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I attempted to write about the whole Charlottesville situation last week but found I just didn't have the heart to do it. As I am sure it does for others, the entire episode depresses me no end. My depression does not come from the knowledge that there are neo-Nazi's and racists in America, I've known that for a long time. What has depressed me so much was that I was forewarning about this exact type of conflagration for some time and no one heeded my alarm and now a young woman, Heather Heyer, is dead.
My depression has only gotten worse since the murder Saturday, August 12, because of the strategically inept, emotionally driven, intellectually vacuous and politically self-defeating response to it by those on the left and in the media.
Even though I know it is a fruitless endeavor, I will once again throw out some thoughts the I hope people will consider if they really, truly want to succeed in overcoming the darker aspects of American politics and culture. Do I expect anyone to listen to me or heed my warnings? Of course not, but goodness knows that has never stopped me before.
PUNCHING NAZIS AND PANDORA'S BOX
Let's start at the beginning, I have written more articles than I care to remember about the subject of violent political language leading to political violence . I have written ad nauseam about how when you give yourself the right to punch Nazi's because they are terrible people, you open a Pandora's Box of violence and self-aggrandizing righteousness that can never be shut and will ultimately be used against you.
For one example, at the end of May I wrote a piece titled, Greg Gianforte, Punching Nazi's and the Absence of Moral Authority where I lay out the case that giving yourself permission to punch bad guys only gives the bad guys permission to punch you back, or to preemptively punch you first. Punching Nazi's may feel like a fun thing to do, but the problem with punching Nazi's is that they will definitely punch back, and last Saturday they punched back with a Dodge Charger killing Heather Heyer and wounding dozens. It is easy for liberals to scream about there being "no moral equivalency" between the Nazi's and Antifa, but that doesn't mean that Antifa, liberals and the left don't bear some responsibility for the conditions which led to Ms. Heyer's death. Here are some other examples of where I made the same argument and warned against violent language leading to violence. Link, Link, Link, Link.
THERAPEUTIC VS. STRATEGIC
This past week the New York Times ran an interesting piece by Moises Velasquez-Manoff about how to counter Nazi protestors and, not the least bit surprising to me since I've been saying this all along, the best way to do so is to not confront them physically. Confrontation is oxygen to neo-Nazi's, when you attack them you are giving teeth to their tiger. This quote from the Times piece echoes what I have been saying non-stop on the subject.
“I would want to punch a Nazi in the nose, too,” Maria Stephan, a program director at the United States Institute of Peace, told me. “But there’s a difference between a therapeutic and strategic response.” The problem, she said, is that violence is simply bad strategy."
As everyone's favorite Nazi, Hans Landa, would say…"That's a BINGO!!"
"Violence is bad strategy". I have said that over and over and over again but to no avail. And still in the wake of Charlottesville, the left is doubling down on this strategy and holding up Antifa as a noble resistance movement. It isn't, it is a collection of the self-indulgent having tantrums for personal reasons wrapped in the political.
More from the Times...
"Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit. And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then “you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome,” Michael Nagler, the founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley, told me."
Another BINGO!! Mr. Nagler is correct, but the majority of the left and the media are in a bizarre emotionalist hysteria at the moment where reason and self-reflection are anathema. If those resisting Trump and the neo-Nazi's truly want to succeed in their endeavor, they would step back from their emotionalism and embrace a calm, cool and calculating strategic approach to do so.
More from the Times...
"Most important perhaps, violence is just not as effective as nonviolence. In their 2011 book, “Why Civil Resistance Works,” Dr. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth examined how struggles are won. They found that in over 320 conflicts between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent resistance was more than twice as effective as violent resistance in achieving change. And nonviolent struggles were resolved much sooner than violent ones.
The main reason, Dr. Stephan explained to me, was that nonviolent struggles attracted more allies more quickly. Violent struggles, on the other hand, often repelled people and dragged on for years.
The broader issue, in her view, is this: Why do oppressive regimes and movements invest so much in fomenting violence? (Think of our president and his talent for dividing the country and generating chaos.) Because violence and discord help their cause. So why would you, she asks, “do what the oppressor wants you to do?”
