Home/Rod Dreher

Social Credit System Comes To DOD

Joint Chiefs head Gen. Mark Milley will be keeping track of his employees' social media feed -- constantly (NBC News)

The reader who sends this story says:

We fought and lost the Global War On Terror abroad to return to have social credit at home. This will be framed as necessary to prevent another 6 January but I guarantee that it will be the same parade of credentialed leftists deciding who is and is not acceptable. And once implemented in DOD that will be used as a cudgel to press for it in other elite professions.

This is what he’s talking about:

All Defense Department personnel are now subject to “continuous vetting” designed to spot extremists and other insider threats, with surveillance of their public social-media postings likely coming soon, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

The announcement follows years of effort to comply with a 2011 executive order to improve on the current security-clearance process, which features an initial investigation but generally no followup for five or more years. The new system will raise flags when new information arrives, such as when a DOD employee is arrested.

It arrives as the department grapples with extremism among uniformed and civilian personnel. Conservatives have accused the Biden administration and senior U.S. military leaders of purging right-wing free speech.

Screening troops’ and DOD employees’ social-media posts for extremist views or behavior will become part of the vetting, said William K. Lietzau, who has led the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency since March 2020. Lietzau said several pilot programs are intended to help determine how useful it might be to track social-media activity in various ways.

“Whether it’s an event-driven look at social media, whether it’s a regular continuous look at some social media or whether it’s a, a one-time — when they’re investigated — look at social media, there’s different ways you could use some of the social media, search capabilities that are out there,” he said. “We’re still right now analyzing how much value we think there is.”

The department has been working to implement continuous vetting for years, as mandated almost a decade ago by executive order, following shootings at Fort Hood and Army Pfc. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning’s 2010 arrest for passing top-secret files to Wikileaks.

“Extremists”. As defined by? There are 700,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department. All of them — and I guess all those in uniform — will now have to live with the fact that everything they say online will be tracked by the government, which will look at their words and images with suspicion. Is objecting to vaccine mandates enough to get you tagged as an extremist by the government? Opposition to administration policies? Criticism of DEI instruction? Where are the lines — and should those lines be there at all?

You can see where this is going. If DOD does what the ruling class within American institutions consider to be a good job in filtering out Officially Bad People, then these institutional grandees are going to do exactly what the reader predicts: use the same thing to make sure “extremists” aren’t working for their company or institution. That Emma Sarley woman in Brooklyn was fired by her employer after having a petty contretemps with a Very Online guy in the dog park, who recorded it and pressured the company to can her as a racist. Extremist! Now, what if you said on social media that you thought Emma Sarley had been badly treated by her company. Would you out yourself as an “extremist” in the eyes of your employer? Better not to say anything, I guess. Better keep your mouth shut. Never say anything that contradicts the woke ideology of our ruling class.

Look, if we have neo-Nazis or genuine baddies like that in the DOD, then sure, they need to be identified and dealt with. But doing continuous monitoring of 700,000 civilian employees plus men and women under arms, to see if they are writing or sharing doubleplus ungood things on social media? Do you not see where this is going? All for the sake of making America one big Safe Space, just like a liberal arts college in the Northeast.

The reader adds:

So BLM, Antifa, CRT, Castro praise, and every other leftist cause will be acceptable, but too Christian, too conservative, too white, wrong pronouns and you get flagged because the goal is not about identifying insider threats but about ensuring ideological colonization and cohesion.

So much of the left’s identity is tied up in the idea they support the underdog that they don’t understand in 2021 they are the Man.

Also suppose you are a history buff: what if you end up on the wrong side of the algorithm because you like the Civil War or WW2? This is, again, how conservatives got completely outmaneuvered. We mocked and derided how all the SJWs couldn’t get a “real job” when in fact they created a ready and willing cadre of commissars.

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How Soft Totalitarianism Works

Jordan Peterson: one Canadian who refuses to live by pronoun lies (A still from the pronoun-showdown video that made JP famous)

News from Canada:

A human rights tribunal in British Columbia, Canada, has ruled that refusing to use someone’s correct pronouns violates their human rights.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favour of restaurant server Jessie Nelson, 32, a non‐binary, gender fluid, transgender person, who was fired from their job after asking the bar manager to use they/them pronouns to refer to them.

Brian Gobelle “persistently referred to Jessie Nelson with she/her pronouns and with gendered nicknames like ‘sweetheart’, ‘honey’, and ‘pinky’”, according to the ruling by Devyn Cousineau, member of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

Despite Nelson asking Gobelle to stop, he refused, and a second conversation between them about the issue became “heated”. Four days later, Nelson was fired by Ryan Kingsberry, who runs the restaurant.

Explaining to Nelson why they were fired, Kingsberry said they had come on “too strong too fast” and were too “militant”.

Nelson later took their case to the human rights tribunal, alleging that “Gobelle’s conduct towards them, and the employer’s response, amounts to discrimination in employment based on their gender identity and expression”, in violation of the British Columbia Human Rights Code.

Cousineau agreed that Nelson’s human rights had been violated by the deliberate misgendering.

The judge ordered the Canada restaurant’s management to pay Nelson $30,000 in damages, as well as “implement a pronoun policy and mandatory training for all staff and managers about diversity, equity and inclusion”.

$30,000 over pronouns! (Plus forcing the entire staff to undergo re-education.)

See, if this were hard totalitarianism, the restaurant manager would have been sent to prison. But under our soft totalitarianism, the restaurant manager has to pay a fine amounting to over half the median annual income of someone in British Columbia. Bet this will force all employers to obey the gender ideologues, and live by lies to keep from being bankrupted.

“Human rights” my primitive root wiener. This is woke tyranny. Check out this PragerU video for how this particular form of tyranny works in the US:

And here is Jordan Peterson from 2018, explaining why he defied this garbage:

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German Catholic Bishops Embrace Heresy

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and leading German church liberal (EWTN)

Well, this is shocking, but not surprising, if you follow me. Father Jerry Pokorsky writes:

An astonishing news item in the Wall Street Journal reports: “At a meeting in Frankfurt, German [Catholic] church leaders voted 168 to 28. . .to adopt a draft statement on sexuality that includes a resolution saying that ‘same-sex partnerships who want to take the risk of an unbreakable common life. . .should be able to see themselves placed under the blessing of God.’”

