.
Notice that the justification scientists in the monkey man case use for what they have done is to aid in solving the problems of organ transplants. We have become the sort of people who will accept anything if it promises to deliver us from suffering. Bottum understood this 21 years ago:
Like the coming true of an old story — the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, the rubbing of a magic lantern — biotechnology is delivering the most astonishing medical advances anyone has ever imagined. You and I will live for many years in youthful health: Our cancers, our senilities, our coughs, and our infirmities all swept away on the triumphant, cresting wave of science.
But our sons and our daughters will mate with the pig-men, if the pig-men will have them. And our swine-snouted grandchildren — the fruit not of our loins, but of our arrogance and our bright test tubes — will use the story of our generation to teach a moral to their frightened litters.
Amazingly, there are still people who say that I am too pessimistic, too alarmist, about the state of mankind.
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We Will Be Harmonized
Here’s a clip from a 2019 Tablet profile of then presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who is now running for Mayor of New York:
The really beguiling thing about the elixir of attitudes and policies that go into Yang’s formula is that they maintain a residue of civic patriotism without any strong attachment to the actual components of American democracy. Noah Millman captures this point in an article for The Week reflecting on the political vision outlined in Yang’s book, The War on Normal People.
What kind of politics would such a world engender? It’s not likely to be a democratic one — and between the lines of Yang’s book he seems to recognize that fact. Yang’s solutions involve a substantial restructuring of the American economy without massive central planning. But someone will need to construct and maintain the networks through which the citizenry interacts. Someone will need to decide how much of a universal income is optimal, and from what perspective optimality is calculated. Implicitly, the vision is of a world where enormous power rests in the hands of the kinds of people who run firms like Google, and a lot of faith required that those people won’t be evil.
Deciding what is optimal is the language and logic of Silicon Valley and it proceeds from the premise that the optimizer already knows the desired outcome in any given situation—if they didn’t, what would they be optimizing for? One of Yang’s ideas is for a “Digital Social Credit,” a name that invites comparison to the Chinese government’s social credit system. The idea is spelled out in detail on Yang’s website: “In order to spur development, the government should issue a new currency – the Digital Social Credit – which can be converted into dollars and used to reward people and organizations who drive significant social value. This new currency would allow people to measure the amount of good that they have done through various programs and actions.”
In the event of any disagreement over how to measure units of good, or how to track the rewards for designated drivers of significant social value who take part in sanctioned programs and actions, we can count on there being algorithms to sort out such matters. And if some troublesome person should question how we determine a definition of good that’s suitable for all Americans, or who controls the algorithms that make such decisions, Yang’s bet, and he won’t be that last to make it, is that the promise of a thousand bucks a month, a truce in the culture wars, and a brake applied to the dizzying pace of change, will convince most people that they’d rather not push too hard looking for answers.
As readers of Live Not By Lies know, I believe that one way or another, we will have a social credit system in the US. It is going to be imposed on us by technocrats in the government and in major corporations under the guise of being pro-social — same as in China. In China, you get a higher social credit score (and therefore more privileges) for doing good things like helping your neighbor. You also get a higher social credit score for doing things like downloading Xi Jinping’s speeches. It’s all bound together. And you lower your social credit score by littering, or by going to church. See how this works? In the US, under Yang’s system, the woke would be able to turn their activism into dollars. Similarly, activism on the right would either not be rewarded, or perhaps even actively punished.
Do you trust the algorithm-writers of Silicon Valley to be fair under such a system?
The Biden administration is already planning to experiment with a similar model, relating to financial credit. More:
The Biden administration has a big target in its sights, or rather three big targets—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. If President Biden has his way, he will create a public credit reporting agency (CRA) to compete with the three major credit bureaus and maybe one day replace them altogether.
The push for a public credit reporting agency is part of President Biden’s job and economic recovery agenda. The president’s agenda is inspired by a proposal from Dēmos, a liberal think tank with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. It calls for the formation of a new, national credit reporting and scoring division inside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
“Being able to obtain an accurate credit report and score is a critical step for homeownership,” says The Biden Plan to Build Back Better by Advancing Racial Equity Across the American Economy. The proposal suggests that a government-run CRA could fix a credit reporting system that frequently holds consumers back from becoming homeowners due to problems like credit reporting errors and racial disparities.
Numerous credit and lending experts, however, are wary of the new administration’s plan. These experts don’t deny the existence of a racial wealth gap in this country, nor do they dispute that it needs to be fixed. But they doubt that a public credit reporting agency is the answer. Instead, there is genuine concern that a federal credit reporting agency could make matters far worse for the struggling American consumer.
Under the Biden plan, the state would weight credit scores based on race. More:
Amy Traub, associate director of policy and research at Dēmos, said that although credit scores never formally take race into account, that doesn’t mean they’re race-neutral. “[Credit scores] draw on data about personal borrowing and payment history that is shaped by generations of discriminatory public policies and corporate practices.”
See how this works? Remember, under Critical Race Theory, the lower credit scores of blacks and Latinos can only be the result of racism. If Biden gets his way, racism — in this case, of a left-wing kind — will distort the market by altering the information available to lenders to make these decisions. If a government-run credit bureau replaces the private ones, how will banks and other lenders get trustworthy information about the creditworthiness of borrowers?
And what kind of signal does that send to white borrowers who would ordinarily have a lower credit score because of their financial histories, but who cannot get this artificial boost from the government, which would be rewarding borrowers not on the basis of anything they did or did not do regarding their financial histories, but solely on the basis of the color of their skin?
Even if the Biden plan for credit scoring does not take off, it is important to note that it was proposed in the first place — that the Biden administration was willing to manipulate credit scores for the sake of socially progressive goals.
Take note of another way Woke Capitalism and Woke Government are going to work within a China model. Here’s something from the influential economist Jeffrey Sachs:
“The US always attacks other countries, it holds itself sacrosanct.”
Economist @JeffDSachs says China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang should not prevent the US from engaging with China, considering the US’ own “human rights violations” abroad and at home#Newsnightpic.twitter.com/xqa6kpF06r
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) April 14, 2021
That is an outrageous false equivalence. Whatever the sins and failings of the United States, we don’t put minorities in concentration camps, as the Chinese are doing to Uighur Muslims, and we are not carrying out a cultural genocide against an entire ethnic group (Uighurs). But globalists like Jeffrey Sachs make these false claims to justify morally their own “engagement” with China. Look for woke CEOS, and the woke NBA and woke MLB — which hates Georgia, but is sucking up to China — to begin employing the same rhetoric. They get woke points in the US for speaking out for Black Lives Matter, and also get to use that to cover their culpability for collaborating with a despotic (but very, very rich) Chinese regime committing spectacular human rights abuses.
The other day, Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who spearheaded a national CEO meet-up to discuss combating GOP voting reform initiatives, told NBC News:
“The overriding spirit is they don’t want politicians using wedge issues to try and solidify their hold on office, because that leads to angry communities and finger-pointing workforces and divided shareholders. It makes their job as CEOs harder to manage these constituents. They want social harmony,” Sonnenfeld said.
Social harmony. Keep that phrase in mind. We are going to be hearing it more and more. In China, to be “harmonized” is to be brought into conformity with the state’s policies. The title of a fantastic book by the German journalist Kai Strittmatter, We Have Been Harmonized: Life In China’s Surveillance State, explores this concept. From a Guardian review:
We Have Been Harmonised is the most accessible and best informed account we have had to date of China’s transition from what scholars such as Rebecca MacKinnon used to call “networked authoritarianism” to what is now a form of networked totalitarianism. The difference is not merely semantic. An authoritarian regime is relatively limited in its objectives: there may be elections, but they are generally carefully managed; individual freedoms are subordinate to the state; there is no constitutional accountability and no rule of law in any meaningful sense.
Totalitarianism, in contrast, prohibits opposition parties, restricts opposition to the state and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. As the historian Robert Conquest put it, a totalitarian state recognises no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and seeks to extend that authority to whatever lengths it can.
Which pretty well matches Strittmatter’s portrayal of contemporary China under Xi Jinping, its new “leader for life”, who is increasingly looking like Mao 2.0 right down to his Little Red App as the contemporary version of his predecessor’s Little Red Book. Mercifully, though, he does not seem to have Mao’s enthusiasm for sacrificing millions of people on the altar of socialist rectitude. But, as Strittmatter tells it, under Xi’s leadership the Communist party of China (CCP) has been closely following the totalitarian playbook as described by Hannah Arendt and other observers of the phenomenon.
I cannot recommend Strittmatter’s book strongly enough. I drew on it for my own Live Not By Lies. The phrase “social harmony” is a bit unusual in English, so it set off my alarm being deployed in this context. I believe that going forward, we are going to see CEOs and other woke capitalists justifying their intervention in American political life, flexing their considerable muscles to compel conformity with cultural progressivism, by saying that all they seek is “social harmony.” They want Americans to be harmonized. Technocrats in and outside of industry and politics will embrace a social credit system to get this done. You read it here first.
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Historical Memory As Culture War Weapon
Take a look at this:
Biden’s UN ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, tells the National Action Network that if America’s going to join the UN’s Human Rights Council, we must acknowledge our own failures: “White supremacy is weaved into our founding documents and principles” pic.twitter.com/bYc5SyWkE1
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 14, 2021
Listen to the clip. She talks about how her ancestors were enslaved, and how she grew up under segregation (also true: she was born in 1952, and grew up in a northern suburb of Baton Rouge). But she goes from that awful true history to the “1619 Project” slander. This is important stuff. If white supremacy really is “weaved into our founding documents and principles,” then the US founding is fatally compromised. You may have been under the impression that slavery and Jim Crow were failures of the US to live up to the promises of liberty in the founding documents — and you would have been right! We fought a civil war over this. The Civil Rights Movement was launched as a great moral crusade to make those promises real for black Americans.
