“Bonds that Matter” Looking at the World through the Eyes of the Child

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Over a million marched in Paris in 2013 to support the right of the child to know both mother and father.

I’ve made a late-in-the-year resolution to keep up my blog a whole lot better than I have.  My apologies — and appreciation — to those who check for new posts.  I have a lot of items on my hit parade.  So I’ve resolved to post more frequently even if it means more sloppily.

So, first off, let me say I understand how easy it is to get discouraged as we witness The Great Unraveling in our society.  The breakdown of family accounts for a huge part of this, especially the separation of children from their parents and the layers of confusion adults are heaping on kids for the convenience of said adults.  Broken homes create broken children.  And so many broken children portend an ever more dysfunctional society.

The road ahead seems very dark now, especially as we feel the increasing hostility to the idea that children have rights that override the convenience of so-called grown ups.  Let’s face it:  we humans are not naturally ethical beings though so many of us truly do like to think so.

But if you look around, you’ll see some beams of light emanating from the cracks in all of the social chaos.

For example, at the Reagan Library last week the International Children’s Rights Institute had its inaugural conference to discuss the inherent rights of children to be born free — not manufactured as chattel — and their right to know their origins.

I for one think it’s past time that adults get a bit out of their comfort zones and start looking at life through the eyes of the child.  There is harm when a child is separated and isolated — by design — from any clear answer to that existential question:  “Where did I come from?”   Please click on the links throughout this post to learn more about the conference and its participants.

The Conference theme was “Bonds that Matter.”    Alana Newman, founder of Anonymous Us, talked about her experience as a donor-conceived child, and how artificial reproductive technologies de-stabilizes a child’s sense of self.  Such children are wounded and puzzled by the way they came into the world — as commodities — and why one or both parents didn’t care to know them. But they’re told to shut up about it since they wouldn’t be here otherwise.  (Alana rightly compared the accusation to being a child of rape:  yes, I am happy to be alive, but not about the rape.)

Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture talked about the surrogacy industry and how it turns children into chattel as it treats women as cattle.  Jennifer Morse of the Ruth Institute discussed the impact of no-fault divorce on the lives of children.  And adoption experts Cathy Swett and Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy walked us through the topic of adoption from the eyes of the adoptee, because even in the best of circumstances adoption still forces a child to emotionally “work out” the absence of his or her biological parents.

Congratulations to Robert Oscar Lopez who organized and emcee’d an absolutely fantastic conference.  Hopefully the first of many!

Terror as a Byproduct of Lovelessness

Black September terrorist, 1972 Munich Olympics

In yesterday’s Federalist, I have a piece called “Love in the time of Terrorism.”   I focus on the case of “Black September” the most feared terrorist group of the 1970’s.  They were the scourge of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where they kidnapped and killed 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer.  Maybe you’re familiar with this iconic photo.

In the essay I explore how and why some men become so violent and single-minded about pushing their will on others. I can’t say anything that you don’t already know in your gut:  Without strong family ties and without a sense of purpose, many young men have a tendency to channel their natural aggressive instincts in destructive ways.  They easily sow chaos.  So great is their need to be viewed with awe by others, especially other men.  But you must read the story of the taming of Black September to see how utterly true this is.  I believe it closes the case entirely on any other “theory” about the causes of such violence.  It all stems from being cut off from relationships.

People need strong and healthy relationships, particularly a sense of family to feel grounded and at peace.  This proved very true in the case of Black September.  Please read the story of how the members of that terrorist organization were tamed by PLO intelligence operatives after the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, saw their behavior as a political  liability.  Arafat told them to basically “switch it off.”   What did the PLO do?  They found a way to marry the men off to the most beautiful Palestinian women they could find, and then they provided the men with non-violent jobs, nice apartments, and a huge cash incentives to start families.  The men became so content with their new lives that they refused all offers to go abroad on official PLO business for fear of being arrested and hence separated from their families.

It’s an amazing story with huge lessons for understanding hierarchies, human motives, and the utter need we all have for strong relationships.  The story also flies in the face of modern feminism and gender theory.  I hope you’ll read it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a Human? — Part V

This is how everybody happens, whether they like it or not: the union of one male and one female. Lest we forget: every male and female and intersex person happens this way, and that would include all individuals who call themselves transgender.

To answer to the question “What is a human?” for the purpose of this blog series, we need only refer to the simple and existential question of the child:  “Where did I come from?”

A human being is a creature who is born out of the union of one male human being and one female human being.  This is true for every man, woman or child who has ever been conceived, whether male, female, or ambiguous/intersex.   Transgender persons may wish to deny this, but their own humanity is based in their origins of one male united with one female.   Whether we know our biological parents or not, they are how we came into being.  Whether it happens in a bed or a petri dish doesn’t matter.

