British Youth Choose Communist Over Gladstone
On Tuesday, outside a pizza restaurant in Budapest, I met a woman whose rural farm family had everything stolen from them by the Communists. Her grandfather buried the family jewelry somewhere on the farm, but forgot where. A neighbor who knew this ratted him out to the authorities, who led the grandfather around the farm with a pistol to his head, trying to get him to remember. Grandfather did two prison terms. The family went into exile, with nothing.
“Every family in this country has such a story,” she told me.
When I arrived back home, I wrote about this for the blog, and then spent some time online reading about the 1956 uprising against the Soviet occupiers. It is a story of sheer heroism and self-sacrificial patriotism. Here is a good, brief account of it. Excerpt:
Meanwhile, on 31 October, Khrushchev announced the Soviet government’s intention to hold discussions with the Hungarian government on the subject of Soviet troops on Hungarian territory. He even invited Nagy to send over a delegation to Moscow to start the negotiations. The people of Hungary rejoiced – they had done it; they had cowed the Soviet monster; they had forced the Soviet tanks back out of the country.
The following day, 1 November, without informing the Hungarians, Khrushchev changed his mind. Nagy, he concluded, had gone too far; this went much further than Poland. China’s Chairman Mao, who had been heckling Khrushchev for being weak, encouraged him to take a firmer line. As Mao pointed out, if Nagy delivered on these reforms, what sort of message would it send to other members of the Eastern Bloc? Its very foundation would be at risk. The Soviet leader decided to fight back after all.
On 1 November, receiving reports that Soviet tanks were back on Hungarian soil, Nagy confronted the Soviet Union’s ambassador in Hungary, Yuri Andropov. Andropov, who would become USSR’s premier from 12 November 1982 to his death, aged 69, on 9 February 1984, assured Nagy that the reports were false – there were no Soviet tanks on Hungarian soil. Indeed, two days’ later, the Soviet military command invited a Hungarian government delegation to attend a meeting to discuss the Soviet Union’s complete withdrawal from Hungary. The delegation, headed by Pal Maleter, arrived for the meeting. The meeting was nothing more than a ruse – Maleter and his delegation were immediately placed under arrest.
Friday 2 November was All Souls’ Day, the day people remember the dead. Church bells rang sombre tones, people lit candles and black flags hung everywhere.
At 9.30 p.m. on 3 November, in an operation codenamed ‘Whirlwind’, Soviet troops re-entered Hungary and approached the capital. In the early hours of Sunday 4th, the Soviets seized all the vital points of communication. By the time the insurgents had mustered, it was already too late. Together with the Hungarian army, they fought back but this time the Soviets were prepared – infantry, artillery, tanks and even air strikes decimated the city. The tanks reduced to rubble every building from which a single shot was fired.
As the city fell about him, Nagy appeared on Radio Budapest at 5.20 on the morning of 4 November:
‘This is Imre Nagy speaking. Today at daybreak Soviet forces started an attack against our capital, obviously with the intention to overthrow the legal Hungarian democratic government. Our troops are still fighting; the Government is still in its place. I notify the people of our country and the entire world of this fact.’
And that was it. Nagy’s voice disappeared – no one ever heard it again. Seconds later, the National Anthem played, not the communist version but the anthem that brought tears to patriotic hearts. A couple hours later, at 8.10, Radio Budapest broadcast its last appeal, ‘Help Hungary… help, help, help,’ before being taken off air.
The ‘entire world’ that Nagy had appealed to, ignored him. Western powers spoke loud words; the US condemned the attack as a ‘monstrous crime’; John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State, said, ‘To all those suffering under communist slavery, let us say you can count on us’. In the event, the US did nothing – the risks of venturing into an Eastern European conflict, and the potential for escalation, were too great. Great Britain and France were distracted by the emerging crisis over the Suez Canal and the US by presidential elections. The aid never materialised.
Soviet communism held Hungary captive for 33 more years. People who lived through it all have lessons for us today, as I write about in Live Not By Lies. Excerpt:
Defending the right to speak and write freely, even when it costs you something, is the duty of every free person. So says Mária Wittner, a hero of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet occupation. A communist court sentenced Wittner, then only twenty, to death, though this was later commuted to life imprisonment.
“Once I said to one of the guards in prison, ‘You are lying.’ For that alone, I was taken to trial again,” remembers the feisty Wittner. “The state prosecutor said to me, ‘Wittner, why did you accuse the guard of being a liar? Why didn’t you just say, ‘You’re not telling the truth’? I said, ‘It matters that we speak plainly.’”
For her insolence, Wittner was sent back to prison with extra punishments. She had to sleep on a wooden bed with no mattress and was given reduced rations. By the time her sentence was commuted and she was released, Wittner weighed scarcely one hundred pounds. Nevertheless, she insists that a broken body is a price worth paying for a strong and undefiled spirit.
