When you Suspect Propaganda, Here are 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin, agitated the masses and spread propaganda, basically to get people to disempower themselves.

Yesterday I was interviewed about an essay I wrote for the Intercollegiate Review, called “Truth or Propaganda?” and you can click here to read it.  (I’ll post a link to the podcast when I get it.) I wrote the piece in order to help people — particularly college students — understand some of the hallmarks of being propagandized. What does it feel like? How to detect it?

Quite often you can discern propaganda — or political correctness — simply by the shut-in feeling you get when being confronted with it.  So, I came up with a list of ten questions to ask yourself whenever you feel pushed to censor yourself. The first step to overcoming this oppressive state of affairs is to recognize it.  If more people got in the habit of recognizing and then confronting propaganda, we can begin to rebuild a civil and free society.

So, here are 10 questions you might ask yourself when you’re trying to determine if you’re having a real discussion with people or if you’re being propagandized:

  1. Is your natural curiosity being suppressed?
  2. Are you being threatened with slurs or labels?
  3. Do you feel you will be ostracized if you ask a question or express a politically incorrect view?
  4. Do you notice a “herd effect” as people shift their opinions to adapt to a politically correct opinion?
  5. Are you being pigeonholed as a result of your question or opinion?
  6. Do you sense that if you express ideas freely, you will be labeled a nutcase?Do you sense relational aggression at play?
  7. Will others be “triggered” by your opinion?
  8. Are you expected to trade in reality to prop up somebody’s illusion?
  9. Are you tempted to self-censor to avoid social punishment?Or are you tempted to falsify what you believe to gain social rewards?
  10. Do you feel like you’re stuck in a cult?

 

About Blog Dormancy

Asleep at the keyboard. (“Sheila the PC Cat” @ Wikimedia Commons)

My lulls in social media use and posting to my blog come down to two things: aversion and fracturing.

First, I’ve built up quite an aversion to social media. Have you? The sad fact is that we live in an increasingly uncivil society, and the trend line only shows that the vulgarity and hostility fueled by political correctness is getting worse.  That’s not constructive for getting anything done.

The second issue is that extensive internet use — and social media in particular — is disruptive to the process of deep thinking. Constant mental gear shifting has a fracturing effect on the mind. You can read about this phenomenon in Nicholas Carr’s excellent book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. I’ve been trying to avoid the constant browsing that the internet and social media require, because so much of what I am trying to explore in my writing requires a very deep focus.

Our age is distracting enough, especially with the growing attacks on civil discourse.  The recent rioting intended to shut down speech at UC Berkeley and NYU have shown beyond a doubt that we’re in a bad way in that department.  So it’s more important than ever to nurture one’s ability to think clearly and deeply. And independently. Then we should try to spread that habit to others so that they and all of society can flourish in an atmosphere of civility.

I thank all who sent me messages through the contact form.  I very much appreciate your thoughts and support.  If I missed getting back to you about a question you had, I regret that. (Correspondence has become a bit more unwieldy too.)

Going forward, I hope to intensify my efforts on the subject of propaganda awareness.  Propaganda — along with its latter day spawn, political correctness —  is anathema to independent thinking, which means it is hostile to human conversation and friendship.

In the future I hope to post regularly at least twice a month.  Please subscribe if you’re interested!

“The Donald” vs. the Clinton Machine

In case you haven’t noticed, tomorrow is Election Day in America. I would guess that many Americans don’t really have great faith in either of the two main candidates running for president. But this choice isn’t about what we used to call “character” in quainter times. It’s more about choosing whether America should change course or continue at breakneck speed in the same direction (which ends us up over the precipice.)  Another big question is:  Do we even have faith in the electoral process anymore?   Many issues are muddying the waters when it comes to free and fair elections.  A few of them include:  digital technologies susceptible to hacking; the attack on voter ID; and the growing ignorance about the Constitution itself and why preserving it is important. (A few months ago, I also wrote of my concern that our right to a secret ballot could soon face challenges.)

But I think highest on the list of factors that got us where we are is that we are living in a post-virtue society.  The culture has become so coarse and our institutions have become so corrupt, that we seem to have lost the capacity to govern ourselves.  Such are the conditions that gave us the candidates we now have. I’ve wrestled for a while with the idea of voting for Donald Trump. Yes, he has a penchant for speaking and acting crassly — as do a lot of our celebrities and so many of whom pass today as role models. The reality is that a Hillary Clinton presidency will put us into hyper drive in growing the bureaucratic Borg State. Such a state would end the right to live a private life.  It would essentially cancel out the Bill of Rights.

We are where we are.

So the other day, I explained in greater detail why I decided to pull the lever for Trump:  to allow for a chance to get some breathing room for the Constitution.  You can read it at The Federalist here.

