Commentary: Divided We Fall

The presidential election is still 8 months away. Yet the campaign to preclude a second Trump administration has already reached a fever pitch. In the course of the past two weeks, the public has been treated to “searing” images of the undemocratic, uncouth, patriarchal, racist, xenophobic, homophobic dystopia America is doomed to become should the GOP win in November...

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gainst the backdrop of the most virulent, overt, and violent anti-Semitism sweeping the US in the wake of barbarous savagery on October 7, 2023, the media has chosen to spotlight and pillory “white nationalism” as the clear and present danger.

First, a new tome, White Rural Rage by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman, was hailed by the New York Times as “an important book that ought to be read by anyone who wants to understand politics in the perilous Age of Trump.” (David Corn, New York Times, Feb 27, 2024)

The book explores:

…why rural Whites have failed to reap the benefits from their outsize [sic] political power and why…they are the most likely group to abandon democratic norms and traditions. Their rage—stoked daily by Republican politicians and the conservative media—now poses an existential threat to the United States. [The authors] show how vulnerable U.S. democracy has become to rural Whites who…are increasingly inclined to hold racist and xenophobic beliefs, to believe in conspiracy theories, to accept violence as a legitimate course of political action, and to exhibit antidemocratic tendencies…[B]y stoking rural Whites’ anger…conservative politicians and talking heads create a feedback loop of resentments that are undermining American democracy.

Next, Politico’s Heidi Przybyla, an award-winning national investigative correspondent and a veteran Washington journalist, told Michael Steele of MSNBC that people who believe human rights come from God are “Christian nationalists.” Przybyla’s comments triggered an outrage. Yet, instead of apologizing, she doubled down.

Here’s a taste of her newest piece:

Every person’s spiritual motivations are entitled to respect. Once these motivations take them onto the stage of politics and lawmaking that will affect the lives of fellow citizens, however, they…can expect journalistic scrutiny…They cannot expect exemption from criticism from people who oppose their agendas, nor any extra deference for their political words or actions simply because they are motivated by religious belief…Christianity is a religion. Christian Nationalism is a political movement…The thing that unites them as Christian nationalists is that they believe our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthy [sic] authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God.

Evidently, people who have read America’s founding document—the Constitution, which every Serviceman and appointed or elected official swears “to protect and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic”—are a mortal threat to our nation’s very survival. And so, apparently, are the millions of us who have faced the American flag in our classrooms, placed our right hand over our hearts, and recited in unison: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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And finally, on March 3, CBS’s 60 Minutes broadcast a lengthy segment about “Moms for Liberty” supposedly waging a “dangerous campaign to ban books”—specifically ones “focused on race and gender”—from school libraries. 

We are witnessing what Hannah Arendt, in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, called “the atomization of society.” It is a very effective, time-tested Communist, Nazi, and Fascist tactic: break up every normal, natural connection in society: the family, the church/synagogue/temple; pervert the language so people can’t think or communicate; and isolate the citizens from each other and their communities—all in order to enable totalitarian control. In this dystopia, the individual is completely alone—an atom. No family, no community, no religious solace. You trust nobody because literally everyone can turn on you and be rewarded for that denunciation. That includes your children.

Whether “right” or “left,” fascist or communist, totalitarianism of all stripes finds fertile ground in frightened, isolated individuals, riven from their fellow countrymen. And, as George Orwell notes in his famous Animal Farm: “The result of preaching totalitarian doctrines is to weaken the instinct by means of which free peoples know what is or is not dangerous.”

Don’t believe any of this could possibly happen in the US? Think back a couple of years: Covid was upon us and “atomization” was in full swing. Everyone masked up, stood 6 feet apart, isolated from family, friends and community. Most of us chose to avoid holiday celebrations, houses of worship, weddings and funerals, movies, concerts, restaurants, malls, county fairs, and gyms. Our children stayed home from school and we didn’t go to work. Many of us also lined up for hours, rain or shine, to receive not one, but two jabs of a new vaccine of dubious effectiveness and serious, though largely unforeseen, after-effects. We “trusted science” and believed officialdom. We’re still reaping the consequences. If that was an experiment, it succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

Ubiquitous technology drives this “atomization” to an unprecedented level. We relate to others in “virtual reality”—in cyberspace. Our “friends” are on social media. The more clicks we get, the closer we inch to the coveted status of “influencer.” Except that none of this is real. It’s a mass delusion—a “hallucination.”

In the digital realm, truth itself is erased because one can discover “facts” to fit any preconceived notion, any narrative, any worldview imaginable. There is no objective truth any longer. It’s all about “your truth.” We have access to unprecedented amounts of information, yet our knowledge, understanding, and intellectual discourse are more limited and impoverished than ever. There’s no “free market of ideas” any longer, as we congregate with like-minded people, sharing mutually reinforcing opinions in closed echo chambers. 

