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Home/Rod Dreher/STARRS Shining Light On USAF Wokeness

STARRS Shining Light On USAF Wokeness

US Air Force Academy: a school for political indoctrination? (USAF video)

I love Freddie de Boer’s Substack newsletter (to which you can subscribe for free right now). He’s a young Marxist, but more than that, he’s interesting and fearless, and I often learn from him. Below is his entire latest communiqué — uncharacteristically short, but it gives you a great idea of how he thinks — and here, he’s pretty much right:

It would be a mistake to say that social justice politics – OK, alright, fine, f*ck it, wokeness – is winning. It’s not losing, either. I think winning and losing implies a level of coherence to the project and materialism to the stakes that simply aren’t there. But I will say this. Those who draw their lifesbreath and their paychecks from the ritualistic expression of outrage can look out at their world and see nothing to fear. In the most obvious outward ways their chokehold on our communal idea of who and what we are and should be has never been tighter. There is no hope for reform in the expected manner, no chance that billowing Republicans or whining liberals or antique Marxists like me will talk the world out of it, will convince elite society to believe in freedom and nuance and forgiveness again. That will not occur.

But. There is a second front, in this war, a hidden battlefield on which the social justice movement is slowly losing to the forces of… not liberalism, not reaction, not conservatism, not civil liberties, not plain ol’ common sense, but anarchy, resistance, revulsion towards piety, the desire for revenge, the death drive, animal spirits, the id, the unheimlich, Jungian impulse, and most of all utter and total moral exhaustion. These are chip chip chipping away at the arrogant command of our moral betters. There are forces arrayed against the piety and vengefulness of social liberalism that cannot possibly meet it on the open field but which every day wage guerrilla warfare and, slowly, the great shaggy beast is bleeding out, that creature of preening righteousness slowly crippled by its hubris and arrogance. What looks like the inevitable and impregnable demands of history right now will look in time like the decaying aristocratic mores they are. An army of grinning goblins marches against the woke, and they take up their knives and syringes with glee while the forces of social justice trudge on, miserable, one more joyless day after another, hating themselves and each other. I am not saying the forces of opposition are good; they are, indeed, bad by their elementary nature. But still, in the conflict ahead I have my money on chaos, the ever-turning gyre, and the will to disobey. Tomorrow will not be like today, and the ones who now indict the unclean and issue verdicts and dole out punishments and deny every application for parole will wake up one day and wonder where it all went wrong. The witching hours approaches, the rabbis will be chased from the temple, and no one can say how the wheel will spin. Take shelter and tremble, or better yet, enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

I think he’s wrong about the “forces of opposition” being bad — some are, most aren’t — but of course a Marxist would say that. What I’m interested in is his belief that the revolt against wokeness and top-down social control will be violent, chaotic, and, well, revolutionary. And once again, Ross Douthat’s prophetic warning to the Left arises: If you don’t like the Religious Right, wait till you see the Post-Religious Right. 

What the woke elites are doing is building up within normal people a contempt that corrodes belief in the legitimacy of the system. Jordan Peterson released this week a two-hour Jonathan Pageau lecture about sacred order and social order. You should watch the whole thing, but here I’ve cued up a section near the very end, in which Pageau explains how “inclusivity” is going to bring about the collapse of civilization and/or tyranny:

His argument is about purpose. In order for a group, organization, or even a society to fulfill its purpose, it has to be judgmental and discriminating. That is, it has to select for the qualities that allow the entity to do what it is supposed to do. So, when a newspaper (for example) hires reporters, it has to discriminate in favor of job candidates who are better at reporting and writing. But for as long as I have been in the journalism business, the leadership class in American journalism has been obsessed with “diversity,” such that the less competent have been hired over the more competent, because the less competent were chosen for reasons having nothing to do with the ability to do the job for which they are hired. Liberals hate hearing this, but it’s true, and I have seen it up close on more than one occasion, and had to deal personally with the consequences. According to Pageau’s principle, a newspaper that is administered according to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles would be one that cannot help but decline, because it has populated its worker base with people who were not selected for their ability to fulfill the function of the organization, but rather to embrace DEI.

I once argued with a member of the leadership class who insisted that quality would not go down if a newspaper prioritized diversity in hiring, because “diversity is an aspect of quality.” This senior editor genuinely believed it. But it is not true. This is why nobody who runs a professional sports team hires for diversity. It’s interesting that the only major institution in America that doesn’t hire and manage itself according to DEI principles are professional sports teams. Not even the US military does this anymore!

Those who haven’t drunk the woke Kool-aid understand that you cannot run a society like this indefinitely. Things will fall apart. When a significant mass of people come to understand that none of this failure had to happen, that it was imposed on our society by woke ideologues, then things will shatter, and who knows how it’s going to shake out? If there’s any institution that ought to be immune to woke ideology, it’s the US military, because its sole task is to win wars. But now the Armed Forces has been captured by wokeness. Watch this interview with three female West Point cadets — one of them black — who left the academy, and who say that wokeness has conquered West Point’s mind. 