 

Please Support Professor Jordan B. Peterson, a Shining Light for Free Speech

If you’re looking for a modern day hero (and who isn’t these days?) one you should check out is Jordan B. Peterson.  He is a tenured professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and also has a clinical practice.  He is a brilliant lecturer, with several insightful TEDx talks posted on youtube.   I wrote about Professor Peterson last week at The Federalist, and I hope you’ll check out my piece here: “Professor Ignites Protest by Refusing to Use Transgender Pronouns.”

The thought police is after Professor Peterson because he is waging a valiant war against political correctness in Canada. The University of Toronto is challenging him to adhere to speech codes, but he is not backing down.  Bravo!  Check out the video below to see how aggressively anti-speech activists disrupted his attempt to talk about the importance of free expression in a free society.  They fed noise into the sound system to overtake his microphone.  They tried shouting him down.  They pushed and shoved.

Since then, the University of Toronto Adminstration has written to Professor Peterson, essentially demanding he self-censor.  But, thank God, he will not, you can watch his reply to that letter here.    (Professor Peterson has a fantastic Youtube page, which you can access here.  His Twitter feed is here.)

Now, the fact that Professor Peterson won’t use pronouns that play into the gender identity industry is secondary to all of this. Gender politics actually have little to do with gender or sex. Gender identity “non-discrimination” is the cover story, of course.  But the primary effect — and, I believe, the purpose of gender ideology — is the disruption of language.  It’s the disruption of our ability to communicate with one another on a human level.  This is always the first step in thought reform, since words are basically symbols for thought. And if you think about it, pronouns serve an essential function in the structure of the English language.  This structure transcends how we perceive of ourselves as individuals.  The structure of language is paramount to communication.  So to have unelected judges and bureaucrats dictate the structure of language — at their own whim as well as the whim of anybody and everybody else — is really a recipe for chaos and cult-like thought reform.  Such schemes force citizens to self-censor before they open their mouths about even the most mundane things.

Most unsettling is how so-called “social justice warriors” swarmed Professor Peterson simply because he wanted to have an open conversation about what it means to have a real conversation.  In other words, to talk about the importance of freedom of expression. Personally, I don’t believe they even understand what they are doing. They seem programmed in much the way cult recruits are programmed.

The saddest thing about the war against free speech is that it is essentially a war against friendship.   If we cannot speak openly to one another, we can’t have real relationships, can we?  As I’ve written before, that’s really what this power game of shutting down speech adds up to: state control of personal relationships.

 

On Friendship, Faith, and Martyrdom

Faith Abbott McFadden (1931-2011)

October 6 is the feast day of Saint Faith of Agen.  Few people are aware that there is actually a saint named “Faith” in the martyrologies of the Church.  I took the occasion of her feast day to write about my friendship with the late Faith Abbott McFadden, who was senior editor of The Human Life Review until her death in 2011.   The good folks at Review posted my reminiscences on their blog today.

Faith was a champion of the fight for life, and she was a huge influence on me.  She and I had a 20 year correspondence in which we shared our observations on the changing culture and life in general.  Today’s struggle to create a culture that respects and values human life was central to Faith’s work.

We both understood that to openly identify as pro-life is an act that will get you socially rejected in most social and academic circles. And to persist in doing so – to refuse to trade in the Truth for the shiny objects of worldly “rewards” no matter the price — is where true martyrdom begins. Martyrs who hold that fast to the Faith are willing to shed blood if it comes to that.  That’s the story of Saint Faith of Agen.  Though mention of that saint never came up in our correspondence — I only discovered Saint Faith recently — today I seek to link the devotions of both women.

And so I offer this excerpt from the Review’s blog on the feast day of Saint Faith:

Saint Faith’s refusal to renounce Christ and sacrifice to pagan gods got her tortured and killed. And that’s what true martyrdom is about, really:  refusing to bow down to idolatry under pain of punishment, and even death.  It means holding fast to Faith.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and an old French adage rings truer than ever:  “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”  My favorite translation of that is this: “The more things ‘change,’ the more you get same old, same old, same old.”  Indeed, as we witness the lightening erosion of religious liberty in today’s transformed America, we are increasingly facing the same choice as Saint Faith and all the saints: true worship or idolatry? God or mammon?

Such are the things my friend Faith and I reflected on.  And I can hear Faith adding a stoic “Natch” to all of the above.  I believe her outreach to me — and to everyone — was built on her understanding that God leads us to do his work through friendship, through one-on-one personal relationships, influencing the lives of others as well as our own lives.

I still fall short whenever I try to express the impact her letters had—and continue to have—on my life. And why wouldn’t I fall short? Why wouldn’t anyone who ponders the influence of another person on their life fall short in sizing it up?

