Why Study History? Because “WTF?” is a Bad Alternative Question.

Sane folks study history because they know how important it is to understand human behavior and learn from experience.   We ought to understand the psychological imprint on our society so that we might work with it to get a clearer picture of reality and thereby learn how to live freer and more harmonious lives together. Unfortunately, the instability and terror in the world today feels like deja vu all over again. Worse, the serious study of history in our schools and universities has been diluted and downgraded for decades now. Not good.

According to historian Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius (whose superb lecture series “Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century” I recommended in a previous post) wars create psychological transformations that stay with a society and a civilization.  That’s a chilling thought.  Because it’s not enough to try to understand war itself.  We need to understand the human psychology that is both cause and effect of human conflict.  With this in mind, please listen to Professor Liulevicius speak brilliantly about the impact of World War I in the clip below:

 He notes: “The First World War should have taught us something about the intensity of emotions that can seize entire peoples, nations, and societies when they’re in the grip of crisis conditions.  The tragedy of the First World War was so great, so extensive, so huge in scale, that afterwards people found it difficult to wrap their minds around the motivations that led people to fight, kill and die for a cause.”

As the philosopher George Santanyana stated: “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  I think we should all be able to understand this on a very personal level. Just imagine you have no clear memory of where you have been in life. You have no known experiences that can direct your intentions.  Only intense emotion.  Where would you go?  What would you do? Chances are, you’d just grope around blindly and live the proverbial brutish life that ignorance so often affords those detached from reality.  You’d mimic others. You’d be great fodder for demagogues. This ignorance of experience and psychology promises insanity and misery.  It also causes us to lose touch with our shared humanity as we descend into our collective dementia.

Demagogues thrive on the ignorance of history because it’s so effective in preventing clear thinking and civil discourse that puts a check on their power.  They also revise and distort the historical record until not much is left of it. They tend to create crises, and then exploit those crises.  And afterwards the survivors are left among the ruins, bewildered. Some wail in innocence.  Those who saw it coming may cocoon themselves.  Many indulge more in blind emotions — of vengeance and rage — than in sober thought.  The few Cassandras who tried to raise warning flags will either be lost to the writing of that history, or if victorious like Churchill, write it.

But too many will scratch their heads with nothing better to say than “WTF?”

That’s why we must study history.

 

 

Corruption of Language, Transgender Law, Paris Massacre & the Abolition of Man

C S Lewis, author of The Abolition of Man and truly a prophet of the 20th century

Corruption of the language seems to be surrounding us as never before.

On one front, we see how the transgender lobby is selling the snake oil of “gender identity.”  This insists that being female and male does not exist in physical reality, but only in our minds. So at root, it’s not really an agenda about gender per se or equality.  It’s an agenda to corrupt the language and every single person’s perception of reality.  You will see this become more prevalent if “Leelah’s Law” — a reaction to the recent suicide of a transgender youth — is pushed.  I hope to write more about it, but the idea is to ban any counseling for kids that doesn’t affirm transgenderism.  Under the guise that it only bans something called “conversion therapy.”

On another related front, we can see how the push to control language is causing mayhem globally.  After the massacre at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, there is a new debate about the limits of free speech.  The magazine publishes a lot of content hostile to religion – all religions – but the killings were based only on its depictions of the prophet Mohammed.

At The Federalist Sean Davis reminds us How CS Lewis Predicted Charlie Hebdo Censorship:

Western news organizations are falling all over themselves to censor images that raise the ire of violent terrorists, and C.S. Lewis predicted their exact behavior over 70 years ago when he published “The Abolition of Man,” his treatise on how the corruption of language leads inevitably to the corruption of mind and soul.

When we allow language to be so manipulated that it distorts reality, that puts civilization itself on the path to suicide.

I love the way CJ Ciaramella leads his article, also at the Federalist: “Everything you Need to Know about Voxsplaining the Charlie Hebdo Massacre:”

Sometime in the Paleolithic past, one guy said to his friends, “Hey, have you ever noticed how small Steve the Chief’s brow is? Look at me, I’m Steve No-Brow.” Everyone laughed, then Steve the Chief caved the guy’s head in with a rock. Human affairs with regards to unauthorized satire remained the same for the next 100,000 years or so, with the only difference being who was holding the biggest rock.

So how do you balance free speech with irresponsible speech?  The answer lies in something we call “Civil Society.” It subsists upon a common uncorrupted language and agreement to allow the free exchange of ideas.  Unfortunately, civil society is ceding authority to the corruption of  language enforced by political correctness.  If civil society is ever to be rebuilt, PC must be resisted and always fought.

Tearing Down All the Berlin Walls

I can’t let this day go by without noting the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Below is a clip from President Reagan’s 1987 speech:  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  It still gives me chills.

The Berlin Wall was a symbol of separation.  Not a protective or defensive wall to keep invaders out  No, it was a prison wall intended to keep its people in.  To separate them from others.  To control their relationships with others.  That’s what it was about and what totalitarianism is always about.  I think there are lots of Berlin Walls in life.  Political correctness, cult mindsets, and manipulative behaviors all serve to build walls around us and between us, separating us from others.  We need to be vigilant when folks try to build them around us, and we need to tear them down, speaking truth in love.

Below is a video from that incredible day in 1989 when the wall came down.

In the end, the truth will always out.

 

 

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

https://s3.amazonaws.com/lifesite/DSCN0245_1.JPG

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.