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Amy Thomas Will Save America

Fed-up mom Amy Thomas reads the riot act to a Kansas school board trying to backdoor Critical Race Theory (Source)

The least shocking news of the summer:

As President Joe Biden completed 100 days in office, the country was optimistic about the coming year, but now, just after hitting the six-month mark, Americans’ optimism about the direction of the country has plummeted nearly 20 points, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

A majority — 55% — of the public say they are pessimistic about the direction of the country, a marked change from the roughly one-third (36%) that said the same in an ABC News/Ipsos poll published May 2. In the early May survey, Americans were more optimistic than pessimistic by a 28-percentage point margin. Optimism is now under water by 10 points. Looking ahead to the next 12 months, fewer than half — 45% — now report feeling optimistic about the way things are going, a significant drop from about two-thirds (64%) in the May poll.

The decline in optimism has occurred across the board among Democrats, Republicans and independents. Optimism is down about 20 points among Democrats and Republicans and down 26 points among independents. Among Democrats, about 7 in 10 (71%) now say they are optimistic about the direction of the country over the next 12 months.

Violent crime is up. The southern border is open. Covid is not conquered. And everywhere we turn, wokeness conquers. Last week at a rock concert here in Budapest, I met in the crowd a Hungarian soldier who had recently returned from training at a US military base. He told me he was shocked by the things he saw. Among the most shocking was the demoralization among American troops. He said that those he talked to were scared to say anything around those they didn’t already deeply trust, out of fear that they would be turned in to superiors as suspected “extremists”. It sounds like the political witch hunt within our woke armed forces is doing wonders for unit cohesion and morale.

Yesterday I heard from a white Evangelical friend back in the US who said that many churches and Bible studies he knows about are splitting over Critical Race Theory. He spoke of a longstanding Bible study group in which a family member participates, which broke up after one member announced that everything they talk about henceforth should be analyzed through the lens of “systemic racism.” Introducing race ideology into the Bible study caused friends to turn on each other. Now it’s over, that Bible study. Dissolved by mutual mistrust and hostility.

As goes a Bible study, so goes the country. You watch.

Take a look at this short, brave blast by Amy Thomas, a mom in Overland Park, Kansas, who is sick of being gaslighted by the Blue Valley school district, which denies that it is teaching Critical Race Theory. She has documents, and is not going to be lied to by educrats. Here she is at the school board meeting last week:

Frankly, I find that optimistic. We need to raise an army of Amy Thomases (but not an army led by Gen. Mark Milley, please!). But we have a long way to go to fight the institutional capture by the woke. I note that in her glorious tirade, Amy Thomas pointed out that CRT divides America (and all societies) into Oppressors and Oppressed. Here’s a short clip from Live Not By Lies, explaining how the cult of Social Justice Wokeness justifies its totalitarian agenda:

The Central Fact of Human Existence Is Power and How It Is Used

Politics is the art and science of how power is distributed and exercised in a society. For SJWs, everything in life is understood through relationships of power. Social justice is the mission of reordering society to create more equitable (just) power relationships. Those who resist social justice are practicing “hate,” and cannot be reasoned with or in any way tolerated, only conquered.

There Is No Such Thing as Objective Truth; There Is Only Power

Who decides what is true and what is false? Those who hold power. Religious claims, philosophical arguments, political theories—all of these are veils concealing will to power. They are only rationalizations for oppressors to hold power over the oppressed. The value of truth claims depends on who is making them.

Identity Politics Sorts Oppressed from Oppressors

In classic Marxism, the bourgeoisie are the oppressor, and the proletariat are the oppressed. In the cult of social justice, the oppressors are generally white, male, heterosexual, and Christian. The oppressed are racial minorities, women, sexual minorities, and religious minorities. (Curiously, the poor are relatively low on the hierarchy of oppression. For example, a white Pentecostal man living on disability in a trailer park is an oppressor; a black lesbian Ivy League professor is oppressed.) Justice is not a matter of working out what is rightly due to an individual per se, but what is due to an individual as the bearer of a group identity.

If you don’t understand what is happening to our school boards and many other institutions, read Live Not By Lies and get educated — then get active to fight it!

We are living in a country in which rich, powerful people in media, education, and elsewhere, are working to separate our kids from their sexual identities. According to a Gallup poll from earlier this year, nearly 16 percent of Generation Z youth (aged 18 to 23) identify as LGBT. Heretofore, the number of LGBT people in the US held steady at between three and four percent. This is what propaganda does. I suspect that most of these confused young people will settle back into a heterosexual identity, but not after a long, messy period of experimentation that leaves them broken and perhaps unable to form stable families. And you wonder why people are not optimistic about the future of America.