Now, though, history is being rewritten before our eyes by the Left.
This is going to have major repercussions. Please read historian Stanley Payne’s essay on how the Spanish Left has revisited the historical settlement that allowed that civil war-wracked nation to live in peace and democracy, and is weaponizing it. Payne is one of the leading Anglophone historians of the Spanish Civil War. Excerpts:
In January 2020, the Socialist government of Spain, led by Pedro Sánchez, proposed a bill of profound cultural and political significance: a “Law of Historical and Democratic Memory.” If adopted, this law will bring to completion a twenty-year effort on the part of the Spanish left to limit speech and reshape civic life. It would establish a national “Council of Memory,” an organ of state comprising public officials as well as professional “experts” and representatives of nongovernmental but politically reliable organizations. It would elaborate a comprehensive state policy to promote a left view of Spain’s early and mid-twentieth century. The bill mandates a search for the remains of a number of the “disappeared” on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39 and the creation of a “National DNA Bank” to help identify them. It prescribes the placement of “memory plaques” throughout the country to identify sites and personalities associated with “democratic memory”—the memory of radical opponents of the Franco regime, comparatively few of whom favored democracy. The “Law of Historical and Democratic Memory” calls on the Spanish government to identify and honor alleged “victims,” without regard to the fact that many were likely involved in mass killings and extra-judicial executions.
The proposed law is highly punitive. Symbols, meetings, or statements judged to approve of the Franco regime and the victors in the civil war are deemed infractions against “historical and democratic memory.” Proposed penalties include an elaborate schedule of fines ranging from two hundred to a hundred thousand euros, the closing for a period of six months to two years of any entity found in violation, and the confiscation of the means or goods involved in any such activities. That this law will dramatically restrict freedom of expression and thus violate the Spanish Constitution is apparently irrelevant to the Sánchez government.
The Law of Historical and Democratic Memory is the most dramatic, arbitrary, and punitive proposal concerning discussions of history anywhere in the Western world. Yet the attitude it reflects is fairly common on the left, which increasingly uses governmental or nongovernmental means to restrict and punish speech that defends rightwing views, movements, and figures past or present. Politicized interpretations of history are, of course, not new. But Spain’s proposed law is a stark sign of the way the contemporary left seeks to weaponize history to achieve its goals and silence all dissent.
If you think some version of this is not coming here, you are dreaming. We may not have a law — which would violate the First Amendment — but the complete hegemony the Left enjoys within the academy, publishing, and media will create a situation within a decade, perhaps less, in which historical opinions that run contrary to the 1619 Project claim will be seen as “problematic,” and suppressed. More Payne:
The proposed law in Spain, however, marks a new tendency to weaponize history on behalf of demonstrably distorted and falsified interpretations that are politically useful rather than intellectually credible. This tendency is the product not of ignorance but of intense partisanship. It reflects a millenarian mentality that seeks to purge society of influences and attitudes stemming from the past in order to achieve a kind of purified utopia. Fundamental to this quest is the unrecognized search for a substitute to religious faith. This new political faith seeks to build a world of perfect equality and harmonized values. It imagines that progress can be made toward this immaculate world by presenting politically correct figures as martyrs who died for the coming utopia. This requires, in turn, scapegoating and driving out their supposed victimizers, who are alleged to be authors of the evils that assail society in its present, unredeemed state.
The tendency to weaponize history has always been strong in ultranationalist movements and is prominent as well among neo-traditional forces in the non-Western world. In the past, it has been employed by revolutionary movements of diverse stripes. Only recently has it been adopted by important sectors of major Western political parties—a sign of their radicalization and their turn toward repressive measures of social control, even mind control.
The pandemic has stalled further consideration of the “Law of Historical and Democratic Memory.” Spain has suffered proportionately the greatest devastation of any Western country, due in part to the incompetence and irresponsibility of its government. For the moment, the extreme left seems more fixated on delegitimizing the parliamentary monarchy established by the 1978 constitution, hoping to replace it with a Latin-American-style radical republic. The proposal to institutionalize “democratic memory” nonetheless remains. It is the most elaborate project in the Western world for the systematic weaponization of history. It confirms the penchant of the Spanish left, first expressed two centuries ago, for adopting the most extreme versions of leftwing ideas. It is a sign of where leftwing movements across the developed world will head if they are allowed to advance unopposed.
Read it all. It’s important.
Establishing control of the historical narrative — as opposed to allowing various competing narratives to flourish — is a hallmark of a totalitarian regime. From Live Not By Lies:
No culture, and no person, can remember everything. A culture’s memory is the result of its collective sifting of facts to produce a story—a story that society tells itself to remember who it is. Without collective memory, you have no culture, and without a culture, you have no identity.
The more totalitarian a regime’s nature, the more it will try to force people to forget their cultural memories. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the role of Winston Smith within the Ministry of Information is to erase all newspaper records of past events to reflect the current political priorities of the Party. This, said the ex-communist Polish intellectual Leszek Kołakowski, reflects “the great ambition of totalitarianism—the total possession and control of human memory.”
“Let us consider what happens when the ideal has been effectively achieved,” says Kołakowski. “People remember only what they are taught to remember today and the content of their memory changes overnight, if needed.”
We know from the history of communist totalitarianism how this can be achieved through a total state monopoly on information, including ideological control of education and media. Laura Nicolae’s experience at Harvard, where the next generation of American and global elites are trained, suggests how this can be accomplished even in free countries: by teaching those who aspire to leadership positions what it is important for them to remember, and what does not matter.
Again, a law like the one proposed in Spain is not really possible in the US, because of our Constitution. But the unwritten law of the culture, and the gatekeepers of culture, can achieve much the same thing. Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a black professor of Classics at Princeton and a leading revolutionary voice in the discipline, has called for considering “the demolition of the discipline itself” to achieve “reparative intellectual justice.” You do not have to have a single law passed by any legislature for the radical Left to achieve the capture of cultural memory.
Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate studios optioned the 1619 Project for film and television projects. Get used to the narrative that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield puts forth in her address to Al Sharpton’s group. It’s going to become standard soon enough. Still, I would like to know if the President agrees with his UN Ambassador that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are embodiments of white supremacy.
UPDATE: A reader e-mails:
You mentioned the Spanish Civil War in your latest blog entry. Gray Connolly had an interesting thread about the war today on Twitter. It’s all worth reading, but I want to bring your attention to this specific tweet:
George Hills was a British Army officer & devout Catholic who wrote an excellent, critical work on Franco and Spain. The Spanish Republic’s endorsement of 1930s Woke persecutions brought forth their inevitable response in the Spanish Civil War & appear ominously prescient now pic.twitter.com/axngQn2kvJ
— Gray Connolly (@GrayConnolly) April 15, 2021
Like most revolutions, there was nothing “grassroots” about the Spanish Left’s revolution. The Republican government aided and abetted their efforts. Connolly quotes British Army officer George Hills, who wrote a book about Francoist Spain:
Had the Assembly then turned to legislation to improve the miserable lot of the urban masses of Spain and to make Spanish agriculture especially in the South more productive, the Republic might have lived; but its directors were obsessed with the Catholic Church. Azana [President of Spain when war broke out] in particular wanted to make true his dogma “Spain is no longer Catholic.”
Hills goes onto say a very concerted attempt was made to target the Catholic Church and its adherents, an effective culture war in which the objective was to not at all live and let live. This is similar to what we’re seeing today, where the Left, aided and abetted by businesses, government, and the media, won’t let anything stand associated with conservatives, Christianity, Whites, males, etc. Meanwhile, there’s tremendous gaslighting and outright lying going on – I read an article last week that accused Republicans of trying to cancel the MLB in response to the All-Star game being moved from Atlanta.
A specific tactic appears to have emerged, in fact. The Left will make something a culture war battleground, effectively daring the Right to respond. When they do, the Left will leverage all its power and paint the Right into a corner. The Left chose to pick a fight over Dr. Seuss, for example. But when the Right pushed back, you had a Democratic Congressman screaming at the top of his lungs while in session for Republicans to quit talking about Dr. Seuss and focus on helping the American people.
Has the frustration mounted yet? It certainly has for me.
If Franco was the counter-revolution in Spain, I shudder to think what our own counter-revolution in the U.S. will look like.
UPDATE.2: A reader in Spain e-mails this tweet with an image of a march in Madrid. In 2021. In addition to the images of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and others, they are flying the Soviet flag, and the flag of the Spanish Second Republic.
Para reivindicar a Stalin y a Lenin a estas alturas hay que tener la cabeza en uno de estos dos estados:
b)Llena de mierda.pic.twitter.com/k0Al93PN7U
— Juan Carlos Girauta (@GirautaOficial) April 14, 2021
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Goodbye, Afghanistan, And Good Luck
“It is time to end America’s longest war,” Biden will say, according to excerpts released by the White House. “It is time for American troops to come home.”
Biden will deliver his remarks from the Treaty Room, the same location where President George W. Bush announced that the war in Afghanistan had begun in 2001.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden plans to say. “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
I didn’t vote for him, but I will say in all sincerity: “Thank you, Mr. President. It’s time.”
Not everybody feels this way:
I guess the Applebee’s franchisees of Kabul will have to figure out how to make it without the sons of America there to secure the joint.
Seriously, the place is going to go back to Taliban hell. But if American cannot fix it after twenty years, it cannot be fixed. So now, the United States follows the same path as the Soviet Union: withdrawal in defeat at the hands of Islamic hillbillies. Here’s a good explainer from The Economist about why the Taliban are undefeatable:
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Hanby Contra ‘Whig Catholic History’
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you will recall my linking six years ago to a First Things essay by Catholic philosopher Michael Hanby, titled “The Civic Project Of American Christianity.”