A human being may present as the opposite sex or as a sexless being or both sexes or genders or as many as they imagine, but it doesn’t change the reality of their humanity.  Nor anybody else’s.

The transgender activists’ idea that a person may identify as male or female regardless of biological sex is nothing new.  There are  plenty of famous cases in history and literature.  The idea of androgyny — the male/female being —  is an old concept that goes back to ancient times.  

Here’s what’s new:  The attempt to force onto everybody the transgender idea of human identity, and the push to codify it as quickly as possible into law under the guise of “non-discrimination.”   The key phrase slipped into these laws is that our sex is merely “assigned” to us at birth. If we accept that premise, then we will certainly reach a point at which nobody can be legally identified as either male or female.  Eventually, we all become “other” in the eyes of the state.

How are we supposed to understand our origins in this scheme?  Answer:  It looks like we’re not intended to understand our origins.   Nor, ironically, are we supposed to chart our own destiny in this vacuum of ambiguity.  It’s a destabilizing prospect, but that’s where we’re headed with this.  The transgender movement has less to do with equal rights than it has to do with a war on language, aimed directly at destabilizing our sense of human identity.

“The Wave” and the Cult Mindset

Human beings — especially Americans these days — don’t seem to understand how susceptible we are to group think.   A cult mindset can be very contagious if it is left unchecked.  Cults grow where people feel a sense of isolation, when they don’t ask hard questions, and when they are weak on discernment.  Below is a short movie called “The Wave.”  It’s based on actual events at a high school during the 1960’s.  It started with a teacher-supervised class experiment in group think, but it took on an ominous life of its own.

If you want to delve into the background, click here to look over the website www.thewavehome.com which was put together by the original participants. Here is an excerpt from the website:

In spring 1967, in Palo Alto, California, history teacher Ron Jones conducted an experiment with his class of 15-year-olds to sample the experience of the attraction and rise of the Nazis in Germany before World War II.  In a matter of days the experiment began to get out of control, as those attracted to the movement became aggressive zealots and the rigid rules invited confusion and chaos.  This story has attracted considerable attention over the years through films, books, plays and musicals, and verges on urban legend.  It serves as a teaching tool, to facilitate discussion of those uncomfortable topics of history, human nature, psychology, group behavior, intolerance and hate.

As an aside, I don’t want anyone to get too put off when they discover that Norman Lear produced this 1981 TV movie.  That’s fascinating, of course, because Lear is about as far left/statist as one can get in Hollywood.  And yet “The Wave” is an important story with urgent lessons for all of us. There seems to be a pattern among those who claimed to fight for independent thought in earlier eras, but who push political correctness so hard today. One can only wonder if the hijacking of stories and images warning against totalitarianism serve only to promote their power agendas of today.

The Tank Man: A Study in Courage

Here’s something to think about on the Fourth of July.  It’s been 25 years since the demonstrations for democracy in Tiananmen Square were brutally suppressed by the communist government of China.  Take a look at the astonishing video below of one of those protesters, widely known as the “Tank Man.”

 If you’ve never seen the footage before, it will captivate you.  If you’re like most and have seen it before, the Fourth of July is a good time to watch it again. The identity and fate of the Tank Man is not known.  But he showed us something magnificent: that real courage  scares the living daylights out of tyrants.  Especially if there are witnesses, but even if there aren’t.  

A tiny power elite — in this case, the dozen of so members of inner inner circle of the Chinese government — just can’t deal with it when a member of the masses defies them by speaking or acting without their permission.   And I’m not even talking about what the Tank Man did, but what he confronted:  a column of tanks sent in to shut people up.  That’s why all tyrants fight self-expression so much.  First they have to separate us and get control over our relationships, usually through emotional blackmail like political correctness.  The point is to socially isolate any dissenter. It causes people to silence what they believe so that few seem to express those beliefs anymore.  Then, once you feel sufficiently alone, the elites make sure there’s no escape from their program.  It’s just like being stuck in a cult.

In fact, of all the first amendment freedoms, it seems totalitarians feel most threatened by freedom of association.   

In the first days of the Tiananmen Square protests, I remember watching some of the students interviewed by Western media and being absolutely astonished as they quoted in English from the Declaration of Independence. My husband and I looked at each other, jaws dropped, after we heard one of the young men say to reporters:  

“We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”    

It made me cry. What will it take for so many young Americans today to understand the miracle of those words ever being put into law?  Would they understand it only if they had to live with what happened to the Chinese demonstrators:  the massacre, the tanks rolling into them?  (Many were crushed by the tanks.  Literally. This was described to me by one eyewitness I spoke to years later at a wreath laying at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

On a positive note, ponder the ripple effects that just one person can cause.  Not only does the Tank Man live on in the memory of millions, but it seems the 1989 protests in  Tiananmen Square triggered many reforms in China.