And check out this video from the US Air Force Academy’s football team, endorsing Black Lives Matter and the “antiracism” movement of Ibram X. Kendi. Some USAF Academy veterans launched STARRS, an activist group dedicated to fighting wokeness in the military. You should check it out. Below, I am going to post the entire press release that STAARS founder USAF Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop (Ret.) wrote explaining why he founded the group.

Back to Pageau for a second. He’s saying that the mania for “inclusivity” over quality will inevitably frustrate the purpose of any organization that accepts it. It’s mindless egalitarianism. For example, a society that refuses to recognize that the purpose of a family is to produce the next generation, and therefore declares that all family forms are equally as good as any other, is going to hurt its ability to produce the next generation. Back in 2013, I was visiting a conservative Christian university as a speaker, and in a pre-speech dinner, asked a small group of professors what their greatest concern about the coming generation (of students) was. One of them said, with tears in his eyes, that they wouldn’t be able to form families.

How is that possible? I asked. These kids are Christians. He said, “But they have never seen it” — “it” being a stable, functional family. These weren’t kids who had been catechized by wokeness. These are young people who were raised in a society that is falling apart because it has lost a sense of purpose, and a sense that to fulfill a purpose requires behaving in certain ways.

This loss of purpose and meaning is endemic to modern society, and did not emerge with wokeness. Wokeness, though, operates on such a demoralized and confused society, and begins with the premise that reality is socially constructed. It takes the communist delusion about the planned economy and applies it to social relations. It is not purposeless, but it rather assumes that the purpose of all social relationships and organizations is to instantiate “social justice” as it perceives it. I was just recording the Irreverend podcast with Anglican priests Jamie Franklin and Daniel French, and we discussed the loss of a sense of mission within Christian institutions. Many churches have forgotten that the prime directive is to seek first the Kingdom of God, and instead have given themselves over to social and political activism. It should surprise no one that they are failing, because they have abandoned their main purpose for existing.

Again, I ask: why is it that the only institutions in America that operates according to the Aristotelian ideal of excellence and purpose are professional sports leagues? I think it’s because their fans would not tolerate losing. They understand that the purpose of a sports team is to win, full stop. But a society can survive sports teams with losing records. It cannot survive having a military that makes achieving a Marxist idea of social justice its prime directive, or near to its prime directive. (Or, to be precise: it cannot allow anything to compromise its goal of winning wars.) A school that does that will fail to achieve its purpose. So will a business. So will anything. A church that subordinates holiness to cultural or social politics will fail. It’s written into the structure of reality.

So, Freddie de Boer is right. This can’t go on, because it cannot work. But there is going to be a lot of suffering before its collapse, and what replaces it will probably not be nice.

Now, let me share with you the STARRS letter. It’s important. You need to know about this — and if you are a military veteran, get involved with the fight to save the Armed Forces from wokeness. In the original, there are links to videos. I can’t figure out how to embed them within these photos of a PDF, so I’ve linked them between segments where I can:

(Here is a link to the Training Clip.)

Here are the images from Takei’s book:

(Link to USAFA Convocation Ceremony.)

(You will have seen the football team video earlier in this blog post.)

(Here is a link to an article about the Air Force Academy “safe space”.)

Here are the Takei book images referenced above:

And here is a link to Takei’s Twitter feed.

More:

(The Commandant’s Memo For Record can be read here.)

(Here is a link to that Fox News video.)

That’s the end of the STARRS letter. If you want to know more about the organization, and to get involved, go to the STAARS website.These men and women are trying to regain the purpose for which the US Air Force Academy, and the US Air Force, exists. The survival of our nation is at stake.

Freddie de Boer is a Marxist, but he is not a fool. If we don’t defeat the woke now, the reaction that will defeat them is going to be terrifying. Happy Thanksgiving.

UPDATE: Reader C.L.H. Daniels with an interesting and probably correct take:

I think you are misreading DeBoer. He is intimating that the real reaction against the moralism of Wokeness, the one that is actually winning and will prevail, is not organized or political or ideological at all, which is why it would be a misnomer to associate it with Douthat’s “Post-Religious Right”, or any other organized or semi-organized political movement. What it is, is simple nihilism (which admittedly is increasingly appearing at the political fringes, both left and right, but then that is surely part of what DeBoer is getting at).