In it, his basic point is that the cultural conditions in the contemporary US have changed so much that it has become impossible to reconcile Christianity with classical liberalism. Excerpt:
Such are the logical consequences of the sexual revolution, but to grasp more fully the meaning of its triumph, we must see that the sexual revolution is not merely—or perhaps even primarily—sexual. It has profound implications for the relationship not just between man and woman but between nature and culture, the person and the body, children and parents. It has enormous ramifications for the nature of reason, for the meaning of education, and for the relations between the state, the family, civil society, and the Church. This is because the sexual revolution is one aspect of a deeper revolution in the question of who or what we understand the human person to be (fundamental anthropology), and indeed of what we understand reality to be (ontology).
All notions of justice presuppose ontology and anthropology, and so a revolution in fundamental anthropology will invariably transform the meaning and content of justice and bring about its own morality. We are beginning to feel the force of this transformation in civil society and the political order. Court decisions invalidating traditional marriage law fall from the sky like rain. The regulatory state and ubiquitous new global media throw their ever increasing weight behind the new understanding of marriage and its implicit anthropology, which treats our bodies as raw material to be used as we see fit. Today a rigorous new public morality inverts and supplants the residuum of our Christian moral inheritance.
This compels us to reconsider the civic project of American Christianity that has for the most part guided our participation in the liberal public order for at least a century.
The Catholic critic Reilly has written America On Trial: A Defense of the Founding, a book-length critique of Hanby’s view (and Patrick Deneen’s, which is similarly pessimistic about Catholic Christianity and the American project). Reilly believes that the American founding is, in fact, consonant with Catholicism, and that the late deviations from the Founding can be remedied. Hanby and Deneen, by contrast, believes that the ultimate irreconcilability of Catholicism with classical liberalism was there from the beginning.
Michael Hanby has written a lengthy response to Reilly’s book. Hanby begins by saying that Reilly wants to have a historical and psychological argument, when the issue (as far as Hanby is concerned) is metaphysical and theological. Then:
Reilly cannot concede that the myth of the “civic project” has been falsified by events, but he can see that this project is in peril. He worries for its future and for the future of Christians in the public square. He seems particularly solicitous toward the young—for students influenced by the likes of Deneen and me—, worried that “they will feel they no longer have a country they can love and wish to serve” and thus will decline to follow their forebears down the “path of guardianship.” In one inadvertently telling remark, Reilly says that those who “denigrate the Founding” as Deneen and I do “exclude themselves from the public arena by conceding it to their opponents.”
And what if our “denigrating” conclusions happen to be true? The implication is that one should stop thinking at the point where understanding the truth ceases to be useful in the “public arena” or risks sacrificing political influence. One could hardly ask for a clearer illustration of the difference between a political and a philosophical argument—or of the high cost of the “civic project.” Nor could one ask for a better explanation of why Fr. Neuhaus’s “Catholic Moment” passed without ever arriving, despite the fact that Catholics are now poised to take the reins of American power in every branch of government. There is no barrier to the advancement of Catholics in American public life provided that Catholic truth is irrelevant to the discharge of their public duties. One is free to believe whatever one likes in America so long as it’s false. From Reilly’s vantage along the guardian’s path, then, arguments like Deneen’s and mine are “fraught with danger.” “If Christians come to believe that America is congenitally their enemy,” he writes, “they will cease to defend it and join in its destruction for their own reasons.”
Of course it is preposterous to think, as Deneen observed the first time Reilly leveled such accusations, that America needs our help in destroying itself. And the line of reasoning that leads from the attempt to understand the truth, to the declaration of enmity, to complicity in the destruction of the country is as illogical as it is calumnious, rather like accusing someone of patricide for admitting that his father is an alcoholic. I have treated this curious, quintessentially American understanding of patriotism elsewhere. It regards America not as a place, but as an idea, and patriotism not as devotion to one’s patria—one’s home, hearth, and kin—but as adherence to a philosophy. If this philosophy happens to be false, then so much the worse for truth.
Hanby’s argument is dense and particular, and, to be honest, exceeds the grasp of one as uneducated in political theory as I am. I don’t mean to discourage you from reading it. I can still follow its outlines, but let’s just say that readers who have studied modern political theory will get more out of it than I did. I’ve not read Reilly’s book, but my sense is that Hanby’s characterization of the core of their dispute is accurate. Reilly is said to argue that the American Founding was in continuity with the Catholic intellectual tradition, while Hanby says that it — and the Enlightenment from which it emerged — represents the death of same. Hanby:
The point I wish to emphasize here is that the new science of politics that commenced in the seventeenth century and provided the intellectual underpinnings for the republican revolutions of the eighteenth was neither merely political, nor simply a straightforward rejection of the antecedent Christian tradition. Rather it was one aspect of a radical transformation of that tradition at every level—theological, metaphysical, natural, scientific, ecclesiastical, cultural and sociological—a transformation that cannot be papered over by appeal to similar sounding texts separated by centuries.
In this passage, we get to the center of Hanby’s argument:
The attempt of modern liberal order to limit itself was therefore destined to fail. Locke remarks that “the end of Law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.” He does not seem to recognize that the reverse is also true. Rights, we said, enclose a “field of power” or possibility. A political order that exists principally to protect this field of possibility inevitably becomes the mediator of all human relations, insinuating itself between me and all claims upon the property that is my person. This enclosure of possibility, moreover, is threatened by anything that would define me prior to my choosing—even, as it turns out, my own nature. Liberal freedom thus initiates a war against every form of antecedent order, eventually aided and abetted by the new science and its conflation of truth and technological possibility. Rights therefore must proliferate—as indeed they have—producing in actuality the denatured individuals that heretofore existed only at the theoretical foundations of liberal theory.
But with every new right comes an extension of the state’s power to enforce that right. The state thus becomes absolute precisely in the name of protecting freedom, arrogating to itself, almost by accident, authority even over the meaning of nature itself and a power beyond anything Hobbes could imagine. Liberal order is not “Hobbesian,” therefore, because some petty tyrant arbitrarily commands or prohibits every action of its citizens. Its absolutism is a good deal more subtle. Liberal order is absolute because it is the transcendent whole within which social facts like churches or so-called “intermediate associations” are allowed to appear and beyond which there is nothing.106 Liberal order is absolute because it is our mortal god.
This is how we get the Pink Police State. More:
The tacit metaphysics of a people and an era, the sensus communis about the nature of reality that marks them as belonging to a shared world, is visible not only in what they think, or what they say, but in what they cannot think and say. We have seen that the new conception of political order birthed in the seventeenth and eighteenth century—the conception that would determine the shape of the modern world ever since and that finds its exemplary expression in America as the quintessentially modern nation—was premised upon the destruction of a symbolic and sacramental order that bound spiritual and temporal power into a unity even in their distinction, and upon a revolutionary transformation of every sphere of thought (indeed in the meaning of thought itself ) that had made this unity intelligible.
Why repress the Church when you can entice Catholics to think like Protestants, or even like atheists, without knowing it?
Here is how Hanby’s piece concludes:
The advent of liberalism and of liberal societies is a transitional moment in the death of God in the modern West, a catastrophe from which the Church is not exempt. The “priority of the political” and the power that politics exercises over our vision and imagination are among its most acute symptoms. This is really the heart of the matter, and why my thought, unlike Reilly’s, is not in the first instance political. The overarching concern that has motivated all my thinking on these matters is not the political concern to “prosecute” the Founders or, conversely, to hypothesize about the best regime. My concern is what John Paul II and Benedict XVI called “the eclipse of the sense of God and man” in the modern West and, particularly, in the modern Church, the dark shadow of which has deprived us of the light even to recognize our own atheism. Reilly alleges that for Deneen and me, “repudiation of the Founding principles of the United States is a necessary condition for Christian revival, if not survival.”
Perhaps this is fair if by “repudiate” he means ceasing to pretend that a false idea is true or refusing to conflate the “path of guardianship”—or, let’s be honest, the victory of Republican Party politics—with our Catholic obligation to serve the common good. But otherwise I think this is neither possible nor meaningful. One might as well repudiate air.
America is not an idea, or at least not only an idea, but a place, and in fact an empire whose power vastly exceeds its direct political control. It is also my home— which it inevitably remains whether that idea be true or false. And since there is no “outside” of liberal order—since the empire of liberty has succeeded so spectacularly in eliminating all theoretical and practical alternatives to itself—, its disintegration is likely to be interminable: always falling, never collapsing. Liberal order may not be the best of all possible worlds, but it is the only possible world as far as the eye can see, and I discern no path forward but to undergo whatever fate is set in motion by the death of God within the prison of this order’s immanent horizons. The presence of a tragic flaw in America’s Founding principles or its history does not eliminate the greatness of the American achievement in establishing this empire; nor is there any reason why acknowledging the cracks in America’s foundations should prevent any of us from loving our home or deter us from working in every sphere to make our country the least nihilistic version of itself. Even if liberal order bars the way to a common good that is truly common, we still have a duty to mitigate the harm done to persons in this order’s interminable disintegration.
But otherwise Reilly is half-right. The Church is in crisis in the modern world, which is very much the American world—beset from without by a secular social order that systematically excludes God from its conception of reality, beset from within by a pious atheism that does not know itself. It is a measure of this crisis that the vision—the seeing—that once defined the Christian life and the goal of human existence has all but disappeared both from our apprehension of the world and from our self-understanding. The recovery of a truer and more profound Catholicism and a properly Christian hope in the abiding presence of the eternal God who fills all things coincides with whatever capacity we may muster and whatever grace is granted to us to see beyond the immanent horizons of liberal order and to transcend its fate from within.