A priest who has campaigned against longstanding Church teaching rejoiced at the vote, even though it directly contradicted several statements by Pope Francis, saying it was “a milestone in the journey toward a church without discrimination, a church full of respect for the diversity of love and partnerships.”

This concern for “the church” rings hollow. Every priest promises God – through his bishop – to pray the Breviary. On the 27th Sunday of the liturgical year, priests (including, presumably, the German bishops) should have read this passage from Pope Saint Gregory the Great:

Pastors who lack foresight hesitate to say openly what is right because they fear losing the favor of men. As the voice of truth tells us, such leaders are not zealous pastors who protect their flocks, rather they are like mercenaries who flee by taking refuge in silence when the wolf appears.

Identifying the wolves that threaten his flock is among the many duties, in conscience, that a priest shares in obedience to his bishop. If bishops object to such teachings, they ought to announce – out of mere honesty – that they don’t think their priests should be praying the Divine Office anymore.

It isn’t a surprise that the vast majority of German bishops do not think homosexual acts are sinful. Their studied ambiguity on the subject has been on display for years. It isn’t even surprising to suspect that a considerable number of German bishops may be active homosexuals. Anyone who celebrates “the diversity of love and partnerships” should not object to the suggestion that “celebrating diversity” is code for “celebrating sodomy.”

But it’s astounding that the vast majority of German bishops are willing to deny their apostolic authority. Their votes, in effect, sever them from the Church and declare that they are not qualified to make pronouncements on Christian marriage. “Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame.” (Phil. 3:18) So we need not waste our time on them. Despite the noise they make, they are both incoherent and irrelevant.

Read it all.

I don’t see any way around it: this is schism. You might hate what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, but the tradition is absolutely clear, strongly rooted in Scripture, and has been clear for two millennia. There is no way you can do what the German bishops have done without repudiating unambiguous church teaching.

What will happen to German Catholics now — those who wish to remain Catholic, as opposed to schismatic? What will they do?

I have written here before about a German Catholic layman who approached me in Rome in 2018, after I gave a Benedict Option talk. He told me that he and his friends — he was middle-aged — expect the institutional Catholic Church in Germany to collapse in their lifetime. He said that they — meaning him and his Catholic friends — were preparing themselves and their families to keep the life of the Church going after this happens.

Every time I hear some news of craziness coming out of the German Catholic Church, I think of this man and what he said.

It should be the case that for Catholics — and remember, I am not a Catholic — the fact that the Church authoritatively proclaimed a teaching ends the discussion. The challenge facing faithful Catholics regarding the Church’s teaching on homosexuality (and sexuality more generally) is how to live it out in today’s world. The teaching itself cannot be up for grabs. If the Church, and if Holy Scripture, was wrong about the sinfulness of homosexual acts, what else is it wrong about? Can the German bishops possibly not see that they have abolished their own authority here?

More deeply, I think that Christians today don’t think deeply enough about why the Church (by which I mean Christian churches that adhere to the traditional, Scriptural claim) teaches what it does about sexuality, including homosexuality. Back in 2013, in a widely-read essay I wrote here at TAC (“Sex After Christianity”), I said:

When they were writing the widely acclaimed 2010 book American Grace, a comprehensive study of contemporary religious belief and practice, political scientists Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell noticed two inverse trend lines in social-science measures, both starting around 1990.

They found that young Americans coming into adulthood at that time began to accept homosexuality as morally licit in larger numbers. They also observed that younger Americans began more and more to fall away from organized religion. The evangelical boom of the 1970s and 1980s stopped, and if not for a tsunami of Hispanic immigration the U.S. Catholic church would be losing adherents at the same rate as the long-dwindling Protestant mainline.

Over time, the data showed, attitudes on moral issues proved to be strong predictors of religious engagement. In particular, the more liberal one was on homosexuality, the less likely one was to claim religious affiliation. It’s not that younger Americans were becoming atheists. Rather, most of them identify as “spiritual, but not religious.” Combined with atheists and agnostics, these “Nones”—the term is Putnam’s and Campbell’s—comprise the nation’s fastest-growing faith demographic.

Indeed, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, the Nones comprise one out of three Americans under 30. This is not simply a matter of young people doing what young people tend to do: keep church at arm’s length until they settle down. Pew’s Greg Smith told NPR that this generation is more religiously unaffiliated than any on record. Putnam—the Harvard scholar best known for his best-selling civic culture study Bowling Alone—has said that there’s no reason to think they will return to church in significant numbers as they age.

Putnam and Campbell were careful to say in American Grace that correlation is not causation, but they did point out that as gay activism moved toward center stage in American political life—around the time of The Nation’s cover story—the vivid public role many Christian leaders took in opposing gay rights alienated young Americans from organized religion.

In a dinner conversation not long after the publication of American Grace, Putnam told me that Christian churches would have to liberalize on sexual teaching if they hoped to retain the loyalty of younger generations. This seems at first like a reasonable conclusion, but the experience of America’s liberal denominations belies that prescription. Mainline Protestant churches, which have been far more accepting of homosexuality and sexual liberation in general, have continued their stark membership decline.

It seems that when people decide that historically normative Christianity is wrong about sex, they typically don’t find a church that endorses their liberal views. They quit going to church altogether.

This raises a critically important question: is sex the linchpin of Christian cultural order? Is it really the case that to cast off Christian teaching on sex and sexuality is to remove the factor that gives—or gave—Christianity its power as a social force?


Though he might not have put it quite that way, the eminent sociologist Philip Rieff would probably have said yes. Rieff’s landmark 1966 book The Triumph Of the Therapeutic analyzes what he calls the “deconversion” of the West from Christianity. Nearly everyone recognizes that this process has been underway since the Enlightenment, but Rieff showed that it had reached a more advanced stage than most people—least of all Christians—recognized.

