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‘Hiding In Plain Sight Will Not Be An Option’

You. Must. Affirm. (Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock)

A reader writes:

This is an anecdote about what I’ll call “unwoke intersectionality”, and how eerily timely your writing often is. Your call for alternative libraries was literally the same thought I was having over a cup of coffee this morning a few hours before you posted. I’ll share.

He goes on to tell me who he is. I am redacting this part severely to protect him. He and his wife, and their large family, are Catholics who live in a blue state, and send their kids to Catholic school. They are conservative, but don’t consider themselves to be culture warriors. They are aware of the crazy culture-war things going on in the world, but have never felt called to get involved with any of this, as it doesn’t threaten them locally.

Until now. More:

Pride Month 2019 was a watershed moment for me. It was when I realized that for me and my wife and my children, very soon, hiding in plain sight will not be an option. As you already know, but as I am only beginning to appreciate, small town America is losing its mind as fast as anywhere else. Our institutions (schools, churches, libraries, etc.) have either been appropriated as primary instruments of a totalitarian progressive movement, or are swiftly veering towards capitulation. People with jobs in my community (white or blue collar) mostly work in large, recently-woke corporations or in smaller companies that are in the same cultural orbit.

Our first Pride Parade was this year, and the community turned out jubilantly for it. People who go to church with us, people who educate our kids’ peers, people who serve on boards with us, my clients, my wife’s coworkers, and even some of my own family members who are retired (beholden to no one for a paycheck) and who would have chortled at the idea of going to a Pride Parade only a few years ago. The night before the parade, as “part of the celebration”, a trans-friendly exploratory seminar was held at the public library, for pre-teens and teens.

So in Pride Month I realized that the howling lunatics who celebrate the mutilation of confused children (whose howling I’ve always been too busy to get very excited about) are now after my own children’s minds and hearts. And the minds and hearts of all the children in my community. I’ve been very secure in the knowledge that nobody can fool me or force me into believing lunacy, no matter what. But that is no longer what matters. As my children are heading into adolescence, the brain-eating amoeba of progressive totalitarian ideology is down the street and heading for my front door. I am realizing that somehow I have to not only protect them, but arm them, and fight with them against this evil. The alternative seems to be to let the amoeba eat. It is a stark moral choice.

What this means for us is something we’re starting to grapple with. It seems obvious to us that we can’t put our kids in the public high school when they reach that age, which means homeschooling will be the only option. What it will mean for me professionally, I wonder. The identity of a small town [person in my profession], and the identify of a man at war with the culture on behalf of his family, are generally impossible to reconcile.

The library really was a flashpoint for me. If the brain-eating amoeba is going to live at the public library from now on, I can’t just waltz in with my kids like I always have and let them roam. Now it’s hostile territory. The playing field is fundamentally different from what it was for dissenters like me. Your thought that it could be time for a new library for the unwoke, funded and staffed by the unwoke, is the same thought I was having a few hours ago. I am going to start exploring this concept in my community. It’s time to start actually working to build new institutions, having lost the old ones. Which is my fault as much as anyone else’s – we weren’t paying attention. So it is our problem to do something about it.

The other thing my wife and I say to each other is that we need a “mafia”. Not in a sinister sense. In a sense of building ties among people locally who will stand athwart the degradation of the culture with one another, come what may. We have friends around the world who theoretically make up such a mafia – we’re plugged in with conservative institutions and religious conservatives and we visit each other quite a bit – but that won’t cut it locally. We need to identify people willing to stand athwart the culture in our community. The Catholic Church isn’t populated by many of those people locally. The evangelical churches are more fertile ground for the counter-cultural, but whether they are interested in building institutions that are non-sectarian is something I have my doubts about. They’re pretty possessive of their adherents’ time and resources. Power to them, but as a Catholic I’m not able to be part of their parallel universe in any real way. Part of our project will be to see whether we can culturally intersect with evangelicals, Trump voters, etc. to the extent of making real progress in taking back space in the community for sanity and spiritual integrity.

Thank you for helping us through your writing to recognize what’s going on around us. Although we have somewhat suddenly realized that our culture has not just abandoned our value system (we’ve known that forever) but is now aligning toward its elimination, we still want to respond constructively. Benedict option type institution building seems to be the only way to respond constructively and with hope. It’s going to be very interesting to see what the next decade holds for our family and our community.

Thanks for this letter. You’re seeing reality — the same reality that many, many Christians do not want to see.

I so wish I had the financial resources to start a website whose purpose was simply to connect people like you with others who share your vision and commitment.

One of the things I’m learning from the work I’m doing now on anti-communist dissidents is how important it is to a) be willing to be hated for what’s true and right, and b) find others who share both your beliefs and your willingness to suffer.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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