Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Monday, 14 February 2022 13:44

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007); The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007); and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Teach MLK, Not CRT

Here’s a critical question for enthusiasts of critical race theory, particularly its growing number of advocates on the religious left: How did MLK do what he did without CRT?

That is, how did the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. manage to accomplish what he did without critical race theory? MLK preceded CRT, which began its rise in the 1970s, exploding in American universities still later. King was assassinated in 1968.

A few more questions:

How did Rosa Parks do what she did without this very, very narrow ideological theory known as CRT?

How about Thurgood Marshall?

How did the NAACP, founded in 1909, ever get off the ground without CRT?

How about Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis, and the Freedom Riders?

How about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass?

What about Abraham Lincoln?

Juneteenth long preceded critical race theory. How was that possible?

Returning to the Rev. King, how did he manage to accomplish what he did without critical race theory? The answer is obvious: MLK didn’t need CRT. Neither did any of these other figures. Neither do you.

King, in fact, would have rejected CRT, least of all because of its roots in Marxist critical theory, whose origins are the destructive Frankfurt School.

I asked David Garrow, the preeminent biographer of King (and certainly no conservative), about King and CRT. “CRT so post-dates him that there’s no connection,” Garrow told me, “but MLK would have most certainly rejected ANY identity-based classification of human beings.”

No question. For King, you were to be judged by the content of your individual character, not lumped into an ethnic category based on the color of your skin. You were a child of God made in the image of God. You were defined as a person, not stereotyped according to a group.

As St. Paul stated, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The Christian faith, which of course was King’s faith, rejects these identity-based classifications of human beings.

King’s associates who survived him certainly rejected CRT.

Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker was close to the Rev. King. He stated: “Today, too many ‘remedies’ — such as Critical Race Theory, the increasingly fashionable post-Marxist/post-modernist approach that analyzes society as institutional group power structures rather than on spiritual or one-to-one human levels — are taking us in the wrong direction: separating even schoolchildren into explicit racial groups, and emphasizing differences instead of similarities.” Walker stressed: “The roots of CRT are planted in entirely different intellectual soil. It begins with ‘blocs’ (with each person assigned to an identity or economic bloc, as in Marxism).”

For the record, I get asked constantly about the Rev. King’s views on Marxism and socialism. They are frustratingly and notoriously difficult to pin down. Garrow would put King in the camp of some form of “democratic socialism,” probably closer to that originally envisioned by “social justice” Catholic Michael Harrington during his founding of the Democratic Socialists of America in the early 1980s, a DSA far removed from today’s DSA — the DSA of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Cori Bush. Today’s DSA is saturated with members who are sympathetic to Marxism — what its leadership calls “our 94,915 comrades” —and to atheism (and also virulently anti-Israel, if not anti-Semitic). Harrington would have been very troubled by this.

It was precisely the atheism of Communism that bothered the Rev. King.

“Communism, avowedly secularistic and materialistic, has no place for God,” noted King.

“I strongly disagreed with Communism’s ethical relativism. Since for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently, almost anything — force, violence, murder, lying — is a justifiable means to the ‘millennial’ end.”

King would have vehemently rejected the embrace of Marxism by the likes of BLM founder Patrisse Cullors, a stalwart proponent of critical theory generally and CRT in particular. “We are trained Marxists,” says Cullors. “We are super-versed [in] ideological theories.”

If only Cullors knew what a terrible racist Karl Marx was. I’ve written about this at length in articles and books. Both Marx and Engels nastily flung around the n-word; that is, the actual American-English racial epithet for black people. It’s alarming to read letters between Marx and Engels in German and be struck by the n-word jumping off the page.

Of course, Cullors probably has no idea of that. She attended our universities. She would have learned only good things about Marx and Engels, and about critical theory.

Dr. King would surely recoil at statements like the one issued at Thanksgiving from Cullors’ Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation blasting what it dubs “White-supremacist-capitalism.” The statement declared:

“White-supremacist-capitalism uses policing to protect profits and steal Black life. Skip the Black Friday sales and buy exclusively from Black-owned businesses.”

The shocking statement continued: “Capitalism doesn’t love Black people.”

It’s hard to imagine the Rev. King engaging in similar deeply divisive Marxist-based rhetoric. This is what can happen when the ugly specter of Communism is dragged into civil rights. It divides. That’s what Marxism has always done. It’s a toxic ideology with corrosive effect.

All of which brings me back to my opening question: Why do so many people on the left, and particularly the religious left, feel the need to embrace critical race theory in order to teach about the nation’s past racial sins? Believe me, I know. I’m hearing from them constantly, especially as modern times have prompted me to regrettably write about CRT, which for years I avoided like the plague because it’s so incendiary.

Few modern topics have become as divisive, which is no surprise, given that CRT divides. It divides people into groups pitted against one another, into categories of oppressed vs. oppressor. And your group defines you. This certainly flies in the face of the Judeo-Christian conception of all individuals as children of God.

King and Parks and the others, to the contrary, united everyone with their struggle. Sure, they were opposed by racists of their day. Today, however, they are national icons, widely respected, if not revered, by all sides.

We’ve grown so much that there’s now a national holiday for King. Everyone celebrates it. It was approved by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, even given Reagan’s early questions about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When Reagan was first asked about a King holiday during a press conference on May 10, 1982, he unhesitatingly said: “I have the deepest sympathy for it. I know what he means and what he has meant to a movement that I think is important to all of us.” After tasking his administration to consider the costs of such a federal holiday, he approved of it in August 1983.

Today, everyone approves of it.

Figures like King pull together. Critical race theory pulls apart. That’s why it has long been rejected, until, strangely, its recent embrace by many on the religious left as well as many on wider political left.

But not everyone on the wider left. Liberals ranging from the likes of Bill Maher to Andrew Sullivan to John McWhorter to James Carville firmly reject it and take it on. Entire groups like the 1776 Unites project, made up of longtime leading African-American scholars like Carol Swain, Glenn Loury, Bob Woodson, Shelby Steele, Wilfred Reilly, and dozens more have sprung up to counter CRT’s influence.

What inspires people and brings them to their better angels are brilliant works like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birmingham Jail letter, not the works of CRT writers like Robin DiAngelo, Kimberle Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and Ibram X. Kendi.

As I’ve said in this space before, it reminds me of a constant caution I urge to religious-left Christians who oddly feel compelled to say sympathetic things toward Marxism: If you want to help the poor, just follow the Gospel and teachings of Jesus. Why follow militantly atheistic Communism merely because Karl Marx likewise talked of helping the poor? That’s silly. Marxists vehemently reject religion. Just as Marxists don’t get to claim ownership of workers’ rights, neither do critical race theorists suddenly get to claim ownership of civil rights.

People on the religious left have long been easily manipulated by radical theories repackaged and dressed up in a pretty pink bow. They are very naïve about many of these noxious ideological notions, and Marxist practitioners have long known that and targeted them. I wrote a 700-page book on the subject. Again, they should simply stick with the Gospel. Go to Christ. You need not go to anything rooted in Marx. That is not fruit from a healthy tree.

For those of us in education, especially at Christian colleges, this is the time to do what King did in that cell in Birmingham: appeal to the Gospel, Judeo-Christian teaching, natural law, Jesus, St. Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas, and not to a theory developed from the ideas of Karl Marx and the Frankfurt School.

Critical race theory is doing what it was designed to do: divide people. We need to unite people around what is true. Teach MLK, not CRT.

COVID and Conscientious Objection

The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to stop a state vax mandate for health care workers invoking religious objections. It declined to halt New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s denial of the First Amendment religious rights of health care workers. Only three justices stepped forward to intervene: Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas. Gorsuch was clearly disappointed with his colleagues, no doubt Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh chief among them.

“No one seriously disputes that, absent relief, the applicants will suffer an irreparable injury,” stated Gorsuch, denouncing New York’s intention to fire workers and strip their unemployment benefits. This undermining of First Amendment freedoms “alone is sufficient to render the mandate unconstitutional.”

Gorsuch added in his 14-page dissent:

“The Free Exercise Clause protects not only the right to hold unpopular religious beliefs inwardly and secretly. It protects the right to live out those beliefs publicly in ‘the performance of (or abstention from) physical acts.’”

He concluded: “Today, we do not just fail the applicants. We fail ourselves.”

Among those failed, Gorsuch pointed to two New York Catholic physicians who object to the vaccines’ incorporation of aborted fetal cell lines:

“These applicants are not ‘anti-vaxxers’ who object to all vaccines. Instead, the applicants explain, they cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine because their religion teaches them to oppose abortion in any form, and because each of the currently available vaccines has depended upon abortion-derived fetal cell lines in its production or testing. The applicants acknowledge that many other religious believers feel differently about these matters than they do. But no one questions the sincerity of their religious beliefs.”

An added injustice is that these health care workers were the front-line first-responders when New York was first under siege from COVID (many acquired natural immunity from that exposure). They feel an ingratitude from their governor. That governor, ironically, has not hesitated to insist that God is on her side on this matter. Gorsuch quoted Hochul:

“The day before the mandate went into effect, Governor Hochul again expressed her view that religious objections to COVID-19 vaccines are theologically flawed: ‘All of you, yes, I know you’re vaccinated, you’re the smart ones, but you know there’s people out there who aren’t listening to God and what God wants. You know who they are.’. . . The Governor offered an extraordinary explanation for the change too. She said that ‘God wants’ people to be vaccinated — and that those who disagree are not listening to ‘organized religion’ or ‘everybody from the Pope on down.’”

Governor Kathy Hochul invoked her religious beliefs to vaccinate New Yorkers against their will, while simultaneously saying those New Yorkers could not invoke their First Amendment religious rights to protect themselves. The Supreme Court effectively shielded her, not them. Gorsuch’s objection received literal silence from the six other justices: Barrett, Kavanaugh, John Roberts, and the three liberals — Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.

Particularly notable was the silence from Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Roberts. New York’s health care workers likely expected scant protection from the court’s liberals, but the lack of backing from justices known for defending religious liberty was a major letdown. It points to a larger and growing problem throughout the pandemic.

Sadly, not only are religious rights not being respected, but they are being widely suspected. Increasingly as the pandemic has worn on, supporters of forced vaccination are insisting that many Americans seeking religious exemptions aren’t actually religious. They’re faking it, hiding behind phony faith claims. What really is “religious?” the New York Times asks.

To be sure, one would hope that most people making religious appeals are genuinely religious. Surely some are not. On its face, this seems a legitimate criticism. But think again. Dig deeper into the history of American religious-conscientious objection.

Note the crucial second word there: conscientious.

From the start of the religious-appeal process against COVID mandates, I’ve been concerned that these appeals are more often labeled by employers as “religious exemptions.” They ought to be called religious/conscientious exemptions — that is, appeals based not merely on one’s religious faith but on conscience. This is a critical distinction.

Conscientious objection, of course, has a long and noble history in America. (We held a conference on the topic in 2019.) There are few more honored rights in our history and Judeo-Christian tradition. One of our most revered founders, James Madison, father of the Bill of Rights, insisted that an individual’s conscience was a possession “more sacred than his castle.” Just as one has the right to property, one has the right to conscience, which the state should not infringe upon. Your conscience is yours, and it’s sacred. In fact, it’s part of an eternal nature that transcends the mere physical.

Madison said that “all men are entitled to the full and free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.” He argued for inclusion of freedom of conscience in the Bill of Rights. He made that argument in Philadelphia, where William Penn, a century earlier, had implemented a historic Act for Freedom of Conscience.

This freedom has served America so admirably for centuries, from conscientious objectors in World Wars I and II to the Vietnam War, from the appeals of citizens as diverse as the Quakers, Mennonites, Sergeant Alvin York, Desmond Doss, Muhammad Ali, the Berrigan brothers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, it is appealed to by the likes of Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Kim Davis, and court cases such as Arlene’s Flowers v. the State of Washington, Zubik v. Burwell, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Liberals are aggressive supporters of conscience when it comes to, say, refusal to fight in an unpopular war. It’s a great irony that liberals who once championed conscientious objection for the Vietnam draft-dodger spurn it for the Baptist florist or Christian cake-baker who begs to decline serving a same-sex wedding, or now for millions of Americans claiming rights of conscience against mandatory vaxxing.

Our onetime precious consensus on conscience is being ignored unlike ever before and redefined unlike ever before.

James Madison lost his effort to get the word “conscience” in the First Amendment, and it’s too bad he did. Nonetheless, courts have long honored appeals to one’s conscience as well as appeals to one’s religion.

Not anymore.

Indulge me as I take this to a deeper theological-philosophical level, one that justices like Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, both products of Catholic education and likely admirers of Pope John Paul II, ought to be able to appreciate.

The late pope for decades was one of the world’s leading voices on conscience. He stressed the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of the free will that the Creator bestowed on all human beings. In his August 1993 Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth), he wrote: “The relationship between man’s freedom and God’s law is most deeply lived out in the ‘heart’ of the person, in his moral conscience.” Citing the Second Vatican Council, he noted that in the depths of our conscience, we detect a law which we do not impose on ourselves, but which nonetheless holds us to obedience. This is a law written into the heart of all men and women by God, telling us “do this, shun that.” To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged (Romans 2:14-16).

The pope brought that message directly to our shores, telling Americans in Miami in September 1987: “The only true freedom, the only freedom that can truly satisfy, is the freedom to do what we ought as human beings created by God according to his plan.”

As noted by political scientist Thomas Rourke, “Possessed with reason and free will, the person seeks vertical transcendence when he seeks to know the truth and act in accord with it.” To arbitrarily interfere with this search for the truth, or to prevent a person from acting according to the demands of conscience — as oppressive governments do — is to deny people their right to responsible personhood.

How a person chooses to act defines the person. Our moral choices matter and, in a sense, make us. This is the very essence of John Paul II’s published work (as Karol Wojtyla), The Acting Person. God wants us to choose rightly. It is truly about how the person acts in accord with the conscience that God gave us.

John Paul II’s conception of the human person speaks not only to the dignity of the person but also as the person living within community. That includes a community like the America of the Founders that created a system that honors the dignity of that person and his or her conscience.

For our modern state to act as an obstacle to an individual moral relationship with God is an affront. It is an outrage. Not only would popes be outraged but so would our Founding Fathers.

Again, James Madison: “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.”

In short, modern Americans stand on firm ground whether they appeal to their religion or conscience. Vax mandates should be no exception. It’s already terribly troubling that COVID survivors with natural immunity rarely receive medical waivers even with letters from their physicians arguing that vaccination could be counterproductive and unhealthy. Religious and conscience appeals, however, ought to be literally sacrosanct.

This should be a matter of not only religion but conscience. It’s incumbent upon critics and HR departments and governments to realize and honor this. In this nation, your conscience must remain sacred.     *

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 13:46

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007); The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007); and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Critical Race Theory: Myths, Marxism, and More

Few modern topics have become as divisive as critical race theory, which is no surprise, given that CRT divides. It divides people into groups pitted against one another, into categories of oppressed vs. oppressor. What’s worse, your group defines you. This certainly flies in the face of the Judeo-Christian conception of all individuals as children of God made in the image of God.

What’s making CRT even worse are misunderstandings and misconceptions on both sides, from the left and the right.