Given its external power over our form of life and its internal power over our imaginations, “seeing” at present likely means discovering what we are no longer able to see, just as we must experience this truer Catholicism by enduring the wound of its present impossibility and must hope in God’s abiding presence by mourning his apparent absence. At the heart of this vision and this hope is the ancient Christian conviction that we belong to another country more profoundly than we belong to this one, and our only hope of transcending our nihilistic fate is that this conviction might yet again inform and transform our most basic perception of the world. The alternative represented by the civic project is to relinquish the Catholic mind and to inadvertently baptize the death of God and its ensuing fate, acquiescing unawares in that suffocating immanentism and concealing our hopeless unbelief behind a veneer of pious optimism. Transcending this fate does not require from us the impossible task of repudiating America or liberal order—as if there were anywhere else to go—but it does require us to repudiate the Whig Catholicism of Robert Reilly and rediscover the abiding presence of that other country that is our only true hope.
I find that this really resonates with me. It really has become impossible to think beyond liberalism, in the sense that we cannot imagine a plausible alternative to liberalism. For example, Catholic integralism is certainly a deep and coherent theory, but it is dead on arrival in a country that is majority non-Catholic, and in which very few Catholics would be willing to live under an integralist order. As Hanby writes, there really is nowhere else to go but liberalism. Hanby gets to why I am so divided over the whole French-Ahmari conflict: I share Ahmari’s lack of faith in the liberal project, but align with French in that I can’t see any better real-world alternative. I find myself defending a liberalism that I struggle to believe in, because if we lose its core institutions (most of all, the First Amendment), we Christians have nowhere to hide.
I lack philosopher Hanby’s profound understanding of the issues in play here, but I share his pessimism. I find that in my own arguments with people over things like this, I sense in my opponents a weakness they conceal from themselves (N.B., I am not projecting this onto Robert Reilly, whose book I have not read). This is not really about the details of political theory, but a general stance towards the American political and social order. Crudely put, it plays out like this:
- If what Dreher says is true about the nature of post-Christian America, then what I, as a traditional Christian, believe about the goodness of America is untenable.
- If my beliefs about the goodness of America are untenable, then I really am a stranger in a strange land.
- Therefore Dreher is wrong, and is not just wrong, but an AMERICA HATER!
Well, I’m like Hanby: I don’t hate America. America is my home. But loving America does not require one to love the system under which we live — one that, in the name of liberty, is in key ways destroying truth, and the capacity to both know the truth and to live by it. Put another way, I don’t believe that patriotism requires me to say something I believe is untrue, or to call evil good. I will always be an American, because America is my home, and it made me. But I am a Christian first, and if America forces me to choose between loving and obeying her or loving and obeying God, then that is no choice at all.
UPDATE: A Catholic priest writes:
I think Hanby hits it exactly: “The advent of liberalism and of liberal societies is a transitional moment in the death of God in the modern West, a catastrophe from which the Church is not exempt.”I think this gets to the heart of what has been happening in the West for centuries and which is only now coming clear. Liberalism as we knew it (and much of Modernity) was transitional to what is emerging in the Anti-Liberal, Post-Modern period.In essence, secularism and individualism effectively meant the removal of ultimate ends/goals toward which the cosmos and human life were ordered. Initially, this could be pasted over in a manner that permitted, but never necessitated, that believers and classical liberals could agree to disagree about ultimate ends. So a secular regime like America was able to construct a type of “freedom for religion” while a secular regime like revolutionary France constructed a “freedom from religion.” That ambiguity is falling away, to the detriment of freedom for religion.The American Founders worked a pragmatic solution by rooting rights in an undefined “Creator” and ordering those rights to an equally undefined “pursuit of happiness.” As long as Christianity, deism, and Western culture retained compatible ideas about that ill-defined cosmos, there was the possibility of social compromise. But, of course, that consensus has fallen apart as a radical form of individualism has arisen that insists meaning and purpose are autonomously constructed rather than rooted in an established order which elicits our cooperative participation.Once the order and goal of existence is reduced to individually chosen narratives, there is no appeal even in theory to any perspective outside the one chosen by the group of individuals who have successfully allied to gain the privileged status of exercising power. They effectively are the makers of custom and culture. All that is left to outsiders is to mobilize coalitions in an attempt to remove the in-class from privilege in order to wield power to create a counter-culture according to their own chosen narrative. In the current arrangement of in-class and out-class, those claiming an order and goal that transcends autonomous individuals and the group narrative are therefore not just considered mistaken, they are enemies of their neighbors and of the regime. This is the culture the Church and her members are facing.Some may wish for peace with the radical individualism and secularism that is shaping the Anti-Liberal and Post-Modern West, but there is no peace because this “Novus ordo” views metaphysical and theological claims of meaning and order as violations of the basic human right to self-fulfillment. This is why, alas, Hanby is basically right about Fr. Neuhaus’ so-called “Catholic Moment.” Whatever chance there may have been for the Founders’ ambiguous treatment of God and the order of things to find safe harbor in an authentic metaphysics and view of human nature, that moment “passed without arriving.”We live after that moment passed and the sooner we face that fact, the sooner we can get about the business of living the faith in a way suited to our cultural situation. We need to do that for ourselves, our children, and our neighbors. Perhaps one day, under Providence, such a moment may approach and we or our ancestors can try again to redeem the culture. I imagine that what the Benedict Option is about.
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Pageau Breaks Down Lil Nas X Satanic Video
Do you ever watch the Canadian artist and cultural critic Jonathan Pageau’s videos? Here’s a link to his “Symbolic World” YouTube channel. And here’s a link to his The Symbolic World website. He’s an artist and an Orthodox Christian who likes to analyze popular culture looking for deep symbolic themes and mythological narratives. It’s really interesting and challenging.
The other day Jonathan tweeted that he tried twice to record an analysis of “Montero,” the Satanic-themed music video from Lil Nas X, but both times the video failed. He said that had never happened to him before. He decided to put it aside. Jonathan’s a friend, so I reached out and told him I would post his script if he wanted. He said yes. Here is the text of what would have appeared on his YouTube channel. Note well, everything below is not written by Rod Dreher, but by Jonathan Pageau. If you agree or disagree with what he says, take it up with him on Twitter @pageaujonathan :
Lil Nas X, WandaVision and the Satanic Pattern in Culture
by Jonathan Pageau
The black and red, blood injected, upside-down pentagram sporting Satan shoes by Lil Nas X as well as his serpent-alien sex, Satan lap-dancing Montero video could only be released a week before Easter. This is business as usual. It has almost become part of Christian celebrations to expect a slew of these smears in the mainstream media before important Christian holidays. There is something boring and tedious about the whole affair, a nicely organised propaganda supply chain with just-in-time delivery.
Nonetheless, beyond my first reaction of dismissal, I found there is something people might want to understand in this Satanic imagery. It is not arbitrary at all, but like any system of meaning, it rather has a strange coherence. This coherence can give us a few clues as to why this imagery would be used to attract the type of attention someone like Lil Nas X desperately needs in order to stay relevant in a post-Christian, blasé, porn-infused, hungover culture.
And I guess I should tip my fedora to Lil Nas X as he does a bang-up job at weaving this imagery together succinctly. The Lil Nas X situation alone probably wouldn’t have been enough for me to put any energy into this, in fact there is also a second angle entering this article. I found another source of fodder in the denouement of Disney’s WandaVision, which lays out imagery similar to Lil Nas X, a feminine Witchcraft contrasting to the more masculine Satanism while nonetheless playing in similar tones to Montero’s hellish carnival.
Yes, yes. I remember the so-called Satanic panic in the 1980s, those pastors telling us about back-tracking and how rock songs had secret Satanic messages when played backwards. Even as a young teenager, I often wondered why they needed to look for secret messages when the overt messages were clear enough. People are very bad at hiding what they are doing. If you pay attention, they will tell you what they are up to, especially if you know what to watch for.
The Montero video is a disturbing sight to behold. In a world inhabited only by versions of himself, Lil Nas X sings about his sexual encounters and obsession with a man who has the same name as him (Montero). “Call Me By Your Name” is the unofficial title of the song. The video is about one thing: Pride.
This self love is represented as an exploration of the strangeness and idiosyncrasies of oneself, self seduction, self-victimizing, self-abasement, self-gratification and ultimately self-crowning. In speaking to his self-named lover, Montero tells us that “I’m not fazed, only here to sin/If Eve ain’t in your garden, you know that you can”.
Pride as self-love appears ultimately as a sterile revolution against the natural patterns of the world, a desire for the world to be in our own image, and a desire to free ourselves from the usual constraints of natural patterns and cycles of being. He tells his self-named lover he wants to “Shoot a child in your mouth’”. This is of course the ultimate image of sterility, solipsistic dreaming, and imagination which is taken up in fantastical places but does not produce body, community, or cohesion, but only revolution, fragmentation, and loneliness. Montero tells us: “I want to **** the ones I envy, I envy“. We have entered the pattern of revolution, of attempting to come in and up from behind.
We find Montero under the Tree of Knowledge in the primordial garden, where he is first frightened, but then seduced by a serpent figure. The serpent figure is a hybrid in the tradition of Renaissance depictions of the serpent, which has often been linked to Lilith by historians. The Hybrid also takes on the imagery of the Alien. Of course this Hybrid/Alien/Demon/Serpent figure is one that has become the narrative monster of conspiracy theorists from David Icke to QAnon. So it could be easy to dismiss all of this as a kind of trolling of course, and this is indeed the game being played.
Yet the question remains: Why does Montero invoke this very precise imagery in his video? To gain attention, to provoke, to subvert?