A triple BINGO!! What frustrates me no end is that people on the left are so hysterical that they never answer the most important question of all…why are you acting emotionally and violently (including language) when that is exactly what your oppressor (Trump et al) wants you to do? The left may be too lost in their echo chamber to realize this, but Trump won Charlottesville and the aftermath. Polling from NPR/PBS clearly shows this. And Pelosi and the democrats overreach regarding the taking down of confederate statues is unpopular with a majority of Americans and Black Americans (44% -40% think confederate statues should remain), and will only empower Trump and weaken them further. And the greater problem of liberal overreach is that there has already been vandalism of and calls for removal of statues that aren't confederate, with examples being Joan of Arc, St. Junipero Serra and Christopher Columbus. As a friend of mine, an independent voter in a blue state, said to me the other day, "I hate to say it because he is such a disgusting person, but Trump is right about the statues." "Regular" people can be repulsed by neo-Nazi's and still not want statues to be removed, this nuance is lost on democrats and it is a trap they should avoid.
Regardless of statues, the larger problem is that we live in a culture, and the politics of both the left and right are reflective of this, that demands instant self-gratification. As the Times piece points out, and as I have been saying for ages, punching Nazi's may be therapeutically useful in the moment, but ultimately it is strategically asinine and self-defeating. Many on the left do not care about the long term political effects of this self-sabotaging strategy, only that it assuages their personal psychological discomfort in the moment.
IS THERE ANY POINT TO PROTESTING?
The New Yorker ran a piece by Nathan Heller on August 21, 2017 titled "Is There Any Point To Protesting?" that discussed the efficacy of protests. The piece pointed out that most protests simply don't work. For instance in the lead up to the Iraq war millions of Americans, myself included, marched and protested against the war, but the war happened anyway. The piece points out that the effective protests are the ones born of a strong leadership structure and precise strategic and tactical goals and objectives. The civil rights protests led by Martin Luther King, Jr. being the prime examples.
Besides the strategic, tactical and moral genius of King, the civil rights movement also displayed what the Times piece, and I, advocate, non-violence. Civil rights protestors maintained their dignity and their righteousness by exposing the moral and ethical deviancy of their opponents. What shocked America, and white America in particular, into siding with the civil rights protestors was that the chaos, anger and violence were only emanating from those fighting for discrimination and segregation. The moral strength of the civil rights activists was what deeply moved white Americans, who chose King's spiritual strength against the physical strength wrapped in moral weakness of the segregationists.
TARGETING THE ACLU AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT
The current strategic idiocy of the left is not confined to just the failure to embrace non-violence. In the wake of Charlottesville, liberals have decided to attack the ACLU. The ACLU is a crucial bulwark for the left in the battle against Trump, but liberals want to hold them accountable for daring to fight for the 1st amendment right of Nazi's to rally and march. This is the most self-defeating approach imaginable for the liberals. If liberals want to succeed, they better start understanding that the constitution is the only way they will be able to defeat Trump and Trumpism. This is something I wrote about immediately after Trump's election in my strategic guide to defeating him, but I was ignored then too. I promise you that the left will come to rue the day they failed to embrace the first amendment unabashedly because their enemies will use that as a weapon against them.
Speaking of which, I saw the founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, on television last week and she was saying that "hate speech is not protected by the first amendment." You know who would really be shocked to hear that? The founding fathers who wrote the constitution. Of course hate speech is protected by the first amendment, and Ms. Cullors should be very happy about that. Yes, it allows Nazi's to march, but is also allows Black Lives Matter to march. What Ms. Cullors and many on the left fail to understand is that if you water down the 1st amendment, or any other constitutional rights, those weakened rights will be used as a weapon to destroy you. Lots of people out there think what Black Lives Matter advocates is hate speech, which means Black Lives Matter needs the first amendment and the ACLU in order to exist, they would be wise to act accordingly. I seriously doubt they will.
HATING HATE AND THE HATERS WHO HATE
Which brings us to the word "hate". I've heard the word hate a lot these last few weeks, and I have to say that "hate" is a losing battle for liberals as well. Any protest that wants to be successful need not only be non-violent, it desperately needs to have a very clear objective. The civil rights protests of the 50's and 60's had an overarching objective of civil rights for Black Americans, and specific objectives to each locality, for instance the ending of segregation on buses in Montgomery etc. The current protests have no clear cut objective. What they say they are against is "hate". They want to stamp out "hate", and carry signs saying "No hate!!". Well, the bad news is that hate is an entirely natural human condition. It has been around ever since we've had sentient beings on this planet, and it will be around when the last man breathes his final breath. You cannot stamp out hate anymore than you can stamp out love, and trying to do so is a fools errand of Quixotic proportions.