Rieff, who died in 2006, was an unbeliever, but he understood that religion is the key to understanding any culture. For Rieff, the essence of any and every culture can be identified by what it forbids. Each imposes a series of moral demands on its members, for the sake of serving communal purposes, and helps them cope with these demands. A culture requires a cultus—a sense of sacred order, a cosmology that roots these moral demands within a metaphysical framework.

You don’t behave this way and not that way because it’s good for you; you do so because this moral vision is encoded in the nature of reality. This is the basis of natural-law theory, which has been at the heart of contemporary secular arguments against same-sex marriage (and which have persuaded no one).

Rieff, writing in the 1960s, identified the sexual revolution—though he did not use that term—as a leading indicator of Christianity’s death as a culturally determinative force. In classical Christian culture, he wrote, “the rejection of sexual individualism” was “very near the center of the symbolic that has not held.” He meant that renouncing the sexual autonomy and sensuality of pagan culture was at the core of Christian culture—a culture that, crucially, did not merely renounce but redirected the erotic instinct. That the West was rapidly re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation was a powerful sign of Christianity’s demise.

It is nearly impossible for contemporary Americans to grasp why sex was a central concern of early Christianity. Sarah Ruden, the Yale-trained classics translator, explains the culture into which Christianity appeared in her 2010 book Paul Among The People. Ruden contends that it’s profoundly ignorant to think of the Apostle Paul as a dour proto-Puritan descending upon happy-go-lucky pagan hippies, ordering them to stop having fun.

In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time—exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.

Christian marriage, Ruden writes, was “as different from anything before or since as the command to turn the other cheek.” The point is not that Christianity was only, or primarily, about redefining and revaluing sexuality, but that within a Christian anthropology sex takes on a new and different meaning, one that mandated a radical change of behavior and cultural norms. In Christianity, what people do with their sexuality cannot be separated from what the human person is.

It would be absurd to claim that Christian civilization ever achieved a golden age of social harmony and sexual bliss. It is easy to find eras in Christian history when church authorities were obsessed with sexual purity. But as Rieff recognizes, Christianity did establish a way to harness the sexual instinct, embed it within a community, and direct it in positive ways.

What makes our own era different from the past, says Rieff, is that we have ceased to believe in the Christian cultural framework, yet we have made it impossible to believe in any other that does what culture must do: restrain individual passions and channel them creatively toward communal purposes.

Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions.

Read it all. 

I developed the point further in this passage from The Benedict Option:

In speaking of how men and women of the early Christian era saw their bodies, historian Peter Brown says the body

was embedded in a cosmic matrix in ways that made its perception of itself profoundly unlike our own. Ultimately, sex was not the expression of inner needs, lodge in the isolated body. Instead, it was seen as the pulsing, through the body, of the same energies as kept the stars alive. Whether this pulse of energy came from benevolent gods of from malevolent demons (as many radical Christians believed) sex could never be seen as a thing for the isolated human body alone. 

Early Christianity’s sexual teaching not only comes from the words of Christ and the Apostle Paul, but more broadly, it emerges from the Bible’s anthropology. The human being bears the image of God, however tarnished by sin, and is the pinnacle of an order created and imbued with meaning by God.

In that order, man has a purpose. He is meant for something, to achieve certain ends. When Paul warned the Christians of Corinth that having sex with a prostitute meant that they were joining Jesus Christ to that prostitute, he was not speaking metaphorically. Because we belong to Christ as a unity of body, mind, and soul, how we use the body and the mind sexually is a very big deal.

Anything we do that falls short of perfect harmony with the will of God is sin. Sin is not merely rule-breaking, but failing to live in accord with the structure of reality itself.

The Christian who lives in reality will not join his body to another’s outside of the order God gives us. That means no sex outside of the covenant through which a man and a woman seal their love exclusively through Christ. In orthodox Christian teaching, the two really do become “one flesh” in a way that transcends the symbolic.

If sex is made holy through the marriage covenant, then sex within marriage an icon of Christ’s relationship with His people, the church. It reveals the miraculous, life-giving power of spiritual communion, which occurs when a man and a woman—and only a man and a woman—give themselves to each other. That marriage could be unsexed is a total novelty in the Christian theological tradition.

“The significance of sexual difference has never before been contingent upon a creature’s preferences, or upon whether or not God gave it episodically to a particular creature to have certain preferences,” writes the Catholic theologian Christopher Roberts. He goes on to say that for Christians, the meaning of sexuality has always depended on its relationship to the created order and to eschatology—the ultimate end of man.

“As was particularly clear, perhaps for the first time in Luther, the fact of a sexually differentiated creation is reckoned to human beings as a piece of information from God about who and what it meant to be human,” writes Roberts.

Contrary to modern gender theory, the question is not Are we men or women? but How are we to be male and female together? The legitimacy of our sexual desire is limited by the givenness of nature. The facts of our biology are not incidental to our personhood. Marriage has to be sexually complementary because only the male-female pair mirrors the generativity of the divine order. “Male and female he made them,” says Genesis, revealing that complementarity is written into the nature of reality.

Easy divorce stretches the sacred bond of matrimony to the breaking point, but it does not deny complementarity. Gay marriage does. Similarly, transgenderism doesn’t merely bend, but breaks the biological and metaphysical reality of male and female. Everything in this debate (and many others between traditional Christianity and modernity) turns on how we answer the question: is the natural world and its limits a given, or are we free to do with it whatever we desire?

Understand what I’m saying here: the German Catholic bishops are not only rejecting an authoritative, binding teaching of the Magisterium, but they are also denying what traditional Christianity teaches is the structure of reality itself. This is why sex matters. The world doesn’t see it this way, but the Church is not the world. Well, outside of the German Catholic episcopate, it’s not.

UPDATE: A Catholic priest e-mails:

Just fyi, as bad as it is, only about one-third of the “leaders” referenced in the story were bishops. It was unclear or perhaps unreported how many bishops voted in favor of the proposal. A little quick math suggests that if all opposing and abstaining delegates were bishops, then at least a bit more than half the bishops present voted in favor.  As I said, it’s bad enough.