I keep Vaclav Havel’s quote in the upper corner of this blog to remind readers of what any one person can do:

“his action went beyond itself because it illuminated its surroundings, and because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination.”

 

“The Singing Revolution:” Freedom Through Song, Part V

The trailer below will give you hope. It’s all about how the Truth will out:  through the ripple effect of people speaking freely to one another.  When people develop trust in one another, when they have common bonds and can express that in real friendships, no oppressor can hold them back.

The documentary, The Singing Revolution tells an amazing story of the people of Estonia, a small Baltic nation that suffered under both Hitler and Stalin  and survived the yoke of communism.  The film tells how the Estonian people came together in a show of mass defiance against their Soviet overlords before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  They spontaneously met at an outdoor concert hall to sing forbidden hymns and national songs.  Over 300,000 showed up and there was no shutting them up.  Here’s a telling line:  “Once you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.  The ghost gets out of the bottle.”

The Singing Revolution testifies that real freedom is beyond words. It’s music.  It’s felt as a song in our hearts.  Once out, it’s irrepressible.  But it can only happen in civil society that allows for ideas to be cross pollinated, a society in which there is common respect for the rights of others to live and let live.  Fake freedom is the “unfreedom” that comes from being sold a bill of goods that basically says:  “You don’t need to worry about food, housing, etc., just sign your soul over to the authorities.  They’ll tell you what you may say and may think.”

It’s easier to preserve and press on for freedom when you are emboldened by knowing who your friends are.  The enemies of freedom know this.  That’s why they employ political correctness as a silencing technique: to make it more difficult for us to get to know people or to reach out to them.  It separates people from one another so that they can’t easily unite in freedom, but instead build walls that isolate them.  This allows our relationships and knowledge to be suppressed and controlled.   We should take note of the Estonian people’s response to this:  to reach out anyway and share the song in our hearts.

For more on “The Singing Revolution,” go to their site by clicking here.  Also, please click here to visit The Global Museum on Communism.

 

 

 

Crude Demonization and the Propaganda in “Cosmos”

Did you catch the Sunday night pilot of the new Cosmos series on FOX?  If so, you probably watched with interest an odd cartoon that was injected into it.  The program featured some revisionist history in order to produce a thinly-veiled hit piece on Christians.  You can watch it here.  Take special note at 1:24.  Right smack dab in the center of focus is the Cross of Christ, just below a set of demonically-lit eyes of a church figure.

This is propaganda of the crudest sort, reminiscent of how Stalin’s Soviet Union characterized non-communists, or how the Hutus of Rwanda characterized the Tutsis, or, most famously, how the Third Reich characterized Jews.

 I imagine we’ll see more of this sort of thing in the future, so let’s try to figure out one formula some outlets might use to implement such demonization.

1.)  Take a fascinating topic that captures the imagination of viewers across all age groups.  In this case, space exploration.  Get the US President’s seal of approval

2.)  Invent the story of an obscure martyr, in this case, a church figure who promoted a theological heresy hundreds of years ago and was executed for doing so — Giordano Bruno.

1.       3.)  Win the sympathy of the viewer through twisting facts.  In this case, claim — in error — that the Church as a whole persecuted Bruno for his views on science and his imagination — when the reality was that the personalities running the church at the time went after him for his theological views. 
You can read more about this here and here.

4.)  Then inject a caricature that demonizes anyone associated with the symbol f the cross.  In this case, it’s a cartoon that places the cross right in the center of focus, underneath a pair of demonic eyes so that the viewer will join the producers in demonizing the cross and those who wear it.

Whether or not you agree that this is a formula for demonizing people, it all leads to the same place:  the persecution of targeted groups of people.  Throughout history demonization through caricature has always gone hand-in-hand with oppression:  separating people through smear-by-association.  So whenever we see such things produced by a major network or outlet, we need to ask ourselves a question:  Is the caricature intended to single out a group of people with the direct effect of inspiring blanket fear and hatred of them?  Or is it a more generic “bad guy” that would would find in the context of a well-written drama or storyline?  This hit piece from Cosmos is doubtless of the first category.

Casablanca: Freedom through Song, Part I

After entry of the US into WWII, Warner Brothers released the classic Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  One scene in Casablanca offers a magnificent juxtaposition with the Bavarian pub scene from The Mortal Storm (1940) discussed in the last post.  The place is similar:  another restaurant– Rick’s Cafe Americain.  Also similar is a cast of Nazi officers, stirring up song (this one “Die Wacht am Rhein.”)   But the similarities end there, when one man, Victor Laszlo, tells the orchestra to play the “La Marseillaise.”  A thrilled and grateful clientele all rise spontaneously and triumphantly, drowning out the Nazis’ song.