Yes, yes, and yes. But the error is to believe it stops there, that such an answer somehow explains what is happening. In searching for a more subtle understanding, one needs to ask first of all why these narrative elements crystalized the fears and worry of so many people at the time they did, and then especially ask why someone like Montero is allowed to embody these fears so perfectly at this moment in order to increase his fame.
Of course, it is about attention, but the reason why certain things will bring you attention rather than condemnation or lack of care at certain times in a cycle of attention is in no way arbitrary and can help us understand where we are in our ongoing social narrative. The patterns of the stories that we live and tell ourselves are not arbitrary.
After his seduction by the serpent, the video then follows Montero to a kind of Colosseum where he is chained and judged by cross-dressed versions of himself, stoned by dusty zombie like replicas and then finally killed with a sex toy. He ascends into the sky to meet a shadowy angel, but a pole/lance shoots up from below. As Montero grabs it, he begins to slide down in the guise of a pole dancer into the belly of Hell.
If ever there was a perfect representation of the ontological reality of pole dancing, I think this is it. The pole coming up from below is of course an inversion of the spear of St. Michael which is portrayed in medieval imagery as pinning down the great Serpent that is Satan. This spear/pole is now coming up to claim Montero from behind with all its phallic undertones. Even though it comes from below, it is nonetheless the axis mundi, the hierarchy which connects heaven and earth, though a hierarchy not seen from the side of the traditional ladder, with its going up in humility and worship, but rather the coming up and from behind of revolution.
This of course ultimately ends up not being a going up but a coming down, “a being chased from heaven” and so it is not the axis from the point of view of the ladder, but from the side of the shoot or of the serpent sliding down. We see movement from the periphery of the wheel wrapped around the axis which turns and slithers, seducing onlookers by its changeability and leading them into their passions. Montero is replaying the first part of the video, where he was seduced by the serpent sliding down the tree, but now he is the serpent who will seduce Satan himself.
Ending up in a caricature of Hell with a thorn covered door (nice touch. BTW), Montero lap dances Satan into simulated sodomy, to then himself come up behind the Evil One to break his neck and steal his horns and crown, replacing the Devil in a final revolution, the supremacy of the self.
For a Satanic story, I would say it scores pretty well.
The media coverage about this “Lil NasX scandal” has been mostly about how Christians are reacting to it, how they are offended, how they are falling into a new Satanic panic, how they are too stupid to see the provocative humor and social message in this. Let’s be honest: this is what this whole circus is for.
Like I said at the outset, it is not arbitrary that this imagery was put out there just before Easter. Satanism has systematically been about Christianity since its very beginning. All the contemporary popular imagery, from Anton LaVey’s celebrity status and movie acting, to Black Sabbath and other forms of Heavy-Metal Satanism, all the upside down crosses, the Black Mass, and the celebration of sin and passion are all about embodying, in a mythological setting, the end of Christianity and its hold on the mythic narrative (while secretly and unknowingly restating it, but that is another story).
Once one understands this, many things will appear to us more clearly, even the ironic aspect of Satanism and cultural provocations like the Satanic shoes or the Montero video.
Satanism is Irony itself, from its ritual version of Black Masses to its more philosophical social manifestation, it is the Christian story re-stated from its upside down and narrative margin. It is the gargoyle as priest, the rebel as king. The theatrics, the “joke” of Satanism is one of the most important considerations of its meaning and purpose, and ultimately of its Satanic qualities. If you ask a LaVey style Satanist about their religion, they will tell you they do not believe in Satan. This is of course difficult for Christians, who order their lives on truth and faith, to understand. “Why would they go to such efforts for something they do not believe in?”
Of course such a reaction comes from decent people who cannot see how there is nothing more Satanic than believing both God and Satan do not exist, though all the while acting in self-righteous pride and resentment to offend Christians and destroy their hierarchy of meaning by ritually and mythologically embodying all that Christians oppose.
Remember, the Montero video ends with the putting of the Satanic crown on oneself. This is of course what happened recently in the Baphomet statue hubbub surrounding the Temple of Satan. In embracing the very ambiguous and egalitarian American notion of “religious freedom”, these Satanic pranksters are able to show how Americans are potentially Satanists because they must equally include the parody and opposite of what most of them believe in.
In a traditional world, the monsters, the demons, the gargoyles and especially the Satan or opponent, are on the outside or underground. They are below us. It is best to not even pronounce their names. But now, in the context of Liberty and Equality driving social forms, the figure of Satan begins to appear as a dark prophet of the modern world, a noble Promethean who tragically stood against authority and declared himself equal to that which was above him.
In the Montero video, Mr. X gets it right. Satanic imagery has never ultimately been about worshiping the devil, but rather about embodying the revolutionary pattern through the type of Pride exemplified by Satan in his war against heaven, and which ends with self-worship and self-crowning. Obviously it cannot really end that way, for Montero’s only claim to the crown of horns is violence and revolution, which means that there is another pole-riding lap dancer in line to kill Montero and take the crown from him. (But that is for another story.)
One of the tropes of the anti-Christian “religious scholar” of the past decades has been to point to how idiosyncratic the “devil” of pop-satanism is. The brooding red demon, the horns, the trident, the goat like appearance — all of this, they tell us is an early-modern development which grew with layers of additions, from the horned monster present in images of the Last Judgement, through the frenzied description of witches and devils of the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches, which is the famous text used in early modern witch trials), to Milton’s Lucifer and Faust’s Mephistopheles. Our pompous religious scholars remind us this figure has little to do with what early Christians believed. As usual, these scholars, for all their factual accuracies, are missing the point.
The transformation of the Evil One from a shadowy and ambiguous character in early Christian and even Jewish imagination, to the tragic romantic figure he has become is one of the narrative threads one can follow to trace the development of Western society into our present state of crisis. This narrative development does not end in Milton but grows more so in post-Milton representations such as the one told by Neil Gaiman in his Season of Mists graphic novel, a characterization which has become the basis for the Lucifer Netflix show.
Historically this transformation follows the return to pagan references as a tool of revolution, as the image of secularism which informs much of Renaissance and Enlightenment thought and accelerates into the modern age. In fact, the culminating figure of Satan in popular imagination, the one who attracted Mick Jagger’s sympathy has its precedent in Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound.
In this ancient Greek tragedy, the Titan punished for bringing humans knowledge is presented as a noble resistance to the tyrannical father. One will come to realize that there is nothing arbitrary about the golden Prometheus statue in Rockefeller Plaza.
All of this follows a narrative thread which is the very story of modernity. The reason The Satanic Temple wanted to put up an image of Baphomet in the United States, is believe it or not, the culmination of the same process which made Napoleon fill his Arc de Triomphe with Roman gods. I wonder if Napoleon could perceive that the gesture of declaring himself emperor while putting the crown on his own head would culminate in a solipsistic video by a pole dancing rapper who seduces the Devil only to kill him and put his crown on himself?
[Read more below the jump]
One of the historical moments where we can trace the origin of modern Occultism and Satanism is when the Knights Templar were disbanded in the 14th century. The legitimacy of the accusations made against them is still being discussed interminably by historians. But in terms of social narrative, it does not matter so much if you believe in the accusations against the Templars or not. It is quite possible they did not practice sodomy, blaspheme against the cross, or worship a strange god named Baphomet. In same vein, in terms of what we are seeing today, it does not matter if you believe the accusations against witches in the early modern period either, the descriptions of their Sabbat Masses and their fornicating with demons.
Of course one could argue about this in historical terms, and people can do this interminably until they forget the original point of why such accusations matter. What matters most is how these new possibilities at the end of the Middle Ages became a narrative space where the opposite of Christianity began to explicitly take form in sacrilege, in parody, in inversion, and in an embracing the opposite of all that Christianity valued. And so we mostly need to see these accusations as an opening and recognizing of certain possibilities, the narrative space of the “edge and end of Christianity”, and this “anti-Christ” was slowly filled as Christianity itself began to falter and break apart. It was through these very tools and imagery, whether consciously or unconsciously, that Christianity would be attacked by its own dissidents. By these very means it would be inverted and subverted, until even new pseudo-religions like Satanism and Wicca would explicitly take on, identify, and expand the very tropes which were manifested in those early modern fears.
Even if the accusations against the Templars were fabricated, we arrive nonetheless through a strange process of development, through the Enlightenment to 19th century occultists like Eliphas Levi and Aleister Crowley, through Bulgakov and Slayer, at a point where we have this massively popular, not at all edgy, video which won attention for its sacrilege and an allusion to being sodomized by a “Devil”. Ultimately the figure of this devil is itself the culmination of this late medieval Baphomet who haunted the Templars in the 14th century.
Stories have patterns. Stories play themselves out, and once the narrative elements have been cast, there will always be people, events and organizations to embody them in a very factual, incarnate way. The material causes by which this will happen are quite secondary. When Christ said, “Judge not, lest you be judged”, this was not finger-wagging moralizing. He was telling people how reality works, how the projection of sins unto our enemies, this focused attention on the sin of others, opens up the space of our own end, the riddle of our own Sphinx , and it is by this very Sphinx that we will be devoured.
Besides the strange movement from Baphomet to Montero, a good example to help people understand what is happening is that according to the Malleus Maleficarum, the purpose of witches was to prevent normal reproductive relations between men and women out of resentment. They accomplished this by seducing men away from their wives, by using disincarnated female demonic phantasms or “Succubae” so that men lose their seed, by making it so women have children from “Incubi” demonic males, through other men besides their husbands, by killing and harming children, aborting babies, and ultimately by removing the male member all together.