“We live in a world of lies, whether we want it or not. That’s just the case. But you shouldn’t accommodate to it,” she tells me as I sit at her table in suburban Budapest. “You will be surrounded by lies—you don’t have a choice. Don’t assimilate to it. It’s an individual decision for each person. If you want to live in fear, or if you want to live in the freedom of the soul. If your soul is free, then your thoughts are free, and then your words are going to be free.”
Under hard totalitarianism, dissenters like Wittner paid a hard price for their freedom, but the terms of the bargain were clear. Under soft totalitarianism, it is more difficult to see the costs of compromising your conscience, but as Mária Wittner insists, you can’t escape the decisions. You have to live in a world of lies, but it’s your choice as to whether that world lives in you.
Here she was on the streets of Budapest in 1956:
And here she is today:
Mária Wittner, now in her eighties, is regarded by her countrymen as a national hero for fighting the Soviets when they invaded Hungary in 1956. She was only a teenager then. The communist regime arrested her shortly after she turned twenty, and a year later, sentenced her to death. Her sentence was later reduced because of her youth. But she endured terrible grief and pain in her eight months on death row.
“There was an execution either every day or every other day, by hanging,” she tells me. “The people who were being brought to the execution, each one said their name aloud and left some sort of message in their final words. Some sang the national anthem, others praised their country, there were people saying, “Avenge me!”
There were days when several people were hanged, even seven a day. Wittner’s friend Catherine was also sentenced to death. They spent Catherine’s last night together in the cell, and said their final goodbyes after sunrise. Wittner explains:
The guards took her. The last sight I saw of her was that she straightened herself up and went with her back ramrod straight. The door closed, and then I was left alone. I started to bang on the door, shouting, “Bring her back!” even though I knew perfectly well that it wouldn’t matter. Then I fainted. When I came to my senses, I swore to myself that I will never be silent about what I have seen, if I have the opportunity to bear witness.
This, she believes, is why her life was spared: so that she could to tell the world what the communists did to people like her.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about fear, as such,” she says. “What is fear? Someone who is afraid is going to be made to do the most evil things. If someone is not afraid to say no, if your soul is free, there is nothing they can do to you.”
The old woman looks at me across her kitchen table with piercing eyes. “In the end, those who are afraid always end up worse than the courageous.”
After reading about the 1956 events, I took one look through the UK papers before turning in. There, to my very great shock, I found this:
Woke students have forced Liverpool University to rebrand an accommodation block named after William Gladstone because of his family’s links to slavery.
Gladstone Halls will be renamed after racial inequality campaigner Dorothy Kuya, who was the city’s first community slavery officer.
But the move has caused fury among members of the faculty, with politics professor Dr David Jeffrey slamming the decision as ‘shameful’.
He added: ‘Liverpool University is shamefully going ahead with renaming Gladstone Hall. Named after one of our greatest Prime Ministers and one of Liverpool’s most consequential political exports.
‘He worked for the abolition of slavery and never owned slaves himself.’
Gladstone – the British prime minister between 1868 and 1894 – never owned slaves himself, but his family had links to the trade.
The move to change the name of the halls was first touted in 2017, when students signed an online petition.
Alisha Raithatha, from Birmingham, spent her first year at Liverpool University living in the Roscoe and Gladstone Halls.
She did not realise Gladstone’s links to slavery until making a trip to the city’s slavery museum.
‘I didn’t realise — I don’t think anybody did,’ she told the Liverpool Echo. ‘I looked it up and realised William Gladstone wasn’t in favour of abolishing slavery. I was a bit disgusted to live in the building without realising that history.’
So she began a petition on the Liverpool Guild of Students’ website, explaining she was ‘horrified’ by the news about Gladstone’s past.
‘We believe,’ the petition said, that ‘someone with this controversial background should not have a university hall named after them, especially in a city where we try hard not to forget the atrocities that took place on our docks.’
In a follow up tweet after the final decision was made in March, Dr David added: ‘We’re post-truth. It doesn’t matter what the facts are, if you can kick up a storm on social media you can bully your way to getting what you want.
‘Liverpool’s going to be a historically barren place if you erase everyone who was even close to someone who owned slaves.’
Gladstone, a Liberal politician, once campaigned for compensation for slave owners after the abolition of the horrific practice but also dubbed slavery the ‘foulest crime.’
The university halls will be now named after Liverpudlian race campaigner Ms Kuya.
Dorothy Kuya was a leading member of the Communist Party of Britain. She is being honored by these students for her work against racism in Britain, but that cannot begin to blot out her great moral crime. The British CP was founded on Lenin’s orders, and slavishly followed Moscow’s line. When Stalin signed a peace treaty with Hitler, it suddenly switched to oppose fighting Hitler. Then, when Hitler attacked the USSR, the CP of Britain was back onside. Dorothy Kuya stayed with the party after the 1956 Hungary invasion. She stayed with the party after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. She stayed with the party after the Cambridge spy ring betrayed her own country for the Soviets. She stayed with the party after the publication of The Gulag Archipelago. To her dying day, Kuya supported the ideology for whose principles scores of millions were murdered.