Yes, thank God it’s not as bad as I thought from reading Father Pokorsky’s report … but it’s almost as bad. Here is a more full account of what happened. The measure will likely be voted on by all the German bishops in 2022. So, no schism yet, but it’s drawing much closer.

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Arendt, Racism, & The Death Of The West

Hannah Arendt in 1964 (Source)

Reading journalist Robert D. Kaplan’s engrossing memoir In Europe’s Shadow, I ran across a quote from Hannah Arendt’s The Origins Of Totalitarianism that sent me back to the original looking for more context. Below is the quote Kaplan uses, plus the paragraph that precedes it:

The philosophy of Hobbes, it is true, contains nothing of modern race doctrines, which not only stir up the mob, but in their totalitarian form outline very clearly the forms of organization through which humanity could carry the endless process of capital and power accumulation through to its logical end in self-destruction. But Hobbes at least provided political thoughts with the prerequisite for all race doctrines, that is, the exclusion in principle of the idea of humanity which constitutes the sold regulating idea of international law. With the assumption that foreign politics is necessarily outside of the human contract, engaged in the perpetual war of all agains all, which is the law of the “state of nature,” Hobbes affords the best possible theoretical foundation for those naturalistic ideologies which hold nations to be tribes, separated from each other by nature, without any connection whatever, unconscious of the solidarity of mankind and having in common only the instinct for self-preservation which man shares with the animal world. If the idea of humanity, of which the most conclusive symbol is the common origin of the human species, is no longer valid, then nothing is more plausible than a theory according to which brown, yellow, or black races are descended from some other species of apes than the white race, and that all together are predestined by nature to war against each other until they have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Racism may indeed carry out the doom of the Western world and, for that matter, of the whole of human civilization. When Russians have become Slavs, when Frenchmen have assumed the role of commanders of a force noire, when Englishmen have turned into “white men,” as already for a disastrous spell all Germans became Aryans, then this change will itself signify the end of Western man. For no matter what learned scientists may say, race is, politically speaking, not the beginning of humanity but its end, not the origins of people but their decay, not the natural birth of man but his unnatural death.

What Arendt is saying is that if we start to think of each other primarily in terms of race, not our common humanity, we doom ourselves. This is why, in my view, the teaching of Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the high points of the Western tradition. And look how quickly we threw it away! The dominant white power structure of the pre-Civil Rights period saw black people primarily in terms of race, and diminished their humanity. In so doing, whites also diminished their own humanity. King taught Americans to see this, and to repent of it. He was a Christian and a classical liberal in this way.

I see no good coming out of the ruling class’s obsession with racial classification. This is the kind of thing we’re getting every day now:

The people who run our institutions are training Americans to see everyone and everything through the lens of race and other identitarian characteristics, and not focus on our common humanity. This is certainly the death of classical liberalism, and a guarantee of endless strife. Put another way, the universities, media, corporations, and other institutions are teaching Americans to suspect and even despise each other on the basis of race. And as brave teacher Paul Rossi correctly notes, it is creating a new generation of white racists:

And one more Arendt quote from The Origins of Totalitarianism, a quote I used in Live Not By Lies. Here she is talking about how pre-totalitarian societies prepared the way for totalitarianism:

The members of the elite did not object at all to paying a price, the destruction of civilization, for the
fun of seeing how those who had been excluded unjustly in the past forced their way into it.

We see this now, here. For example:

It’s happening. It’s happening here in America. Solzhenitsyn said, in the introduction to the 1983 edition of The Gulag Archipelago, that many people around the world think that what happened in Russia — the capture of the country by a totalitarian ideology — could never happen where they live. In fact, he said, it could happen anywhere on earth, under the right conditions. One more passage from Live Not By Lies, and from Solzhenitsyn:

In retrospect, this seems almost unbelievable. How could the Russians have been so blind? It was, in a sense, a problem of the imagination. Reflecting on the speed with which utopian dreams turned into a grisly nightmare,

Solzhenitsyn observed:

If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings, that a human being would be lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up their anal canal (the “secret brand”); that a man’s genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov’s plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would have gone off to insane asylums.

It wasn’t just the tsarists who didn’t see it coming but also the country’s leading liberal minds. It was simply beyond their ability to conceive.

These progressive activists and their fellow travelers leading American institutions have no idea what evil seeds they are planting in the hearts of Americans. There are people alive in this country who lived in an era when the KKK murdered people over race. This is within living memory. The capacity of decent, everyday Americans to turn into savages when drunk on racialism is not something we put behind us forever. It remains with us, because we are human beings. Our common humanity means we share a common fallenness. For all its problems — and heaven knows I’ve talked about them here — classical liberalism has at least given us a means to rise above racialism, and live together in as close to peace and justice as we are going to manage in this fallen world. There are no utopias; we will constantly be working on making our democracy better. That’s just how it is. But these utopian totalitarians are taking us backward, in the name of progress.

We are watching the auto-destruction of a nation. I wonder if we can still save it.

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Woke Capitalism Comes For Lawyers

">Still from PragerU

Woke Capitalism is now using the power of its purse to force law firms to discriminate on racial and sexual grounds in hiring. From Bloomberg:

Elite law firms in the U.S. and the U.K., long seen as fusty bastions of mostly White men, are being pushed by some of their biggest customers to change. Facebook, HP, and Novartis are part of a growing number of major global companies that have warned they’ll take their work elsewhere or cut fees unless they see more racial and gender diversity in the law firms they hire.

It’s a serious threat: Facebook Inc. last year spent $1.6 billion on legal fees, settlements, and fines. “Money can make movements,” says Lauren Hauber, a Facebook legal operations manager in San Francisco. “And using buying power to push for change will oftentimes start to move the needle.”