Targeting hate sounds like something a 1st grader would wish for, right after Legos and action figures. Hate is a state of mind that you cannot police because people will just bury it in their psychological closet when in mixed company. In that psychological closet, hate doesn't diminish, it grows in strength and power so that when it does rear its head it will have grown into a very potent force indeed. On the other hand, if people are "allowed to hate" in thought, but not allowed to discriminate in action, then you are on the path to find that delicate balance where disparate people can live side by side without killing each other in a democracy. So being specifically against "discrimination" or "segregation" or whatever specific goal you choose, as opposed to against an amorphous "hate", is the way to go if you want to politically succeed in the long run.
And just like fighting against the first amendment, fighting against "hate" will easily be used as a weapon against those trying to stamp it out. For instance, people on the left "hate" Nazi's, or "hate" Trump, so they themselves "hate" and feel comfortable doing so. You see, decrying hate is a loser's game because everyone hates something. Just because you think you hate the right things doesn't mean your hate is righteous, only that you're a hypocrite for pointing out other people's hate and being blind to your own.
NOT-SEEING THE NEO-NOT-SEES
My friend, the inimitable Jungian Falconer, often talks to me about the psychology of Nazi's and the Nazi impulse within us all, but he makes the point that "Nazi" is really "Not-See", meaning the Nazi/Not-See does NOT SEE the humanity of the other. Obviously white supremacists and neo-Nazis and the like do not see the humanity of those different from them, but maybe not so obviously, those on the left are also guilty of this same bit of Not See-ism. These Not-Sees are not interested in searching for Truth, only in confirmation bias and the warm embrace of the echo chamber. They adamantly avoid the hard work of exploring and discovering anything new about the world or themselves, they just want to FEEL good and self-righteous right now.
Not See-ism is ascendant in the world right now. This is just a fact of where we are on the historical cycle/wave. To stop it we don't need marches or "pussy-hats" or righteous indignation, what we need is self-reflection, introspection and the hard work of making ourselves conscious of the demons that dwell and work inside of us all.
THE RELIGION OF SELF AND THE CHURCH OF IDENTITY POLITICS
On the subject of historical waves, there is one large issue that most seem to be unaware of that plays a vital role in the current clash between Not-See Left and Neanderthal Right, that issue is religion. In the long arc of history, the religions of the world that have held cultural sway for the last two thousand years are in decline and collapse in the west. Just because religion is in decline does not mean that people no longer have a religious impulse. Studies show that humans are hard wired for religion, so what happens when the old religions die? New religions get born. The new religion of our time is The Religion of Self, and one of its most powerful denominations is the Church of Identity Politics. This new Religion of Self and its Church of Identity was born after the Century of the Self where advertising and public relations primed humans to respond to their personal unconscious wants and desires before contemplating community or anyone or anything else.
Identity Politics, of both the left and the right, is personal and psychological and fills an unconscious need for the faithful and feeds the narcissism of our time. On the left the identity politics movement fulfills people's need to feel of worth by valuing them based upon their individual identifying markers…race, sexual orientation, gender etc. On the right the same principle is in practice, with white power and white supremacy being the most malignant forms of right wing identity politics. What both the left and right versions of the Religion of Self and the Church of Identity Politics share is that they are both ruled by the quest for sanctity in the form of Victimhood. Victimhood is held up as the highest marker of value and worth and achievement.
The religious impulse of the current Identity era is similar to the religious impulse of the Christian era in that it gives its adherents a sense of purpose and meaning. In addition, its doctrine and dogma is based on faith and feelings, not logic and reason, and it is also infused with a heavy dose of intoxicating self-righteousness and the prestige of exclusivity, which gives the faithful a psychological release of powerful psychic and emotional energy through the use of scapegoating, shaming and exiling of those who do not conform to the dogma being preached. This is true of disciples of the Religion of Self and the Church of Identity Politics on both the left and the right.
On the right, the impulse is to brand heretics with everything from RINO, Republicans in Name Only, to Cuckservative, the clever and effective meme that at once eviscerates and emasculates any political opponents who don't adhere to the proper dogma. Shouting "Cuckservative" is to the right as crying "racists/misogynist" is to the left. Two sides of the same coin in the collection plate at the Church of Identity Politics.
With the democrats, you see a similar thing when the members of the Clinton Cult attack, shame and exile non-compliant leftists by calling them racists and misogynists for daring to disagree with the Identity Dogma which demands people be judged by their race, gender, sexual orientation and position on the victimhood scale and not by the content of their character or their ability.