From the left, MSNBS’ Nicole Wallace recently made headlines for a comment about how “critical race theory . . . isn’t real.” The context of her statement seems to have been to allege that CRT isn’t really being taught in Virginia public schools — i.e., conservatives were manufacturing the claim to win elections. But the truth is that the revolt in northern Virginia started with very upset and frustrated parents at local school boards, many of whom theretofore had been apolitical in a highly Democratic district. It was a grassroots uprising. It’s crucial to understand that not only have conservatives taken notice and condemned the teaching of CRT in public schools — far from it — but so have liberals ranging from the likes of James Carville to Andrew Sullivan to John McWhorter to Bill Maher and many more.

Entire groups such as the 1776 Unites project, made up of longtime leading African-American scholars like Carol Swain, Glenn Loury, Bob Woodson, Shelby Steele, Wilfred Reilly, and dozens more have sprung up to counter CRT ideas.

That’s no myth. This is real.

I got an email last year from the parent of a prospective student who was really upset that one of her young kids was being taught that she as a “White” (upper case “W”) person was part of the oppressor class. As such, the girl needed to admit to her “White privilege” and unacknowledged racism and how she inherently discriminates against people of color, even if she believes she doesn’t. The kid, whose family every year at home celebrates MLK Day, was completely flummoxed by the whole thing. The class of fifth graders was being urged to write letters to the Cleveland Indians organization to change the team’s name, and they live in Illinois — about eight hours from Cleveland.

That’s a manifestation of CRT thinking. That’s real.

And yet, on the flip side, authentic forms of teaching about legitimate racial discrimination can get mislabeled as advocating for CRT. That’s wrong, too.

A respected colleague and good friend fears that if he talks about slavery or racial injustices in a course where he has long done so, he’ll now be suspected of advocating for CRT, given how riled up conservatives are about the issue. Point taken. Of course, that would be wrong, outrageously so. Discussing such subjects, as myself and other professors here at Grove City College have long done, is obviously not to advocate for critical race theory. One of the required readings in our mandatory Western Civilization. course is the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s magnificent “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” which we all agreed from the outset to include as a core reading in the course. We certainly incorporated that letter long before the current CRT wave and will continue to do so.

I also lecture on King’s profound letter every fall semester in my Comparative Politics course, as well as lectures that I do around the country for Young America’s Foundation. My personal slogan is effectively: Teach MLK, not CRT.

Clearly, teaching about the sins and evils of slavery and racism does not ipso facto place one in the category of CRT writers like Robin DeAngelo, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and Ibram Kendi. Conversely, when CRT writers laudably condemn, say, Jim Crow, that’s no reason to become a CRT advocate. Just as when Marxists laudably condemn, say, forced child labor, that’s no reason to become a Marxist. All human beings should reject those things. You need not become a critical race theorist or Marxist.

It reminds me of a constant caution I urge to religious-left Christians who oddly feel compelled to say sympathetic things of Marxism: If you want to help the poor, just follow the Gospel and teachings of Jesus. Why follow militantly atheistic Marxism merely because Karl Marx likewise talked of helping the poor? That’s silly. Marxists vehemently reject religion. Just as Marxists don’t get to claim ownership of workers’ rights, neither do critical race theorists suddenly get to claim ownership of civil rights. The NAACP, for instance, has done a darn good job fighting for civil rights and combating racism without embracing CRT.

For professors, this is a teachable moment to clarify such realities about what is and isn’t CRT. It’s what a teacher ought to do.

What also doesn’t help the situation is the behemoth of Big Tech and how it has politicized and manipulates the definitions of these things. Consider just one element of the CRT issue: When typing “critical race theory” into Google — bear in mind that some 80-90 percent of the planet’s web searches go through Google — the first thing that pops up is the Wikipedia definition. This is where inquirers “learn” about critical race theory. Like many terms, such as “cultural Marxism,” Google and Wikipedia in the past were far more accurate about these terms and their Marxist roots — back before the terms became hyper-politicized.

For those of us unfortunates who study this junk for a living, we know better. We watch how ideologues distort meanings. In the past, I’ve printed these web pages and filed them in manila folders; now, I get screenshots. Screenshots are a must, given how quickly activists remold these definitions to suit their ideological purposes.

Precisely that is going on with the Google-to-Wikipedia search of “critical race theory.” What’s there is barely enough to discern the Marxist roots, albeit only to the discerning few who know the true history. Here’s how the definition starts:

“Critical race theory (CRT) is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of U.S. civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race and U.S. law and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the U.S. A tenet of CRT is that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals.

“CRT originated in the mid-1970s in the writings of several American legal scholars, including Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Cheryl Harris, Charles R. Lawrence III, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia J. Williams. It emerged as a movement by the 1980s, reworking theories of critical legal studies (CLS) with more focus on race. CRT is grounded in critical theory and draws from thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and W. E. B. Dubois, as well as the Black Power, Chicano, and radical feminist movements from the 1960s and 1970s.”

This is a sugarcoated definition. In particular, note that there’s no explicit mention of Marxism, though for those who know, the mention of “grounded in critical theory” and listing of Antonio Gramsci first among its proponents tells you just that. Gramsci, the pioneering Italian Marxist (whose leading American scholar was Pete Buttigieg’s father), was a founder of the application of Marxism to culture — that is, cultural Marxism (as we’ve historically called it).

And yet, if you search the words “Marx” or “Marxism” in the text of the Wikipedia entry for critical race theory, they do not appear even once. They’ve been scrubbed. You will find, however, a crucial reference at the very bottom of the page in the box on “Origins.” There, it states succinctly: “Critical Theory: Origins: Frankfurt School, Freudo-Marxism.”

That’s it, precisely. Those are the foundational roots of critical race theory. Critical race theory, as one must cobble together from the Wikipedia page, “is grounded in critical theory,” and critical theory’s origins are the Frankfurt School and its infamous Freudian-Marxism: Case closed. That’s what you need to know. It should be in the lead paragraph, but the scrubbers scrubbed it, though they evidently missed the box at the end.

Get a screenshot of the box, before some activist deletes it. Expect there to soon be no mention of Marxism whatsoever anywhere on that page.

Truthfully, the Wikipedia page ought to say much more. The Marxist elements of critical race theory are extremely important to understand because of how dehumanizing and destructive it is, particularly to children. Karl Marx saw people not as individuals made in the imago Dei — the Judeo-Christian conception of human beings made in the image of God — but as groups to be shoved into opposing categories pitted against one another as foes. Marx did this according to class and economics, i.e., the Proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie, whereas Marxist critical race theorists do this according to race, i.e., white vs. black, or some other ethnic-based construct. One group is the oppressor and the other the oppressed; your category defines you. Rather than aspiring to the colorblind world that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned, where individuals are judged by the content of their character, people are foremost viewed by the color of their skin.

It is a terribly dehumanizing way to view individual persons.

Consider the assessment of Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, who was very close to the Rev. King:

“Today, too many ‘remedies’ — such as Critical Race Theory, the increasingly fashionable post-Marxist/post-modernist approach that analyzes society as institutional group power structures rather than on spiritual or one-to-one human level — are taking us in the wrong direction: separating even school children into explicit racial groups, and emphasizing differences instead of similarities.”

Walker stressed: “The roots of CRT are planted in an entirely different intellectual soil. It begins with ‘blocs’ (with each person assigned to an identity or economic bloc, as in Marxism).”

The Wikipedia entry for CRT says nothing like this. It makes no mention of Marxism, other than the “Freudo-Marxism” reference thus far surviving in the box at the bottom. For ideologues on the Left, that’s perfect for demonizing those who object to CRT’s Marxist influences, including concerned parents. Those people can be derided as followers and fabricators of “myths,” and even as “white supremacists.”

This is what we’re up against with Big Tech. It controls not only the media narrative but the very meanings of terms.

For those of us in education, we need to be much better than that. We need to strive honestly to explain what these terms really mean and what they don’t. We need to explain what CRT is and isn’t. Most of all, rejecting CRT doesn’t mean rejecting talking about racial discrimination. It didn’t in the past and it won’t in the future.

Until then, in the spirit of Marxism, Critical Race Theory will do what it does: divide people. We need to unite people around what is true.

My Year Without Baseball

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Sitting in the lobby of a Washington hotel having drinks with friends, I glanced at the television and was pulled in by images of October baseball — the playoff season. It was the San Francisco Giants vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers — classic.

“It’s hard not to watch this,” I said to my friends. “I love baseball, but I boycotted baseball this year because of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s politicization of the sport.”

As I wrote back in April, Manfred’s decision to yank the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of his disapproval of the state’s new election-integrity laws was an awful, unacceptable, and unprecedented politicization of America’s national pastime. It was a partisan-ideological decision with no place in professional sports.

In response, I decided not to watch a single game this season, on TV or at the ballpark. It pained me, because I love baseball, but Manfred left no other choice to countless fans. We can’t allow ourselves to be patsies and pawns to those poisoning everything with politics and canceling whatever they disagree with. In this case, canceling an entire city and state.

Enough is enough. This has to stop.

I was prepared to make that case to my friends in the hotel lobby. Even though they’re politically like-minded, and I assumed likewise outraged by what Manfred did, I expected an argument or some resistance. I got just the opposite reaction.

“I’m finished with baseball,” bitterly responded my friend Robert, a lifetime baseball fanatic. “I haven’t watched a single game all season. I can’t. No more. It’s a matter of principle.”

The last time that Robert and I conversed on baseball, we debated whether his guy, Tom Seaver, or my guy, John Candelaria, was more deserving of the Cy Young Award in 1977 (which went to Steve Carlton). We both can rattle off the starting lineups for the great ’70s teams: the Big Red Machine, the Pirates, “Lumber Company” team, the Dodgers, Yankees, and the amazing A’s.

But Robert, like me, is fed up. The other three people at our table had the same position. Not one watched a single game this season. Manfred had boycotted an entire city and state over politics, and we all responded by boycotting Manfred and baseball. As we discussed our individual thinking, we conceded how it hurt the innocent — i.e., my team, the Pirates; Robert’s team, the New York Mets; and my friend Steve’s team, the Washington Nationals. But we agreed Manfred left us no other choice.

And yet, as we discussed the situation further, here’s what really struck me: I told my friends that when I wrote about my decision in my Philadelphia Tribune column in April, a reader assured me that I wouldn’t regret my decision — I would learn to live without baseball.

Well, the reader was right. I’ve moved on, and with much less pain than I anticipated.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred taught me two important things: First, I couldn’t support baseball this season because of his egregious political weaponization of the sport; and second, I can live without it. He taught it to my friends, as well.

Our protest may sound like sour grapes, but truly, it’s a matter of principle. This junk must stop. Enough.     *

Tuesday, 05 October 2021 12:45

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Us vs. Them — Why We Remember 9/11 Differently

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

On Sept. 8, 2021, Grove City College President Paul McNulty spoke in downtown Pittsburgh regarding his uniquely fascinating, yet somber, 9/11 experiences. He played an intimate role in the prosecution of the hijackers and their associates as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and deputy attorney general in the Bush administration. The audience was riveted as McNulty walked through the anguished moments from 7:59 a.m. to 10:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, starting with the takeoff of the first hijacked jet and ending with the crashing of the last, Flight 93, in Shanksville.

What particularly sticks with me from that talk was the contrast in how the Islamist terrorists view human life versus how we do.

McNulty recounted Osama Bin Laden speaking from his Taliban-controlled sanctuary in Afghanistan in February 1998, where he ordered, “Kill Americans, wherever and whenever.” This was an edict against every American, soldier or civilian, young or old, Marines or babies. On 9/11, they targeted us all.

McNulty recounted the grisly exchange between 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and U.S. attorney Robert Spencer on March 23, 2006.

Asked by Spencer if he had any regrets, Moussaoui conceded none: “I just wish it will happen on the 12th, the 13th, the 14th, the 15th, the 16th, the 17th, and I can go on and on. There is no remorse for justice.”

Moussaoui told Spencer that he enjoyed listening to the chilling testimony from Pentagon victims. It made him smile: “I would have even laughed if I didn’t know that I would be kicked out of the court.” Asked Spencer: “You enjoyed seeing the Pentagon on fire?” Moussaoui replied: “My pleasure.”

When asked his reaction to the harrowing testimony of Lt. Col. John Thurman describing crawling out of the building with his face against the floor, Moussaoui sniffed, “He was pathetic. I was regretful he didn’t die.” Asked about those who did die, Moussaoui celebrated: “Make my day.”

To Moussaoui, if only every day could be like 9/11.

“Like it to all happen again, right?” Spencer asked Moussaoui, who affirmed: “Every day.”

In contrast, Paul McNulty recalled how the victims of 9/11 have been remembered by Americans, right down to their scarcest physical remains. He noted that only 1,100 sets of remains were found of the 2,823 who perished under the World Trade Center buildings. Most were pulverized. Among those 1,100, McNulty noted that each time remains were found in subsequent weeks by personnel on site, the entire place silently stood in order, heads bowed, as the remains were slowly carried away from Ground Zero.

The contrast between how one side views human life versus the other could not have been clearer.

Every Sept. 11, we remember the dead and pray for their families. We don’t seek violent deaths as suicide “martyrs” for a God that wants us to kill. Our God is the Author of Life. We plead for life. But to radical Islamists like Moussaoui and Bin Laden, God is the master of the sword, not of the cross — not of love and mercy, but of their distorted view of “justice.”

America’s Judeo-Christian roots have taught us to honor the sanctity and dignity of every human being as made in the image of the Creator. This has long made America different. Let’s hope it remains so.

MLB Strikes Out in Cuba

“Major League Baseball remained absent-mindedly and cowardly mute on the Cuban people’s freedom struggles, despite the game’s close ties with Cuban players.”

So writes David, a Grove City College alum and a reader of my columns.

David continues: “The league has no excuse now for dodging the political issues of the day as they arise. Aroldis Chapman represented the New York Yankees at the All-Star Game in Denver — and certainly to his credit, he didn’t shy away from the hot-button issue of the week: the ongoing protests and demonstrations against Communism in Cuba, about which social and sporting institutions have remained silent.”

As David noted, Chapman was quite vocal in his solidarity with his people, writing “SOS Cuba” and “Patria Y Vida” on his game hat. His commendable gesture was joined by Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia. Both players are defectors from Cuba.

Has Major League Baseball joined them in their protest of Communist Cuba’s abuses? Not at all.

And this isn’t the first time that MLB’s silence in the face of Cuban oppression has been pointed out. Back in April, before the current uprising in the Cuban streets, Senator Marco Rubio called out the “hypocrisy” of MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred for relocating the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in protest over Georgia’s new election laws while being mum on abuses in nations like Cuba and China. “Will Major League Baseball now end its engagement with nations that do not hold elections at all, like China and Cuba?” Rubio asked.

If you’re puzzled by this mixing of baseball and politics, well, you should be, but it’s entirely the fault of Major League Baseball. The likes of Rubio and Chapman and Garcia and my friend David and countless others are angry at Major League Baseball for engaging in politics, in the first place, and in the hypocrisy.

In a number of columns here the last few months, I wrote about the outrageousness of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred politicizing America’s national pastime by yanking the All-Star Game out of Atlanta as a result of his partisan interpretation of Georgia’s new election-integrity laws. That game, in case you missed it (I did — recall that I’m boycotting baseball for the entirety of the 2021 season), was played last week in Denver rather than Atlanta.

In those columns, I noted that Manfred opened up himself and the MLB to all sorts of charges of hypocrisy in the future, because such is what happens when you politicize baseball. Fans wonder why Manfred punishes say, city X rather than city Z, or state A rather than state B, for this or that alleged political infraction. In one of my articles, I noted that Pennsylvania has certain voter criteria more restrictive than Georgia’s, and I thus asked if MLB would be boycotting the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies games. Once you open this door and go down this road of politics, you’re vulnerable to complaints of double standards. That’s why baseball should stick to baseball, and get its big nose out of politics.