It’s not that the companies pushing for change are models of diversity. Most have their own distinct struggles with representation. But corporate law firms have proved particularly slow to shape up, with many structured as partnerships that give relatively few dealmakers decades of influence over how a firm is run. That’s an increasing concern for clients, who say diverse legal teams deliver more creative and well-rounded advice.

How do they know that “diverse” legal teams deliver “more creative and well-rounded advice”? What does that even mean?

This is a great example to disprove the shibboleth one hears from folks on the Left who say that no company would implement a diversity scheme if it caused them to lose money. Anybody who has worked inside corporations that have gone mad for diversity ideology knows how untrue that is. But this is a clear-cut case. When you are a major corporation, you stand to lose serious money if you don’t have the best legal advice possible. You need to trust that your law firm has hired lawyers based only on their legal acumen and litigation skills, not race, sex, or other factors. If your company is demanding that law firms hire on other bases, then it logically follows that you risk lessening the quality of your legal advice. There’s no way around that.

If I were a shareholder in those companies, I would not be happy. I am not happy either that once again, we see American capitalism bullying other parties dependent on it, trying to coerce them to adopt ideological stances that violate fairness, and mandate racial and sexual discrimination.

Both in corporate suites and among activists, these ideological thugs are tireless in their persecution of people who hold to old-fashioned liberal standards. Here is a piece by Dorian Abbot, a distinguished scientist who talks about how activists successfully pressured MIT to cancel its invitation to him to deliver a prestigious lecture. Why? Read on:

On August 12, a colleague and I wrote an op-ed in Newsweek in which we argued that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as it currently is implemented on campus “violates the ethical and legal principle of equal treatment” and “treats persons as merely means to an end, giving primacy to a statistic over the individuality of a human being.” We proposed instead “an alternative framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.” We noted that this would mean an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants.

Shortly thereafter, my detractors developed a new strategy to try to isolate me and intimidate everyone else into silence: They argued on Twitter that I should not be invited to give science seminars at other universities and coordinated replacement speakers. This is an effective and increasingly common way to ratchet up the cost of dissenting because disseminating new work to colleagues is an important part of the scientific endeavor.

Sure enough, this strategy was employed when I was chosen to give the Carlson Lecture at MIT — a major honor in my field. It is an annual public talk given to a large audience and my topic was “climate and the potential for life on other planets.” On September 22, a new Twitter mob, composed of a group of MIT students, postdocs, and recent alumni, demanded that I be uninvited.

It worked. And quickly.

On September 30 the department chair at MIT called to tell me that they would be cancelling the Carlson lecture this year in order to avoid controversy.

It’s worth stating what happened again: a small group of ideologues mounted a Twitter campaign to cancel a distinguished science lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because they disagreed with some of the political positions the speaker had taken. And they were successful within eight days.

This happens all the time. Notice that Prof. Abbot was canceled by MIT because he publicly dissented from Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity ideology, on liberal principles! Here is an acclaimed scientist who was told by one of the world’s greatest science and technology institutions that he could not deliver a lecture on science because he is politically unreliable.

This is soft totalitarianism. Soft, because Dorian Abbot is not being sent to prison, only being publicly humiliated and denied the opportunity to speak … but still totalitarianism, because these cretinous activists and the gutless institutional administrators are creating an environment in which only one opinion is tolerated.

You think you can escape this? You’re wrong. They will not stop until they have defeated us all. Read Live Not By Lies, and prepare. I tell you who I’m going to vote for going forward: the politician I think most likely to use the power of the state to put a stop to this bullying. Not just talk about it, and raise money by talking about it, but actually do it, without fear or favor.

By the way, check out this PragerU advice on how to thrive within a woke corporation:

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Chicago, Capital Of Soros-stan

George Soros, a godfather of Chicago's lawlessness (GeorgeSoros.com)

Chicago’s Kim Foxx, one of the far-left district attorneys who was elected with the financial backing of billionaire George Soros, has really advanced the insanity of progressive pro-crime anti-carceral activism to a new level. From the Sun-Times:

Five men linked to a deadly gang-related shootout Friday in Austin were released from custody after prosecutors declined to charge each of them with a pair of felonies, including first-degree murder, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The brazen mid-morning gunfight, which left one shooter dead and two of the suspects wounded, stemmed from an internal dispute between two factions of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang, according to an internal police report and a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.

The source said police sought to charge all five suspects with murder and aggravated battery. By Sunday morning, a Chicago police spokeswoman acknowledged the suspects had “been released without charges.”

In a statement later Sunday, Cristina Villareal, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, explained that prosecutors had “determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges.” Police officials agreed with the decision, Villareal added.

While she wouldn’t specify what other evidence prosecutors needed to file charges, the police report acknowledged that victims of the shootout weren’t cooperating with investigators.

But the report also framed the state’s attorney’s office’s decision to decline charges in a different light: “Mutual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection.” Mutual combat is a legal term used to define a fight or struggle that two parties willingly engage in.

So these gang members had a shootout on a Chicago street, but the state won’t charge them because they all wanted to have a gunfight?!

Good grief. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, herself a progressive, is worried:

Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, warned that a lack of consequences could send a dangerous message as the city grapples with a continued surge in violent crime.

“If they do not feel like the criminal justice system is going to hold them accountable, we’re going to see a level of brazenness that will send this city into chaos,” she said of those stoking the violence. “And we cannot let that happen.”

City Hall has clashed with Foxx over prosecutions in the past. And the Area 5 detectives investigating the shootout have been at odds with the state’s attorney’s office over other high-profile cases prosecutors refused to take up, including the fatal shootings of National Guard member Chrys Carjaval in July and 7-year-old Serenity Broughton in August.

According to the local crime stats tracker, a person is murdered in Chicago every ten hours.

In other Soros news, it turns out that the rich old radical funded the activist organization whose members chased US Sen. Kyrsten Sinema into the toilet. In fact, Soros’s Open Society Foundation is the local group’s biggest donor.

I’m telling you, the Hungarians had this guy figured out ages ago. If they were right about him, what else are they right about?

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Esteemed Comrade Biden!