I was talking over the weekend with a friend back in America who is an expert in military policy and national security issues. He’s pretty down about the future of the country too, based on what he sees in his work life. He’s deeply concerned about the adoption of wokeness within the US military’s officer class, and says that there is no way an officer can hope to have a successful career in the new military without saluting wokeness. But aside from wokeness, he says, there is a broader corruption in the senior officer class. He contends that too many senior officers are busy thinking about how they can cash in on their military service after retirement, and that this affects the decisions they make. Why are so many of these generals and senior officers so eager to embrace wokeness? Part of it, my friend theorizes, is that they can see that Woke Capitalism rules corporate America, and they want to make themselves more lucrative hires post-retirement.

My source also said that the officer class is extremely sensitive to political winds, and are reticent to innovate, or to take risky stands. He said that there are senior officers who have lost their jobs because of being on the wrong political side, but none who have been removed for poor performance or lying the the public, despite what we saw in the Afghanistan papers. If you have the right politics, performance is irrelevant.

He also said that within the US military, people don’t tend to be promoted for merit. It’s rather a big machine that neither rewards nor punishes based on actual performance, but on politics and other factors. If you point out real problems within the system, he says, you are likely to be punished. Thus, you are incentivized to keep quiet and play the game. Along these lines, our analysis of the state of the world and the enemies we face — here he’s talking about not just within the military, but within the broader academic national security sphere — is blinded by ideology. Too many of the smart people on whom we rely to tell us what the world is like so we can prepare for national security threats are the kind of people who believe the mantra Diversity Is Our Strength™, because it’s what everybody around them believes, and you have to say and act like it’s true if you want to get ahead.

My friend said that we haven’t won a war against a real opponent in a long time. Meanwhile, the US military capacity is decaying from within — and nobody is addressing this, because the kind of people who would point out that the Emperor has no clothes would destroy their military or academic careers in this ideological environment.

We are living in a situation that Czeslaw Milosz wrote about in his great book The Captive Mind, about why intellectuals surrendered to Communist totalitarianism. I mention it in Live Not By Lies. Excerpt:

In his writing about communism’s insidiousness, Miłosz referenced a 1932 novel, Insatiability. In it, Polish writer Stanisław Witkiewicz wrote of a near-future dystopia in which the people were culturally exhausted and had fallen into decadence. A Mongol army from the East threatened to overrun them.

As part of the plan to take over the nation, people began turning up in the streets selling “the pill of Murti-Bing,” named after a Mongolian philosopher who found a way to embody his “don’t worry, be happy” philosophy in a tablet. Those who took the Pill of Murti-Bing quit worrying about life, even though things were falling apart around them. When the Eastern army arrived, it surrendered happily, its soldiers relieved to have found deliverance from their internal tension and struggles.

Only the peace didn’t last. “But since they could not rid themselves completely of their former personalities,” writes Miłosz, “they became schizophrenics.”

What do you do when the Pill of Murti-Bing stops working and you find yourself living under a dictatorship of official lies in which anyone who contradicts the party line goes to jail?

You become an actor, says Miłosz. You learn the practice of ketman. This is the Persian word for the practice of maintaining an outward appearance of Islamic orthodoxy while inwardly dissenting. Ketman was the strategy everyone who wasn’t a true believer in communism had to adopt to stay out of trouble. It is a form of mental self-defense.

What is the difference between ketman and plain old hypocrisy? As Miłosz explains, having to be “on” all the time inevitably changes a person. An actor who inhabits his role around the clock eventually becomes the character he plays. Ketman is worse than hypocrisy, because living by it all the time corrupts your character and ultimately everything in society.

Miłosz identified eight different types of ketman under communism. For example, “professional ketman” is when you convince yourself that it’s okay to live a lie in the workplace, because that’s what you have to do to have the freedom to do good work. “Metaphysical ketman” is the deepest form of the strategy, a defense against “total degradation.” It consists of convincing yourself that it really is possible for you to be a loyal opponent of the new regime while working with it. Christians who collaborated with communist regimes were guilty of metaphysical ketman. In fact, says Miłosz, it represents the ultimate victory of the Big Lie over the individual’s soul.

Under the emerging tyranny of wokeness, conservatives, including conservative Christians, learn to practice one or more forms of ketman. The ones who are most deeply deceived are those who convince themselves that they can live honestly within woke systems by outwardly conforming and learning how to adapt their convictions to the new order. Miłosz had their number: “They swindle the devil who thinks he is swindling them. But the devil knows what they think and is satisfied.”

Americans are not optimistic about our country because they see that the Lie is gaining power, and destroying who and what we were. They see a Democratic Party that fully embraces it, and a Republican Party that has neither courage nor intelligence in resisting it. They see every institution of society — academia, media, Hollywood, sports, law, medicine, the military, much of the church — lined up against them, in service of the Lie. And they see that most people, even the ones who know this is all a lie, chewing Murti-Bing pills by the handful, hoping to make the scary stuff go away.

Well, Amy Thomas is not one of those people. God bless Amy Thomas. May her tribe increase, in every sphere of American life. It had better, or we are done as a nation. Get in touch with your inner Amy Thomas, and get loud. But don’t misunderstand: we are not going to vote our way out of this crisis. It’s going to take a lot more.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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