We know deep down that none of this is good; yet we continue to “educate ourselves, “visit” Google, share our most intimate thoughts with anonymous strangers in “chat rooms”—instead of learning facts and ideas from great books, seeing real physicians, and sharing experiences in real rooms, with real loyal friends. Soon, we are no longer citizens of the greatest Republic on earth. We’re unmoored, atomized “Netizens”—citizens of the Internet. The path to treason is wide open. Just ask Private Bradley/Chelsea Manning or Airman Jack Teixeira.

To disorient the “atomized” individual still further, the government controls the language. “Political correctness” takes hold. Things which were OK to say or do yesterday will get you a reprimand in the workplace today. You’ll be censored online. So, you learn to avoid articulating what you really think because you need to keep your job, you don’t want to be “canceled,” and, most of all, you dread being labeled “a racist, a homophobic bigot,” or “a Christian nationalist.” So, you start to obfuscate and self-censor. Just like they did in the USSR. To quote Orwell again, “the sinister fact about literary censorship…is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban.”

Soon, an entirely new language takes hold. We learn that BLACK is spelled differently when referring to color (“black”) and race (“Black”). We’re told that “chair” doesn’t only mean the furniture we sit on, but also—depending on the all-important “context”—the person directing a board or leading a committee. We discover that not only your pets can be “groomed;” so can our children.

We start saying “he or she” to be “inclusive”—but, soon, that’s not enough, and we are told to ask people about “their preferred pronouns.” We learn entirely new words, like “cisgender, woke, micro-aggression, triggered,” and “CAUdacity”—the reprehensible audacity of whites, a cliche coined by Kelisa Wing, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Officer at the Department of Defense Education Agency (DODEA).

We are also taught that “the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination” and that “you must be antiracist in order to pursue justice.” (Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist). And, thus, we learn that, just like in Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” And, therefore, “this work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.” 

Yet we still cringe when we hear that the United States Air Force Academy promotes a program that bans “cisgender men.” (The academy sent an email on Sept. 14, 2022 informing cadets that the 2023 application for the Brooke Owens Fellowship for “undergraduate women and gender minorities interested in aerospace.” It clarified that: “If you are a cisgender woman, a transgender woman, non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, or another form of gender minority, this program is for you.” If you’re a “cisgender man, this program isn’t for you.”)

We recoil because we know that the appeal to self is corrosive to unit cohesion. We also know that promoting individual identity and self-actualization—focusing on what is different among us—fosters division. And yet we are repeatedly told that it’s precisely such “diversity”—not of thought, but of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation—that makes our nation prosperous and our military strong. 

We try to reconcile this with our national motto “E pluribus unum”—out of many, one—which we see daily, written in capital letters, on every coin and bill in our wallets, on our passports, and in every federal building. But, no matter how hard we try, we can’t reconcile the irreconcilable. That inevitably leads to cognitive dissonance, which is disorienting, disconcerting, and further “atomizing.” 

The term “Newspeak” originated in George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984, published in Britain in 1949. “Newspeak” is a controlled language of simplified grammar and small vocabulary, designed to limit critical thinking. It proscribes the individual’s ability to articulate and communicate abstract concepts, which are deemed “thoughtcrimes.” To quote Orwell: “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two is four. If that is granted, all else follows.” But, in this Brave New World, to borrow the title of Aldous Huxley’s famous bookwe’retold that “two plus two really equals five.”

In Orwell’s dystopia:

…the Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.

In today’s Department of Defense:

Diversity management calls for creating a culture of inclusion in which the diversity…shapes how the work is done…Although good diversity management rests on a foundation of fair treatment, it is not about treating everyone the same. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for leaders who grew up with the EO-inspired mandate to be both color and gender blind. Blindness to difference, however, can lead to a culture of assimilation in which differences are suppressed rather than leveraged. Cultural assimilation, a key to military effectiveness in the past, will be challenged as inclusion becomes, and needs to become, the norm.

Traditional basic training, for example, is focused on assimilating individuals into a fighting force tied together by the adoption of similar terminology, customs, and attitudes. However, current military operations are executed within more-complex, uncertain, and rapidly changing operational environments that defy the war-fighting standards of the past and that need to be met with an adaptive and agile leadership that is ready to respond more flexibly…The need to leverage diversity while maintaining unit cohesion will require implementing new training and procedures and addressing new tensions—important elements of diversity management.”

The above quote is from the final report of a Congressionally-mandated Commission on “Military Leadership Diversity,” published in 2011. Orwell would have been proud. 

The vocabulary of “Newspeak” contains no words to articulate complex ideas. There is no “honor, courage, shame, dignity, unity, freedom.” Without those words, people literally can’t think about abstract concepts. Ideas are reduced to cliches. By limiting language, “Newspeak” limits thought. This is clearly reflected in the tortured “doublespeak” and logical contradictions of the MLDC Final Report.