In the case of Cuba, the hypocrisy is even worse. Not only does Cuba obviously have far more stringent voting restrictions than Georgia or anywhere in America or the entire Western Hemisphere — being a Communist dictatorship — but baseball players in Cuba have no wage and labor rights.

This is actually a topic I’ve followed for a long time, given my focus on Communism. No one even knows how much money Cuban baseball players currently make, though we know this much: their incomes are far below what Rob Manfred and anyone else would consider the poverty line.

The last reliable numbers we had (early 2000s) revealed that the entire payroll for the Cuban national team was $2,400 — yes, for the entire team. Each man on the roster of 20 players was paid a paltry $120 per year, just like everyone else in Cuba, from doctors to teachers to maintenance workers. That is what absolute equal redistribution of wealth looks like.

But like every Communist country, while everyone in Cuba is equal, some are more equal than others. No one in Cuba has had a payroll quite like the Castro brothers. Forbes magazine estimated Fidel Castro’s net worth at the time of his death at a cool $900 million. He was regularly ranked one of the top 10 wealthiest rulers in the world.

Of course, Cubans painfully realize their horrible situation. They flee the country when they can.

Today, MLB is home to a huge number of Cuban nationals who escaped this madness. And many of those freedom seekers no doubt wonder how Rob Manfred can punish the city of Atlanta for alleged injustices that come nowhere near the horrible injustices suffered by Cubans for over 60 years.

MLB strikes out again.     *

Tuesday, 27 July 2021 12:34

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).


BLM Founder Patrisse Cullors, Marxist Abolitionist, Wants to Abolish the Police.

Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors has been in the news a lot lately because of controversy over her income and financial dealings, including recent purchases of several new homes. Cullors lashed out at these criticisms by protesting, “The fact that the right-wing media is trying to create hysteria around my spending is, frankly, racist and sexist.”

The fact is that Cullors’ own organization has demanded answers. Hawk Newsome, head of Black Lives Matter Greater New York City, called for “an independent investigation” of Cullors. “If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes,” says Newsome.

“It’s really sad because it makes people doubt the validity of the movement and overlook the fact that it’s the people that carry this movement. . . . We need black firms and black accountants to go in there and find out where the money is going.”

But another particularly striking Cullors revelation of late has received almost no publicity. It was flagged for me by Mike Gonzalez, author of an upcoming major new book on BLM. It’s a video by Cullors titled, “What Is Abolition and Am I an Abolitionist?” Posted on her personal YouTube channel; it needs to be widely watched.

In that video, Cullors repeatedly calls herself an “abolitionist.” She talks about her “abolitionist journey” and the “abolitionist future we deserve.” She announces that she’s writing a book titled An Abolitionist Handbook.

Cullors applies her abolitionist goals to police — and not just police but even prisons and jails. She states flatly, “Abolition is the getting rid of police, prisons, and jails, surveillance, and courts.”

Yes, the abolition of police, prisons, jails, surveillance, and courts — all part of what Cullors calls the “prison in rial complex.” As many of us have noted, she emphasizes that BLM’s “defund” movement is about literal abolition. That is, not just defunding the police, but abolishing the police — plus, prisons and jails, and now, surveillance and courts, too.

In the video, Cullors points to (as she often does) her mentor Angela Davis, whom she hails as a fellow abolitionist, including of prisons. Davis, of course, is America’s best-known female Marxist. In Moscow in 1979, the Soviets (in a hall of entirely white folks) awarded her their prestigious Lenin Prize. Cullors’ memoir opens with a foreword by Davis.

It’s important to pause here to understand something crucial that helps make sense of where Cullors is coming from on this “abolition” theme.

Cullors, of course, is a proud Marxist. She describes her “ideological frame” as that of a “trained Marxist organizer” who is “super-versed on ideological theories.” In interviews and in her memoirs, she speaks of her intensive study reading Marx, Lenin, Mao, and other leading Marxists. “We spent the year reading, anything from Marx, to Lenin, to Mao, learning all types of global critical theory,” she said in an April 2018 interview.

Those of us who have repeatedly underscored these significant facts have done so for good reason, namely that when Cullors tells us this about herself, she’s telling us something very instructive. This is her philosophy and her worldview. And utterly essential to the Marxist philosophy and worldview is the notion of abolition.

Karl Marx (and Marxism) was all about abolition. The word is omnipresent throughout his writings. As noted by Marx biographer Robert Payne, the word “abolition” seems to practically jump off every page of The Communist Manifesto. “And after he has ‘abolished’ property, family, and nations, and all existing societies, Marx shows little interest in creating a new society on the ruins of the old,” observed Payne. “The Communist Manifesto was the gauntlet he threw at the world.”

It was indeed. Go online to various writings of Marx and do a search on words like “abolish” and “abolition,” as well as “criticize” and “criticism.” You’ll be struck immediately.

The goal of the Marxist project was one of fundamental transformation, of pursuing permanent revolution and unrestrained criticism of everything — nothing less than what Karl Marx called “the ruthless criticism of all that exists.” Marx in his essay declaring religion “the opium of the people” said that “the criticism of religion is the beginning of all criticism.” In that infamous essay, he used the word “criticism” 29 times.

Marx’s ideas were utterly radical, or (as Marx openly conceded) “contrary to the nature of things.” Above all, Marx in the Manifesto acknowledged that Communism seeks to “abolish the present state of things.”

Think about that one: “abolish the present state of things.” Read it again. Say it out loud. What could be more radical, more revolutionary?

For those who think that Marxism was about mere markets and wealth, mull that one over.

Marx in the Manifesto stated that Communists “openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” Note these words: “forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” “All” meant “all.” He and Friedrich Engels closed the Manifesto with this: “Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.”

Quite chillingly, Marx, who wrote about the devil, had a favorite quote from the Mephistopheles (i.e., devil/demon) character in Goethe’s Faust, “Everything that exists deserves to perish.”

Again, mull that over: “Everything that exists deserves to perish.”

That is reckless and irresponsible — as reckless and irresponsible as calling for the abolition of police, prisons, jails, surveillance, and courts.

Above all, Karl Marx, like Patrisse Cullors, was an abolitionist.

Marx and Engels in the Manifesto targeted everything from property to the family to faith. “Abolition of the family!” they wrote with an exclamation. “Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.” They noted that “Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality.”

God has long been a special target for these revolutionaries. To quote Marx’s socialist buddy Mikhail Bakunin from his signature book God and the State: “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.”

Yes, you read that right: “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.”

Marx envisioned an apocalyptic revolution leading to the abolition of capitalism, classes, and the state itself. In the process, even democracy (temporarily exploited) would be abolished.

Reading all of this closely, of course, was Vladimir Lenin, the totalitarian despot and mass killer whom Patrisse Cullors read closely. In his most revealing work, The State and Revolution, Lenin, in the chapter “The Transition from Capitalism to Communism,” quoted Marx and Engels: “the bourgeois state does not ‘wither away,’ but is ‘abolished’ by the proletariat in the course of the revolution.”

That wasn’t the only thing that Lenin and the Bolsheviks sought to abolish. Consider Lenin’s landmark October 2, 1920, speech to the Russian Young Communist League, in which Lenin instructed the 600 assembled delegates in how to “accomplish the task of destroying the foundations of the old.” Lenin said of Marx:

“He critically reshaped everything that had been created by human society, without ignoring a single detail. He reconsidered, subjected to criticism, and verified on the working-class movement everything that human thinking had created.”

Everything, everything. Among them, the “old schools” would need to be abolished. “The old schools produced servants needed by the capitalists,” sniffed Lenin. “We must therefore abolish them.”

The new “aim,” Lenin told young Communists, was simple: “learn Communism.” He told the youth, “You have to build up a Communist society,” and “every young man and woman” must proceed in that task without exception. “You must train yourselves to be Communists.” As for “the old society,” said Lenin, “We had to destroy all that, and overthrow them.” This meant “overthrowing the Tsar, overthrowing the capitalists, and abolishing the capitalist class.”

Abolish, abolish, abolish. Lenin, too, was an abolitionist. Communism required a constant process of abolition.

In short, the notion of abolition dominates Marxist thoughts and writings. Marxists are abolitionists. And, not surprisingly, so is Patrisse Cullors, as she tells us in this new video and upcoming book.

So, when you hear Patrisse Cullors, founder of BLM, talking about “abolishing the police” — and, more so, “getting rid of” prisons and jails and surveillance and courts — and when you hear her calling herself a trained and studied and committed Marxist, you need to understand that the Marxism is not unrelated. For those liberals who shrug off the fact that Cullors is a Marxist, well, you have a lot to learn.

And above all, most disturbing is what this says about the destructive roots of the “abolish the police” movement that Patrisse Cullors and BLM have inspired. The Marxism matters.

Punk the Woke

Watching the raucous crowd slam-dancing in their Mohawks in the mosh pit at the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section in the early 1990s, one might not have envisioned punk-rockers taking the lead against the bullies of the 2020s — that is, against the woke warriors of the cancel culture. But so they are. Besides, punk-rockers have always rebelled against the status quo, not giving a rip what anyone thinks about them or what they say. The wokesters, on the other hand, are obsessed with what you think and say, and if they don’t like it, they throw a hissy fit and shut you down.

Punkers are the ultimate nonconformists. Liberals, by contrast, are the ultimate conformists. They tout diversity, but no group blows with the wind like progressives; in fact, that’s the very essence of progressivism, to progress along with the fads and fashions of society at large. And as they float along with the zeitgeist, they torpedo any resisters.

Personally, I’m not surprised at the emergence of cancel culture. It’s a predictable culmination of liberals’ attitudes toward people they disagree with. How long have conservatives chronicled the fraudulence of liberals’ claims of tolerance and diversity? Liberals engage in a selective tolerance of only the ideas they want to tolerate. Herbert Marcuse, the ’60s guru to the New Left and leading light of the Frankfurt School, which pioneered critical theory (a forefather to critical race theory), cynically called for “repressive tolerance,” meaning, “intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”

Even more cynically, the Left places you on the “Right” simply for advocating things that for millennia were neither Left nor Right but common-sense reality observable to every human being, such as, oh, two genders, or male-female marriage.

I would further add that the aptly called “snowflakes” of today’s cancel culture are the logical culmination of something else that conservatives warned about decades ago, namely: the silly “self-esteem movement” in our public schools. The self-esteem kids of the 1990s were ceaselessly pampered, glowingly affirmed in whatever they said and did. Today’s snowflakes are their progeny. If you hold a different viewpoint from these people, they melt down. They so can’t handle being told they’re wrong that they have temper tantrums on Twitter, demanding their detractors be punished, fired, not tolerated, cancelled. At The American Spectator, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. was way ahead of his time describing them in the early ’70s as “wombistic” in their “infantile liberalism.” They are ideological cry-babies, sobbing and stomping if you disagree with them.

Above all, they call you names. Names, names, names.

I recently happened upon a folder of my columns for my college newspaper in the late 1980s. I was the editorial page editor for our daily newspaper (published Monday through Thursday), The Pitt News. My goodbye column in May 1990 lamented the liberals who reflexively called conservatives names like “Nazi,” “fascist,” “racist,” “homophobe,” “hater.” Yes, way back then. This was when the political correctness movement really launched. We were already referring to liberals as the Thought Police.

Mercifully, there wasn’t yet social media for progressives to weaponize. Enraged leftists couldn’t mobilize Twitter mobs like they can now. Moreover, the self-esteem movement hadn’t yet grown up (in terms of age rather than emotional maturity), and thus these progressives weren’t cancelling people yet. That would take time to evolve — to progress.

Likewise, it would take time for the larger culture to experience what this wrought. That brings me to 2021 and the aforementioned punk-rockers.

Conservatives have fought against the cancel-culture mongers, but what’s needed is for non-conservatives to push back. Among the best counterforces to emerge have been liberals like Bill Maher and Piers Morgan. “Does everything have to be a summary execution in America?” asks Maher in one of his many condemnations of cancel culture. “I don’t want to live in a country where we have the Red Guard.” Piers Morgan has urged fellow Brits to “cancel the cancel culture before it kills our culture.”

But the most fearless and relentless foes of woke thuggery to date have been punk rockers. They remain rebels who don’t give a rip. Two cases in point are Johnny Lydon, a.k.a., Johnny Rotten, and John Joseph of the bands Bloodclot and Cro-Mags. The latter is a new name to me, though Mr. Rotten hails from my generation.

A trigger warning to the woke: Already easily offended, you’ll erupt at this language. Brace yourselves, and get ready to dash to Twitter: Lydon (Johnny Rotten) refers to the wokesters as “tempestuous spoilt children coming out of colleges and universities with sh-- for brains.” He observes:

“I can’t believe that TV stations give some of these lunatics the space. Where is this ‘moral majority’ nonsense coming from when they’re basically the ones doing all the wrong for being so bloody judgmental and vicious against anybody that doesn’t go with the current popular opinion?”

Lydon, who supported Donald Trump, is alarmed by the alliance between woke bullies and the Biden administration and Democrats.

“You have a Democrat party that doesn’t respect anything but the latest woke fashion trend and that’s to the destruction of America,” says Lydon.  “I’m watching America now collapse because of the Biden nonsense.”

As for Mr. Joseph, I’ll do my best in this family-friendly publication to abbreviate his choice language.

“Cancel culture can go [expletive] themselves,” advised Joseph.

“They are the same ones who criticized punk rock in the ’70s and hardcore in the ’80s. And they will all go away soon to live out [their] quiet lives of desperation while we carry on what we’ve been doing for decades.”

What set off dear Joseph were the virtuous progressives who criticized his punk band for regaling a sizable crowd without masks in New York City’s Tompkins Square Park. “The park was filled that day anyway,” noted Joseph, no doubt correctly.

“Anybody that knows Tompkins Square Park knows on a 70-degree sunny day there are huge crowds in there on a Saturday. We could not control how many people attended the show.”

      He hastened to add:

“Just because some of you don’t agree with it, I could give a [expletive] less. Stay the [expletive] home, watch CNN and the rest. I never gave a [expletive] what critics said in the ’70s and ’80s and I still don’t care.”

Punk remains punk, and the woke won’t stop that.

Joseph denounces “the lying ass media” as well as “the whole cancel culture sh--.”

For conservatives, Joseph’s language will not call to mind, say, Russell Kirk or Edmund Burke. But conservatives will chuckle with a sense of appreciation at someone outside their camp firing verbal arrows at the cancel brutes who ruin any poor conservative at a university who comes across their merciless radar.

The likes of Joseph and Lydon are boldly expressing the frustration that so many conservatives can’t, out of fear of losing jobs at the hands of intolerant progressives launching letter campaigns against them.

And they’re not alone. The punk world knows it couldn’t have come into being in a cancel-culture society (the same is true for much of comedy). Such was recently noted by Glenn Danzig of The Misfits, who denounces “cancel culture and woke bullsh-t.” His successor as the band’s lead vocalist, Michale Grave, agrees, assailing “this plague on our culture.” Graves urges “courage to others to stop being so weak-minded and afraid” of the “woke mobs of lying Marxist dittos.”

Take another rocker from my generation — Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the legendary “The Who.” His group wasn’t punk, but with smashing guitars and the message of songs like “My Generation,” Daltrey and Pete Townshend reveled in riotous antics. “It’s becoming so absurd now with . . . the woke generation,” notes Daltrey. “It’s terrifying, the miserable world they’re going to create for themselves.”