Gladstone? The 19th century liberal was one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers. He condemned the slave trade. But his father made money in part from slavery, so that makes him an untouchable, according to these British students, for whom “antiracism” is such a sacred cause that it absolves its proponents of any moral crimes.
I would love to see someone take Maria Wittner and other heroes of 1956 to Liverpool to tell those students what Communism is. I’m serious. They ought to name a hall there after Maria Wittner, who put her life on the line to oppose totalitarianism. If this initiative in Liverpool doesn’t shock the conscience of those who are old enough to remember Communism, and compel us to retrieve the truth from the memory hole, we are well and truly lost. In Live Not By Lies, I mention a conversation with a young California woman who told me that she has become a Communist. “What about the gulags?” I said to her. She had no idea what I was talking about!
And now, in Liverpool, the young prefer a lifelong lackey of brute Soviet power to William Gladstone. In last night’s post recounting the conversation I had with the Hungarian woman at the restaurant, I recalled her saying that she had lived for a time in Britain, but left in part because she couldn’t stand the constant social tension there over race. She got tired of being told that she was privileged because she’s white. She said she tried to defend herself by saying that her family was ruined by Communism, and so forth, but these British antagonists refused to hear it. She is white, and that’s all they felt that they needed to know.
Ideas have consequences, folks. Here in Hungary, people ask me about my book. I tell them it has sold well despite an almost total blackout from the mainstream media. I have nothing to complain about — as I said, the book is selling well — but it is quite telling that nobody in the mainstream media wants to hear what those who survived Communism are saying about what the woke are doing to our country. I have an interview scheduled for a Hungarian TV show later today. I’m going to try to find an opportunity to talk about this moral atrocity in Liverpool, and urge Hungarians who remember to speak out, loudly.
I know this blog has a readership among US and UK journalists. Not all of them are woke, or water-carriers for the illiberal Left. Y’all, come on: tell the stories of these people! Listen to what they are saying! Ignore my book if you like — that’s fine, I’ve made my money from it — but don’t ignore Maria Wittner, and all the others. They have something vital to tell us. If you can’t see what the students of Liverpool have done — and what the administrators of that college have allowed them to do — and be shocked by what it says about the loss of historical memory, then you are part of the problem.
What a strange thing to be sitting in a former Communist country, watching all this play out in the West. This period feels like I imagine the 1930s did, that “low, dishonest decade” (Auden). I’m going to spend as much time as I have here in Hungary to find more people like Maria Wittner, and write about them in this space.
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James Matthew Wilson Lights A Candle
Earlier this spring, the University of St. Thomas in Houston announced the founding of a Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. What sets it apart is that it will be thoroughly Catholic, and led by one of the most gifted poets alive today, James Matthew Wilson, who is leaving Villanova University to help run the program. I’ve known James for some time now, as we became friends when I lived in Philadelphia. He is a deeply literate man, and a thoroughly orthodox Catholic. I sat in one of his Villanova undergraduate classes once, and saw that he is one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever been around.
When he sprang the news about the new MFA program on me, I asked James if he would give me an interview about it when he had the time. He consented, and over the past few days, I’ve been sending him questions, and he’s been sending me answers. Talking with James about this program is important to me, because I spend so much time lamenting the collapse of the academic humanities. Here, for once, is some truly good — no, great — news.
The interview follows:
ROD DREHER: What is the new MFA program about? Why were you interested in it?
JAMES MATTHEW WILSON: The MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Saint Thomas is in some ways a first of its kind. Master of Fine Arts programs have been around for a number of decades, and they are often a wonderful opportunity for aspiring writers to hone and develop their craft, to achieve greater discipline and concentration, and to expand their knowledge of the canons of great literature and the philosophy behind it. Many of the conventions of contemporary literary writing are unsatisfactory and uninspiring, however, and much of the academy, as is only too well known, is hostile both to a classical vision of the liberal and fine arts and to a Christian vision of the world.
The result has been damaging and in two different ways. First, contemporary literature, which does have many strengths, is nonetheless impoverished of the spiritual and intellectual depth that makes books worth reading and which, indeed, makes books life-changing. Second, many persons, Christians included, who love literature and want to make a good work, find themselves pushed aside or excluded altogether in the contemporary literary world.
This damaging situation has been changing, and in some ways for the better. Over the last several years, many writers, both established and aspiring, have been attempting to restore greater breadth and depth and also a surer sense of formal excellence to contemporary letters. Our program will first and foremost serve to give those developments an institutional home. We want ever interested writer who cares about the craft and traditions of poetry, the short story, the novel, and good writing of any kind, to feel welcome in our doors.