I think the answer lies in the eternal mystery of love and the limitless trajectories a life can take. It lies in the fact that every human life is an entire universe of God’s making. There is just no way that the effect of one life upon another can be measured or predicted.

You can read the whole post here:  http://www.humanlifereview.com/9184-2/

 

 

Propaganda and Agitation in the Aftermath of Orlando

Today I talked with Professor Robert Oscar Lopez, about how the Orlando tragedy is being shamelessly manipulated by the LGBT lobby.  Its propagandists immediately shifted the blame for the massacre from the murderer and his stated motives to the claim that “homophobia” among Christians caused it. Such a wild fabrication amounts to the cultivation of hatred, pure and simple.  It was obviously calculated, and an act of war.  Demonizing Christians — and the attempt to institutionalize that demonization —  is alarming.  It serves only to polarize society further.  It’s a dangerous path which, in the end, only serves power elites.  You can listen to the podcast here:

A Follow-Up on Age Identity

Following up on my post the other day in which I wrote about my Federalist piece “The Trans-Aged Deserve Equal Rights, too” I see that the idea is starting to get a bit more circulation.  Last week, Newsday ran an essay by J Peder Zane, titled “If Gender is Fluid, What about Race and Age?”  This sounds a bit like my headline a couple of years ago asking , “If We Can Pick Our Gender, Can We Pick Our Age? Our Race?”  I do not understand why so few pundits and virtually no legislators are exposing the parallels here.  We’re talking about self-definition, self-identification becoming a protected category in law, without regard to physical reality.

The premise of transgender law — that sex is not real, but simply “assigned at birth” — is a false premise intended to apply universally to everybody.  As wild as that presumption is, I believe it’s actually a lot easier to accept the premise of being “age fluid.”  I know I’m age fluid — in my mind.  Isn’t everybody?  Some days I’m 75, other days 16, and still others 32.  The fact that age-identity non-discrimination would mess with our concept of time and the calendar should be irrelevant as long as our Administration is in the process of de-sexing all of society anyway. Right?

We ought to press this point while we still can.  Seriously.

 

 

Why Shouldn’t “Age-Identity Non-Discrimination” be a Thing?

Finnish woodcut, Ages of Man (1831.)

A few months ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article for the Federalist entitled “The Trans-Aged Deserve Equal Rights, Too.”  I’ve made this point before, a few years ago: here and here.  But don’t you agree it’s high time we take this seriously now that the Obama Administration’s directive on “gender identity” puts the social engineering of our humanity in high gear?

I say that if gender identity is a protected category for non-discrimination, age identity should be as well.  Why not? Those who call for age identity non-discrimination have a parallel grievance with those who call for gender identity non-discrimination:  their identity does not match the age they were “assigned at birth.”

In fact, I can say with all honesty that I do not identify with my age “assigned at birth.”  Do you?  I imagine the percentage of the population who feel this way are far greater than those who feel dysphoria over their gender identity.  And yet a 52-year old who identifies as 71 can be turned down for medicare.  A 12-year-old who identifies as 20 is forced to stay in a middle school classroom.  And so on.

There is nothing to lose by pressing legislators (and judges) today to add age identity as a new category to non-discrimination law. We should be asking presidential candidates if they would support laws to halt age identity discrimination, especially if they support the social engineering that comes with the transgender thing.

Here are some excerpts from my piece:

Just as transgender activists will tell you not to conflate gender with sex, so no one should conflate age with time. Trans-aged individuals are just as entitled to anti-discrimination protection as transgender individuals.

Obama and his allies in Congress fully accept the idea that gender identity is a person’s self-perception of their gender whether or not it “aligns” with the sex they were “assigned at birth.” But they brazenly ignore a far more common source of inequality: total lack of equal protection for those whose self-perception of their age does not match up with the socially constructed date they were assigned at birth.

Discrimination on the basis of age identity is rampant in education, medicine, and employment, just for starters. I dare say it is orders of magnitude more common than discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Think of the 12-year-old who self-identifies as 19, but is stuck in a middle-school classroom. Think also of the 58-year-old who knows she is 75 but is ineligible for Social Security, and must suffer loss of benefits in silence. Let’s have some compassion for the 22-year-old (not to mention the 72-year-old) who knows he is 18 but is nevertheless not permitted to become an Eagle Scout, or even a Boy Scout. And what about the 69-year-old teacher who is forced into retirement even though she knows she is but 49—and is thereby deprived of living an authentic life?

 

What Happens when Human Beings are Neutered in Law?

