A Reading List to Promote Sanity and Hack-Proof Your Mind

I offered “Ten Resources for Hack-Proofing Your Mind” in my Federalist article earlier this week, and I list them below. We need far more conversations about how political correctness – i.e., coercive thought reform – undermines our ability to think independently.  We also need to understand that when we lose the capacity to think freely, our minds become extremely vulnerable to being manipulated. On a mass scale, this is very bad for any society.

The resources below can help us inoculate ourselves against the process of extreme undue influence or brainwashing .  It’s a process that has no doubt affected the members of the death cult we call ISIS.  We can see the dangerous effects of undue influence in various other cults as well.  And we can also see that after decades of political correctness, coercive thought reform has become the order of the day on college campuses, coercing conformity among students.  In fact, any student who simply wishes to be left alone to pursue studies can end up harassed, like those who were hounded by protesters in the library at Dartmouth recently.  You can watch that incident here:

But I don’t believe those student agitators are really free agents. Their resentments have been so cultivated, and their access to diversity of thought has been so cut off, that they behave more like they have been mind-hacked by elites who have shamelessly recruited them for their own purposes.

The “safe spaces” that campus agitators demand really serve as little more than Pavlovian conditioning chambers that isolate them and guard them from exploring unofficial ideas. This way they are kept “safe” as fodder for  demagogues and propagandists.  What the students really need – what we all really need – are sane spaces where we can exchange ideas and develop friendships and goodwill.

A big part of the problem is that there has been precious little public understanding about the dynamics of coercive persuasion, and too little self-awareness about how vulnerable we all are to it.  So I’ve prepared a very select list of materials that I think are well worth exploring.  Ideally, people would consider these titles for book club discussions.  For a summary of each entry, you can go to my Federalist article:

  1. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, ”by Doris Lessing (1986).
  2. The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashingby Joost A. M. Meerloo (1956)
  3. Cults in Our Midstby Margaret Thaler Singer (1995).
  4. The APA-Suppressed DIMPAC Report (1986)
  5. The Manipulated Mind:  Brainwashing, Conditioning, and Indoctrinationby Denise Winn (1983).
  6. Influenceby Robert B. Cialdini (1984).
  7. The Undiscovered Selfby Carl Jung (1957)
  8. We, by Yevgeniy Zamyatin (1922)
  9. NJ Safe and Sounda voluntary non-profit with the mission of educating the public about predatory alienation
  10. The Power of the Powerless,by Vaclav Havel (1978)

La Marseillaise and Defiance to Tyranny One Person at a Time

A while back, I posted a blog entry on the Marseillaise scene in the movie Casablanca.  I feel compelled to run this entry again as we contemplate yesterday’s terrorist attack on Paris.  Whenever we forget that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, we lose.  Let’s never forget that, as well as the fact that our little acts of resistance add up, even if they may seem in vain.  As Vaclav Havel pointed out in “The Power of the Powerless,” these acts of resistance have an illuminating effect. This is also very relevant as we contemplate the full frontal attacks on the First Amendment happening on college campuses these days.  Below is my post from February 28, 2014:

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.  The Nazis would then stir up enough folks to sing along with them to the point that the Nazi narrative would seem 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.

Militant Atheists Target an Old World War I Memorial

The Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial, or “Peace Cross.”

One of the latest targets of militant atheists is the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial Cross pictured here.  In my latest Federalist article, I discuss the lawsuit filed by the American Humanist Association that demands the removal of this monument which is also known as Peace Cross.  I wrote it in anticipation of Veterans Day and I hope many in the Washington, D.C. area will attend the wreath-laying there on Wednesday. You can read my article here:  Killing the Dead:  Atheists Attack World War I Memorial.

It’s been standing there — at the crossroads of Annapolis Road, Baltimore Ave, and Bladensburg Road just outside Washington, D.C. — for 90 years. Two mothers of fallen soldiers broke ground for it back in 1922.  On a bronze plaque at the base are the names of the 49 local soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.  The monument is massive, but its size accurately and appropriately reflects the feelings of people in the aftermath of a war that was unimaginably massive and tragic (total casualities — dead and wounded, both civilian and military — was about 38 million.)