But we want to establish that home in a distinctive way. Namely, we see the Catholic literary and intellectual tradition as a great, capacious, indeed universal vision, that embraces everything good in human history, thought, art, and literature and seeks to hold it together. The Catholic literary tradition embraces with delight the concrete, the particular, the “secular,” and, in a word, all that is Incarnate. But it also insists that those things are good in themselves precisely insofar as they belong to a larger order, the realm of the cosmos and of creation. In being themselves they reveal an infinity beyond themselves. Isn’t that what it’s like to see something beautiful? To read something powerful? We say to ourselves, “It is good that you exist!” And then we plunge in and realize that nothing exists alone, that one thing leads to another, and that beauty in particular leads us by its light all the way up to the foot of God’s throne.
Ours will be the first MFA program that roots itself in the Catholic literary tradition. We are at the service of the Church, but we are also at the service of the world. You don’t have to be Catholic to fall in love with Flannery O’Connor’s work; you just have to have a soul. We want to help writers create new works that will appeal to anyone with a soul. It seems strange to suggest that this is not the consensus vision of MFA programs in general, but I don’t think it is. For this reason I think many aspiring writers, who were previously uninterested in pursuing an MFA degree, will seek us out.
They may seek us out for still another reason. We are primarily an online, no-residency program. Most aspiring writers have other things going on in their lives. They have families and professions, but they want to write and publish a book. We aim to make that possible. And we aim to make it possible while approximating as closely as possible to traditional in-person, residential academic study. While our degree can be completed online, we will have residential opportunities up to twice a year. Writers are a lonesome bunch; many a writer does not even know another person who engages with the art. We want to help such people meet each other and help one another become better.
When I was asked to start this program, I said yes right away. I know there is a good number of contemporary scholars and intellectuals trying to build up alternative institutions of liberal learning that can stand apart from, and even athwart, the present intellectual, political, and bureaucratic decline of the academy as a whole. As important as the liberal arts are — and they are the most important possible thing — we are no less in need of institutions that support the fine arts: the making of new works that continue and deepen our tradition, that keep the past alive by making something new. My whole life has been given to defending and advancing both the liberal arts and the fine arts and to showing how integral they are to one another. Here is my chance to put that life on the line, as it were, for the sake of building something new.
A lot of readers are going to be startled by your claim that this is the first MFA program rooted in the Catholic literary and intellectual tradition. What about all the Catholic universities in the country?
Let me answer that question in two ways, first with reference to our program, and second, at a more general level.
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I just made it home from having dinner al fresco with a Sicilian friend from church. He took me to an Italian place he likes. I had my first Dreher beer of this Budapest trip. Dreher is a Hungarian brand, founded by Anton Dreher, the Austrian who invented Vienna-style lager. They say it “dree-herr”. Anyway, the food was good, and as we left our table to walk home on this cool night, my Sicilian pal saw sitting behind us a woman who was a former colleague at a company in Budapest. She is Hungarian, but speaks Italian. Off they went chatting in his native tongue. It fell to me to talk to her dining companion, a Hungarian whose name I won’t use, just to be on the safe side. I’ll call her Eva. My good fortune — she turned out to be really interesting.
Eva, who must be in her late twenties or early thirties, talked about how frustrating the Covid crisis has been — nothing surprising there. Eventually we got around to talking about politics, just general things. She said that she has grown weary of the Orban government, “but the Left, my God, they are really crazy. They have nothing to offer — they just oppose whatever the government supports. We could stand to have a smart opposition here. The government has a two-thirds majority in the Parliament, which means that they can do whatever they want. That’s not good for them, and it’s not good for democracy. But the Left is hopelessly bad.”
She works for an international business, and said she had lived for a few years in England, but got out in part because she was so wearied by the social tension. “The racial stuff was bad,” she said. “Over and over, black people in England kept telling me how privileged I was. I told them, ‘Do you know that I come from a country that was communist? Nobody had anything!’ None of that mattered. All they could see was that I am white, and that meant I am guilty.”
I told her about my recent book, and that this was exactly the kind of thing that made people in the US who had lived with Communism and gotten out say that a form of totalitarianism is emerging in America. The idea that your individual guilt or innocence doesn’t matter, that only your class, or your race, or some other characteristic, determined whether you are Good or Evil — that was how it was under Communism, and that’s how it is becoming in the West.
“Absolutely,” she said. Then she told me that her family had owned land in the countryside, and were prosperous farmers (“They were like kulaks — do you know the word?”). They had everything taken from them when the Communists took over. Her grandfather buried the family jewelry somewhere on the farm, but forgot about where. One of the neighbors knew he had buried it, and informed the police. They marched him around the farm with a gun to his head, ordering him to show them the jewelry, but he genuinely couldn’t remember. He did a couple of jail terms, she said. The family lost everything.
“Every family in this country has a similar story,” she said.