The other day Public Discourse ran my piece entitled “A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanized Society.”  It was my analysis of President Obama’s directive to enforce a transgender policy on all K-12 bathroom and locker room facilities throughout the nation.  We need to understand that this project has nothing to do with “gender identity” or civil rights for anybody.  That’s the pretext, sure.  But the endgame is to abolish all sex distinctions in law.  That’s definitely the trajectory we’re on.  We can already see the telltale signs with government documents such as passport applications no longer allowing for the identification of mother and father, but only the more generic term “parent.”  In Canada, nine plaintiffs to the high court have sought to have sex distinctions removed from all birth certificates.

So obviously, this agenda applies universally.  We need to get that through our heads.  It’s not about transgender individuals.  They are merely the vehicles, the pawns that the administration is using to push this project through.  But in the end, it’s about every single one of us. It means we are all in the de-humanizing process of being legally “de-sexed.” And like sheep to the slaughter, so many of us just don’t seem to get it.

This “gender identity” nonsense is the cornerstone of probably the biggest social engineering project in human history.  That’s because it will allow the mass state to treat us only as isolated individuals, separated from our familial relationships.  When the State no longer has to recognize the existence of “male” or “female,” would it have to recognize the existence of a husband and wife or a mother and father? I don’t think so. Nor any other biological relationship.  And therefore, no relationships at all. This would eventually wipe out spousal immunity, which means the state can force spouses to testify against one another in court.  It puts the State in a stronger position to regulate personal relationships.  As you know, my theme on this blog is that personal relationships are the source of all real power.  So if you go along with this transgender project, I believe you are ceding that power to the state (for everybody) whether you know it or not.

Of course, no law can make reality go away.  But the force of law can manipulate you to behave as though reality has gone away.   Here’s an excerpt from my article, which I hope you’ll read:

What will happen when all of society is sexless in both language and law? If the law does not recognize your body as physically male or female—applying only the word “gender” to your internal, self-reported self-perception—does the law even recognize your body? Every single cell of you has either “male” or “female” written into its DNA, but the law refuses to recognize such categories. Such laws will only recognize an infinite, immeasurable “gender spectrum,” your place on which is determined only by your mind. So what exactly are you after the law has de-sexed you? In what sense is your body a legal entity?

And what happens to your familial relationships after the law has de-sexed you? Are they legally recognized? I don’t see how they could be. Certainly not by default, certainly not by the recognition that each child comes through the union of two opposite-sex parents.

In the end, there is nothing “brave” about this new world chaos. Just sheer insanity.

 

The Devoted Mother is the First and Last Line of Defense against Big Brother

Mary Cassatt, Breakfast in Bed (1897)

Happy Mother’s Day.  For me this is a time to contemplate the difference devoted mothers make in our lives. And the difference is much more seismic than it is sentimental.  That’s the subject of my lengthy essay at The Federalist this past week.  Of all the things we take for granted in this life, the sacrificial love of a mother is at the top of that list.  We forget how that bonding has a such a stabilizing and humanizing effect on people — until we are confronted with the depth and breadth of today’s cultural rot.

And the gifts of devoted motherhood are magnified countless times over in the context of an intact family, when the child gains the positive effects of strong and healthy mother-child-father bonds. Unfortunately, broken families and dysfunctional motherhood and fatherhood are epidemic today.  So, we ought to ask ourselves: Whom does that brokenness serve?  There’s no question in my mind that it serves the bureaucratic, authoritarian State, the source of so many policies that serve to break up families.  In a word, the Orwellian monster known as Big Brother. He’s all about separating people and trying to extinguish real love and real beauty.

You can read my article at this link:  “A Little Mother Prevents Big Brother.”  The 19th century philosopher Edmond Burke wrote about the “little platoons” of society being the ultimate source of all other affections:  friendship, community, love of country, love of one’s fellow man.  Erase the little platoons, and you’ve erased the source of all human affections. Here’s the relevant Burke quote that I include in my article:

“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.”

Without those bonds to our “little platoons” — which begin in the family, and specifically through the instinctive mother-child bond — there can be no real inter-connectedness.  Just a fake and forced “collectivism” that takes the place of love.  The instinctive maternal bond has been meddled with, abused and broken through a variety of forces.  The sexual revolution plays a huge role, along with the false doctrine of gender ideology and the siren call of government dependency.  And when we see how coalitions of big government and big corporations are bullying  small businesses and families to bend to the dictates of transgenderism — which has the end effect of abolishing motherhood and fatherhood — we can’t help but see traitors bartering away the family life of others for their own personal advantage, their own power.

But as C.S. Lewis noted in his essay “The Abolition of Man,” we owe a great debt to the “beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.”

Let’s try to shore up the remaining sanity by shoring up the strength of our little platoons and injecting them with a fresh and heavy dose of such obstinacy.  Let’s celebrate and encourage the devoted and sacrificial love of our mothers to help them deliver that antidote against the poisons of Big Brother.