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From The Pink Terror Mailbag


Yesterday I received and blogged on an e-mail from a reader who works in a US Attorney’s Office in a red (conservative) state. The reader’s boss is a Republican appointee. The Department of Justice is headed by a conservative Attorney General, and appointee of a Republican president (Trump). And yet, the ideology of left-wing racial wokeness saturates the ethos of the office. I blogged the reader’s story here, and asked readers to consider what it means that government lawyers whose job it is to make criminal cases are having their ideas about justice, regarding race, formed by critical race theory? That is, they are being taught that “justice” is not what happens to individuals, as classical liberal justice theory holds, but rather the outcomes for social groups. This is the basis for what is called “critical legal studies.”  If these ideas gain a foothold in our justice system — especially among Department of Justice Lawyers — then they will work a revolution in the pursuit of justice in this society.

Many of you know that I believe that a “soft totalitarianism” is coming quickly to us, and that the basis of my forthcoming book Live Not By Lies is both an argument for this claim, and advice on resisting it from those who were dissidents under Soviet power. Here is a quote from the book:

[I]n 1918, Lenin unleashed the Red Terror, a campaign of annihilation against those who resisted Bolshevik power. Martin Latsis, head of the secret police in Ukraine, instructed his agents as follows:

Do not look in the file of incriminating evidence to see whether or not the accused rose up against the Soviets with arms or words. Ask him instead to which class he belongs, what is his background, his education, his profession. These are the questions that will determine the fate of the accused. That is the meaning and essence of the Red Terror.

Note well that an individual’s words and deeds had nothing to do with determining one’s guilt or innocence. One was presumed guilty based entirely on one’s class and social status. A revolution that began as an attempt to right historical injustices quickly became an exterminationist exercise of raw power. Communists justified the imprisonment, ruin, and even the execution of people who stood in the way of Progress as necessary to achieve historical justice over alleged exploiters of privilege.

A softer, bloodless form of the same logic is at work in American institutions. Social justice progressives advance their malignant concept of justice in part by terrorizing dissenters as thoroughly as any inquisitor on the hunt for enemies of religious orthodoxy.

The “red” in “Red Terror” refers to the Bolsheviks, also known as “reds”. But it can also refer to the bloodshed unleashed by the Red Terror, under “hard” Soviet totalitarianism.

I call what’s being done here, and will expand, the “Pink Terror” — “pink” because it refers to the softness of the totalitarianism today’s left is imposing. There will not be executions. No one will be sent to the gulag. But it will be totalitarianism, in that there will be only one permitted way to think and speak about things, and it will be based largely on a Marxist concept of justice. All you need to know is to which race (or class, gender, or religion) to which a person belongs to know what is justice in their case. Dissent will not be tolerated, as dissent is an expression of privilege, which must be eliminated for society to be just.

Moreover, this is totalitarian because every aspect of life will be subject to monitoring and judgment by the pink commissars. Again, blood will not be shed — but jobs and livelihoods will be lost, free speech and thought will be curtailed, even eliminated, and dissidents will be turned into pariahs.

One distinctive aspect of our present and coming soft totalitarianism is that it is not being imposed (at this point) by the State — a significant difference from the old, hard totalitarianism. Rather, it is coming through private institutions and corporations. The State does not need to impose these orthodoxies; institutions of civil society and private business are doing it on their own.

Since publishing that letter from a DOJ employee yesterday, people have been writing to me about the Pink Terror in their workplaces. I am guarding their privacy, but you need to know what’s there, and what is almost certainly coming to your workplace — and the workplace into which your children will be entering.

A reader writes:

It is not just the Department of Justice that has a progressive diversity and tolerance campaign. I work for the U.S. Department of [deleted]. In 2015, back when Barack Obama was president, I attended a multi-day diversity workshop. As a Christian, I have the perspective that all people are created in the image of God, and therefore have inherent value and worth. This view of humanity provides a strong foundation for tearing down the evils of racism and discrimination, as well as for promoting human dignity and rights. There was actually a lot of good material presented at the conference, and overall I benefited from it, at least until the final day.