Leonid Brezhnev (Source)

A reader who grew up in communist Czechoslovakia said the letter from the National School Board Association to President Biden, asking for the feds to move in to protect school boards from angry parents, reminds him of this August 1968 letter that the Communist leadership of his native country sent to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, fraternally requesting an invasion to protect them from the Czech people:

Esteemed Leonid Ilich,

Conscious of the full responsibility for our decision, we appeal to you with the following statement.

The basically correct post-January democratic process, the correction of mistakes and shortcomings from the past, as well as the overall political management of society, have gradually eluded the control of the Party’s Central Committee. The press, radio, and television, which are effectively in the hands of right-wing forces, have influenced popular opinion to such an extent that elements hostile to the Party have begun to take part in the political life of our country, without any opposition from the public. These elements are fomenting a wave of nationalism and chauvinism, and are provoking an anti-Communist and anti-Soviet psychosis.

Our collective — the Party leadership — has made a number of mistakes. We have not properly defended or put into effect the Marxist-Leninist norms of party work and above all the principles of democratic centralism. The Party leadership is no longer able to defend itself successfully against attacks on socialism, and it is unable to organize either ideological or political resistance against the right-wing forces. The very existence of socialism in our country is under threat.

At present, all political instruments and the instruments of state power are paralyzed to a considerable degree. The right-wing forces have created conditions suitable for a counterrevolutionary coup.

In such trying circumstances we are appealing to you, Soviet Communists, the leading representatives of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with a request for you to lend support and assistance with all the means at your disposal. Only with your assistance can the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic be extricated from the imminent danger of counterrevolution.

We realize that for both the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government, this ultimate step to preserve socialism in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic will not be easy. Therefore, we will struggle with all our power and all our means. But if our strength and capabilities are depleted or fail to bring positive results, then our statement should be regarded as an urgent request and plea for your intervention and all-round assistance.

In connection with the complex and dangerous course of the situation in our country, we request that you treat our statement with the utmost secrecy, and for that reason we are writing to you, personally, in Russian.

Alois Indra

Drahomir Kolder

Antonin Kapek

Oldrich Svestka

Vasil Bilak

You may be wondering, along with me, why school boards need to involve the federal government in local law enforcement matters. Why can’t local police deal with genuinely unruly parents (as opposed to parents who are simply angry)? It makes no sense. Right?

Well, it makes sense if you realize that letters like the one the Department of Justice issued yesterday, in response to the NSBA request, serve as a way of making policy de facto without any democratic accountability. Here’s that letter:

Here’s how this works. Back in 2016, the Obama administration, via a joint statement from the Justice Department and the Department of Education, issued a “Dear Colleague” letter instructing public schools that it interprets Title IX to shield transgender students. This was not a change in the law, but a change in enforcing bureaucratic policy. A school could have sued to stop this, but in so doing they would have gone up against the immensity of the US Government. What do you think most schools are going to do in that case? Capitulate, because most institutions don’t have the financial resources to fight the Justice Department.

The Trump administration rescinded that Dear Colleague letter, but it remains a good example of how the Left in power uses the bureaucracy to get around democracy and enforce its preferred policies. Who wants to have to go to court against the world’s largest law firm, the US Department of Justice?

This new letter from Merrick Garland is the same kind of thing. We have had a rash of contentious school board meetings around the country, usually having to do with Covid policy, Critical Race Theory, gender ideology, or some combination of these things. Some of those meetings have gotten out of hand. Is this a national crisis requiring federal intervention? Of course not — but federal intervention is a powerful move intended to shut down all opposition. As we know, January 6 was the Reichstag fire the Left needed to justify a sweeping campaign against right-wing dissent. You had better be careful about what you say and to whom you say it; you don’t want to end up on the government’s radar as a potential “domestic terrorist.” The school board association’s letter to Biden said that these parental protests “could be” covered by laws against “domestic terrorism” and “hate crimes.”

The letter also says, of CRT: “This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class.” This is an outrageous lie, as Christopher Rufo and others have extensively documented (see here)! That is a tell, and what it tells you is that the NSBA is not operating above board here — that it is requesting a federal invasion, so to speak, of school board meetings to intimidate dissenters into silence.

It’s the Law of Merited Impossibility at work: “Critical race theory is not being taught in our schools, and we want the FBI to destroy parents who stand against it.”

I want you to understand my clearly here. I am NOT defending those who get violent and abusive at school board meetings. I’m saying that these people can be handled with ordinary local law enforcement measures. What the NSBA is doing is providing a pretext for the feds to suppress parental dissent on CRT, on masks, and on gender ideology. What the NSBA is doing is providing a pretext to bring the massive anti-terrorism apparatus of the US Government down on angry parents.

And there are still people who believe that I am being alarmist when I talk about the rise of soft totalitarianism in America.It is here, and it is going to get much worse. Are you preparing? If not, why not?

Here’s something that works in tandem with the DOJ strategy: the redefinition of language by judges and legal elites in ways that circumvent the plain meaning of the law. Law professor Richard Epstein, writing in 2016 in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, explained how this “linguistic relativism” works. 

Epstein says that everybody believes in the “rule of law,” but people don’t often think about how changing the meaning of language can undermine the rule of law. He writes:

Both the narrow and broad conceptions of the rule of law presuppose that the tools of ordinary language are powerful enough to allow judges and scholars to formulate legal rules that make implementing the rule of law possible. Unfortunately, many scholars despair that the tools of textual analysis are not strong enough to meet the persistent challenges of the linguistic skeptic. Today, many people, both on the bench and in the academy, share this all too fashionable view of ordinary language. This undermines the rule of law, fanning the general populist unease that now infects much of our public discourse. At a theoretical level, it is common for linguistic skeptics to scoff at language as the fundamental unit of law. For example, Mark Tushnet, in his caustic review of my book Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law, celebrates the proposition that terms like “property” and “nuisance” “have no determinate content, which means that the judges must actually be relying on something else to resolve the dispute,” without ever letting us know what that “something else” is. This type of relativism easily extends to other terms, most notably “liberty” and “coercion,” which have similarly been attacked as otiose, most famously by Robert L. Hale. In his highly influential essay, Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Non-Coercive State,  he finds that any refusal to deal should be regarded as coercive both in competitive and monopoly markets.