Few are familiar with the MLDC, its origins and its sweeping recommendations. Yet Diversity.defense.gov has a revealing 3-pager titled “How Did the Military Leadership Diversity Commission Come About?” It states that “there is sparse documentation available” and the “origins are in the thinking of 4 members of the House of Representatives:” Elijah Cummings, (D-MD), Hank Johnson, (D-GA), Kendrick Meek, (D-FL), and Kathy Castor, (D-FL). It became law in September 2008 and was further expanded to include the National Guard and the Reserve in the 2010 Defense Authorization Act. 

It is baffling that nobody in Congress paid attention to what they were legislating. There is no evidence of any debate on the matter. Yet the report—and the implementing law—are breathtaking in both scope and implications. MLDC calls for a fundamental “transformation” of our military—making racial and gender representation the “top defense priority” and placing the POTUS and SECDEF as the chief executives accountable for implementing it. 

MLDC itself compared this “transformation” to the Goldwater-Nichols Act of October 1986 “which imposed joint operations on an unwilling military.” Ask about Joint Operations, and everyone in the military and DOD knows precisely what it is: jointness is how we fight. Ask about MLDC and you’ll get blank stares. How is this possible? Simple: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth.”

MLDC spawned a huge, self-perpetuating bureaucracy to implement its sweeping recommendations across the “defense enterprise.” But, apparently, that wasn’t enough. And so, on September 23, 2022, Secretary Lloyd Austin stood up a new Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODAI), appointing General Lester Lyles, USAF (ret) as its chair. Coincidentally, General Lyles also chaired the MLDC. 

In accepting the appointment, General Lyles stated:

This year marks a historic event as the first committee to provide the Secretary of Defense with advice and recommendations to improve racial/ethnic diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity as a force multiplier in the military. I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to help the Defense Department so that our national security is strengthened by the full participation of a diverse and inclusive environment [sic] with service members of every background.

This “doublespeak” would make Orwell proud. So would the many new contractions, abbreviations, and acronyms—all typical of “Newspeak” and all designed to obfuscate meaning and limit thinking—that have entered our everyday lexicon: BTW, IMHO, IRL, LOL, YOLO, IDK, FOMO, SMH. Take a look at your kids’ and grandkids‘ text messages. It’s all “Newspeak.” So are CRT, WEF, BLM, ANTIFA, DEI, MRFF, LGBTQIA2S+ . Emojis replace words.✊🏿 😂🤦‍♀️🤷🏾‍♂️👨‍👨‍👧‍👧 We reduce our ideas to “sound bites,” to fit the permissible 140-280 characters of a Tweet or text message. Even Orwell couldn’t have foreseen such intellectual impoverishment. 

Against this backdrop, a new Utopia is fast-emerging, wherein men can give birth—heck, there’s even an emoji for that. There are tampons in the boys bathroom, but boys can use the girls’ bathroom if they feel like it. There are 57+ genders, which are different from the “sex assigned at birth”—you know, when the doctor turned the newborn upside down and told the elated parents: “It’s a boy,” or “It’s a girl.”

But, don’t worry, dear child, “Stalin will secure your happy childhood”—as I was told starting in kindergarten in Communist Poland. So, if you’re displeased with what that doctor said, you can be Johnny today and Julie tomorrow. And, even if your parents “don’t get you,” the teachers have your back. They’ll call you by your “preferred pronouns” (more “Newspeak”), offer you “happy pills”—and maybe even refer you to a good doctor who’d remove or replace some body parts. Yup, you’re not old enough to drive, vote, drink, own a gun, or buy cigarettes but, clearly, you’re mature enough to make life-altering, irreversible decisions. The teachers won’t even tell your “parents or guardians” that you’re “transitioning,” because they’re “Christian nationalists,” or “genocidal Jews,” and, anyways, they just don’t get it. 

We all know intuitively, deep in our hearts that this is terribly wrong—“two plus two equals four,” right?—but this absurdity is all around us, with flags, books, movies, TV shows, attire, leadership presentations, recruiting slogans—and suddenly we can’t talk to our children and grandchildren anymore. They think we are bigots, racists, conspiracy theorists, old fools. We feel like aliens from outer space, not from across the Southern border—in our own country.

 “Up is down, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” We are atoms, untethered, disoriented, and disconnected. From Animal Farm once again: “And, thus, they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.”

There is a good reason why Herbert Marcuse, the intellectual father of American Marxism, Critical Theory, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and LGBT titled his bestselling 1955 book (republished in 1974) Eros and Civilization. To quote an anonymous Amazon reviewer: “I get his point, we all need to work less and act out our true sexual desires more. Socialists are completely hung up on sex.”