The final session was about LGBTQ+, and even in this there were things I could agree with. I work for a government office, not for a church. I would do my best to not discriminate against LGBTQs in my office, and would speak up if they are mistreated. To most LGBTQ+ activists and their progressive allies, however, the mere fact that I disagree with them about sexual ethics would make me guilty of making LGBTQs feel uncomfortable or even fearful, and because of this, my Christian view of sexuality makes for a hostile work environment. This was made rather clear.

The session was led by the head of the Diversity and Inclusion program for the entire Department of [deleted]. Despite all the talk about diversity in the previous sessions, it was very clear that sexual ethics was an area where there is no room for tolerance of different viewpoints. In a Q&A time, I asked this official what he thought about Brenden Eich being forced out as CEO of Mozilla (Mozilla was inundated with progressive threats because Eich had donated to pro-family causes, leading quickly to Eich’s forced resignation), and if there would be any protection in the federal workplace for people who held to traditional sexual ethics. The official answered that he thought the ousting of Eich was entirely appropriate, and that he personally believed that any supervisor or manager in the Department of [deleted] who believed that homosexual behavior is sinful should either keep it a complete secret or lose their position. We had a little more dialog, but it was clear that I was now viewed by the official as a bigot, and that the official’s view of freedom of religion was not a whole lot different than “You have the right to remain silent.”

There were about thirty attendees at this training event, most of them mid-level employees such as section and division chiefs. One of them looked at me during the discussion and said, “Why are some people so filled with hate?” After this session, one person gave me a private thumbs up, and another came up to me and thanked me for having the courage to speak up. Sometimes I don’t know if I was courageous to speak up, or careless. I hadn’t really followed the politics of the sexual revolution up to this point, but this unpleasant dialog opened up my eyes to what is going on in the Diversity and Inclusion movement. It became clearer to me that in progressive Newspeak, tolerance requires intolerance, inclusion requires exclusion, non-discrimination requires discrimination, love means hate, and hate means love.

Donald Trump is now president of the United States, and his appointee heads the Department I work for, but nothing much has changed. For the most part, the same people run the Civil Rights, Diversity, and EEO offices as back when Obama was president, including the official I had a bit of a run in with. What will happen to religious freedom in the federal workplace, including the freedom to dissent from the ethics of the sexual revolution, when the increasingly radical progressives are in control again? The Trump administration has done little or nothing to safeguard diversity of beliefs about sexual ethics, but I suppose that is better than the progressive alternative.

A second reader writes:

I work for a large tech consulting firm. You wouldn’t have heard of us, but you definitely would have heard of our clients. Some of the biggest in their respective industries. When I first started, it was essentially a pure meritocracy. We all work remotely, and were placed based on our skills. That feels like decades ago.

Following an incident where a coworker was fired after an anonymous tip was sent in that he had made light of the George Floyd incident (not racist in any sense, but dark humor), the company has sent out new policies that they will be implementing, including an anonymous form that you can use to bring “bias incidents” to the attention of HR (again, including outside of work). Also the plan is to refocus the company not just on making a profit, or serving our clients, but on increasing diversity, even at the expense of quality.

Stop right there. Hannah Arendt said that one sign that a society is ripe for totalitarianism is when people within it value loyalty over competence and expertise. We have certainly seen that principle at work in the Trump administration, but there is a remedy for that: the people can vote him out. What is the remedy for a business that places loyalty to diversity ideology over competence and expertise? I suppose the marketplace will decide, as customers will cease to purchase goods and services from a company that provides second-rate product. But that could take a long time, and besides, what if mediocrity for diversity’s sake becomes the social and commercial norm?

Back to the reader’s email:

I know this is just more evidence for the pile, but if you choose to print any of this my name can’t be attached. Any dissent or even skepticism is treated as racism, and is dealt with accordingly.