In the introduction to his paper, Epstein recounts how a modernist interpretation of language (to mean whatever power-holders want it to mean) affected the legal problems of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who declined to make cakes for same-sex weddings. Epstein says that the idea that words and terms don’t always mean what they seem to mean — “legal relativism” — gives immense power to those figures — judges, mostly — whose responsibility it is to interpret meaning. Epstein writes:

So why then the legal relativism—that is, some notion that there are no independent grounds for preferring one outcome to another—which surfaces in different ways in different contexts? The simplest explanation is the best. Let a judge assume that there are fixed meanings to controversial terms, and the scope of judicial discretion in interpreting statutes or constitutional texts is necessarily limited. For progressive law professors like Felix Frankfurter, those linguistic straitjackets would reduce the opportunity to transform constitutional doctrine in ways that displaced the classical liberal conception with the progressive and New Deal views he so emphatically championed. This palpable change in the judicial approach fueled much of Frankfurter’s jurisprudence of the period.

In other words, if plain language gets in the way of the judicial advancement of progressive goals, then plain language has to go. If a judge (or an attorney general) can render a dispute over policy neutral by engaging in semantics, then he can more easily achieve the outcome he wants. This is what the Obama DOJ did with its “Dear Colleague” letter about transgenders and Title IX. It decided by bureaucratic fiat that sex is mutable, so every time Civil Rights law says “women,” it also means “men who identify as women.” See how this works?

In one section of his paper, Epstein talks about how progressives have used an expansive reading of the “commerce clause” to achieve policy goals through court rulings. Look what the NSBA letter says:

NSBA believes immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety.

“Affecting interstate commerce”? Bull. This is a flimsy pretext for inviting federal involvement in an area where the feds have no place. It is perfectly justifiable for school boards to expect law enforcement authorities to protect them from threats of violence. That is not what the NSBA’s request is. It is a request for the federal government to suppress dissent. Again, note well that the NSBA explicitly denies that Critical Race Theory is being taught in public schools. We know that is a lie, but the NSBA presents it as evidence that school boards are being attacked by irrational liars.

In fact, it’s not hard to imagine the NSBA letter redrafted using the form of the Czech hardliners in their appeal to Brezhnev:

School leaders are no longer able to defend themselves successfully against attacks on public health and social justice, and it is unable to organize either ideological or political resistance against the right-wing forces. The very existence of health, safety, and justice in American schools is under threat.

At present, all political instruments and the instruments of educational power are paralyzed to a considerable degree. The right-wing forces have created conditions suitable for a counterrevolutionary coup.

In such trying circumstances we are appealing to you, President Biden, with a request for you to lend support and assistance with all the means at your disposal. Only with your assistance can America’s public schools be extricated from the imminent danger of counterrevolution.

Last night, I posted about this, and included evidence that local media massaged the facts about conflict at a Virginia school board meeting to make it look like angry white right-wing protesters were the sole instigators of the drama. In fact, the black head of the county Democratic Party was caught on video yelling and cursing at the whites (“F–k you!”, etc) — but this didn’t make it into media reports. You see what they’re doing, right? Manufacturing consent for repression.

We have seen how on transgender matters, school authorities conspire to keep parents from finding out about their child’s gender dysphoria without the child’s consent. In the short NSFW video below, an angry Fairfax County (Virginia) parent is reading aloud from books in her kid’s school library, in which boys talk explicitly about sex with older men — and a school board member asks her to stop reading from these books available to children in a local school library, because there are children present! This is how absurd it has become.

From Live Not By Lies, this passage about how the corruption of language allows totalitarianism to thrive:

It is difficult for people raised in the free world to grasp the breadth and the depth of lying required simply to exist under communism. All the lies, and lies about lies, that formed the communist order were built on the basis of this foundational lie: the communist state is the sole source of truth. Orwell expressed this truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

Under the dictatorship of Big Brother, the Party understands that by changing language—Newspeak is the Party’s word for the jargon it imposes on society—it controls the categories in which people think. “Freedom” is slavery, “truth” is falsehood, and so forth. Doublethink—“holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”—is how people learn to submit their minds to the Party’s ideology. If the Party says 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 5. The goal is to convince the person that all truth exists within the mind, and the rightly ordered mind believes whatever the Party says is true.

Orwell writes:

It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you—something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.

In our time, we do not have an all-powerful state forcing this on us. Under soft totalitarianism, the media, academia, corporate America, and other institutions are practicing Newspeak and compelling the rest of us to engage in doublethink every day. Men have periods. The woman standing in front of you is to be called “he.” Diversity and inclusion means excluding those who object to ideological uniformity. Equity means treating persons unequally, regardless of their skills and achievements, to achieve an ideologically correct result.

To update an Orwell line to our own situation: “The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion told you to
reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

If the Biden Department of Justice, the National School Board Association, the media, and others manage to convince Americans that parents angry over how they and their children are being treated in public schools are “domestic terrorists,” then we will have advanced a long way down the road to totalitarianism.

Under an absurd pretext, the NSBA has summoned Leviathan to crush dissent, and Leviathan has responded in the affirmative. This is the fight in front of us now.


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School Dissent: A Federal Crime?

Loudoun County, Va., parent-protester at school board meeting over summer(Reuters)

Parents protesting school boards that force Critical Race Theory on students have been having some success lately. Time, then, for the Biden administration to put the FBI on them. The Attorney General issued this today:

Chris Rufo, the leading crusader against CRT indoctrination, comments:

Well, it’s more complicated than that. The National School Board Association, in its long letter asking Biden to get the feds involved, listed some specific attacks. I don’t doubt that there really have been completely inexcusable, even violent, incidents directed at school boards by angry parents. But I also have deep suspicion about the Biden administration’s apparent eagerness to slot dissenters into the “domestic terrorists” category. Some of these school board meetings have been quite contentious, with justifiably outraged parents reading obnoxious, and in some cases extremely sexualized, content aloud — content that had been assigned to their children. Of course school boards don’t want to hear that! But they have to hear it. It is not the job of parents to sit quietly while these people indoctrinate students on the public dime.