Notably, many of the voices I’ve cited here are British. Brits are far more candid and willing to honestly describe one another’s politics. They aren’t timid about calling a spade a spade (or a “progressive” a Marxist, if he really is one). Above all, they don’t want American wokeism exported to their shores. There’s a BLM Britain, and its supporters have been literally spray-painting the most revered Brit of the last 100 years: Winston Churchill. The accusations of racism against the royal household by Meghan and Harry is what really set off Piers Morgan, who immediately sniffed the noxious winds of American progressive perversity that racializes everything.

Brits don’t want this garbage. They’re fighting back.

Personally, it brings me back full circle 30 years ago to the Mohawk dudes and profane punker chicks slam-dancing and diving from the stage into the mosh pit. That was their rebellion against the conformists of their day. Their battle against the woke cancel culture of 2021 is their righteous rebellion against the bullying left-wing conformists of our day.

Covid Vaccination: My Body, My Choice?

“This is my body!” “My body, my choice!”

Those are the mantras, of course, of the pro-choice lobby. And they didn’t start in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. In my unfortunate life as an authority on the Communist movement, which means reading a lot of dark stuff, I found Communists using similar slogans in the 1920s. Long before American pro-choice liberals were touting slogans like “Keep your hands off my body,” Communist women in Germany in the 1920s were urging abortion under the campaign slogan “Your body belongs to you.”

Quite chillingly, the pro-choice credo “This is my body” is an unholy inversion of the precise sacrificial words of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. Those words of Christ are repeated every hour worldwide in every Mass by every priest, serving in persona Christi, as he elevates the host — i.e., the Real Presence, the Body of Christ — and affirms, “This is my Body.”

That Body was a sacrifice given up for you. It is Christ sacrificing Himself, all the way to the cross. He was willing to die for you. He did not demand that you die for Him. He willingly gave up His body. It was the ultimate unselfish act. The act of abortion, on the other hand, is purely about the self.

“My body, my choice” is also the creed of the 60 pro-choice Catholic Democrats who wrote a letter to the bishops insisting that their staunch advocacy of unrestricted “abortion rights” should not affect their fitness to receive the Body of Christ. Their attitude is best reflected by the statements of Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Ted Lieu. When a reporter asked Pelosi if she believed she could be denied the Eucharist, she asserted: “I think I can use my own judgment on that.” Ted Lieu went further, taunting the bishops: “Next time I go to church, I dare you to deny me Communion.”

How dare the bishops infringe upon a woman’s “sacred” (as Pelosi put it) right to choose to do what she wants with her body.

Of course, this is also the position of our pro-choice Catholic president, Joe Biden.

I mention this right now in light of so many pro-choice liberals demanding that everyone in America be vaccinated against COVID-19, including those who choose not to. Joe Biden threatens to go from “door to door” urging people to take the needle: “We need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oft times, door to door, literally knocking on doors.” Former Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen argued that Biden needs to force vaccinations on the populace.

That includes you and your children.

They are even demanding this of those of us who have suffered through COVID-19 and now have natural immunity.

And before I go any further, let me state for the record that I am not an “anti-vaxxer.” I published a bunch of articles and did a lot of media commentary expressing my great concern over COVID-19. I was anything but a COVID-19 skeptic; to the contrary, I was arguably a COVID-19 alarmist. I wrote repeatedly about the crucial need for a vaccine. I was a staunch advocate for President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. I’ve never opposed vaccines, and I wrote very positively about promising efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines at my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, where I spent four years working in immunology for the organ transplant team.

Again, I’ve never been an “anti-vaxxer.”

Having said all of that, no one should be able to force me or any American to inject something into our bodies against our will, our conscience, and our constitutional liberties, especially when other Americans can easily and freely choose to get vaccinated and receive protection.

Moreover, many of those choosing not to get vaccinated are doing so because they do not want to take vaccines that even the FDA and pharmaceutical companies explicitly warn are experimental. The official “Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers” of the Pfizer vaccine states categorically: “There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.”

People are also hesitant to get vaccinated because of alarming reports of bad side effects. There are increasingly disturbing reports of perfectly healthy young people developing myocarditis from these vaccines, including a 19-year-old girl in my area who, two weeks ago, had to receive a heart transplant and remains in critical condition. Not surprisingly, the CDC is now openly acknowledging that there is a direct risk of myocarditis to young people receiving the mRNA-based vaccines.

Notably, the dominant mRNA-based vaccines are not traditional vaccines. Unlike vaccines like, say, the Salk polio vaccine, these are not conventional vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA-based and thus totally different and very new.

I know people (Catholics among them) who are awaiting the non-mRNA-based vaccines, such as Novavax, which they understand is more conventional, less risky, and, so far, seems even more effective. (Novavax is based on the type of simpler and more reliable vaccine technology used for shingles and hepatitis, the latter of which was the dominant disease I dealt with among my liver-transplant patients.) They are also hoping that these other vaccines will not be tainted with material from cell lines of aborted fetuses.

Significantly, Joe Biden’s church backs these Catholics. In an official statement released December 21, 2020, the Vatican stated categorically: “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and . . . it must be voluntary.” The Vatican says that you cannot be forcibly vaccinated against your will. Forced vaccination is a violation of your freedom of religion and conscience. This is officially affirmed by the American bishops.

Thus, yet again, Joe Biden is taking a position in direct contravention of the moral-ethical position of his church.

The freedom not to be forced into receiving experimental vaccinations is especially critical for those of us who had COVID-19, and now have antibodies. A peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature found that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 develop “long-lasting immunity,” namely with “antibody-producing cells” that “live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives.”

A major study by Cleveland Clinic, conducted on 52,238 employees, concluded categorically that individuals who had COVID-19 “do not get additional benefits from vaccination.” It found that “no significant difference in COVID-19 incidence was observed between previously infected and currently unvaccinated participants, previously infected and currently vaccinated participants, and previously uninfected and currently vaccinated participants.”

In light of this latest research, and the other aforementioned factors, no one should be forcing people to take experimental vaccines against their will. This is America. You can’t do that.

That brings me back to my point at the start of this article: whatever happened to “This is my body!” and “My body, my choice?”

Is it not fascinating, if not revolting, that liberals will proclaim these mantras when it comes to abortion, which most acutely affects the other body in the situation — the unborn one — which has no choice at all, but they will not apply the mantras to forcible vaccination, which actually involves only the body that has the choice?

And so, behold the anti-choice vaccination thinking of pro-choice liberals: It’s your body and your choice if you want to abort your child, but it’s not your body and your choice if you want to choose not to be vaccinated.

But vaccination is your choice. If Joe Biden and friends come knocking at your door, tell them firmly: “My body, my choice.” This is my body, Joe. Keep your hands off.     *

Monday, 24 May 2021 12:10

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

The Early Church Was Not Socialist

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Crisis Magazine.

“The early church was a socialist church.”

So said Rev. Raphael Warnock in 2016, four years before the citizens of Georgia elected him a U.S. senator.

It’s a strange statement, least of all because the description “socialist church” is an oxymoron.

Not only would the Church fathers be puzzled by it, but so would socialism’s Fathers.

“Everyone must be absolutely free to . . . be an atheist,” wrote Vladimir Lenin, “which every socialist is, as a rule.”

“Religion and Communism are incompatible, both theoretically and practically,” noted Nikolai Bukharin, founding editor of Pravda. “Communism is incompatible with religious faith.” On behalf of the Bolsheviks, he insisted: “A fight to the death must be declared upon religion. We must take on religion at the tip of the bayonet.”

That they did. They knew that religion and socialism/Communism were incompatible.

For the record, Marxism-Leninism defines socialism as the final transitionary step into Communism. As Lenin explained: “And this brings us to the question of the scientific distinction between socialism and Communism. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the ‘first,’ or lower, phase of Communist society.” Communism shares the exact same goal of socialism, namely: common ownership of the means of production — the literal definition of socialism, even by Merriam Webster. “We call ourselves Communists,” stated Lenin.

“What is a Communist? Communism is a Latin word. Communis is the Latin for ‘common.’ Communist society is a society in which all things — the land, the factories — are owned in common and the people work in common. That is Communism.”

Nonetheless, statements like Warnock’s are not unusual among the “social justice” Religious Left. I’ve written about this before, and clearly will need to continue to address it again and again, but I write now because of the recent New Testament reading from the Lectionary, which prompted one person to ask me to clarify how that reading from the “early church” (as Warnock would describe it) does or does not support socialism. Here’s the passage from Acts 4:32-35:

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.”

It’s this passage that Warnock was clearly invoking. He told Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church back in 2016:

“The early church was a socialist church. I know you think that’s an oxymoron, but the early church was much closer to socialism than to capitalism. Go back and read the Bible. I love to listen to evangelicals who stand on the Bible. Well, they had all things in common. They took everything — I’m just preaching the Bible — they took all of their things and they had all things in common. But even the folk who say they just follow every word of the Bible, they’re not about to do that. But if we would just share what we have, everybody can eat, everybody ought to have water, everybody ought to have healthcare. It’s a basic principle.”

Well, it’s certainly not a “socialist” principle.

Let’s start with indeed the most basic principle, which is this: this passage from Acts is not socialism. Socialism/Communism does not bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, or to belief of God. Likewise, do not be deluded by the phrase “distributed to each according to need.” Karl Marx, as he often did in his aping and mockery of religion, appropriated that line and rewrote it as, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

How does this passage bear no resemblance to socialism/Communism? For many reasons, but above all, the religious believer reading this passage must understand that the passage deals with a religious movement. Socialism/Communism is an anti-religious movement.

“Communism begins where atheism begins,” explained Marx. He wrote:

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

He and Engels in the Communist Manifesto said that Communism represents “the most radical rupture in traditional relations.” It seeks nothing less than to “abolish the present state of things.” He and Engels closed the Manifesto by calling for “the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

That included religion above all. Socialism/Communism is a revolutionary ideology that completely rejects religion.

“There is nothing more abominable than religion,” declared Vladimir Lenin. He said that “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.” He echoed Marx: “Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze.”

I could list quotes like this one after another. Here’s one more example:

William Z. Foster was the first major public face as well as chairman of what became known as (and remains) the Communist Party U.S.A., prior to which he had been with the Socialist Party of America. Note this 1930 exchange he had with Congressman Hamilton Fish during sworn congressional testimony:

Fish: “Does your party advocate the abolition and destruction of religious beliefs?”

Foster: “Our party considers religion to be the opium of the people, as Karl Marx has stated, and we carry on propaganda for the liquidation of these prejudices amongst the workers.”

Fish: “To be a member of the Communist Party, do you have to be an atheist?”

Foster: “In order to be — there is no formal requirement to this effect. Many workers join the Communist Party who still have some religious scruples, or religious ideas; but a worker who will join the Communist Party, who understands the elementary principles of the Communist Party, must necessarily be in the process of liquidating his religious beliefs and, if he still has any lingerings when he joins the party, he will soon get rid of them.

He must get rid of them because one could not be a Communist and a Christian. For the record, in the USSR, one had to be an atheist to be a member of the Communist Party, as the party militantly pursued what Mikhail Gorbachev described as a “wholesale war on religion.”

As for the passage from Acts, there have long been religious communities that engage in common ownership. Those communities are driven by religious motivation. They are voluntary movements of free will. Members agree to sell property and share things by their own choice, not under compulsion by a coercive socialist/atheistic state which insists that every citizen, under threat of punishment, sell and share all resources.

An even cursory read of the Communist Manifesto or the brute decrees of Lenin and Stalin and Mao and the Kims and Castro shows no similarity with the language of the Old and New Testaments. The fact that certain passages of Scripture, or certain guidelines of religious orders, express forms of communalism doesn’t mean they’re thus practicing the perverse and destructive 19th century ideology known as Communism/socialism. That’s a really silly simplification. From the Acts of the Apostles to, say, the Franciscans, these groups were forged on a Christian model; religion served as their anchor, their rudder, their animating force — the very spiritual force that Communism ridicules, rejects, and seeks to abolish. Read any writing by Marx, or Engels, or Lenin vs. Jesus Christ, or Paul, or St. Francis; they’re completely different in every meaningful respect.

Moreover, the Bible offers vigorous defenses of property rights, as rudimentary as the understanding implicit in the Creator’s Ten Commandments: thou shalt not steal. To steal is to take someone’s property, a basic right according to Biblical and natural law. The assertion by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto that “the entire Communist program may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property” is completely antithetical to the teachings of God.

I could go on and on with examples. In the New Testament, individuals like the Good Samaritan or Zacchaeus or the vineyard owner all voluntarily give their own wealth or earnings as free-will acts of benevolence, not as forced responses to state fiat. Read on in Acts, chapter 4, which in the next line speaks of the first of two disciples who voluntarily “sold a piece of property that he owned.”

I’ll close with a word of advice to Rev.-Sen. Warnock. It comes from the landmark encyclical by Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno. “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms,” stated Quadragesimo Anno, “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” Pius XI advised:

“Those who want to be apostles among socialists ought to profess Christian truth whole and entire, openly and sincerely, and not connive at error in any way. If they truly wish to be heralds of the Gospel, let them above all strive to show to socialists that socialist claims, so far as they are just, are far more strongly supported by the principles of Christian faith and much more effectively promoted through the power of Christian charity.”

As Pius XI noted, there’s “no reason to become socialists.”

Indeed. In other words, just become a Christian — and please stop with the nonsense about “Christian socialism.”     *

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 12:18

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Death of a Defector: Ion Mihai Pacepa, R.I.P.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared in The American Spectator.

On February 14, 2021, the world quietly lost one of the most intriguing, enduring figures of the Cold War. He was Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc official ever to defect to the United States.

Throughout the 1970s, Pacepa arguably had been the top official in Communist Romania, behind only the insane and vicious dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. He served Ceausescu in numerous capacities, including as intelligence chief and liaison between the brutal Securitate and the KGB. He knew where bodies were buried.

After yet another request by Romanian goons to bloody his hands, Pacepa had had enough. One day in the summer of 1978, he slipped into the U.S. embassy in West Berlin while on routine business for the Romanian madman who was his boss. He said he wanted to defect. He was hustled out in a late-night flight to the United States — a country he came to love.

“It was noon when the U.S. military plane bringing me to freedom landed at the U.S. presidential airport inside Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.,” he later told our mutual friend David Kupelian.

“It was a glorious, sunny day outside. . . . I had an overwhelming desire to dance around in a jig all by myself. I was a free man! I was in America! The joy of finally becoming part of this magnanimous land of liberty, where nothing was impossible, was surpassed only by the joy of simply being alive.”

He continued:

“On that memorable day of July 28, 1978, when I became a free man, I fell to my knees and I prayed out loud for the first time in more than a quarter of a century. It took me a while. It was not easy to find the right words to express my great joy and thanks to the good Lord. In the end, all that I asked for was forgiveness for my past, freedom for my daughter, and strength for my new life.”

Forgiveness and freedom. And yet, Pacepa was never totally free. He was a wanted man, hunted by the Romanian government.

Once in the United States, Pacepa lived in undisclosed locations, dodging a $2 million bounty placed on his head by his homeland. Communists officials were enraged when Pacepa in 1987 published (via Regnery) his shocking memoir of the Ceausescu era: Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae & Elena Ceausescu’s Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption. (The book was reviewed with highest praise by Michael Ledeen in the April 1988 issue of The American Spectator.) Hit squads were dispatched to assassinate him. They never found him. And ironically, Pacepa’s grisly account of Nicolae and his equally cruel and crazy wife, Elena, would be used as evidence for their conviction and execution by a firing squad of Romanian citizens on Christmas Day 1989.