Eva said that it grieves her that so few people today know what Communism was, and how many lives it destroyed. This is why a version of it is coming back. I could have talked to her all night. She told me that she had once been in Australia, and was tasked with organizing an event for Hungarians who had fought in the 1956 rebellion against Soviet occupation. These ’56ers were heroes to her, and it was a privilege to do this to honor them. Eva said that they all came up to her afterward, expressing their gratitude with high emotion. They were just so pleased that what they had gone through, and what it meant, had not been forgotten. Their reaction overwhelmed her, Eva said, and made her proud to have taken part in giving something back.
UPDATE: I should have added this. On the long walk to our neighborhood, the Sicilian mentioned that he was leaving later this week for another EU country to look for work. Now that you’re leaving, what do you think of Budapest? I asked.
“It’s a beautiful city. It’s not like so many other European cities. If you go to Rome, it looks like the Third World on the streets. We don’t recognize our own countries anymore. These immigrants keep coming. Nobody wants them there, but nobody stops them.”
I brought up the letter that twenty retired French army generals had signed, warning of civil war in France over Islamist control of suburbs. Do you think civil war is possible in France? I asked.
“France, I don’t know. It is possible in Italy.”
“But you don’t have the Islamist problem that France does.”
“No, but a civil war in Italy would be fought for different reasons. If you go to Rome, you will see police with machine guns everywhere. It’s the same in other cities in Europe.”
“Yes, a reader of my blog posted in the comments a photo he took outside of his window in Brussels. It showed two soldiers, or maybe police officers, with machine guns. You don’t see that in the US. But then, we don’t have the problem with radical Islam that Europe does.”
“You will see the same thing in my town in Sicily,” he said. “Do you think we have Islamic terrorism in Sicily?”
“I guess not.”
“Those police with the big guns are not there to protect us from Islamists. They are there to protect government officials from the people.”
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It’s The Little Things
A reader writes:
Here’s a follow-up of sorts to the e-mail I sent you a couple weeks ago with the RiteAid vaccine form asking for “sex assigned at birth.” The screenshot below is from Activity Hero (activityhero.com), a very popular site that parents use to find and sign up for children’s day camps, classes, and other activities. Many organizations use its services and direct you there to register and pay. As I was updating my children’s profiles, I noticed some new choices — see the screenshot below. I’ve removed identifying information. I clicked on “Custom” for gender and for “How do you prefer to be addressed?” to show the boxes that appear for entering your child’s “custom gender” and “custom pronoun.” (It’s not clear from the way it’s presented, but they are asking for the child’s gender and pronoun, not “yours.” And of course they really mean “referred to” rather than “addressed.”)Once something like this starts to spread, there’s no stopping it these days. The wide array of sex/gender/pronoun options will very quickly become the new norm, and resisters and stragglers will be a-woke-n by hook or by crook to the need to go beyond the binary boxes we’ve been forced into all these millenia. I mean, why wouldn’t you adopt the new, inclusive scheme? It doesn’t hurt anyone to offer the choices — but it may save a child’s life. Do you really hate trans people that much?And once it’s established — who will change the forms (bathroom doors, etc.) back to the old ways, even if the trans-fad passes? The ratchet effect will apply, and we’ll be stuck with it for a very long time.
In Poland, Skibiński explains, the only long-lasting social institutions that existed were the church and the family. In the twentieth century, the twin totalitarianisms tried to capture and destroy the Polish Catholic Church. Communism attempted to break apart the family by maintaining a monopoly on education and teaching young people to be dependent on the state. It also sought to lure the young away from the church by convincing them that the state would be the guarantors of their sexual freedom.
“The thing is, now such tendencies come from the West, which we have always looked up to, and regarded as a safe place,” he says. “But now many Poles start to develop the awareness that the West is no longer safe for us.
“What we see now is an attempt to destroy the last surviving communities: the family, the church, and the nation. This is one connection between liberalism and communist theory.”
Skibiński focuses on language as a preserver of cultural memory. We know that communists forbade people to talk about history in unapproved ways. This is a tactic today’s progressives use as well, especially within universities.
What is harder for contemporary people to appreciate is how we are repeating the Marxist habit of falsifying language, hollowing out familiar words and replacing them with a new, highly ideological meaning. Propaganda not only changes the way we think about politics and contemporary life but it also conditions what a culture judges worth remembering.
I mention the way liberals today deploy neutral-sounding, or even positive, words like dialogue and tolerance to disarm and ultimately defeat unaware conservatives. And they imbue other words and phrases—hierarchy, for example, or traditional family—with negative connotations.
Recalling life under communism, the professor continues, “The people who lived only within such a linguistic sphere, who didn’t know any other way to speak, they could really start believing in this way of using of words. If a word carries with it negative baggage, it becomes impossible to have a discussion about the phenomenon.”
Teaching current generations of college students who grew up in the postcommunist era is challenging because they do not have a natural immunity to the ideological abuse of language. “For me, it’s obvious. I remember this false use of language. But for our students, it’s impossible to understand.”