Two hundred years ago I might have been mocked by the well-to-do for suggesting a group of people would want such a thing for the world, and I can understand why the Catholic Inquisition rejected the content of the Malleus and its proponents. But seeing these dark descriptions as a narrative arc moving towards the “end” or dissolution of Christianity, we only have to ponder a moment to realize that whether it is pornography, artificial insemination, proliferation and acceptance of abortion, or young boys on hormone blockers, there are prominent contemporary examples of all the “ancient witchcraft” I just mentioned. That the early modern witches might have been projections or collective dreams is not so important to us. What matters now is that they are healthy, unabashed, and winning the culture war today.
In the show WandaVision (which I will definitely “spoil” for your now), the Scarlet Witch, a Marvel hero with magical powers, creates a Matrix-style simulation in a small town, a “safe place”, in order to preserve and simulate the artificial existence of her robot husband, Vision. Vision, an AI with a robot body, is the perfect man, the wisest, most moral, most well-intentioned man you could ever imagine. Such a perfect AI character, a living soul worth torturing to preserve, being presented to us so straightforwardly at this point in history should already send icy shivers down all our spines.
This simulated world Wanda has created goes so far as to generate simulated children (Incubus, anyone?). Her virtual reality takes on the form of sitcoms across the decades, but for the inhabitants of the town this manifests itself as mind control. The entire town is controlled and tortured by Wanda into doing her will and playing the characters in her sitcom. When they are “off screen”, the other people in town almost cease to exist. Occasionally the spell breaks for a moment and we see the tortured souls peek out, pleading to be let go, pleading for the incessant pain to stop, pleading at least for their children to be set free, as the young ones are being controlled by Wanda as well. All of this for a simulated media reality.
Such a chilling premise can be imagined in a story where the resentful supervillain, the totalitarian AI, or the 1984-style government is imposing a false reality and controlling people’s every action and thought. What is presented in WandaVision is a version of the Matrix from the point of view of the Matrix itself.
The torturer is the main character, and although what Wanda is doing is presented to us as immoral, we are also called to have far more compassion for her and her suffering for having lost her artificial husband, more compassion for her imaginary children, than we are for the real children and townspeople she is torturing. All of the supporting characters are trying to save Wanda, and when the zealous leader of the government team there to deal with the situation tries to kill her to stop this, he is the one presented as the villain.
Yes, the fact that the Witch is using media to control the narrative, torture us all by imprisoning us and preventing us from communing with each other is a bad thing, but one must also understand that the Witch has her reason, which is to preserve, foster its unholy union with technology and AI– seriously folks, this is the actual premise of the show.
There is an insane moment where a mother pleads with Wanda to at least let her child come out of her room. I could almost see the mother in a medical mask when I heard it. While watching, at some point I started to ask myself if this premise was not secretly a very ingenious argument for witch burning. I’m sure in the Malleus Maleficarum there is a section about witches forcing all reality to follow their whim in order to avoid real male-female union, real relationships, ultimately in order to preserve artificial men and solipsist fantasy children. I’m sure there is something…. I will have to go back and check.
Joking aside, one can easily see how this is all related to Lil Nas X’s Montero and his Satanic shoes through a strange mixture of victimhood and Pride. Just as Montero populates his own world with himself, obsessed with his self-named lover, so too Wanda has bent all minds to her own whims and made them expressions of herself. This is truly the place where western individualism shows its Satanic colors. If in American movies we are used to that scene at the end where all the characters in a crowd applaud the protagonist as a stand-in for the individual and the underdog, here we see the individual with its idiosyncrasies, all her/his/their fluid desires and whims imposing themselves as something to which all of society must bend and transform.
In Montero’s Hell we see engraved in flaming letters the famous Latin phrase; “amnant quod non intellegunt” (they condemn that they do not understand). What is wanted through these narrative tropes is ultimately the opposite: “The misunderstood will condemn them.” “The exceptional will invalidate the rule.”
If in the Christian trope, The shepherd is willing to leave the flock unprotected to find the one lost sheep, here we rather have the lost sheep demanding the shepherd, not bring it back into the flock, but bring the entire flock to the wilderness. If in traditional societies we see scapegoat mechanisms sacrificing the exception in order to preserve coherence, here it is a desire to sacrifice the entire world for the exception.
On a social level, this appears as an upside down hierarchy, where the strange, the impure, the exceptional, the fluid, the rejected, the sick, and the unknown become a new measure by which society is evaluated. It is only in this sense that the “back tracking” fears of my 80s youth pastor, just like upside-down crosses and upside-down pentagrams, can make sense as a basic narrative intuition, the intuition that the Satanic, like a massive carnival on the edge and end of the Christian world, is acting like an evil Christian jester who wants to be king, turning, mocking, and then embodying the upside-down of Christianity both morally and ritually while putting the crown on his own head.
Because of a consideration for the victim, many of our contemporary social manifestations can dupe Christians into thinking what is happening is aligned with their values. Stories like WandaVision can help us realize how the very opposite is the case. Whether it be the willingness to destroy our social fabric for the sick, whether it be the advent of woke victimhood culture and its desire to make inclusion the purpose for any group, sports team, church or corporation; what we are witnessing is the reverse of Christianity.
In his book, Live Not By Lies, Rod Dreher points us to René Girard’s piercing of this upside-down scapegoat mechanism as being the driving force of our entire post-Christian society. In citing Girard, Dreher reminds us how: “The current process of spiritual demagoguery and rhetorical overkill has transformed the concern for victims into a totalitarian command and a permanent inquisition. … We are living through a caricatural ‘ultra-Christianity’ that tries to escape from the Judeo-Christian orbit by “radicalizing” the concern for victims in an anti-Christian manner.”
It is important to be aware of what is happening so as to not be duped by Anti-Christ, as Christ warned us. But underneath all the scandal, sacrilege and reversals, there is a secret story happening through all of this.
Watching someone like Lil Nas X mock, deride and invert our stories to the cheers of the media and cultural gatekeepers, we must remember that Christ chose Judas who would betray him from within his inner circle. In the same manner, our current situation is part of the story, and the Satanic imagery, for all its arrogance and pride exposes in plain view the underbelly of modern secularism.
And though this imagery appears as a manifestation of where Christians have failed, it is nonetheless a restating of the Christian story through attention to its opposite. An upside-down world, a solipsistic, sterile and artificial world must inevitably flip-back. The glorification, even in spiteful jest, of Satanic tropes of rebellion, reminds us that it is only the Crucified One and the story of self-sacrifice which break those unending revolutions.
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The Insanity Of Woke Medicine
A reader writes:
Managed to get an appointment for vaccination today at a Rite Aid pharmacy. Below is the questionnaire I had to fill out.
I think many if not most medical and other forms in this country will routinely be asking for sex assigned at birth, rather than just sex, by the end of the year. These things spread very quickly.
It’s actually kind of a big deal, when mundane tasks of everyday life are inescapably permeated by this weird ideology… by a performative presumption that you may well not be sure which of your sexes to put down on these forms. My children will grow up not knowing anything different, like the third-sex half-skirted icons that now appear on public bathroom doors along side the old-fashioned icons for men and woman in many places. Sigh.
One interesting thing about this is that sex matters biologically. The pharmacy presumably needs to know what biological sex they’re dealing with here — but they can only get that information (they assume) by asking in ideological terms.
Another reader writes:
I’ve been an RN in California for 20 years and work for one of the largest hospital chains on the West Coast.
We are currently receiving our annual medical charting software update, and it is quite amazing.
The biological sex of a patient will no longer be referred to, instead there will be “legal sex” and an “organ inventory”. For example:
Patient Legal Sex: Male
Organ Inventory: Breasts, Ovaries, Uterus, Vagina
I’m not kidding. It’s only a matter of time until your Drivers License will look like this.
Keep up the good fight Rod, and perhaps someday Sanity will prevail. If you choose to publish this please leave out my name, as I am certain my job would be jeopardized if it were published.
This is genuinely chilling. Think of how inhuman it is: “organ inventory” — as if men and women were nothing more than a conglomeration of meat.
How can anyone have loyalty to a corrupt and decadent civilization that proclaims these lies as true? What evil are we accepting?
In the Boston Review, two physicians explain their new “antiracist agenda” for medicine, which they are going to implement in their hospital. Excerpts:
For both of these reasons, we believe antiracist institutional change is essential to supplement federal reparations. If we are serious about achieving equity—both now and after federal reparations are paid—we must also pursue institutional action. Crucial to this work is a pragmatic orientation to what philosopher Naomi Zack calls “applicative justice”—“applying justice to those who don’t now receive it”—as opposed to more idealistic conceptions of justice, whether derived from John Rawls or John Locke, on which some arguments for reparations are based.
This is exactly what we have tried to achieve in the design our new pilot initiative at Brigham and Women’s Hospital set to launch later this spring. Adapting Darity’s reparations framework of acknowledgment, redress, and closure (ARC) to an institutional level, we have designed a program—we call it a Healing ARC—with initiatives for all three components. Each centers Black and Latinx patients and community members: those most impacted by unjust heart failure management and under whose direction appropriate restitution can begin to take shape.
If it sounds to you like they are justifying discriminating against white people in the delivery of medical care, well, you’re right — but see, they’re doing it for Social Justice™. More:
Sensitive to these injustices, we have taken redress in our particular initiative to mean providing precisely what was denied for at least a decade: a preferential admission option for Black and Latinx heart failure patients to our specialty cardiology service. The Healing ARC will include a flag in our electronic medical record and admissions system suggesting that providers admit Black and Latinx heart failure patients to cardiology, rather than rely on provider discretion or patient self-advocacy to determine whether they should go to cardiology or general medicine. We will be analyzing the approach closely for the first year to see how well it works in generating equitable admissions. If it does, there will be good reason to continue the practice as a proven implementation measure to achieve equity.
I look forward to the lawsuits. I cannot imagine how this could be legal under the US Constitution — that Lockean document.