Pacepa long outlived the Ceausescu menace. Now, over four decades after the brutal regime began targeting him, Pacepa’s life has ended. He died at the age of 92, a victim of COVID-19.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Pacepa directly, given that he was always in hiding, though we emailed frequently for years. He went by the name “Mike,” the Anglicized version of “Mihai.” He had at least two aliases that would pop up sometimes when I got emails from him. His email address was cryptic, starting with an upper-case letter and followed by seven numbers and then “” I’m tempted to share the email address here publicly, but doing so would offer no great value. Besides, I never had permission from him to share his email address publicly.

I often got his emails in response to my articles. of which he was an avid reader. He and I even co-authored a piece, “Obama’s Sword and Shield,” for The American Spectator in May 2013.

I believe Pacepa first reached out to me in 2010, when I published my Cold War tome, Dupes. Pacepa was cited a number of times, particularly for his disturbing insights into how easily Communist officials were able to manipulate gullible progressives in the West. That was a subject that troubled and perplexed Pacepa; it fascinated him, but also nagged at him. He had seen it from the Truman years through Vietnam and still into the 21st century.

“They were like putty in our hands,” said Pacepa of the ability of Western liberals to be duped by Communists, from the “strong leftist movements [in Western Europe] that we secretly financed” to the vast amounts of disinformation cooked up and spoon-fed to Western liberals, who gobbled it up.

Consider Vietnam: “During the Vietnam War,” said Pacepa:

“. . . we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America’s presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies, and razed entire villages. Those weren’t facts. They were our tales.” (Recall a young John Kerry’s 1971 testimony.) They were lies. Nonetheless, said Pacepa, millions of Americans “ended up being convinced their own president, not Communism, was the enemy.”

According to Pacepa, it was the odious Yuri Andropov, then head of the KGB, who conceived this dezinformatsiya campaign — that is, disinformation campaign — against the United States. The Soviets devoted exorbitant spending to that cause. “Vietnam,” Andropov told Pacepa, had been “our most significant success.”

Pacepa read my book and was very pleased to see that I had focused upon what he judged one of the most significant, but underreported and least understood, phenomena of our times: the cynical but remarkable power of disinformation.

In fact, it turned out that he was writing a book on precisely that subject and by that very name: Disinformation. He and co-author Ron Rychlak published the book in 2013 through WND Press, and they asked me to write the foreword (former CIA director James Woolsey wrote the introduction). It was a landmark book that everyone ought to read. It will indelibly impact the way you view history and current affairs.

That groundbreaking book exposed the KGB disinformation schemes against figures like Pope Pius XII (the smearing of Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” was begun as a mass Soviet disinformation campaign launched by a Radio Moscow broadcast in 1945) and Cardinals Stepinac and Mindszenty and Wyszyński, as well as the duplicity of groups like the World Peace Council and World Council of Churches. The material on the Soviet promulgation of the insidious Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy is an awakening. The authors chronicled Andropov’s anti-Zionism campaign, support of Islamic terrorism, and promotion of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism among Middle East Arabs. By 1978, the Soviet bloc planted some 4,000 agents of influence in the Islamic world armed with hundreds of thousands of copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (and military weapons). Militant atheistic Communism sought a handmaiden in militant jihadist Islam, with extremist Muslims exploited by Soviet manipulators. They promulgated not only acts of terrorism but egregious acts of “diplomacy” like the infamous UN Resolution 3379 declaring Zionism a form of racism.

Pacepa revealed how many vicious myths created by Communists have been unwittingly adopted by mainstream historians and journalists. He said the very handbook on Soviet/Communist dezinformatsiya opened with this in capital letters: “IF YOU ARE GOOD AT DISINFORMATION, YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING.”

Pacepa would see these patterns in modern American “journalism,” though it wasn’t always clear if duped American journalists were wittingly or unwittingly spreading disinformation (or “fake news,” to use a modern term). Often, they simply believed what they wanted to believe — just as the Kremlin knew they would.

Beyond Disinformation, Pacepa wrote a number of fascinating works, including a remarkable 2007 book on the Kennedy assassination, titled Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination. Pacepa believed that the Soviets were involved in early steps leading toward or helping to precipitate the assassination. He argued that Oswald had been recruited by the KGB when he first entered the Soviet Union. Over the next two years, however, several things complicated the picture. By 1962, once Oswald was settled in Texas, Khrushchev (allegedly) changed his mind about killing Kennedy. Consequently, claims Pacepa, “the KGB tried to turn Oswald off.” It was too late.

For the record, this theory of Soviet involvement is disputed by Kennedy assassination investigators and by the Warren Commission, but this much we do know: Moscow did its damnedest to direct eyes of suspicion elsewhere. The Kremlin blamed the Kennedy shooting on (as Pacepa put it) “racists, the Ku Klux Klan, and Birchists.” Pacepa confirmed that the KGB had a thorough, ongoing disinformation campaign to blame the Kennedy assassination on domestic elements in the United States. He reported that on November 26, 1963, Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky landed unannounced in Bucharest and met with Pacepa and other high-level members of Romanian intelligence and leadership. This was his first stop in a “blitz” tour of KGB “sister” services in the Communist Bloc. “From him,” recalled Pacepa:

“We in the DIE [Romanian intelligence] learned that the KGB had already launched a worldwide disinformation operation aimed at diverting public attention away from Moscow in respect to the Kennedy assassination, and at framing the CIA as the culprit.”

Nikita Khrushchev himself, said Sakharovsky, wanted it made clear to the sister services that “this was by far our first and most important task.” They circulated rumors that “the CIA was responsible for the crime” and that Lyndon Johnson and the “military-industrial complex” had been involved.

The effort would be called Operation Dragon. It became, said Pacepa, one of the most successful disinformation operations in contemporary history. Pacepa pointed to Hollywood film director Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie, “JFK,” which blamed the Kennedy assassination on a cabal that included the CIA, Lyndon Johnson, and the military-industrial complex. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

There are so many intriguing items like this from this intriguing figure that was Ion Mihai Pacepa. I could go on and on. One more item of interest to readers here:

The scourge that is Liberation Theology has rotten roots. Those roots go back not only to twisted Jesuit theologians in Latin America in the 1970s but, according to Pacepa, to the KGB. Pacepa went so far as to claim that Liberation Theology was created by the KGB. “The movement was born in the KGB,” stated Pacepa unequivocally, “and it had a KGB-invented name: ‘Liberation Theology.’” He said that “the birth of Liberation Theology” came from a 1960 “super-secret Party-State Dezinformatsiya [Disinformation] Program” approved by Aleksandr Shelepin, then chairman of the KGB, and by Politburo member Aleksey Kirichenko, who coordinated the Communist Party’s international policies. The program “demanded that the KGB take secret control of the World Council of Churches,” which was based in Geneva, and use it “as cover for converting Liberation Theology into a South American revolutionary tool.”

Again, I could go on. The late Lt. Gen. Pacepa knew a lot.

Ion Mihai Pacepa died on February 14. Fittingly, he passed away at an undisclosed hospital in an undisclosed location somewhere in the United States. There was no official announcement.

The loss of Mike Pacepa is a loss for many, especially his beloved wife and family. It is also a loss for history and contemporary understanding of certain events. He shared with us gems of information and even disinformation. Perhaps most helpful of all, he warned us not only about what to believe but what not to believe.

Warping the Credit for Trump’s Operation Warp Speed

Editor’s Note: This essay first appeared in The American Spectator.

“I think the [Trump] administration deserves some credit getting this off the ground with Operation Warp Speed,” conceded then-President-elect Joe Biden in late December when he and his wife Jill received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden’s notable concession to Trump didn’t get the attention from his media partisans that it should have. That’s no surprise. They revile Donald Trump; they made it their mission to run him out of office and they shape their “journalism” accordingly.

As for Biden, the concession was gracious, but he should say more. A lot more.

In fact, it would be a great gesture of unity — the very unity that President Biden says he seeks, and a gesture of goodwill and decency that Trump advocates would remember appreciatively — if Biden paused to more deliberately thank and recognize Trump’s efforts. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to do that, and the terribly biased liberal media certainly will not be stepping up with any awards for the dreaded MAGA man.

That’s a shame. It’s yet more rancorous, toxic, bitter partisanship, by a media that claims to be objective. It’s not right. It fails to recognize a truly historic accomplishment by Trump and the biomedical community.

We are now full-throttle into the mass distribution of vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic. And let there be no doubt: the swiftness of the development and delivery of these vaccines is a remarkable achievement. I want to underscore the point by revisiting what I wrote about in several columns in The American Spectator last spring, most notably placing President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed into historical context — looking particularly at the polio vaccine that was pioneered by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Considering that comparison really helps us to understand what a big deal Operation Warp Speed has been.

Polio terrified people of that era; it was known as “infantile paralysis.” What people right now should realize, given the incredible speed of the COVID vaccine development — in retrospect, “warp speed” was spot-on language — is how long it took for the polio vaccine to develop. That vaccine, too, like those today, involved the government getting behind private research efforts that needed mass infusions of public sector dollars.

Salk’s polio vaccine was announced to the world in April 1955. But the push by the federal government began many years earlier, namely in January 1938 when a tenacious Irish lawyer named Basil O’Connor became President Franklin Roosevelt’s point man to wage war on the disease, including through the creation of the March of Dimes. (For the record, in 1935 two polio vaccines were announced by two separate research teams, one led by Maurice Brodie and another by John Kolmer. Both vaccines were announced at a major conference of the American Public Health Association in November 1935, but both were quickly shelved because vaccinated children had died in clinical trials.) In 1949, O’Connor went further still, upping the ante by pouring yet more research dollars into the search for a vaccine. Though the medical community was skeptical, an ambitious 30-something named Dr. Jonas E. Salk was not.

Salk had some major critics, including a fellow researcher, Albert Sabin. The debate was centered on (among other differences) a live versus a heat-killed vaccine. Sabin was harshly critical of Salk. Sabin’s own (oral) vaccine was not released until 1961, years after Salk’s vaccine was distributed.

In sum, it took many years (decades, in fact) to develop the polio vaccine. Even once federal money was pumped into the Salk effort, things got worse; with 1952 saw the worst outbreak of polio yet: over 3,000 Americans died of polio that year, and another 21,000-plus were left with some form of crippling paralysis. By contrast, the development of the current COVID vaccines took less than a year — in some cases, from about March to November. The rapidity of the development of these vaccines is extraordinary and unprecedented.

To be sure, there are many reasons why COVID vaccines could be developed so much more quickly than the polio vaccines. Consider the example last spring regarding the University of Pittsburgh’s COVID vaccine effort: researchers at Pitt had already mapped out the RNA sequencing for COVID. “We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014,” said Pitt’s lead researcher Dr. Andrea Gambotto last year. “We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.” When the genetic sequencing for the COVID-19 virus was identified last January, they “were able to plug into” their existing framework “and rapidly produce a vaccine,” testing in mice.

Even then, whatever head start the COVID vaccines had over the polio vaccines, and whatever the superiority of modern technology, the breathtaking speed is a stunning biomedical accomplishment.

None of this should be a political issue, of course, but that’s precisely what it became, including the stubbornness that begrudges President Trump any credit for this extraordinary success. Throughout 2020, Trump’s Operation Warp Speed met doubt and ridicule, the naysayers and doomsayers. Go back and watch the presidential debates with Joe Biden, where Trump emphatically took issue with his own advisers, who suggested that the release of the vaccine could not be possible within the optimistic time frame that Donald Trump was shooting for — as Joe Biden rolled his eyes and smirked at Trump like he was a knuckle-drugging idiot and a shameless liar.

At the second and final presidential debate on October 22, moderator Kristen Welker asked President Trump if he could “guarantee” there would be a COVID vaccine within the coming weeks. “I can’t guarantee that, but it will be by end of the year,” said Trump with a rather bold prediction, effectively guaranteeing a vaccine within the coming weeks, and no doubt to howls by liberals. “It will be distributed very quickly,” he said. He pointed to the progress of the three leading developers of a vaccine — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — reporting to the national viewing audience that they “are doing very well.”

Biden was not just incredulous, but snidely dismissive of that statement. Biden told Welker that Trump had “no clear plan” for the “dark winter” ahead, and said of Trump’s optimism about a vaccine before the end of 2020: “He has no clear plan and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

Less than eight weeks later, Joe Biden wasn’t rolling his eyes anymore. He was rolling up his sleeves in Wilmington, Delaware, for his first dose of vaccine.

And if that didn’t frustrate Donald Trump, you can bet this did:

Very shortly after that second debate, the first of the vaccine developers announced it had a vaccine — an announcement that curiously came one week after the November 3 election. This huge news was the double-bold headline at CNN the morning of November 9, with CNN reports aglow at the news — one week too late to help Donald Trump’s reelection bid. You can be sure that the smiles at CNN were not merely about the vaccine; they grinned ear to ear at the announcement coming conveniently too late to help Trump politically.

Yes, yes, I know, I know — this or that “fact-check thingy” on the web claims that Trump and his Operation Warp Speed had nothing to do with this or that development of this or that vaccine. I’ve read them. Most are outrageously petty, using weasel words like “full credit” or “partial credit” or nitpicking to deprive Operation Warp Speed of any credit at all, with some focusing on details of one vaccine produced by one pharmaceutical company but ignoring details of others. If you want to navigate your way through them, then go for it. (For the record, PolitiFact did a pretty fair job in its evaluation.) It’s an infuriating exercise that immediately raises one’s B.S.-detectors. But those not poisoned by ideological bias and political hatred know in their hearts that Donald Trump deserves some major credit here.

As my readers know, I have never been a pom-pom boy for Donald Trump, but I have a strong sense of justice and injustice. And it’s terribly unjust not to give this man due credit for this incredible accomplishment of the biomedical community. Anthony Fauci said from the outset that our only way out of this pandemic was a vaccine. Donald Trump delivered on that.

Operation Warp Speed worked. Give the reviled Orange Man his due.

Pagans for Biden

Editor’s note: This essay was first published in Crisis Magazine.

Impeccable authorities on all-things-religious, such as The New York Times, are swooning over “perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century.” That would be President Joe Biden.

That obviously unproven statement is patent political propaganda. Of course, it’s a statement impossible to know, let alone claim, least of all as this president has barely been president. In fact, the bizarre piece was published by the Times on January 23, 2021, three days after Joe Biden’s inauguration — at which cumulative point Biden, judged the Times, had remarkably already eclipsed in religiosity Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. No doubt all of them combined.

The title of the Times’ piece was still more revealing of the newspaper’s intentions: “In Biden’s Catholic Faith, an Ascendant Liberal Christianity.”

Well, there you go. That’s the goal. The liberal media, even the adamantly non-religious and even anti-religious liberal media, will cheerlead such an alleged ascendancy. All of a sudden, secular liberals have gotten religion. Throw wide open the doors to faith in the public square. Here’s a kind of Catholic faith that non-Catholic liberals can embrace and even promote. No separation of church and state here. They’re all in.

“Gimme that old-time religion!” shouts the hallelujah chorus at the Times.

I’ve been asked about that literally indefensible Times pronouncement for Biden many times, as I am someone who wrote spiritual biographies of presidents and even would-be presidents (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton), and numerous articles on the wider subject of faith and the presidency all the way back to George Washington. Is the Times’ assessment justified? My answer: There is, of course — of course, of course, of course — absolutely no way whatsoever even a scintilla of enough information to make that statement about Joe Biden.