There are two basic themes in my essay: the impact of World War I and the symbolism of crosses.  World War I was a cataclysmic event in human history that really set the course for so much of the violence of the 20th century, and the violence that continues to this day all over the world. And yet WWI is woefully neglected as a subject of study both in K12 public education and in higher education.  So more than ever, we ought to preserve and respect our memorials to World War I, not tear them down!  Second, the cross is basically a symbol of self-sacrifice.  It has been recognized as a symbol of sacrifice in war memorials for a very long time.

We honor the fallen because of their self-sacrifice. If you are able to grasp that reality, then you understand the need for an effective symbol to express it. More than anything else, the Bladensburg Peace Cross is a symbol of self-sacrifice in keeping with the enormity and the calamitous history of World War I. No other symbol so efficiently communicates self-sacrifice and suffering. No other symbol serves also to signify the hope that the dead did not die in vain, that they laid down their own lives so others would live in peace and freedom.

Understanding the history and the purpose of memorials is key here. If the plaintiffs thought this through in a meaningful and sincere way, they wouldn’t be doing mental gymnastics with the First Amendment’s establishment clause in order to tear down the 90-year-old Bladensburg Peace Cross.  Obviously, they have another agenda, which is to empty the public sphere of any and all religious imagery.   In the end, this is not just a war on religion.  It’s a war on history and memory.

 

Don’t Yawn About Local Elections! They Can Result in Major Social Engineering

Last May the Fairfax County School Board — at the behest of the Obama Administration — forced a policy promoting transgenderism on parents and citizens who showed up in droves at the meeting to protest it.  This is the theme of my Federalist article today:  “Ask Not Who’s Running for President, Ask Who’s Running for School Board.” Since school boards are local and nonpartisan elections, they tend to have very low level interest and can therefore end up in the hands of organized insiders with their own agendas. In the video below, you can watch at the 1:13:50 mark as one true representative of the people, Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz speaks before the vote.  (She’s not the one pictured in the frame.  She was the sole vote against in the 10-1 “ruling” with one abstention.)

This school board meeting illustrates just how enormous the impact of local elections is on our lives.  It’s beyond belief how little consideration people give them.  So few of us know who our local representatives are.  And yet it’s so easy to find them because they’re our neighbors!  This feeds right into my blog’s theme about the power of personal relationships.  And if we don’t watch out, local officials easily become cronies of the federal government, instead of tending to the best interests of the citizens.

Your child’s school curricula, public transportation, zoning, and “gun free zones” are just a few of the areas of local impact.  So when citizens don’t engage — or if they’re totally preoccupied with the glitz of the national stage of the presidential elections — they end up allowing less responsive officials to take over locally.  And in a one-party system, corruption finds its way in very easily.

Next week, on November 3 there will be local elections held throughout the nation.  Will any take place in your community?  If you don’t know, please find out!  Learn about your candidates and get out to the polls and vote.  And spread the word so that neighbors also go out and vote for good candidates. If you need to gather information, you can start with ballotpedia.  Here’s a link for municipal elections:  http://ballotpedia.org/United_States_municipal_elections,_2015  To get you started on finding information for school boards, here’s their page for the school board election in Fairfax County, Virginia: http://ballotpedia.org/Fairfax_County_Public_Schools,_Virginia  One of the first things it notes is that there is currently a Democrat majority of 10-2 on that Board, based on endorsements. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Though Fairfax County has been trending leftward for the past few years, it is nowhere near that lopsided in reality.

For County information you may have to dig a big deeper – into the website for your local paper or local “Patch” at patch.com perhaps.  You can also learn more about your county leadership by going to the website for the National Association of Counties.  

Here’s an excerpt from my article today:

All too often our local officials are elected by default. There is high turnout by insiders, and particularly organized get-out-the-vote efforts by teachers’ unions and others with power stakes in the local machines.

Conversely—and ironically—there is much lower turnout by ordinary citizens whose lives the elections most affect. And turnout in local elections has actually been plummeting, according to some recent research. . .

We tend not to pay attention even though many of us may intuitively understand that the decisions of our local officials have a far more direct impact on our lives than those of a federal government that can keep its distance. The trick is to keep local power local, and that means paying attention to who’s minding the store locally.