How did people keep hold of reality under communist conditions? How do they know not only what to remember but how to remember it? The answer was to create distinct small communities—especially families and religious fellowships—in which it was possible both to speak truthfully and to embody truth.
“They had social spaces where the real meaning of words was preserved,” he says. “For me, it’s less important to argue with such a view of the world”—progressivism, he means—“than to describe reality as it is. For example, our task is to show people what a normal, monogamous family looks like.”
To paraphrase Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is not by winning an argument but by keeping yourself grounded in reality that you carry on the human heritage.
We have to insist among ourselves, at least, that we call things by their true names. We have to teach our children, as Vaclav and Kamila Benda did, as anticommunist dissidents in Prague, that the picture of the world given to us by the world is a malevolently constructed lie. This is very difficult to do, and most people will not want to do it. Most people will capitulate. Most people capitulated to the Communist lie.
But what choice is there? Look at the stakes. Live not by lies.
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In The Navy
A reader writes, in response to my earlier CIA goes woke post:
If the CIA and the military have been conquered by Wokeness, then the culture war has been won by the Left. Take a look at what the Navy decided to celebrate recently:
I highly doubt these four were assigned to a crew and discovered by happenstance they were all gay. This was deliberate and a sign that LGBTQ not only serve openly in the military, but their culture and politics are the de facto norm in the services. The Navy clearly set this up as a propaganda move. You don’t have to harbor any ill will towards those in the LGBTQ community to know this is totally unbecoming of military professionalism and a sure sign our military isn’t any different from those of any other totalitarian society of yesteryear. A military consumed by ideology isn’t any kind of profession of arms.Honestly, I don’t know how this helicopter would perform in a war. I don’t know how well our military as a whole would perform in a major-power conflict like the one the Pentagon is preparing for. What I do know is that our military and intelligence services can no longer be relied upon. History has proven, time and again, that militaries that become politicized tend to be very ineffective and are veritable meat-grinders of human life. If they’re good at anything, they’re good at suppressing their own people and, even there, they’re not all that effective. Like so much of our population, the military is in a performative stage, thinking they can do and say almost anything but there won’t be any actual consequences for it. Likewise, the leadership is letting it all happen because, as Gray Connolly said recently (I can’t find the tweet, unfortunately), they effectively sell themselves to the highest bidder, be it in politics or the private sector.Rod, this isn’t a professional military. Not by a long shot. The only reason the military still has a veneer of professionalism is because of there are still men and women at the lower levels, who do all the hard work, who still hold that line without being distracted by the Wokeness. But how much longer can they do so? A glass ceiling has been put in place where it’s impossible for anyone to advance unless they keep their mouths shut and “perform” the prescribed dance. Some of them manage to do it, but many can’t and won’t.Meanwhile, in France, the military is threatening a coup d’etat to prevent the downfall of the country. At this point, I have to wonder, what’s worse? A military willing to take over our government at will? Or a military that’ll just stand by as our country self-destructs?
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of Parliament,
The hour is serious, France is in danger, several mortal dangers threaten it. We who, even in retirement, remain soldiers of France, cannot, in the current circumstances, remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country.
Our tricolor flags are not just a piece of cloth, they symbolize the tradition, through the ages, of those who, whatever their skin color or their faith, served France and gave their lives for it. On these flags, we find in gold letters the words “Honor and Fatherland”. However, our honor today lies in the denunciation of the disintegration which strikes our homeland.
– Discrimination which, through a certain anti-racism, is displayed with a single goal: to create on our soil a malaise, even hatred between the communities. Today, some speak of racialism, indigenism and decolonial theories, but through these terms it is the racial war that these hateful and fanatic partisans want. They despise our country, its traditions, its culture, and want to see it dissolve by taking away its past and its history. Thus they attack, through statues, ancient military and civilian glories by analyzing words that are centuries old.
– Discrimination which, with Islamism and the suburban hordes, leads to the detachment of multiple plots of the nation to transform them into territories subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution. However, each Frenchman, whatever his belief or his non-belief, is everywhere at home in France; there cannot and must not exist any city, any district where the laws of the Republic do not apply.
– Discrimination, because hatred takes precedence over brotherhood during demonstrations where the power uses the police as auxiliary agents and scapegoats in the face of French people in yellow vests expressing their despair. This while infiltrated and hooded individuals ransack businesses and threaten these same police forces. However, the latter only apply the directives, sometimes contradictory, given by you, the rulers.
Perils are mounting, violence is increasing day by day. Who would have predicted ten years ago that a professor would one day be beheaded when he left college? However, we, servants of the Nation, who have always been ready to put our skin at the end of our engagement — as required by our military state, cannot be in front of such acts of the passive spectators.
Also, those who lead our country must imperatively find the courage necessary to eradicate these dangers. To do this, it is often sufficient to apply existing laws without weakness. Do not forget that, like us, a large majority of our fellow citizens are overwhelmed by your dabbling and guilty silence.