Here is the memo they sent out (apologies for the formatting, it’s copied from our General Announcements Slack channel, where things like this go) :

Dear Colleagues,

We wanted to provide a follow-up to the Safe Space Solutions call we conducted on July 10th. Below you will find a summarized list of resources that were shared during the call (including some resources that were identified separately), as well as an overview of the suggestions that were made and topics to explore. If you made a suggestion or shared a resource that isn’t captured below, please reach out to me directly (and apologies!).
Please note that while we are committed to exploring all of the ideas/solutions below, we may not be able to implement every single suggestion. Additionally, we want to share that we already have efforts underway for many of the ideas below.

Resources: [Note from Rod: All of these are hyperlinked, but the link did not reproduce here on the blog]

5 Examples of Microaggressions in the Workplace
Let’s Talk About Racial Microaggressions In The Workplace
When and How to Respond to Microaggressions
What is a microaggression? 14 things people think are fine to say at work — but are actually racist, sexist, or offensive
Microaggressions Workshop
1619, a Podcast from the NYtimes
CBS Article on Redlining
Letter From A Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr.
How to be an Antirascist [sic] by Ibram X. Kendi
National Center for Woman & Informational Technology (NCWIT) CWIT Resources Tab
NCWIT: Videos that Spark Discussion (Race, Gender, Identity)
NCWIT: Colorism Bias in the Tech Industry

Note: the resources above have been added to the Diversity and Inclusion section of the Knowledge Repository.
Potential Solutions/Areas to Explore (bolded bullet points are areas where efforts are already underway)

  • Formal training programs on microaggressions, emotional resilience, anti-bias, and the historical origins of racism.
  • Guidance on de-escalation and when and how to intervene on Slack.
  • Conducting lunch-and-learn presentations focusing on black history.
  • Create a company policy that outlines when and how to engage police.
  • Anonymous reporting system/tools.
  • Monthly luncheons with the executives and employees to share stories and get to know one another.
  • More outreach into our local communities / increasing the amount of women and people of color in our training cycles.
  • Targeting minority churches, groups, programs, neighborhoods, etc. about [company name]’s program.
  • Explore alternative ways to market/advertise [company name], specifically targeting underrepresented groups/communities.
  • Explore [program], which goes into schools to provide presentations on college to minority schools.
  • Lowering some of the barriers to take the assessment test and complete the training program
  • Providing onsite computers in a neighborhood for individuals to take the test
  • Partnering with groups to provide drop off childcare.
  • “Mobile screening centers”
  • Additional support to individuals in the training cycle.
  • Metrics on areas such as demographics of individuals that take the screening, days without a racist incident, and other accountability reports.
  • Consider pivoting corporate strategy focus to be first and foremost directly aimed at solving the diversity gap in tech.

We want to send a big thank you to those that attended the call and shared their thoughts and suggestions. We will be following up periodically with updates on decisions made and actions we have taken regarding the ideas above.

In the meantime, if you have any additional ideas or suggestions, you can reach out directly to me, or share them on our #social-diversity-and-inclusion Slack channel.

Keep in mind that in this reader’s company, employees are permitted to report “bias incidents” that occur outside of work. You will never, ever be able to escape the Eye of Sauron, unless you refuse to socialize with your colleagues, and refuse to use social media (because who can ever be sure what will strike someone as a “bias incident”?). This program, in fact, incentivizes the most poisonous kind of people in a workplace to bully and manipulate others.

I have a letter from a third reader, a scientist — and this is the most shocking of all. I am negotiating with him about a version of his e-mail that I can publish without compromising him. Keep checking back. If you have a story about Pink Terror in your workplace, e-mail me at rod — at — amconmag — dot — com. I will protect your identity, but you should assume that I will publish your e-mail (without identifying you) unless you instruct otherwise. Please make clear which parts should not be made public.