But for the likes of The New York Times and its gullible readers, accustomed to being given what they want to be given, such facts are irrelevant. The objective of the Times isn’t to accurately assess Biden’s faith but to promote Biden. I don’t even know if Joe Biden goes to Mass weekly, let alone, say, regularly receives the sacraments in a consistent way that, one might reckon, would make Biden “religiously observant,” let alone “the most religiously observant.”

But again, to liberal media sources, those facts don’t matter. I still marvel at the astonishing piece by Heidi Schlumpf, executive editor of the partisan, left-wing National Catholic Reporter contending that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is nothing less than “the future of the Catholic Church.” This was one of the most confounding head-scratchers I’ve ever read in any publication.

Truth be told, we don’t even know to what extent Ocasio-Cortez is a practicing or professing Catholic. One of the only somewhat, kind-of, sort-of, semi-self-acknowledgments we have of AOC’s faith is a short and poorly written piece she or a staffer whipped up on criminal justice reform for the America MagazineThe Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture in June 2018. We do, however, have one Catholic-related pronouncement by AOC. Recall that last summer she referred to the statue of St. Damien of Molokai inside the Capitol building as a symbol of “white supremacist culture.”

So, I honestly don’t know if AOC is Catholic, even if the National Catholic Reporter insists that she is, well, nothing short of the future of Catholicism — just as I honestly don’t know the extent that Joe Biden is an observant Catholic. And neither does The New York Times.

But I’m repeating myself. 

With all of that said, I’d like to emphasize here a key demonstrable fact about Biden and religiosity that has been missed in all the craziness regarding the November 2020 vote, namely: One fact not pointed out by Biden’s progressive protectors in the media has been his strong appeal to the non-religious.

Biden’s open, enthusiastic supporters have been groups ranging from Pagans for Biden to various atheist organizations and “humanist” organizations to literal witches for Biden. As to the latter, they joined together en masse to literally cast a spell upon Donald Trump to assist a Biden victory.

The data is indisputable regarding the pagan element for Biden. The largest pre-election survey breaking down voters by religious and non-religious affiliation, done by Pew Research Center in early October (surveying 10,543 registered voters) and analyzed by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, found Biden carrying atheists by a staggering 88 percent to 7 percent and agnostics by 79 percent to 15 percent, both outpacing Trump’s largest group of religious support, evangelicals, who backed Trump 78 percent to 17 percent.

Those figures were consistent with how voters cast their ballots in November. One of the better breakdowns was posted by Gallup, which analyzed the two largest surveys of religious voters in November 2020, one by Edison Research and the other by AP VoteCast. The AP VoteCast survey showed that 81 percent of white evangelical Protestant voters went for Trump vs. 18 percent who voted for Biden. The Edison exit polls estimated that 76 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump vs. 24 percent for Biden.

And what about Catholic voters? It has been difficult to figure out precisely how Catholics voted in November 2020. If you’ve read sources saying that Biden won the Catholic vote and yet others saying that Trump did, well, that’s because the sources differ — though not by much. Again, here’s the analysis posted by Gallup:

The Edison exit polls estimate that 52 percent of all Catholic voters went for Biden this year, and 47 percent for Trump. The Edison exit polls in 2016 showed a 46 percent Catholic vote for Clinton, and 50 percent for Trump.

The AP VoteCast estimates of the national Catholic vote this year show an almost even split: 49 percent of Catholics voted for Biden and 50 percent for Trump.

How different are these voting patterns among Catholics compared with previous elections? Available data show that Kennedy received roughly 80 percent of the Catholic vote in 1960 (estimates vary). By 2004, when Kerry was the Catholic nominee for the Democratic Party, Catholics went for Bush (52 percent) over Kerry (47 percent).

But how did the non-religious (or non-Christian) vote in 2020? As Gallup notes, the roughly one-fourth of all voters who were white evangelical Christians, and voted overwhelmingly for Trump, were offset by voters who were “nones” — that is, those with no formal religious identity — some 65 percent of whom voted for Biden, thus “providing him a key component of his winning coalition.” Moreover, noted Gallup, “almost all non-Christian groups (those who identify with a religion that is not Christian) voted strongly for Biden.”

Atheists lined up behind Joe Biden, along with pagans, agnostics, humanists, and witches — and The New York Times.

That’s where we are. And it’s The New York Times crowd that’s hell-bent on framing anyone who voted for Donald Trump as some sort of “white Christian nationalist” (or supremacist), in contrast to the sunny Christianity of Joe Biden, the “most religiously observant” president in a half century. As secular liberals push this line, they’ll do damage to faithful Catholics who struggle to explain to their friends the cultural-sexual-moral radicalism of a Catholic president who, on issues from abortion, to marriage, to gender, flagrantly goes against the longtime teachings of his Roman Catholic faith.   *

Wednesday, 09 December 2020 11:02

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).


Pennsylvania Bombshell: Biden 99.4 Percent V. Trump 0.6 Percent


Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The American Spectator.

There are landslides and then there are landslides. There are lopsided votes and then there are lopsided votes. There are egregious examples of vote manipulation and then there are really egregious examples of vote manipulation. What surfaced during hearings in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 2020, may set the standard for electoral outrageousness. An expert testifying to the Pennsylvania Senate flagged a batch of ballots that recorded some 570,000 votes for Joe Biden and only 3,200 for Donald Trump.

Yes, you read that correctly. That would equate to Joe Biden bagging 99.4 percent of that enormous chunk of votes. That one batch alone would have flipped the state to Biden.

This bombshell was dropped last Wednesday at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg. The November 25 hearings, which began at 12:30 p.m. and ran for nearly four hours, were convened at the request of Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties). It was sponsored by the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill). Mastriano has called what happened “unacceptable,” and has called for the resignation of Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.

This particular gem was provided by Ret. Col. Phil Waldren, a former combat officer with a background in Army information and electronic warfare. Waldren, who testified along with Rudy Giuliani’s team, brought to the hearing his considerable expertise in analysis of election-data fraud. After Waldren presented his material, the chair opened the floor for questions. Rudy Giuliani went first, asking Waldren to clarify what his analytics team means when they talk about “spike anomalies” in voting patterns. These, as Waldren defines them, are “events where a numerical amount of votes are processed in a time period that is not feasible or mechanically possible under normal circumstances.” Waldren showed a chart with a shocking example of an apparent massive dump of votes for Joe Biden. Giuliani pressed Waldren for clarification regarding this unbelievable “Biden injection of votes.” Here’s the exchange:

Waldren: “At the very beginning of the chart, where there’s a circle that says “On Election Day,” what that indicates is there’s a spike in loaded votes. 337,000-plus-or-minus-some votes that were added in there in one big batch. So that was an anomaly in the reporting. Normally you would expect to see a smooth curve going up, not any big spikes, that’s kind of what Greg was talking about, the anomalies of loading and uploading those votes. So that big spike that occurs there is a prime indicator of fraudulent voting.”

Giuliani: “And that’s [a total of] 604,000 votes in 90 minutes, is that right?”

Waldren: “Correct, this is [shows chart] 337,000 votes in that period of time.”

Giuliani: “And when you look at this entire curve, with all these spikes, can you calculate how much of a vote that accounted for Biden, and how much for Trump?”

Waldren: “Close to 600,000. I think our figures were about 570-some-odd-thousand that all those spikes represent over time.”

Giuliani: “For Biden?”

Waldren: “Correct.”

Giuliani: “And how much for Trump?”

Waldren: “I think it was a little over 3,200.”

That’s roughly 570,000 votes for Biden and 3,200 for Trump. Biden scooped up this enormous batch by 99.4 percent. Incredible. Impossible. Scandalous.

When Waldren said this, the audience in the room gasped in shock.

If what Waldren alleges here is true, then this would constitute one of the most insidious examples of documented voter fraud in the history of American presidential politics. This one spike alone would have erased Donald Trump’s 600,000-vote lead over Joe Biden late Tuesday night, November 3. Biden has reportedly won Pennsylvania by about 70,000 votes. This one swing would have done it. If this is true, then this episode alone might well constitute a smoking gun affirming a fraudulent election in Pennsylvania.

And yet, this electoral bombshell has been completely ignored by the mainstream press. The only national sources that I could find reporting it were RealClearPolitics, Breitbart, and Greg Kelly of Newsmax TV. A video link is provided courtesy of Right Side Broadcasting Network, a conservative source, filling a gap vacated by shameless mainstream “news” sources, which avoided the hearing like the plague.

I ask: Is this accurate? What happened here? Who or what could have flipped votes like this? Who was responsible? How does this occur? Is this real? Does this not have the potential to remove Pennsylvania from Joe Biden’s column? At the least, should it make the Pennsylvania vote uncertifiable for either Biden or Trump?

This was just one of many striking claims by Waldren and others throughout the nearly four hours of hearings. Another stunner, according to Waldren, is that a total of 1,823,148 mail-in ballots were sent out by the Commonwealth, and yet 2,589,242 mail-in ballots were counted in the final vote tally for the state. Thus, there are allegedly some 766,000 mail-in ballots unaccounted for. Rudy Giuliani observes that these 766,000 ballots “appeared from nowhere.” Neither the Pennsylvania secretary of state nor governor addressed this alleged massive discrepancy. (As I write, the website of the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office has information posted that disputes these numbers. Presumably, Waldren would say that this data was changed.)

Trump’s critics will want to dismiss the hearings as a partisan spectacle hosted by Pennsylvania Republican legislators. You can’t do that. A real journalist would see enough here to at least merit making some phone calls or sending a few emails. It’s not rocket science, press boys and girls. Do your jobs!

For the record, likewise egregious voter spikes have reportedly occurred in Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin. One analysis has targeted these four incidents of “voter updates”:

1. An update in Michigan listed as of 6:31 a.m. Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 141,258 votes for Joe Biden and 5,968 votes for Donald Trump

2. An update in Wisconsin listed as 3:42 a.m. Central Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 143,379 votes for Joe Biden and 25,163 votes for Donald Trump

3. A vote update in Georgia listed at 1:34 a.m. Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 136,155 votes for Joe Biden and 29,115 votes for Donald Trump

4. An update in Michigan listed as of 3:50 a.m. Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 54,497 votes for Joe Biden and 4,718 votes for Donald Trump

Likewise, these incidents could have flipped the respective state into Joe Biden’s win column. I could go on and on. See the affidavit of Russell Ramsland of Allied Security Systems detailing the numerous instances of “physical improbabilities” in the voting tabulations (and election results) in Michigan. If your mind and heart is open, you can’t but be shocked by this.

But back to Pennsylvania, which is my focus here.

Could some reporter at some mainstream media outlet — one with a modicum of journalistic integrity and decency — pause to take some time to try to determine if these claims are accurate? Could just one “journalist” with access to Joe Biden ask for his reaction? How long would it take for Donald Trump to be grilled by a pack of ravenous reporters if Joe Biden had been potentially victimized like this?

And given that the media will not give these claims a hearing, could the U.S. Senate give them a hearing? There’s enough here that demands investigation.

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, whether you voted for him or not, this should concern every American. If this were Joe Biden being victimized, I would likewise protest. The media sure as heck would. This is not right.

Fifty Years Ago Solzhenitsyn Received the Nobel Prize for Reminding Us of a “Forgotten God”

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared at National Catholic Register.

“In 1949, some friends and I came upon a noteworthy news item in Nature, a magazine of the Academy of Sciences.” So opens Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s majestic The Gulag Archipelago, a seemingly odd start for a classic on the Soviet gulag, the nation’s forced labor camps. Readers initially wonder where the author is headed with a sort of ho-hum report from not a political journal but a science journal. He continues:

“It reported in tiny type that in the course of excavations on the Kolyma River a subterranean ice lens had been discovered which was actually a frozen stream — and in it were found frozen specimens of prehistoric fauna some tens of thousands of years old. Whether fish or salamander, these were preserved in so fresh a state, the scientific correspondent reported, that those present immediately broke open the ice encasing the specimens and devoured them with relish on the spot.”

At this point, readers might still be confused. Isn’t this a book on the Soviet gulag? Why are we reading about prehistoric fauna?

Actually, they’re learning about the gulag — its escapees, its survivors. Solzhenitsyn next explains what those present did with those ancient creatures. They didn’t rush them off to a museum; no, they devoured them. They were not doing a scientific excavation — they were escaping a Communist prison camp, where millions starved and died.

“Flouting the higher claims of ichthyology,” narrated Solzhenitsyn, and “elbowing each other to be first,” they chipped away the ice, hurried the fish to a fire, cooked it and bolted it down. No doubt, said Solzhenitsyn, Nature impressed its readers with this account of how 10,000-year-old fish could be kept fresh over such a long period. But only a narrower group of readers could decipher the true meaning of this “incautious” report. That smaller club was his fellow gulag survivors — the “pitiable zeks,” as Solzhenitsyn called them. When your goal is survival, you survive, even if it means hurriedly devouring something that in a normal world would be carefully rushed to a museum.

What started as a seemingly odd opening about prehistoric fish was actually a poignant anecdote about the human horrors of Soviet Communism. It was not about fish at all. It was about human beings who had been trapped in their state-constructed frozen ice lens — the frozen camps of Siberia.

I mention this now because it was 50 years ago, shortly before the publication of The Gulag Archipelago, that Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Few recipients have so earned it.

To summarize Solzhenitsyn’s life or book would be impossible. There was so much of note. Many might point to his Harvard commencement address in June 1978, or perhaps his less known but equally inspiring Templeton Prize speech (“Men Have Forgotten God”) in May 1983, or his reporting on the daily travails of another sufferer in his classic A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. For me, however, what endures most are his reports of religious persecution under Communism.

In The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn reported on the Moscow “church trials” of the 1920s — classic Communist show trials, aimed particularly at the Russian Orthodox Church. Solzhenitsyn provided a narrative account of this surreal, painful miscarriage of justice. The presiding judge was Comrade Bek, with the prosecutors Comrade Lunin and Comrade Longinov. Solzhenitsyn didn’t bother to share the first names of this dubious troika of comrades. It didn’t matter. Their names and faces and roles and duties were interchangeable in the Soviet system.

On trial were 17 defendants from the Russian Orthodox Church, including the patriarch, archpriests and laymen, accused of disseminating “propaganda” and of “hoarding” Church valuables (including everything from liturgical items to relics to icons) that the Soviet state demanded. Lenin and his Bolsheviks salivated over these “fabulous treasures” of the Church. Leon Trotsky rubbed his covetous hands together: “The booty is enormous!” he thrilled.

And thus the Church was told that it must give up everything to the state — then and there, without hesitation. That would ultimately include churches themselves, not to mention the loyalty of priests. The Soviet state was to be the new arbiter of truth.

And so, on May 5, shortly after May Day 1922, the holy day of international Communism, Patriarch Tikhon was one among 17 Church officials dragged into a Moscow “courtroom” to testify for having “acted incorrectly” in disobeying the state.

Solzhenitsyn’s narrative strikes me especially today because the words echo in the United States today. In fact, what Tikhon told the judge is eerily similar to what Kim Davis, the Kentucky law clerk, told a judge post-Obergefell when she refused to issue in her name same-sex marriage licenses because doing so would violate the teachings of her faith. Many Christians will face similar interrogations for not doing what the state orders in defiance of the teachings of their faith. Here’s Solzhenitsyn’s narration:

Comrade Bek to Patriarch Tikhon: “Do you consider the state’s laws obligatory or not?”