Take a look at how one local TV station in Washington, DC, construed a story to make a group of white parents out to be the villains at a contentious school board meeting. James Lindsay has it all on this Twitter thread. 

In this tweet in the series, a camera catches a black woman, Tonya James, who is head of the county’s Democratic Party, tearing into the whites in the crowd, who had just sung the National Anthem:

I watched the local ABC report, and it is entirely possible that some of these white parents behaved badly without excuse. But it completely ignores the foul-mouthed provocations of the black Democratic official. You’d get the idea from the ABC report that the problem was entirely one caused by hotheaded white people. There is no indication that a black Democratic party official stood and screamed curses at the white parents. Hey, they might even be “domestic terrorists”! Joe Biden’s Justice Department is on the case.

Violence — real or threatened — in school board meetings is unacceptable. But here’s the thing: why federalize this? Why isn’t local law enforcement capable of handling these cases? Why involve the Justice Department? One wonders if the Left is not trying to deploy the same strategy the FBI used against the KKK during the Civil Rights era against parents today who dissent from CRT and/or gender ideology taught to their kids, and vaccine policies. How many parents will be willing to show up at all at school board meetings to object if they fear that in so doing, they will become ensnared with the FBI?

Perhaps this is the point.

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Gary Shteyngart’s ‘Gentile Region’

Novelist Gary Shteyngart, whose penis hurts a lot (PBS News Hour)

I have never given circumcision a single thought, other than to consent to my sons’ circumcision. Europeans think its weird for American Gentiles to be circumcised, and I think they’re right … but I remember the one kid we had in my elementary school class, a black boy who had been born at home, and who was not circumcised. All us boys wanted to stare at his primitive root wiener when we were at the urinal during recess, because it was monstrous. Nobody told us that wieners could look like that. The kid didn’t know why his penis was so strange looking, and neither did we. Third grade, man.

Reading the novelist Gary Shteyngart’s harrowing tale of dealing in mid-life with a late circumcision gone wrong caused me to send the link to my sons, asking them to strongly consider not circumcising any male children they may one day have, as it is not necessary for Christians to do this. Don’t get me wrong: I believe that people who circumcise for religious reasons should have the right to do so. The Shteyngart piece changed my mind on whether doing it is advisable for those for whom it is not a religious requirement. Shteyngart was circumcised as a teenage immigrant to the US, after some Chabadniks convinced his non-religious Soviet Jewish parents that their son needed to have a bris to be properly Jewish. It did not work out as it ought to have done, but this wasn’t a real problem for Shteyngart until a couple of years ago, well into middle age. Here is an excerpt:

For the first time since the initial surgery, I felt that I was being cared for and looked after. Is this it? I thought. Is this my liberation? “In seven to ten days,” the doctor said, “the new skin will grow in and I expect you’ll feel great.”

In seven to ten days, I was in the worst pain of my life. There were some improvements. My penis was no longer covered with scabs, and yet walking for more than ten minutes was impossible. I was losing my mind. I had finally tried gabapentin, but it brought about a mild psychosis during which I wasn’t sure what was real and what was not. The penis is an outcropping of privilege in the male of the species, but it is also a pleasure palace constantly sending signals to the brain. Having pain in the region amounts to a never-ending genital tinnitus. It is impossible to think of anything else.

I’ve always had a rational fear of dying, but when I imagined a life without being able to walk or swim or have sex or travel or do anything without pain or an Elizabethan collar, I wondered what it would be like to kill myself. I looked out the window and onto the fresh snow gathered below and considered the coldness of its eternal compress. Shortly thereafter, I read a BBC article about Alex Hardy, a British man who had committed suicide in 2017 after being circumcised in Canada as a young adult. He did not share his travails with anyone after his operation, but in a long farewell note to his mother he wrote that “these ever-present stimulated sensations from clothing friction are torture within themselves; they have not subsided/normalised from years of exposure. . . . Imagine what would happen to an eyeball if the eyelid was amputated?” That analogy perfectly articulated my own experience.

The stomachs of every male in my readership just rolled over. Shteyngart’s account is about the experience of chronic pain, both physical and psychological (because the penis is not just any body part, but a symbol of one’s manhood, and the instrument of sexual communion with one’s partner. I expected to read a very funny novelist being very funny about an embarrassing malady. Shteyngart does show a sense of comic irony in the piece, but mostly it’s about how much he hurts. It’s a surprisingly moving essay. Read it all. 

(I expect that nine out of ten male readers of that Shteyngart piece will send it to all their male friends. It’s that kind of essay.)

Here is a link to the book trailer for Shteyngart’s hilarious memoir Little Failure, about growing up in Soviet Russia, and then in New York as an immigrant. Note to those not in the know: Shteyngart is a comic novelist, so he’s not really married to James Franco. He is, in fact, married to a woman, and the father of a child. And he’s got a very, very angry penis.

UPDATE: For some reason, Disqus won’t let me reply to some comments wondering about my phrase “primitive root weiner”. Hey, I thought it was funny. More than half the boys in my class were black, and everybody, white and black, but this one kid was circumcised. None of us had ever seen an uncircumcised penis before. It looked very weird to us, like a root (ever seen an uncircumcised wiener?). We used to have to stand at a pee trough at recess, whip it out, and do our business. Little boys being little boys, things were noticed, and comments were made. We thought the kid was deformed. I brought it up to my dad later, and he said this was a common thing for children in the country born at home. I was trying above to make fun of how weird it is, coming from a circumcision culture, to see an uncircumcised penis, when you didn’t even know such a thing existed.

For the record, many years later, I was in an all-male gym shower in the Netherlands, as an adult, and someone asked me in all honesty if I was Jewish, because I was the only circumcised person in this shower full of white men.

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