I encourage you to pre-order Live Not By Lies. There is lots of good information in the book about practical things that we can do to build a resistance. The most important thing right now is to start forming resistance cells, like Father Tomislav Kolakovic did in pre-communist Slovakia. Lots of people, including bishops, thought he was alarmist, but he understood communism better than they did, and he knew what was coming. He was right.

UPDATE: A scientist writes:

Your recent article “The Pink Terror” on wokeism and the DOJ inspired me to write to you to discuss how the woke are also infiltrating top research organizations outside academia and my perspective on it as a scientist. I have been a very long-time reader of yours. I like that you and I do not always agree on issues, a healthy thing.

Through hard work, and dare I say “merit,” I have built myself a respectable career doing research at the highest levels. I fully support diversity in the workplace, especially in STEM. Different perspectives on teams lead to better results – something I believe with all my heart. Still, I want to share with you an experience I had with wokeism.

I attended a meeting on diversity, part of a series of such meetings. These are not required, but management notices who attends. The presenter, the manager of the lab’s office of inclusion and diversity, discussed hiring. She began with resumes and traditional applicants having “too much privilege.” (Referring to education, accomplishments, et al.). Many resumes needed to be discarded on the basis of this privilege to better seek out “diverse” applicants. These are candidates for scientist positions to work on very high level projects. Later in the meeting, she presented a slide titled “racial makeup of [the lab]”. It was a pie chart showing the current racial breakdown of the lab’s work force. However, only one portion of the chart was labeled: “white”.  She went on to discuss how this was the greatest problem the lab was facing. Not our research, but the amount of white people at the lab.

I made the mistake of asking the following two questions: “How do you want that pie chart to look?” and “How can you achieve that goal without systematically hiring according to skin color?” Within 2 weeks of the meeting I was informed two of my projects (of three) no longer could support me financially. Both were perpetually funded. Down to 1/3 funding and unable to find coworkers or departments willing to add me to new projects, I was unemployed within 4 months.

An ethics training video we were encouraged to watch:


A link to books we were encouraged to read:


Thank you for your hard work. Please continue your efforts.

I was able to have a conversation with this scientist, about things he didn’t feel comfortable saying. This situation is much more significant to the common good than it may seem.

UPDATE.4: A reader who works for a government public works agency writes (I’ve edited this slightly at the reader’s request to make it hard to identify the reader):

I work for [specific agency], which you’d think would be among the last places to be woke. But that’s not the case — at least not anymore.
When I first came on it was a place where the emphasis was on [practical issues, e.g., engineering, materials, planning]. But I started seeing a turn not long ago that upper management wanted the department to be more “woke.” They brought in my division, which is made up of [technicians, scientists, engineers, etc.], to talk about inclusion and sensitivity. It was very awkward since we are mostly white. Many of us were disturbed by what was being pushed at the training, and discussed amongst ourselves what this could mean, but didn’t think much about it.
Fast forward to this spring when our department rolled out its first-ever monthlong diversity celebration, without seeming to care that over half the workforce is working from home, with no return to the office in sight. The department now has its own diversity division that keeps pushing out stuff like “How to be an ally” which would have been unthinkable just a year or two ago.
The mindlessness of this stuff is telling. The reader works for an agency that is under immense stress because of the pandemic, yet it finds the time and the resources to subject its employees to this propaganda. As if these employees weren’t stressed enough. You would think it would be enough for a public works agency to focus on keeping infrastructure working, especially when people can’t be together in the office for an extended period of time, and tax revenues are going to be much lower because of the economic crisis, forcing technicians, scientists, and engineers to do more with much less. Now their managers want them to focus on wokeness. How much tax money is going to pay for these programs, and the diversity trainers and bureaucrats?
Is this “pink terror,” or just an annoyance? Well, what if tens of millions of Americans had lost their job, and you could foresee that your own government agency was likely to sustain cuts if the economic crisis continued? How eager would you be not to be identified as someone who is Not A Good Ally?

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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