As Cardinal Mercier, Primate of Belgium, said: “When prudence is everywhere, courage is nowhere. “ So, ladies and gentlemen, enough stalling, the situation is serious, work is enormous; do not waste time and know that we are ready to support policies which will take into consideration the safeguard of the nation.
On the other hand, if nothing is done, laxity will continue to spread inexorably in society, ultimately causing an explosion and the intervention of our active comrades in a perilous mission of protecting our civilizational values and safeguarding our compatriots on the national territory.
As we can see, it is no longer time to procrastinate, otherwise, tomorrow the civil war will put an end to this growing chaos, and the deaths, for which you will bear the responsibility, will number in the thousands.
The letter caused a sensation in France. An opinion poll taken after its release showed that 58 percent of French voters — including almost half of President Macron’s voters — supported the letter.Here’s a Nathan Pinkoski piece from First Things explaining the context. Excerpts:
From an American perspective, the whole text is astonishing. It would be impossible to find twenty retired American generals, let alone two, who would dare suggest that the logic of “antiracism” entails racial warfare.
But in France, the letter speaks to conventional political debates. Macron and his ministers now launch regular attacks on antiracism and identity politics, arguing that this American-made ideology threatens national unity and the integrity of the Republic. A recent poll indicates that 74 percent of the French think “antiracism” has the opposite effect. It is also not unusual to speak about the threat of war, even civil war, breaking out on French soil. In 2015, after Islamists killed 130 people on the streets of Paris, President François Hollande declared that France was at war. In 2016, Patrick Calvar, the head of DGSI (France’s internal security agency) said that France was “on the edge of a civil war.” And another group of generals has just released a short report on how a “hybrid war” has been declared against France.
As a result, it is unlikely that the letter will change much of the national conversation. Still, it is significant because it raises the question of what role the army now plays in France’s beleaguered Republic, what role it has historically played, and what parallels exist.
Pinkoski explains how, since World War II, the stability of various French governments have depended on the Army. More:
Moreover, the army is under considerable duress. Since the 2015 Muslim attacks in Paris, the French army patrols the entire country. Having decided to give up machine guns at the frontiers to allow open borders, France now has machine guns on every street corner. The army patrols cities, train stations, and airports. It defends schools and synagogues, and appears in front of churches during Christian holidays. Unlike in the past few decades, the French now feel closer to the army because they see more of it; the regularity of the Islamist attacks reminds them why the soldiers are there, and they are grateful. Unlike the police, who have spent the past year issuing fines for not wearing masks, the army preserves its reputation.
Of course “antiracism” instigates racism. The French are correct on this. But in the US, some of our own military leadership is pushing Ibram X. Kendi’s crackpot antiracist book. The US Navy advises its sailors to read the book. And there’s more.Macron and other French leaders are entirely justified in wanting to keep this insane, society-destroying ideology out of their country.
Keep in mind that the reader who e-mailed me that isn’t objecting to gays in the military. He’s objecting to the military centering LGBT cultural politics. Just do your job and fly the damn helicopter, not the damn flag.
Anyway, I guess there’s no possibility that any of our retired generals will sign a letter telling the military to get its head out of its woke rear end and focus on fighting actual wars, not the culture war. A friend who works in the national security field messaged me to say:
I think as the West becomes more and more ideological we are going to be very surprised by how many countries choose Russia or China over an increasingly decaying West.
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CIA & The Woke Totalitarian Generation
You have to watch this. You really do. It’s jaw-dropping. It’s a new CIA recruitment ad:
She is an unnamed Latina Millennial who says she has been “diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder,” and is “cisgender.” She goes on to say, “I am intersectional, but my existence is not a box-checking exercise,” and that she had doubts about her place at the agency, but then decided she would refuse “to internalize misguided, patriarchal ideas of what a woman can or should be.”
Here’s one in which a CIA librarian talks about how awesome it is that he can talk about being gay at work, and how affirming the CIA is:
Here’s a clip from a blind woman talking about how she feared rejection when she applied at the CIA, but it’s such a caring and inclusive employer that it all worked out. A still from her video:
She doesn’t mention she’s gay, or pro-LGBT, but the agency wants to make sure you know that she can advertise that at work.
Here’s a testimonial from a black female Millennial who says how important it was that an “ally” at the agency stood up for her. She loves working at CIA because, she says, there are people there committed to “holding CIA accountable for the diversity and inclusion that it champions.”
What’s going on here? The CIA has gone woke? Seems like it. As absurd as it is, this tells us something about the kind of people the CIA wants to recruit. Notice how important identity is to these people. The Latina has no problem advertising her mental problems, which is fine, I guess, but why would the CIA want to emphasize that being mentally ill is no barrier to success at the agency? I mean, I’m grateful that the agency recognizes that non-neurotypical people can still contribute, but it’s a very strange thing to feature in a recruitment ad. I suppose they must recognize that a lot of Millennials are nervous wrecks. But honestly, is it a good idea to telegraph to the world that the CIA is administered by people with anxiety disorders? It is telling that the agency touts this woman’s trauma as part of her identity.