Patriarch Tikhon: “Yes, I recognize them, to the extent that they do not contradict the rules of piety.”

Judge Bek: “Which in the last analysis is more important to you, the laws of the Church or the point of view of the Soviet government? Are we, the representatives of the Soviet government, thieves of holy things? [Do you] call the representatives of the Soviet government, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, thieves?!”

Tikhon: “I am citing only Church law.”

The Soviet atheist judge then lectured the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on a correct understanding of “blasphemy.” He told the shaken patriarch that he was a liar.

The verdict, incidentally, was already predetermined. Nonetheless, the “jury” proceeded forward with the farce, ordering criminal charges against the patriarch. He was arrested and removed from office, and he eventually died of a heart attack while under house arrest. At least he wasn’t executed on the spot — 11 of his 17 co-defendants were shot.

In my view, accounts like this are among the most memorable moral lessons in Solzhenitsyn’s great work. He documents vile examples of Soviet sacrilege and persecution of religious believers. In The Gulag Archipelago, he recorded how nuns and prostitutes were housed together in special sections of the gulag, both deemed whores by the atheistic state.

Solzhenitsyn understood that the battle against Communism was not simply a political one. The roots of Communism’s rage were unmistakable: “Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin . . . hatred of God is the principal driving force.” As Solzhenitsyn knew, Soviet Communism was not merely a political and ideological threat but a spiritual threat. And few did better work exposing that dark world than he did.

It was 50 years ago that the world recognized Solzhenitsyn “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature” — a literary achievement that went well beyond the realm of literature. Like the best of literary works, what he told us had profound moral-spiritual lessons that endure through the ages. He would not want us to forget. And we shouldn’t forget.     *

Monday, 05 October 2020 12:54

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Why Not Cancel Karl Marx?

In a cancel culture targeting everyone from Confederate to Union generals, Columbus to Winston Churchill, Francis Scott Key to even Abraham Lincoln and all of Mt. Rushmore, and where the racial statements and attitudes of every historical figure are scrutinized, it’s funny who gets a pass.

A 16-foot-tall bronzed Vladimir Lenin stands unscathed in liberal Seattle, and a new monument to the Bolshevik godfather just went up in Germany. Particularly curious, one wonders, why Karl Marx goes untouched.

Remember: the Left’s standard for canceling a historical figure is bigotry. And really, it often takes only one offensive statement from an entire lifetime. That being the case, why hasn’t Karl Marx been canceled?

There are monuments to Marx in Europe, one just erected in 2018. In the United States, there’s a handsome profile of Marx carved in porcelain at one of the Smithsonian museums and a flowery painting at the Guggenheim. In 2018, for the bicentennial of his birth, one of America’s top colleges, Carnegie Mellon University, held a yearlong celebration of Marx, including an accompanying art exhibit dedicated to the man. And who knows how many busts of Marx sit in professors’ offices, safe from protesting college students with spray cans.

Of course, the reality is that Marx gets a pass from the Left because he’s of the left. Leftists ignore or try to separate him from the ideology bearing his name that helped produce over 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone. The dread “dead white European male” tag conveniently eludes Karl Marx, nor does he raise the needle on the Left’s bigotry meter. But alas, he should.

Karl Marx was, after all, a bigot. His attitude toward blacks and Jews alone (not to mention women) would stun Stonewall Jackson. Ugly racial-ethnic stereotypes are littered throughout Marx’s writings.

Consider how Marx spoke of his own son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, husband of his daughter Laura. Paul came from Cuba, born in Santiago, and Marx thus viewed him as marred by “Negro” blood, and denigrated him as “Negrillo” or “the Gorilla.” Karl never let up his ridicule of poor Paul. In November 1882, 14 years after Lafargue and Laura married, Marx still complained to Friedrich Engels, his Communist Manifesto partner, that “Lafargue has the blemish customarily found in the negro tribe — no sense of shame, by which I mean shame about making a fool of oneself.”

Marx had a friendly audience for such views in Engels. Engles, a proud Darwinian, averred that Paul possessed “one-eighth or one-twelfth n_____ blood.” In 1887, Lafargue had been a political candidate for a council seat in a Paris district that contained a zoo. In an April 1887 letter to Paul’s wife, Engels cruelly opined, “Being in his quality as a n_____, a degree nearer to the rest of the animal kingdom than the rest of us, he is undoubtedly the most appropriate representative of that district.”

It is no wonder that Marx’s son-in-law had such low self-esteem. One day in November 1911, Paul ended it all. He killed himself in a suicide pact with Marx’s daughter. In fact, two of Marx’s daughters killed themselves in suicide pacts with their husbands.

Karl Marx freely dispensed with nasty epithets aimed not only at blacks but at Jews. Biographer Jonathan Sperber notes that Marx’s correspondence is “filled with contemptuous remarks about Jews.” Even his admiring biographer Francis Wheen, who habitually defends nearly everything about Marx, admits that he “sprayed anti-Semitic insults at his enemies with savage glee.”

Of one contemporary, Marx blasted his “cynical, oily-obtrusive, phony-Baronial Jew-manners.” Particularly loathsome to Marx was anyone he suspected of part-Jewish and -African roots. Marx referred to his fellow German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle as a “greasy Jew,” “the little kike,” “water-polack Jew,” “Jew Braun,” “Yid,” “Izzy,” “Wily Ephraim,” “Baron Itzig,” and “the Jewish N_____.” In a July 1862 letter to Engels, Marx confidently observed of Lassalle, “It is now perfectly clear to me that, as the shape of his head and the growth of his hair indicates, he is descended from the Negroes who joined in Moses’ flight from Egypt.” Lassalle’s “cranial formation,” detected Marx, was the giveaway. Marx did, however, allow for an exception: “unless his mother or grandmother on the father’s side was crossed with a n_____.” Marx chortled, “This union of Jew and German on a Negro base was bound to produce an extraordinary hybrid.” He also hastened to add, “The fellow’s importunity is also n_____-like.”

One of Marx’s worst expressions of anti-Semitism was his painful 1844 essay “On the Jewish Question.”

“What is the worldly cult of the Jew?” asked Marx. His answer, “Haggling. What is his worldly god? Money.” He growled, “Money is the jealous god of Israel before whom no other god may exist. . . . The bill of exchange is the actual god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.” The Jew, Marx snarled, had become “impossible.” The German chillingly concluded, “The emancipation of the Jews, in the final analysis, is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.”

In his seminal edited volume on Karl Marx and religion, Saul Padover said that Marx — who was, ironically, an ethnic Jew — had “learned to despise and hate the people from whom he originated. This was an expression of what the Germans call Selbsthass (self-hate), a trait which Karl Marx displayed throughout his whole life.” Padover was taken aback by “the extent and virulence of his anti-Semitism.”

Karl Marx summed it up plainly in a letter to his longtime friend Arnold Ruge in 1843: “the Israelite faith is repulsive to me.”

Much more could be said. This is far from a full testimony of Marx’s awful attitudes.

Remember: the Left’s standard for canceling a historical figure is bigotry. And really, it often takes only one offensive statement from an entire lifetime. That being the case, why hasn’t Karl Marx been canceled? Why aren’t angry mobs staging sit-ins outside professors’ doors insisting their busts of Marx be tossed to the ash-heap of history? Why do universities celebrate the man? And where’s Black Lives Matter on this one?

We know the answer. Karl Marx is an icon to the Left. Just like progressives’ calls for tolerance and diversity, their calls for canceling and removing are highly selective — or, more bluntly, highly hypocritical.

Marx on Christianity, Judaism, and Evolution/Race

“If someone calls it socialism,” said the Rev. William Barber at an August 2019 conference of the Democratic National Committee, “then we must compel them to acknowledge that the Bible must then promote socialism, because Jesus offered free health care to everyone, and he never charged a leper a co-pay.”

The Rev. Barber is not alone in that sentiment. There are flatly too many people right now praising or sympathetic to socialism and/or Marxism. Some attempt to make an explicitly Christian case for Communism, as seen in a stunning article in July 2019 by the leading Jesuit publication, America Magazine, titled, “The Catholic Case for Communism,” as if Christians have common cause with Karl Marx and his atheistic-materialist philosophy.

Having just published a book whose title suggests just the opposite, namely, The Devil and Karl Marx, it pains me to see that anyone would believe that Communism is compatible with Christianity specifically or religion generally. Such a notion is astonishing not only given the church’s longtime intense opposition to Communism, but also given the intense opposition to Christianity by the founders and disciples of Communism. Those founders exhibited an intense opposition to Judaism as well, and they harbored some ugly views of Jews and, still more, of blacks. Those latter views were based in part on an atheistic-materialist commitment to Darwinian evolution that made those founders quite racist.

Where to start? Well, for Marx, the starting point was religion.

“Communism begins where atheism begins,” said Karl Marx. “The criticism of religion is the beginning of all criticism.”

Marx framed man as not edified or uplifted by religion but in a “struggle against religion.” This is a “struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.” This is why people crave religion as a kind of drug: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions,” averred Marx. “It is the opium of the people.”

And again, for Marx, it all begins with religion. That’s the foundation that must be razed. Religion was among the things he wanted to abolish, along with property, family, “all morality,” and more.

As for “social justice” Christians who invoke Communism as somehow consistent with Christian social teaching, well, Marx begged to differ. “The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self-contempt, abasement, submission, humility,” scowled Marx. “The social principles of Christianity are hypocritical.”

Georg Jung, a Marx contemporary and close friend, said that “Marx calls Christianity one of the most immoral religions.” Jung viewed Marx as a theological-philosophical revolutionary who was attempting to overthrow the entire social system, not just an economic system.

Indeed he was. Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, said that Communism represents “the most radical rupture in traditional relations,” and seeks to “abolish the present state of things.” Imagine that. That is no small objective. And neither is this rather grandiose goal stated at the close of his Manifesto: “They [the Communists] openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

Note the utterly revolutionary ambition: “the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

Marx and Engels closed their Manifesto with this exhortation to future revolutionaries:

“Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.”

That objective has been seized by Marxist revolutionaries still today, whose desire seems to be to tear down rather than build up.

Obviously, this has no resemblance to Christianity — as Marx and friends knew. In fact, Marx’s partner, Engels, acknowledged that. One contemporary said of Engels: “He held, of course, that Christian socialism was a contradiction in terms.”

Of course. That was part of the creed of Communism. Vladimir Lenin declared that “any worship of a divinity is a necrophilia,” insisted that “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and demanded: “Everyone must be absolutely free to . . . be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule.”

Nikolai Bukharin, founding editor of Pravda, stated: “A fight to the death must be declared upon religion to take on religion at the tip of the bayonet.” According to Bukharin, “Religion and Communism are incompatible, both theoretically and practically. . . . Communism is incompatible with religious faith.”

To Marx and Engels, Darwin was the figure to look to, not God — who, after all, didn’t exist. God was dead. In fact, when Marx died in March 1883, Engels looked to Darwin. Staring at Marx’s cold coffin, which bore not a cross but two red wreaths, Engels in his eulogy invoked not God but Darwin, hailing the scientist for dealing such a grand blow for materialism and atheism. He would likewise hail Darwin in his eulogy for Marx’s wife, Jenny: “The place where we stand is the best proof that she lived and died in the full conviction of atheist Materialism,” averred Engels, soberly staring at a pile of dirt. “She knew that one day she would have to return, body and mind, to the bosom of that nature from which she had sprung.”

Engels exhorted the atheist faithful to take pride and joy in their shared conviction that the vivacious Jenny was now reduced to mere worm food.

And yet, Darwin was hailed by leading Marxists in god-like language.

“Darwin destroyed the last of my ideological prejudices,” Leon Trotsky triumphed. Trotsky said the “facts” about the world and life and its origins were established for him via this “certain system” of evolutionary theory. “The idea of evolution and determinism,” he wrote:

“. . . took possession of me completely. Darwin stood for me like a mighty doorkeeper at the entrance to the temple of the universe. I was intoxicated with his . . . thought.”

Trotsky historian Barry Lee Woolley explained: “Trotsky took up the faith of Marx and Darwin. The conversion experience was genuine and thorough.”

This is what we would expect of an ideology that fashioned a golden calf, a material idol, forged and focused on money, property, gold. It was not about the soul. The key to the Communist-Marxist utopia would be economics. Solve the economic problem, Communists believed, and you would solve the human problem. They speak as if man truly does live by bread alone (Christ corrected Satan on that one). As Pope Benedict XVI said, the fatal flaw of Communists and socialists is that they had their anthropology wrong. They did not adequately understand man. As Augustine said, we all have a God-shaped vacuum that God alone can fill; not a dollar-signed vacuum. We crave the divine manna of heaven.

Alas, the Marxism that Karl Marx bequeathed is very much a reflection of his impoverished worldview. This materialistic-atheistic ideology would beget over 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone, not to mention a war on faith, family, property, and more. It still rages. And religious people should certainly reject it.

Remembering and Teaching 9/11

Editor’s note: This first appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review in 2018.

This year’s remembrances of September 11, 2001 were odd for me. Consider: Did you ever think you’d live to see a time when the new generation doesn’t remember 9/11?

Well, I’ve reached that point with my students.

For 20 years, I’ve taught Middle East Politics at Grove City College every fall. In the late 1990s, and into my syllabus for the fall 2001 semester, I included a lecture on some grisly fellow named Osama Bin Laden, and an attempt to blow up one of the World Trade Center buildings back in 1993. I wanted my students to know about this diabolical terrorist who ought to be on their radar. The events of the morning of September 11, 2001 (my class would meet later that afternoon) took care of that. Osama and his minions were on our radar, loud and clear. My students, and every student, got a quick tutorial on this sinister Osama dude.

But as for my students this current semester, fall 2018, well, the course has finally reached a point where none remember 9/11. I asked them how many recall the horrors of that morning. I got a room full of blank stares. I’m pretty sure one of the freshmen was actually born after September 11, 2001.

Imagine that. Think about trying to teach what had to be lived to fully comprehend. How do you teach it? How do you memorialize it?

One place that tries is the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville. I stopped there last March, for the first time, while off the Turnpike taking a different route home from Washington, D.C. — which had happened to be the destination of Flight 93. The people on that plane stopped a catastrophe in the nation’s capital, where the aircraft was on its way to the Capitol Dome or White House.

The day I stopped by was windy and bitter cold. I walked along complaining to myself about the chill. It was a stupidly selfish reaction in the face of what those victims had endured and sacrificed.

Few visitors were there that cold afternoon, and the actual exhibition center was closed. I walked to the overlook and glimpsed where the plane hit. It’s a strange experience. You expect something dramatic, eerie — a ghastly crater of some nasty sort that oozes blood from the very ground. It’s not like that. If you were flying over the area today, you’d never even know the spot was anything but a farmer’s field. It’s amazing how our earth mundanely absorbs something like that — literally, barely a dent.

I told a friend about my visit. He had been there before and was disappointed. “I wanted to leave that place mad as hell,” he told me, with righteous indignation. He wants young people who visit, who didn’t live through 9/11, to come away with that feeling.

Hate and rage aren’t good things. But anger properly placed, especially in light of what happened that morning, is understandable — perhaps even necessary, critical. Young people need to know that what transpired was pure evil. Evil does exist. It has been on the prowl since the dawn of humanity. Few modern moments embodied that reality so obviously as September 11, 2001.

Remember that. Teach that.

Tear All the Statues Down?

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Last weekend I overheard two recent grads (both musicians) discussing America’s greatest composers. The usual names were raised: Copland, Gershwin, Bernstein, Sousa . . . Foster.