 

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” RIP, Yogi Berra

Rest in Peace, Yogi Berra.  From the day I launched this blog, I’ve kept a Yogi Berra quote permanently up on the right sidebar: “You can observe a lot by watching.”  I analyzed this “yogism” in my previous post: “A Yogi Berra Translation.”  But now that Yogi has passed from this world, I want to write a few words to honor him on this blog.  And post this video:

And this one:

Even if Yogi was not famous — and even if he was not a ball player —  his goodness and humor would have still made an enormous difference in the lives of those whose paths he crossed.  But luckily for the rest of us, he was a rare sort of celebrity.  Which means that we are all enriched by the memories he built for us not only in the ballpark, but through the strength of his unassuming and cheerful personality. And his loyalty to family and country:  He was married to his wife Carmen for 65 years; and he fought on D-Day at Normandy in WWII.

But it’s likely Yogi Berra will be remembered by most folks for those “yogisms,” his unique and pithy expressions that make us laugh and think a bit harder about life and language.  No doubt you’ve heard several, including:  “The future ain’t what it used to be.”  That rings so true these days, doesn’t it?  But perhaps that’s because: “It’s deja vu all over again.”  Here’s another beaut: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

A few folks dismiss yogisms, and think Berra should be remembered primarily for his incredible record as catcher for the New York Yankees.  Well, if yogisms upstage his statistics, that’s not such a bad thing. Because Yogi was so much bigger than baseball.  Sure, his amazing stats will live on in the record books.  In fact I’ll bet his yogisms will actually help keep them alive in more conversations. But it is Yogi’s personality and his words that will have far greater staying power in real life all across America.  And on another level, that is the case for each and every one of us.  We may accomplish great things, but how we treat others and give of ourselves is what makes the biggest impact in the lives of others.

You can read my tribute published last Friday at The Federalist: “Yogisms: Essential to Yogi Berra’s Legacy.”  Here’s an excerpt:

Ultimately, good legacies are always about how people have touched others’ lives. Their accomplishments and skills are part of that picture, to be sure, but how someone connects with others—as in the case of Berra—is an even bigger piece of that picture.

In the same vein, I think for most our connection with Berra as a legend has to do more with how we relate to him as a human being through the power of his personality than through the power of his swing. That makes his legacy all the bigger and brighter.

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking the Deadly Spiral of Silence

Mary Cassatt. Young Mother and Two Children (1905)

I’ve added another mother-child painting by Mary Cassatt to accompany my post today because I find her work so beautiful and inspirational. It also serve to remind us that this is the most basic of all human relationships.  Without healthy family bonds — cultivated through the mother-child bond — a lot goes haywire in the world around us. With family breakdown we get community breakdown.  And now we’re dealing with whole scale communication breakdown.

This post is a re-cap of several pieces I wrote this week on how to break the PC-cultivated spiral of silence. Isn’t it crazy how much we are expected to police our speech — and therefore our thoughts — in everyday life?  One example is how the media schools us in how to use pronouns, assuming we are all draftees into its scam of transgenderism.  We also read about how millennials on college campuses have developed such delicate sensitivities to any non-PC expression that they get “triggered” into emotional meltdowns.  As we walk among the eggshells, we can all use a few pointers in navigation.

I’ve been trying to provide a little bit of a primer this week in my five-part series at the British web magazine The Conservative Woman.  We can not address the breakdown in communication until we understand the root causes of it.

On Monday I wrote about how little we seem to be aware of the power of traditional mothers.  Through their work behind the scenes they have the power to put communities of goodwill into motion:  “Traditional Mothers are the True Subversives: That’s Why the State Wants to Gag Them.”

Tuesday’s headline was:  “PC Propaganda is intended to Divide and Rule.”  The one critical fact to remember about political correctness is that separates people. The intended effect is to prevent you from having personal relationships and personal conversations that could get in the way of a PC agenda.  In fact people are excessively policing their own speech when talking to folks who could be their friends: neighbors, co-workers, classmates.  We need to push back hard against this sort of meddling.

On Wednesday I wrote “Fear Powers the PC Machine.”  Hollywood, Academia and the Media fuel it.  It’s so important to become self-aware, and recognize our weaknesses as human beings.  Our fear is ultimately about being separated from others if we step out of line.  How ironic then, that we actually perpetuate this cycle by feeding the PC Machine with our fear — separating ourselves even more from others.