Right before the horrors of Charlottesville there was a great example of this dogmatic impulse when centrist democrats wailed about racism from "Bernie Bros" who don't support California Senator Kamala Harris, a Black woman, for president in 2020. The centrist attack was transparently ridiculous, but it was undertaken with all of the fervor of the Inquisition. The blindness revealed by the Clinton Cult regarding Harris and her opponents alleged "racism" is staggering. Calling Bernie Sanders supporters and those who dare to question Kamala Harris "racists and misogynists", means that the multitude of people of color and women who support Bernie Sanders and question Harris are treated as if they are invisible by the centrist democrats, which is exactly what the Clinton Cult claim Sanders supporters do to women and minorities. Add to that the fact that some of the most effective spokespeople for the progressive ideology that fuels the leftist movement (and Bernie Sanders) today are Tulsi Gabbard and Nina Turner, two powerful women of color, and you can see how Clintonistas have earned the moniker of Hillary Hypocrites.
PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES
Speaking of church, the civil rights movement which was so very successful at protest, was grounded in Christianity, which gave it a built in moral authority and common ground with even its most ardent adversaries. As previously stated, the time of Christianity in the west has passed, but none of the new religions, The Religion of Self and the Church of Identity Politics most especially, have been able to fill that moral void or accentuate community through common experience.
I read an interview last week with the Eagles of Death Metal lead singer Jesse Hughes. To refresh your memory, Hughes and his bandmates survived the horrific Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris back in November of 2015 where 90 people were slaughtered in a concert hall. In the interview, Hughes spoke of how he reached out to Ariana Grande, the young signer whose concert in Manchester, England was targeted by Islamic terrorists in May of this year. Hughes recounted how he has tried to handle the psychological and emotional tumult brought on by his brush with death two years earlier. Hughes advice to Grande was "you've always got to pray for your enemies". I truly believe that and try to practice it, and that means praying not only for Heather Heyer, but for James Fields, the neo-Nazi who killed her, who is desperately in need of solace from the torment in his lost soul regardless of the heinous atrocity he committed. But I am aware that to advocate for prayer now, in the wake of Charlottesville and in the Identity Age, I would only, at best, be laughed at and ridiculed. And I understand that is because calling for prayer in this day and age is in itself seen to be a divisive act in this time when the Religion of Self reigns supreme.
The reality is that this is the post-Christian western world we live in. The philosophical and psychological container of the old religions cannot hold the New Man, and the old religions have earned the public's disillusionment with corruption and hypocrisy on an epic scale. The collective is currently disoriented because they no longer have a foundational orientation to the old religions, and are struggling to re-orient to a new religion that can adequately contain the New Man in all of his complexity.
What we need at this time are new versions of Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Thich Naht Hanh, Gandhi and Anthony DeMello, but with no viable new religion with which to re-orient ourselves, civilization is left with underserving religions, like the Religion of Self and the Church of Identity Politics and its sacred Victimhood, which are unable to contain the New Man in his entirety and therefore not fertile ground from which any new great men and women can grow and flourish. Instead, from our disorientation from the old religion and failure of the new religion, we flail about and embrace the false prophets and idols on the left like Black Lives Matter, The Clinton Cult and their emotive neo-liberal cohorts in the media, and on the right like Fox News, the Confederacy, Chris Kyle and Donald J. Trump.
THE ROUGH BEAST IN WINTER
I wrote last June that a beast was awakened and slouching towards Bethelehem. I wrote last month that winter isn't coming, winter is here. Both of these things have been proved by the events of the last year and last month to be entirely true. There is no way to stop the historical wave we are on that is, like a tsunami, gaining strength and power every moment of the day. Delusional liberals believe removing Trump will stop it. It won't. Fighting against "hate" won't help. Protesting won't help. The dye is cast, the conclusion inevitable. Our only wise course of action now is to accept the inevitable, embrace our disorientation, and prepare for impact and the aftermath of the crash.
This is the world we have built, these are the politics we deserve. If we cannot pray at all, never mind pray for our enemy, we are no better than our enemy, and we will be engulfed by the same flames that devour him. Our blindness is no excuse, our ignorance is no excuse, our arrogance is no excuse. We deserve Trump, for he is a mirror reflection of us and our narcissism, intellectual vacuity, self-defeating strategies and crumbling empire. The darkness is upon us, all of us, and until we realize that, we are doomed to remain without light. Know this, things are going to get much, much worse, before they get any better.