The underlying ideology behind the attempt to impose race-based health care is known as “critical race theory,” which holds that social inequality is caused by white racism against “people of color.” Critical race theory obscures the basic source of inequality—class society. The so-called “Public Health Critical Race Framework” has emerged in direct opposition to modern medical practice.
The basic tenet of this theory is that if one is the correct “color,” one is entitled to preferential treatment. This is a right-wing position, which explicitly denounces calls for unity across racial lines in a struggle for quality health care for all. It is a position with which white supremacists can agree, differing only on which “color” receives preferential treatment. And if race can be used to determine care for heart disease, what about other medical procedures, i.e., bypass surgery or dialysis? What about vaccinations for COVID-19?
From this “framework” flows the claim that the underlying problem in health care is “structural racism,” and the only solution is for Brigham’s and other hospitals to carry out reparations, termed “medical restitution,” to those deemed to have suffered from the hospital’s supposed unjust practices. According to the Boston Review authors, such restitution would involve at the very least “cash transfers and discounted or free care,” and be expanded to the federal level to include “taxes on nonprofit hospitals that exclude patients of color and race-explicit protocol changes.”
Using this outlook, representatives of the ruling class, and particularly those in and around the Democratic Party, are creating the fiction that the catastrophic health care situation facing the working population is not due to the decades of bipartisan social counterrevolution at the behest of Wall Street, including the mass defunding and privatization of public health care networks, but to inherent racial prejudices against all African Americans.
Obviously I don’t agree that racism is a “right-wing position,” nor do I agree with much of this socialist analysis. Still, it is really interesting to see actual socialists standing up against this neoracism.
Take a look at this essay by a doctor writing on the Journal of the American Medical Association Network, about vaccine inequity. She notes, accurately, that black communities are hesitant to take vaccines in part because of past abuses (e.g., the Tuskegee Experiment). But notice this creepy language:
Those of us who work in and with historically marginalized communities see strong evidence that equality does not equal equity. Equality means giving everyone the exact same resources, whereas equity involves distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients. Giving everyone equal access (eg, through online scheduling) has exacerbated inequities in vaccine uptake. When you prioritize equality over equity, you get the results we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Disparities grow wider and wider when we consider unequal access to broadband and internet, computers, time to visit online vaccine distribution sites to find an appointment, and the ability to drive hours across county and state lines for an appointment. We must develop and use strategies that provide equitable (not only equal) solutions to address the disparities we are witnessing.
She says later that communities of color should receive preferential medical treatment — a horrible idea, and a racist one. What is somewhat unnerving to me is the insistence on “equitable solutions.” At what point does human agency enter into the picture? A recent poll in my state showed that 40 percent of Louisiana Republicans do not want to take the Covid vaccine. If you are a Republican in Louisiana, there is an overwhelming likelihood that you are white. I think it’s foolish not to take the vaccine (I’m not a registered Republican, but I am a political conservative, and I took the shot), but I also believe that people have the right to make the decision for themselves, whatever their race. What’s to stop these “equity” obsessives from devising programs in which people are compelled to submit to vaccines, or other medical interventions, to satisfy abstract quotas?
If you want to know where else the Great Awokening of medicine is going, read this piece in Quillette, based on interviews the author, Angus Fox (a pseudonym to protect himself from cancellation), did with parents of minors who have been sucked into the gender transformation maelstrom. I’m going to do a separate post on this, but notice this passage:
This story is familiar to many parents with whom I’ve spoken. They call the phenomenon “institutional capture”: healthcare practitioners are either indoctrinated with absolutist beliefs about gender identity that would have been seen as radical until just a few years ago, or are so terrified of running afoul of affirmation dogmas that they simply refer patients on to someone else. As a result, Christine’s trust in the medical profession has collapsed. “In California, you have no power,” she tells me.
But it isn’t just in California, I’ve learned. All across the English-speaking world, many of the professionals to whom parents have turned for guidance now appear to have embraced priorities that diverge from the well-being of the children they treat. Rational analysis is out; gender justice is in.
In some ways, Christine and Max’s story is typical: a gifted boy with the common comorbidities of trans presentation (in this case, depression and ADHD) suddenly presenting himself as dysphoric in a way that a parent struggles to interpret as authentic. In other ways, the case is atypical: Max is conventionally athletic, for example, a characteristic that rarely correlates. But this phenomenon of institutional capture is a universal element in the stories I’ve heard. Christine uses the word “blindsided” to describe her reaction to the manner by which professionals seem to have all been enlisted in the same cultish outlook. A hyper-relativist interpretation of anything pertaining to gender is now simply ubiquitous in clinics and therapeutic practices. And while there may be plenty of therapists and doctors who disagree with it, few have the courage to speak out openly.
From Live Not By Lies:
A Soviet-born US physician told me—after I agreed not to use his name—that he never posts anything remotely controversial on social media, because he knows that the human resources department at his hospital monitors employee accounts for evidence of disloyalty to the progressive “diversity and inclusion” creed.
That same doctor disclosed that social justice ideology is forcing physicians like him to ignore their medical training and judgment when it comes to transgender health. He said it is not permissible within his institution to advise gender dysphoric patients against treatments they desire, even when a physician believes it is not in that particular patient’s health interest.
This is not happening in the USSR, where medicine was notoriously abused for ideological reasons. This is happening in the USA. We are in the grips of a civilizational madness. More and more, I meet people who seem desperate to deny the severity of what’s happening. They want to believe that everything is going to be okay.
It’s not going to be okay. The politruks (political commissars) have captured the institutions.
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Paul Rossi Lives Not By Lies
Today Bari Weiss publishes an essay by Paul Rossi, a teacher who no doubt will be fired for writing it. It starts like so:
I am a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan.Ten years ago, I changed careers when I discovered how rewarding it is to help young people explore the truth and beauty of mathematics. I love my work.
As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.
“Antiracist” training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising. It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race. Furthermore, in order to maintain a united front for our students, teachers at Grace are directed to confine our doubts about this pedagogical framework to conversations with an in-house “Office of Community Engagement” for whom every significant objection leads to a foregone conclusion. Any doubting students are likewise “challenged” to reframe their views to conform to this orthodoxy.
I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.
What follows are a series of descriptions of life in this ideological madhouse, stories that could have come straight out of the Soviet Union. They thoroughly vindicate the sense that the Soviet-bloc emigres I interviewed for Live Not By Lives have that a new form of totalitarianism is taking root in America. Excerpt:
My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed. Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions. The morally compromised status of “oppressor” is assigned to one group of students based on their immutable characteristics. In the meantime, dependency, resentment and moral superiority are cultivated in students considered “oppressed.”
All of this is done in the name of “equity,” but it is the opposite of fair. In reality, all of this reinforces the worst impulses we have as human beings: our tendency toward tribalism and sectarianism that a truly liberal education is meant to transcend.
Recently, I raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. (Such racially segregated sessions are now commonplace at my school.) It was a bait and switch “self-care” seminar that labelled “objectivity,” “individualism,” “fear of open conflict,” and even “a right to comfort” as characteristics of white supremacy. I doubted that these human attributes — many of them virtues reframed as vices — should be racialized in this way. In the Zoom chat, I also questioned whether one must define oneself in terms of a racial identity at all. My goal was to model for students that they should feel safe to question ideological assertions if they felt moved to do so.
It seemed like my questions broke the ice. Students and even a few teachers offered a broad range of questions and observations. Many students said it was a more productive and substantive discussion than they expected.
However, when my questions were shared outside this forum, violating the school norm of confidentiality, I was informed the head of the high school that my philosophical challenges had caused “harm” to students, given that these topics were “life and death matters, about people’s flesh and blood and bone.” I was reprimanded for “acting like an independent agent of a set of principles or ideas or beliefs.” And I was told that by doing so, I failed to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.”
He further informed me that I had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers” and “neurological disturbance in students’ beings and systems.” The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment.
A few days later, the head of school ordered all high school advisors to read a public reprimand of my conduct out loud to every student in the school. It was a surreal experience, walking the halls alone and hearing, simultaneously, the words emitting from each classroom: “Events from last week compel us to underscore some aspects of our mission and share some thoughts about our community,” the statement began. “At independent schools, with their history of predominantly white populations, racism colludes with other forms of bias (sexism, classism, ableism and so much more) to undermine our stated ideals, and we must work hard to undo this history.”
Students from low-income families experience culture shock at our school. Racist incidents happen. And bias can influence relationships. All true. But addressing such problems with a call to “undo history” lacks any kind of limiting principle and pairs any allegation of bigotry with a priori guilt. My own contract for next year requires me to “participate in restorative practices designed by the Office of Community Engagement” in order to “heal my relationship with the students of color and other students in my classes.” The details of these practices remain unspecified until I agree to sign.
Believe me, there’s so much more. Read the whole thing. You had better, if only to know the kind of bad, crazy place this fanatical “antiracist” ideology leads, so you can protect your school from it.
Grace Church School is a school “in the Episcopal tradition.” Here, from the school’s Episcopal Identity page, is part of what that means. Emphasis below mine:
Third, fourth and fifth graders take Bible class, which meets once a cycle all year in grades three and four, and for a half year in grade five. The third and fourth grades read Hebrew scriptures, and the fifth grade focuses on the New Testament. These sacred texts are taught neither as truth, nor as literature. Rather, they are presented as a body of powerful stories that have moved millions over thousands of years and serve as truth to those for whom they are true.
If you want to know what the real religion of Grace Church School is, go to the Antiracism, Equity, and Belonging page. Oh boy, is it a festival of upper-class Manhattan liberal crackpottery. Here is an excerpt from the school’s Inclusive Language Guide:
Parents pay $46,000 per year for this kind of indoctrination.