Today’s headline is:  “Only Connect to Fight Back Against the PC Tyranny.”  This means, basically, what we must do in order to help unravel the tyranny is create the ripple effects of trust and openness in your daily life by connecting one on one with others.  Trust and friendship have a powerful effect in a age that’s becoming increasingly devoid of those things.  Friendship, in fact, is inextricably linked with freedom.

Tomorrow’s post will include a few rules of engagement as we go about breaking the ice with our neighbors, co-workers, and others we meet in daily life.  I hope you’ll check www.conservativewoman.co.uk to read up.  It’s critical that we engage.

Our Gordian Knot, Part VI “The Hidden Sphere”

Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011 author of “The Power of the Powerless”

I often write and talk about how power elites have pretty much taken over all of the outlets of communication.  I’ve assigned an acronym to the main three outlets: “HAM”– for Hollywood, Academia, and the Media.  Today I want to recommend to you a major essay that focuses on a vastlly more powerful outlet of communication:  the “hidden sphere.”  The hidden sphere is basically private life, which is outside the realm of HAM.  This means the activities and exchanges that happen in your personal relationships and your private conversations.  And it is these interactions which are actually considered the biggest prize of power elites.  If you think what you say as “just one person” is not important, think again.  The entire point of political correctness is to shut you up as “just one person.”  Being “just one person” makes you extremely powerful because what you freely say to others who like you and trust you — whether a neighbor, classmate, co-worker — has the power to shatter the fragile narratives of PC elites.

In the upper right hand corner of this blog, you can see a quote that’s been there from the beginning:

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

That’s from Vaclav Havel’s extraordinary essay “The Power of the Powerless.”  In it he speaks of the hidden sphere as the nucleus of freedom because it is that place in which people have one-on-one interactions that allow for the cultivation of trust and the cross pollination of ideas.  It might start very small, but as the ideas are pollinated by those who are influenced, there is a ripple effect of truth that becomes irresistible.  Here’s another excerpt:

The singular, explosive, incalculable political power of living within the truth resides in the fact that living openly within the truth has an ally, invisible to be sure, but omnipresent:  this hidden sphere.  It is from this sphere that life lived openly in the truth grows; it is to this sphere that it speaks, and in it that it finds understanding.  This is where the potential for communication exists.  But this place is hidden and therefore, from the perspective of power, very dangerous.”

Havel was an independent thinker and a lover of truth and freedom in communist Czechoslovakia.  This made him dangerous to the totalitarian regime.  Indeed, one could say he spearheaded the “Velvet Revolution” that ended communism in Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Havel then served as president of the Czech Republic.   His essay can be a bit difficult to plow through – and it’s very long — but it’s fascinating because it reveals to each of us our immense power as individuals.  Please get familiar with it, at least its basic premises.  From it we can learn how our decision to speak truth in love is an action that goes beyond itself.  It illuminates its surroundings and the consequences of that illumination are incalculable.   The Hidden Sphere is the sword that can slice through the Gordian Knot of totalitarianism.

My Interview with Sandy Rios about Mass Delusion

I sat down recently with radio host Sandy Rios to talk about propaganda, political correctness, and the mass delusion that seems to be enveloping our society.  Click here for the podcast from American Family Radio.  Sandy had several questions for me about my Federalist article “How to Escape the Age of Mass Delusion.

We talked about how political correctness creates a spiral of silence that ends up separating people as never before.  PC not only squashes civil discourse, but creates a strange and rigid polarization in society that spawns destructive caricatures of others.  As someone who used to identify on the Left, I understand well what a mindset that stereotypes others can do to people’s ability to connect. The point of this kind of propaganda is to centralize power by first dividing people, quite often by demonizing those who don’t subscribe to the narrative.  It breaks up personal relationships.  And this allows those wielding power to control who says what to whom, and to dictate who relates to whom. People who obey the narrative are allowed to partake of society, while those who don’t subscribe to the narrative end up as “nonpersons.”  This taps into my theme that personal relationships are the ultimate source of human power.  Ground zero for functioning relationships is the family unit.  That’s exactly why the family is the prime target for destruction by today’s forces of political correctness.

PC corrupts the language, and when the language is corrupted, thought processes become corrupted as well, and people are more easily manipulated into mindless conformity.  And when the masses can be mobilized to support the agendas of power elites, things never end well for human dignity.  History has taught us this lesson time and again.