Watch here:

If Laszlo hadn’t done what he did, what then?  Chances are everyone would just sit around sulking.  Until the Nazis could stir up enough folks to sing along with them to the point that theirs seemed the majority view.  Morale would continue to plummet.

It’s the little acts of resistance that add up to make the biggest difference.  These acts plant seeds in others, creating a cascade effect.  Sad to say, it’s the power mongers of the world who seem to know this better than the rest of us do.  That’s why they insist on our silence as a way station on their road to total control.  So let’s not hide our light.

“The Mortal Storm:” First, Imposed Silence, then Mandatory Enthusiasm

When power elites are pushing an agenda, the first step is to silence the opposition.  Political correctness is a tool that manipulates the universal human fear of being socially smeared in order to squash dissent.  PC begins by teasing out a spiral of silence that causes people to perceive majority approval for an agenda — even when it doesn’t exist — so that they remain silent instead of expressing opposition.

But that’s just the first step.  PC agendas cannot withstand scrutiny or open debate.  They get poor mileage and need lots of fuel.  So, at a certain point the silencing of dissent is just not enough to keep the illusion going.  That’s when power elites will ratchet it up and enlist your enthusiasm and approval.  And it’s mandatory.

A fascinating illustration of mandatory enthusiasm is in the clip below from the 1940 movie “The Mortal Storm,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.

Begin watching at the 2:00 mark:

When faced with this type of cascade of human madness, we have two choices, according to the story:

1. Safety through retreat, which is really a trap, because it only feeds the cascade and makes the problem worse;

2. Courage, which forces us to confront the evil, and allows us a fighting chance in defeating it.

Part of the fallout of PC is that it tears apart families and life long friendships.   At one point in the movie, the character Freya says to Martin: “You’re the only friend I have left and the only one I can talk to.  I’ve never felt so all alone in  my life.”

And that’s the aim of  any power-mongering force:  to separate dissenters from any source of support — from friends, from family.  To make sure they have no one they can talk to.  That message from the “The Mortal Storm” is timeless and urgent.

By the way, during the 1930’s Hollywood bowed to pressure from Nazi Germany and avoided any negative portrayals of the Nazis.  “The Mortal Storm” was the first time this pact had been breached before US involvement, and it resulted in a German boycott of MGM.   (If you’re planning to watch the whole movie, here’s a quickie review of its shortcomings: I wish it was more cohesive and had more natural dialogue in several of the scenes.)

Another interesting aside is that after WWII you’d be hard pressed to find an average German who claimed to be a willing member of the Nazi party.  It seems the old line about being “on the right side of history” can often serve as a manipulative and empty slogan.

Communism always means too much power in the hands of too few people. Always.

Cathy Young just published a sterling rebuttal to an all-too-recent apology for communism, the ideology responsible for the brutal murders of over 100 million people.  Please read her article in today’s Real Clear Politics.  You can also read the breathtakingly mindless — or soulless — article to which she responds, which appeared last week in Salon.com.  The latter is a bit less mind-numbing to read once you’ve digested Young’s excellent essay.

When I was studying the realities of communism, especially the crimes of Stalin, I concluded that cruelty and terror are inevitable under that system.   Not just probable or possible.  Inevitable.  Built-in.  It leads to the kind of barbarism that’s probably impossible to grasp even if you’ve lived in it.

As with all totalitarian systems, communism relies on driving people apart by isolating and atomizing them so that they are not able to trust their neighbors or even their family.  It relies on a spiral of silence — the fear of speaking truth.    Just ponder this observation by Pascal Fontaine who wrote about Cuba in the Black Book of Communism:  “The surveillance and denunciation system is so rigorous that family intimacy is almost nonexistent.”

The communist system absolutely requires the centralization of power.  And since personal relationships get in the way of that power, the State meddles ceaselessly, sowing distrust and ill will, often through enforced scarcity of goods and services,.  Think of it as misery with little if any hope for company.

And since the people most driven to raw power are also the most ruthless, in a system without checks and balances power usually ends up concentrated into the hands of one strongman.  Terror is a given because it’s just too much power in the hands of too few people who are invested in perpetuating their power.  Even passive resistance is viewed as a threat.

One can only wonder why there has been a revisiting of communism in recent times.  Why the apologies?  Is it ignorance?  Or is it something else?  Is there a drive for power, a sense of investment in that system that makes it attractive to some?  I’ll explore those questions in future posts.

In the meantime, please visit the Global Museum of Communism, a project of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.  It’s an amazing interactive website that helps us to never forget the those who died and suffered so much under communist regimes.