I recall a conversation I had once with a European friend who did graduate work at Harvard. He said the thing that impressed him the most about the students there was how emotionally and psychologically fragile these American elites are — even as they have no doubt at all that they are meant to run the world. This anxious cisgender intersectional Latina CIA officer strikes me as an embodiment of what he’s talking about.
If I were a non-woke person, I wouldn’t go anywhere near the CIA seeking employment. The CIA seems to have discovered what Woke Capitalists have done: if you co-opt the cultural left, you no longer have to worry about them. But personnel, inevitably, is policy. Now we will have the US intelligence agency working to advance wokeness overseas. The agency might want to put out feelers to Donovan Barnes, a Georgetown undergraduate student of Arabic who opines in the campus newspaper that language students have a responsibility to make Arabic woke. Excerpt:
While the current gender-neutral standard in Arabic may have its flaws, the standard remains an option for nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. The push for gender inclusivity in Arabic is ongoing, and the Georgetown community must facilitate the conversation on gender inclusivity within Arabic courses. Deviation from the norm would certainly raise some traditionalist eyebrows, however, and not in a curious, eager-to-accommodate way.
Arabic has historical and contemporary ties with Islam and religious tradition, and it may be challenging to deviate from the language’s norms. Nonetheless, Arabic speakers whose gender identities do not align with the norms of the language should not have to compromise their identity. They deserve representation.
Acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Arabic-speaking countries is low. Many countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have laws forbidding LGBTQ+ behavior. Societal acceptance of all gender identities is an ongoing battle, but creating gender-inclusive pronouns in all languages is a significant step in achieving equality. A 2019 study showed an increase in support for the LGBTQ+ community when language included gender-neutral options. A more inclusive society begins with more inclusive language. Encouraging language exploration would uplift the LGBTQ+ community and contribute to a safer, more inclusive environment for the community.
Institutions of higher learning like Georgetown can and should be at the forefront of this gender-inclusive conversation. Instructors can encourage student experimentation and the eventual standardization of gender-neutral language and pronouns in Arabic courses. Students can help their LGBTQ+ peers feel included and valid through language exploration. Organizations like the Georgetown University Press — a university-affiliated publisher of books and journals — can include gender-neutral language in their Arabic education materials. Students, instructors and publications can set the precedent for all others to follow.
Cultural imperialism, woke-style. He’ll fit in well at the new CIA.
But seriously, the CIA might find a recruitment boon among the Snitchiest Generation:
Spoke to an English teacher from an elite NYC private school. She says colleagues r miserable with the new woke regime. Students are the commissars, shouting about “harm” and “trauma” in the presence of any idea or book deviating from orthodoxy. Administrators r scared of them.
— Kay Hymowitz (@KayHymowitz) May 2, 2021
This is the generation that Woke Capitalism has learned to exploit. From Live Not By Lies:
The embrace of aggressive social progressivism by big business is one of the most underappreciated stories of the last two decades. Critics call it “woke capitalism,” a snarky theft of the left-wing slang term indicating progressive enlightenment. Woke capitalism is now the most transformative agent within the religion of social justice, because it unites progressive ideology with the most potent force in American life: consumerism and making money.
In his 2018 letter to investors, Larry Fink, CEO of the global investment company BlackRock, said that corporate social responsibility is now part of the cost of doing business.
“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Poll results about consumer expectations back Fink up. Millennials and Generation Z customers are especially prone to seeing their consumer expenditures as part of creating a socially conscious personal brand identity. For many companies, then, signaling progressive virtues to consumers is a smart business move in the same way that signaling all-American patriotism would have been to corporations in the 1950s.
But what counts as a “positive contribution to society”? Corporations like to brand themselves as being in favor of a predictable constellation of causes, all of them guiding stars of the progressive cosmos. Woke capitalist branding harnesses the unmatched propaganda resources of the advertising industry to send the message, both explicitly and implicitly: the beliefs of social conservatives and religious traditionalists are obstacles to the social good.
The US military is woking up, as we know. Now the CIA is woking up as a champion of “diversity and inclusion,” and angst-ridden intersectionality. You can be sure that the FBI and NSA are doing so, or soon will be. We are now in the process of uniting American military and intelligence power to progressive social causes. Gosh, what could go wrong?
UPDATE: A reader who is in a position to know what he’s talking about — I’ll leave it at that — tells me that this is exactly the kind of strategy that Woke Capital has been pursuing, but adapted to the intelligence field. The idea is that if the CIA emphasizes cultural progressivism, the Left won’t care about the security state growing. And, my source says, the CIA is just mirroring the recruiting strategy of prestige colleges.