We have no choice but to resist.  Ultimately, this is an asymmetric war that has to be fought persistently, one-on-one, and face-to-face by putting a human face on what we believe. By engaging with those we know in daily life, we can re-create the ripple effect of true community that political correctness is designed to destroy.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Vin Scully and the Idea of Community

Vin Scully, national treasure.

I just want to post a little something today about Vin Scully.  I was so happy to hear over the weekend about his decision to continue announcing Dodger Baseball for another season.  His 67th season!  The sound of Scully’s voice reaches into the deepest recesses of my earliest childhood memories.  My father was a devoted Dodger fan from Brooklyn who moved to Los Angeles a few years before the Dodgers did.  So I grew up hearing the sound of Vin Scully’s voice — a constant and comforting sound of summer.

For me Scully embodies the stuff that true community is made of:  an awe of creation and the energy of life; deep interest in the stories of the lives and trials of others; a strong sense of loyalty and devotion to friends and family; team loyalty; cheerfulness; a depth of kindness and empathy; and playing by the rules. He always seemed to understand that without strong families and personal friendships, there can be no sense of community.  Last year I wrote a tribute to Vin Scully, which was published in the Federalist (after Scully announced his 66th year!)

You can click here to read “Vin Scully and the Soul of the Crowd.”  But here’s an excerpt, which is about the idea of community:

Vin Scully has another difficult-to-describe quality that makes him so appealing and iconic. His fascination with the “roar of the crowd” represents something I think we all want and which is unattainable on earth: the chance to converse with all of humanity at the same time. It represents a desire to be in community—or in communion—with others. It’s like being in a grand conversation in which no one can predict what will happen next. A community like that is held together through mutual respect and the anticipation of joy.

The illusion of transcending time always feels reassuring to mortals, so longevity is an obvious part of the Scully mystique.

Whether we know it or not, I think Scully’s relationship with the Dodgers and fans is a reflection of what true community should feel like. It means reaching out to all in good will. Being honorable, loyal, and dependable. Playing by one set of rules, rules that everyone agrees upon in advance and in good faith. Recognizing that everybody brings something of value to the community. Giving our best to one another and respecting the dignity of each and every human being. It means speaking truth, in love. And, of course, it means listening.

Our Gordian Knot, Part V

Ben Carson took to the streets of Harlem recently just to talk to people in his own quiet and unassuming way.

He spoke about the tragedy of lost youth and broken homes and how important it is to take a close look at the causes of problems in order to find solutions. Government dependency is not a solution, but a palliative measure that perpetuates the problems.  We should all be able to see by now that broken families are the main source of this misery. Real freedom and happiness only comes about through the sense of connection people get from strong personal relationships. And those kinds of relationships depend upon the institution of family that passes on a sense of stability and purpose to children.  Without strong families, there can be no strong communities, and people end up at sea, alienated and separated, which makes them ripe for manipulation by social experimenters.

Many shunned Carson as an “Uncle Tom,” which is exactly what we’re told to do by the dictators of political correctness.  Such propagandists never really explain the causes of poverty, preferring to claim it exists only as a result of racism, which is a very convenient way of breeding resentment, and, ironically, more poverty.  For them, family breakdown has nothing to do with anything.  (In fact, President Lyndon Johnson famously noted that his policies would “have them n—-rs voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.”)

However, Dr. Carson was able to connect with those who were able to listen. When we speak one-on-one and face-to-face with others, we bypass the noise of media technology.    It was this flesh-and-blood connection that caused others in Harlem to tell Carson “We love you.”  One said: “I’m a lifelong Democrat. I love you.” In fact, a lot of folks in this polarized society will always assume the “other side” is the enemy, until someone they identify with puts a human face on the Truth they’ve always known in their hearts.

Most of the battle is just about showing up.  Dr. Carson showed up with goodwill and outreach that has the power to slice through the tangle of misperceptions and resentment people develop when they are polarized and isolated from other identity groups of human beings.

I’m glad Dr. Carson continues to offer prescriptions, including yesterday’s op-ed in USA Today.

Years ago, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Jack Kemp reached out and made some inroads with the philosophy that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  But his policies went by the wayside except for a few other enterprising folks like Bob Woodson who heads the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

Ultimately, it’s up to each one of us as individuals to resurrect such efforts and to cut through the cultural mess we are in.   This is a battle that is going to have to be fought one on one, in our personal lives — through conversations in the “hidden sphere.”