I’m sure Paul Rossi will be fired, or they will at least make it impossible for him to continue. If you want to hire an Ivy-educated (Cornell) mathematics teacher who is a man of courage and character, read the whole essay at Bari Weiss’s Substack; it contains an e-mail address on which you can write him. He also wants to hear from other teachers stuck in situations like his. Also, there’s information about a Clubhouse discussion tonight at 6pm Pacific time that Bari’s going to hold with Paul Rossi to talk about this problem.
UPDATE: A reader comments:
We cannot save Grace Church School, but we can still save our local institutions. If you notice Wokeness or CRT or transphilia creeping into your parish, YOU have to fight back. If your school, or university, or company is being infiltrated, YOU have to fight back. Do not assume anyone else will come to your aid. You can’t save the country, but dammit you can prevent the rot from spreading to your community. Do not assume you are too young or too old or too soft spoken or too socially awkward. There is no one better to fight back than you. Moses was an 80 year old geezer who literally needed Aaron to talk for him because he was so painfully shy. And yet he freed his people and brought the most powerful empire to its knees. Have faith in God.
He’s right. You need to keep your eyes wide open for this stuff coming to your kids’ school, and fight like hell against it if it does. Do not be intimidated by them calling you a racist or other names. If you don’t stand up, and convince other parents to stand up, you will lose the institution.
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Mob Rules Brooklyn Center
Over the weekend, I watched M, Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic in which Peter Lorre plays Hans Beckert, a child killer terrorizing Berlin, until he is captured by organized crime. They take him to an abandoned brewery for a mock trial. In the trial before the mob, Beckert pleads hysterically for his life, saying that yes, he’s a murderer, but he can’t help himself — that he is tormented by his evil compulsions. The mob is so enraged by him that it prepares to rush forward to tear him to bits with its bare hands, and is only stopped by the sudden appearance of the police. It is an extremely powerful scene: the child killer deserves to die for his crimes, but hearing his pitiful sobbing over these compulsions he can’t control, you understand that yes, there is a such thing as being criminally insane. Beckert should be punished for his crimes, but the law must handle this, not the mob. Besides — and this, I think, is Lang’s point — the mob too is gripped by a spirit of murder that it cannot control. The deranged killer and the mob are mirror images of each other.
The shooting of Daunte Wright was a travesty. The cop reached for her taser, grabbed her pistol by mistake, and killed him. Now, though, the mob is at work — and the Mayor and City Council of Brooklyn Center are doing its bidding:
Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey was fired on Monday evening, hours after he publicly disagreed with Mayor Mike Elliott’s assertion that the police officer who fatally shot a Black man in the Minneapolis suburb should be immediately fired in response to the incident.
“Effective immediately our city manager has been relieved of his duties, and the deputy city manager will be assuming his duties moving forward,” Elliott wrote on Twitter. “I will continue to work my hardest to ensure good leadership at all levels of our city government.”
The Brooklyn Center City Council voted to fire Boganey, a longtime city employee, during an emergency meeting, the Star Tribune reported. At the same meeting, the council voted to give the mayor command authority over the city’s police department.
During a virtual workshop after the meeting, Council Member Kris Lawrence-Anderson said she voted to fire Boganey out of fear of potential reprisals from protestors if she did not, according to the newspaper.
“He was doing a great job. I respect him dearly,” Lawrence-Anderson said. “I didn’t want repercussions at a personal level.”
They fired this city manager simply for calling for the basic constitutional right of due process for the accused police officer! The cop, like every other accused criminal, deserves a fair trial — and nobody should be punished for saying so! And this one council member openly admitted that she voted that way out of fear.
Meanwhile, justice-seekers are burning down a dollar store in town:
— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) April 13, 2021
And a Michigan Congresswoman calls for lawlessness:
Brooklyn Center sounds like a perfectly sane place to live. How pleasurable it must be to pay tax money to support racist indoctrination centers:
Brooklyn Center, MN schools policy:
“We honor that because of the permanence of racism, a district free of oppression is not attainable.”
“Everything we do must be directly shaped by these beliefs, anything less is inherently oppressive.” pic.twitter.com/03ot2RCcMs
— Steven Welliever (@StevenWelliever) April 12, 2021
The media is there to frame the Narrative:
The new propaganda and lies of critical race theory: Don’t let the facts get in the way of a narrative. pic.twitter.com/yPp81sYsif
— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) April 13, 2021
Mob rule is always and everywhere bad. It’s even bad when a careless police officer shoots and kills a man. So many forces are now in play to encourage mob behavior. If we don’t have the law, what do we have? We have a precursor to the kind of nation that Fritz Lang had to flee in 1933.
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Woke Capitalism = Progressive Oligarchy
This is outrageous. It really is, even if you think the cause is righteous. I will explain. But first, look at what happened over the weekend:
More than 120 CEOs, business leaders, lawyers and experts came together Saturday afternoon to discuss further action against voting legislation nationwide, attendees on the call said.
The group discussed numerous options to push back against the Republican-led efforts to restrict access to the ballot box, including pulling their donations, refusing to move business or jobs to states that pass restrictive measures, and relocating events, said one of the call’s organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.
“It was incredibly concrete,” said Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management.
The meeting was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.
Public statements, support for federal election legislation and involvement in voting rights-related legal action are all under consideration, said Mike Ward, co-founder of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group that encourages civic participation by businesses.
“This priority on democracy is being driven by consumers and by employees,” Ward said.
A wide variety of industries were represented: financial, pharmaceutical, travel, technology, retail and transportation. Notable attendees were Brad Karp of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments; Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss; and Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.
Representatives of AMC Theaters and three major airlines also attended.
“The overriding spirit is they don’t want politicians using wedge issues to try and solidify their hold on office, because that leads to angry communities and finger-pointing workforces and divided shareholders. It makes their job as CEOs harder to manage these constituents. They want social harmony,” Sonnenfeld said.
As corporate America continues to push back against a wave of restrictive voting laws under discussion across the United States, Big Law is joining the fight.
A coalition of 60 major law firms has come together “to challenge voter suppression legislation and to support national legislation to protect voting rights and increase voter participation,” said Brad Karp, the chairman of the law firm Paul Weiss and the organizer of the group, which has not been formally announced.
Mr. Karp said the coalition would “emphatically denounce legislative efforts to make voting harder, not easier, for all eligible voters, by imposing unnecessary obstacles and barriers on the right to vote.”
Many of Wall Street’s most powerful firms are also part of the effort, including Simpson Thacher; Skadden Arps; Akin Gump; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Ropes & Gray; Sullivan & Cromwell; Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Wachtell Lipton.
“We plan to challenge any election law that would impose unnecessary barriers on the right to vote and that would disenfranchise underrepresented groups in our country,” Mr. Karp said.
Do they know precisely what is being proposed by these voting laws? If they are mostly concerned about voters having to present identification to vote, they can suck eggs. People have to present IDs for all kinds of things. Doing so to vote legally is perfectly reasonable.
There is more to these proposals than voter ID, I know, and maybe some of the proposed reforms are unnecessary or otherwise wrongheaded. I don’t know what is being proposed in all these states, and I would bet my next paycheck that only a handful of these CEOs know. We do know that despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Georgia law makes Georgia’s voting rules still less restrictive than the ones in other states, like New York.
The point of my post is not about whether or not this or that state’s proposed voting reforms are good or bad public policy. The point is to talk about how outrageous it is that Big Business is involving itself in state legislation that has nothing at all to do with its activities in those states. Sonnenfeld’s line about how business leaders want “social harmony” is utter bullsh*t. They want social liberalism, and are willing to swing their economic weight around to get it. They did this in Indiana in 2015 to kill the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They’re going to do it here.
For years I have been told by lobbyists for churches and religious liberty organizations that major corporations have put heavy pressure on state legislators to kill religious liberty legislation. Why? First person who says “because corporations want social harmony” gets a cream pie in the face. If Big Business was promoting religious liberty legislation, the pleasure I would take in seeing laws I like supported by corporations would not be great enough to overcome the concern over Big Business involving itself like this in our democratic politics.
You know what would be impressive? If these titans of industry stood up to the Chinese government on behalf of the Uighur Muslims who are being genocided right now. None of them will, though, because they are greedy cowards.
This is progressive oligarchy. Woke Capitalism is a threat to democracy. As I write about in Live Not By Lies, these same people are eventually going to eagerly collaborate with government to create the Social Credit System necessary to make this country controllable.
When is it going to occur to people on the Left that Big Business is doing all this because it knows that if it makes the right moves on cultural issues that matter to the Woke, it will be able to do whatever it wants to workers? It has never had to worry about Republicans. That may be changing soon, if we elect a crop of populists who know how to do more than tweet and make belligerent but empty speeches. I’d like to see Republicans like this get elected, and get active to remind Big Business of its proper place:
UPDATE: I see that some folks just don’t get the alarm. Let me try a different way. Big Business is already quite powerful in our society. Do we really want a society in which Big Business reserves to itself the right to tell polities what their laws and policies are going to be, at the risk of punishing that polity economically if it resists? Does this sound like the kind of country you want to live in? If you are pro-choice, imagine that Big Business decided to threaten your state’s legislature with economic consequences if it doesn’t pass pro-life legislation. One expects the business lobby to engage itself on legislative questions pertaining to its own sphere, but beyond it? Big Business already has a lot of power over our lives — and now it wants more. The only force powerful enough to reign it in is the State. Whatever else you might say about the State, at least it is democratically accountable — unlike Big Business.
These guys get it – unlike the rest of the Conservative Corporate Complex. The window to exercise public control over these massively wealthy and powerful oligarchies is closing. The left is bought and paid for. Conservatives must act now, using the power of the state. https://t.co/2MT3dSdUoa
— Patrick Deneen (@PatrickDeneen) April 13, 2021