The sheer cynicism of Wokeness combined with late Christianity’s loss of moral authority and perceived hypocrisy is slowly but steadily inuring us against all moral language, and nowhere is this more true than among the young. This is giving rise to a generation that is suffused with a degree of nihilism that is probably unparalleled in our history and represents a very real danger to society. It is important to note that this isn’t exclusively a phenomenon of “the right” however. Indeed, in many ways it is an even more potent phenomenon on “the left”, though neither term is really all that descriptive here. Consider what Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz were doing out and about in Kenosha the night they got shot. Consider what we know about the lives of those men, because they are exactly the “grinning goblins” that DeBoer is talking about. They were not men of the right, and can probably only be said to be “of the left” to the extent that they were definitely not of the right (which is why those terms aren’t really the ones to use), but what they were in truth was simply nihilists and anarchists (in the lawless sense, not the ideological one). They were there to watch the world burn, and maybe toss a few matches onto the fire themselves.

The country is full of such men. Think about Darrell Brooks, and what we know (or mostly don’t) of his motives. You can try to pigeonhole him into some larger ideology, some set of morally coherent beliefs that might explain why he did it. What you don’t want to consider is that maybe he didn’t have a reason to do what he did. You think a man like him gives a rat’s a** about social justice? You think he’s read Crenshaw or Kendi, or for that matter the Bible? He surely has not. I doubt he even hates white people, not really. If he hates them at all, it’s only as an abstraction, as a personification of the larger forces at work in society that have kicked him around and left him, at 39, a nobody with no purpose and no future apart from putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, for the rest of his life.

I’ve been thinking about why he did it, and the answer that hits me as the most compelling is that he did it for the hell of it. He didn’t plan it ahead of time. He just found himself there, on the parade route, and maybe he was drunk or high or angry after whatever “domestic disturbance” had just occurred (or all of those things), and he said to himself “f*** it, I’m going to drive right through all of this, all of these fake happy people who look down on me, and no one can stop me”. If he’d wanted to kill people from the get go, he could have started hitting them a long way before he did, but he appears to have avoided doing so until it was impossible not to anymore, because the parade and the crowds got too dense. I’m not saying went out of his way to avoid people, but he also didn’t go out of his way to hit them either, not at first. But when he couldn’t avoid them anymore, he kept going anyway, and from then on it seems he may have really been trying to hit as many people as possible. One can almost picture him snarling behind the wheel, full of inchoate rage and aggression, simply not caring about the lives he was taking. It wasn’t personal, it couldn’t have been as he is not known to have known anyone in the parade. They were just in his way. It was sheer nihilistic rage, a monstrous, rage-driven desire to ruin and destroy something, the equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum and ripping the heads off of dolls, only the child was a grown man and the dolls were alive. It was a huge middle finger to the whole world.

Coming back to DeBoer, it is men like these that he is describing. Anarchists and criminals and addicts, men for whom moral language is meaningless, men who don’t care about ideologies and politics, not really. They have no higher purpose. They have no use for “social justice” any more than they do for God and country. They aren’t “right” or “left”. They are full of rage and resentment, directed at anyone and everyone, and most especially at anyone who might try to tell them what to do. They would set anything on fire just to watch it burn, do anything just because someone told them not to. They are destroyers. The cynical moralism of the Woke creates men like these at scale, first by deconstructing any other definition of the good that might give them meaning and bind them to something higher, and then by making itself so cynical and insufferable that it inspires a sort of spiteful revulsion against whatever order it might try to create or preserve. Thus are the jackals set loose to prey on us all. The Woke will eventually themselves fall prey to the disorder they are fomenting. One imagines that they’ve never really stopped to think through what it means to “dismantle systems of oppression” when virtually every important institution in our society is identified as such by those self-same people. As society comes to be an increasingly brutal place, filled with violence and nihilistic despair, they’ll wonder what happened and how it all went so wrong, just as Freddie suggests.

This opposition to Wokism won’t be revolutionary. A revolution implies some sort of higher purpose, a particular goal. The “animal spirits” Freddie is describing have none. He is telling us that what’s coming is moral anarchy. Wokism will simply collapse as large segments of society steadfastly refuse to conform to the moral narratives that the Woke have constructed, and tend to do so in increasingly destructive ways that are impossible to ignore. This won’t be principled opposition, well thought out and organized. It will just be ordinary human viciousness, given increasingly free reign by the moral bankruptcy and illegitimacy of the Woke social order. If Freddie’s right, I expect all kinds of malfeasance to increase. Quite apart from more ordinary crime, there will be more white collar crime, more self-enrichment and self-dealing by elites, more official corruption. Ordinary interactions will turn meaner. I mean come on, you can see all of this happening already. If Freddie is right, our moral order is slowly collapsing, and eventually a cynical and nihilistic populace will turn on the Woke and burn down their temples and kill their sacred cows, but not because they have anything better on offer. They’ll do it out of sheer spite and contempt for the morally bankrupt people presuming to lecture them on their moral failings, and then they’ll dance on the ruins while they turn on each other like starving hyenas. Freddie is betting on the Joker to come out on top.

“You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… These civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” – The Joker, from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight

about the author

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

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