“Who?” said one.

“Stephen Foster,” replied the other.

Only one knew who Foster was, and neither knew he was from Pittsburgh. Both grads, ironically, recently spent a lot of time where the Stephen Foster statue once stood outside the Carnegie.

That statue, depicting Foster above a banjo-strumming Black man, representative of his song “Uncle Ned,” was removed in April 2018 after a contentious debate. The massive statue designed by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti in 1900 was hauled away one morning to a “city facility.”

“So, who was he?” the one young person asked.

I shared what little I knew, which had developed slowly as I passed that statue countless times during my years at Pitt. The Pittsburgh native composed songs like “Oh! Susannah” and was an early master of marketing pop music.

I tried to explain what people found offensive about Foster, the statue, the “Uncle Ned” character. (My limited understanding is that “Ned” was a fictionalized slave in what some say was an anti-slavery song.) This turned into a teachable moment. In fact, that’s the task of all of us: to teach these things. You learn about past mistakes to avoid repeating them.

Consider Confederate statues.

I’ve always detested the Confederacy and how it ripped apart this nation in the attempted preservation of an evil institution. I’m a native Pennsylvanian, a Union guy, a truly Lincoln Republican, great-great-grandson of the local Flinn family that fought Stonewall Jackson. I teach students that slavery was an abomination that violated all precepts of basic dignity and humans created in the image of God.

And yet, as a historian, I want these things to be learned. I don’t know why people can’t turn them into teachable moments. I’ve written content for museum exhibits of historical figures. At the base of these statues, there should be descriptions detailing the crucial, painful history that must be remembered.

Of course, what started with Confederate generals has now extended to statues of Union generals, even Ulysses S. Grant, who (ironically) defeated the Confederacy before battling the KKK and fighting for black Americans’ right to vote. Now targeted are everyone from George Washington to Teddy Roosevelt to St. Junipero Serra to even Lincoln himself and all of Mt. Rushmore.

What outrages me is the selectivity — namely, those exempted from outrage.

I’ve written incessantly about Margaret Sanger, her racial eugenics, the “Negro Project,” her May 1926 speech to the women’s chapter of the Silverlake, N.J. KKK. Black pastors have complained about her bust at the Smithsonian. And yet, as the founder of Planned Parenthood, she’s an icon to liberals. Her memorials remain untouched.

Currently, we’re focused on race, but what about allegations of how certain icons mistreated women, from Alexander Hamilton, and Ben Franklin, to John F. Kennedy, and even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

We’re all flawed, we’re all sinners.

Here’s my proposal: If you want to go down this road, then be willing to take them all down, from Jefferson to Sanger, from Columbus, to the 16-foot-tall bronzed Lenin in Seattle. If we’re going to do this, do it equally.     *

Wednesday, 12 February 2020 13:01

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an on-line publication of Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Remembering Jack Kerouac: Novelist, Beat, Conservative, Catholic

The year 2019 brought some notable golden anniversaries from a wild year: 1969. Some were glorious, such as the Moon Landing; others were scurrilous, scandalous, such as the Manson Family murders, Woodstock, Chappaquiddick. The year 1969 also marked some shocking deaths: Sharon Tate, Mary Jo Kopechne, even Judy Garland.

Another death that year, which rocked that generation, especially the so-called Beat Generation that emerged the previous decade, was that of Jack Kerouac, whose death at age 47 shocked Americans. And yet, in 2019, the 50th anniversary of Kerouac’s passing came and went. I didn’t see a single tribute. I thus felt it worthwhile to cobble together a tribute for The American Spectator, a publication that never neglected Kerouac’s importance, nor his enigma.

Jack Kerouac was a fascinating and often confusing character, a tragic one, in many ways remembered wrongly, or not quite rightly. His magnum opus was, of course, his 1957 classic, On the Road. My interest here was Kerouac’s unappreciated conservatism and faithful Catholicism. Countless admirers and emulators missed this aspect of the man, as have many of those who have written about him — with some exceptions.

In October 2018, Marlo Safi put together a beautifully written piece for The National Review titled “The Conservative, Catholic Kerouac,” noting Keroauc’s pious roots as the altar-boy son of blue-collar, hardworking French-Canadian immigrants, who toward the end of his life retreated to the Marian prayers of his childhood. In September 2012, Robert Dean Lurie took a deeper look at that piety in a piece for the American Conservative called “The Conservative Kerouac.” Lurie detailed Kerouac the mystic, who “pined for God and home” and carried a special affinity for St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Lisieux (“The Little Flower”), and Thomas Merton (another French immigrant, who became a Trappist monk, and likewise a famous writer, particularly via his brilliant memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain). Lurie highlighted an especially instructive moment from Kerouac’s final year. The Beat novelist was incensed when Ted Berrigan of the Paris Review asked him, “How come you never write about Jesus?” Kerouac snapped: “I’ve never written about Jesus? . . . You’re an insane phony. . . . All I write about is Jesus.”

That was precisely right. Though that underlying message was missed by millions of its acolytes, On the Road was really an autobiographical expression of Kerouac’s longing and searching for something — that something was God.

Historian Douglas Brinkley, the editor of Kerouac’s diary, reported that nearly every page carried a prayer, an appeal to Christ for mercy, or a sketched crucifix. “Kerouac was trying to make everything holy,” said Brinkley.

“The very term beat, for Beatitude of Christ, kind of came to Kerouac at a Catholic church. And when I edited his diaries, really almost every page, he drew a crucifix or a prayer to God, or asking Christ for forgiveness.”

Think about that: “Beat” referred to Christ’s Beatitudes. Many will be shocked to learn that, but it is true. Professor David A. King writes:

“Kerouac had coined the term the Beat Generation, after hearing a friend use the expression ‘beat,’ meaning exhausted. But the Catholic Kerouac saw more in the word. As he recalled, during a visit to Lowell [his hometown] in 1954, he returned to the church of his youth, where he knelt alone in the silence. ‘And I suddenly realized, Beat means Beatitude! Beatific!’”

Later, he would go on to explain that:

“Because I am Beat, I believe in Beatitude and that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son to it.”

Though Kerouac wrote many other books, he will be forever remembered for On the Road, which he described as “. . . really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found Him.” This probably surprises anyone who has read this episodic story of sordid love affairs, drugs, jazz, fast cars, and madness. For most of his life, Kerouac was sadly out of his mind — drunk, addled, and fatigued by work and fame. He often spoke without the benefit of foresight. Yet I think his Catholic instincts were deeply sincere. Friends often teased him about his Catholicism; though he did not practice the faith, he clearly thought about it all the time, and he frequently defended the Church to skeptics. Even in his deep inquiries into Buddhism and Eastern spirituality, an exploration he shared with his contemporary Merton, Kerouac saw mysticism from a Catholic perspective. It was ingrained in him. He proclaimed a devotion to both St. Joseph and, especially, St. Therese, whose “Little Way” intrigued him.

At the core of On the Road, and at the heart of all his work, is the Catholic and Beat insistence upon an underlying spirituality that inhabits all creation. Kerouac saw the world, and everything in it, as Holy.

That was Douglas Brinkley’s conclusion as well. He notes that On the Road was about a “spiritual quest.” It was a metaphor for Kerouac’s larger life. According to Brinkley, the first thing to understand about Kerouac is that he was an American Catholic writer.

Brinkley shared those insights in a 2007 interview with NPR regarding the golden anniversary of On the Road. The pieces by David King and Robert Dean Lurie and Marlo Safi are still more recent accounts that delved into Kerouac’s conservatism and Catholicism. And yet, it will not surprise readers here to know that The American Spectator was way out in front on this unappreciated side of Jack Kerouac, running at least three articles in the early 1970s and an artist’s rendering of Kerouac’s mug on the cover of the May-June 1970 issue.

The first piece on Kerouac that ran in The Alternative appeared in the February 1970 issue. Titled, “Jack Kerouac, RIP,” it was a tribute by John Coyne reprinted from National Review.

“Jack’s dead,” wrote Coyne somberly. “To those of us who did some of our growing up around Columbia [University] in the Fifties, he was the standard, the legend.” He had been a high school football hero in his native Lowell, Massachusetts, noted Coyne, so admired that “on a good boozy night Scott Fitzgerald just might have traded The Great Gatsby for Jack’s varsity letter.” A star running back, the working-class kid fielded scholarship offers from around the country before opting for the Ivy League Columbia University. He went to Columbia, where, unlike the likes of Whittaker Chambers and Thomas Merton and Mark Rudd and a long line of others who became not just leftists at Columbia but Communists, Kerouac played football rather than tinker with such ideological nonsense. And though he didn’t get sucked into the radical Left, he did suffer a devastating injury on a long punt return that finished his playing days. He was his own man, stopped not by police at the front of a protest march led by Marxists, but by a broken leg during a nice punt return.

As Coyne noted, Kerouac gave up football for wild times and to write nothing short of an epic of the era: “The wild jags, the fistfight with a professor, the trips with Neal Cassady. And in between, he sat down and wrote a bestseller in 21 days.” And what did that book really say? Coyne understood way back in 1970:

“[Jack] was saying something we all ached to find our own way to say: we loved this country and we wanted to tell it so. And it is precisely this that comes through On the Road. A deep, profound love affair with America.”

As a sort of final exhibit of that, Coyne furnished a letter he received from Kerouac the day he died. “Dear Coyne,” Kerouac wrote, “This brochure reads like a complaint from Al Capone.” He was referring to a diatribe expressed in a certain pamphlet issued by the New Left. “He loathed them,” Coyne wrote of Kerouac’s take on this new brand of ’60s Leftists:

“They were punks who had their minds made up about the world before they knew anything, and they had expropriated the legend. But their claim was not legitimate. They hadn’t earned it, Jack believed, and they never would. For their hatreds were not his, and his love for America will forever lie far outside their experiences.”

Kerouac appreciated what America had allowed him to do — that is, the America of freedom, which meant free markets, property rights, individualism, all polar opposites of the socialist-collectivist state hailed by his New Left appropriators. In “After Me, The Deluge,” an article that Kerouac in 1969 had put together for syndication in newspapers, and which unwittingly became a last statement published after his unexpected death, he said that “if it hadn’t been for Western-style capitalism,” which enabled “free economic byplay, movement north, south, east, and west, haggling, pricing, and the political balance of power carved into the U.S. Constitution,” he “wouldn’t have been able or allowed to hitchhike half broke thru 47 states of this Union and see the scene with my own eyes, unmolested.”

Truer words were never spoken. Just as it boggles the mind today to observe Millennials stump for “democratic socialism” on laptops and iPhones at the corner Starbucks. Kerouac was amazed by the sight of ’60s Communists vilifying the very system that allowed them the unprecedented freedoms they reveled in. It’s a surreal spectacle that never seems to hit those who pride themselves in their intellectual superiority.

What John Coyne reported in The Alternative in February 1970 was expanded upon in the January 1974 issue by Allen Crawford. That issue carried Mark Twain on the cover and featured a lead editorial by Tyrrell that marshaled Twain and Mencken against the latest antics of the ACLU. Crawford’s piece, titled, “A Last-Ditch Stand,” was a double book review of a long-awaited posthumous publication of Kerouac’s Visions of Cody and Ann Charters’ biography. These developments, Crawford observed, had hippies hopping off to bookstores to buy On the Road for the first time. He remained a “counterculture hero.”

And yet, noted Crawford, Kerouac lamented that he had been co-opted by a generation of leftists who never understood him and with whom he felt no kinship. Crawford stated emphatically: “Kerouac was, politically and . . . temperamentally, a conservative.” And he was decidedly and devoutly Catholic. “I’m not a Beatnik, I’m a Catholic,” said Kerouac memorably.

That Catholicism, like his conservatism, fueled his intense anti-communism. Kerouac blasted what he didn’t hesitate to call “the Communist conspiracy,” even blaming it in part for helping to introduce drugs into American culture to weaken the nation’s social fiber. Here, too, he stood apart from the New Left counterculture. “I’m pro-American, and the radical political involvements seem to tend elsewhere,” he said. America “gave my Canadian family a good break, more or less, and we see no reason to demean said country.”

Allen Crawford shared an anecdote from a party at Ken Kesey’s place in New York. There with Kerouac was his longtime friend the poet Allen Ginsberg, whose politics Jack bitterly denounced, particularly what Kerouac called Ginsberg’s “pro-Castro bulls–t,” not to mention more generally the “Castro-jacketed New Left.” When Ginsberg playfully draped an American flag over Jack’s shoulders at Kesey’s place, Kerouac responded in kind: “So I took it, and I folded it up the way you’re supposed to, and I put it back on the sofa … the flag is not a rag.”

Allen Crawford detailed two particularly revealing interviews that Kerouac gave in the last year or so of his life:

In 1968, he was interviewed by Bruce Cook, who was preparing his book, The Beat Generation. “Listen,” Kerouac said pointedly to Cook,

“. . . my politics haven’t changed. I’m solidly behind Bill Buckley, if you want to know. Nothing in my books can be seen as basically in disagreement with that. Everybody just assumed that I thought the way they wanted me to think. What bothered me a lot, though, was the way a certain cadre of leftists among the so-called beats took over my mantle and twisted my own thoughts to support their purposes.”

Kerouac lectured Cook:

“Look, I don’t know if you thought much about this at all, or maybe you already made up your mind about me before you came here, but I want to make this clear. I mean here I am, a guy who was a railroad brakeman, and a cowboy and a football player — just a lot of things ordinary guys do. And I wasn’t trying to create any new consciousness or anything. We didn’t have a whole lot of abstract thoughts. I mean, we were just a bunch of guys out trying to get laid.”

And certainly, he was a guy who wasn’t a liberal.

A second interview flagged by Allen Crawford came a few months later, when Kerouac was interviewed at his Florida home shortly before he died by Esquire’s John McLintlock, who Kerouac ushered into a room strewn with Falstaff bottles and stacks of The National Review. “If Kerouac had a hero,” wrote McLintlock, “it was William F. Buckley, Jr.”

One regrettable moment that combined both — Buckley and booze — was a sadly awful appearance by Kerouac on Buckley’s “Firing Line” show in 1968 discussing the Hippie phenomenon. Virtually unrecognizable and far from resembling his iconic image, Kerouac was drunk — speech slurring, eyeballs rolling back, sweating, overweight. Only 46 years old, and smashed, he looked at least 20 years older. It was an embarrassing performance, despite certain touching moments that emerged between Jack’s slurred lines, such as him telling Buckley and the audience (Russell Kirk-like) that he believed in “order, tenderness, and piety.” (Kerouac also told Buckley of his support for Republicans: “My father and my mother and my sister and I have always voted Republican. Always.”)

His appearance on “Firing Line” was revealing in many ways, particularly his unfortunate end. For those who knew Kerouac intimately, the “Firing Line” fiasco was not a surprise. Joyce Johnson, a fellow writer and girlfriend of Kerouac, says that in public situations, “he had to drink.” Such was his discomfort with his fame, particularly after the sensation of On the Road: “Women everywhere were offering themselves. He was a celebrity, which was very hard for him. In public situations, he had to drink.”

Jack was visibly wounded during the “Firing Line” broadcast, which came September 3, 1968. He died only a year later, violently hemorrhaging his liver from the alcoholism eating up his insides. He succumbed at age 47, as what one source described as an “alcoholic recluse.” It was a tragic end.

Jack Kerouac’s funeral Mass was held on an unseasonably cold day in Lowell, Massachusetts, on October 24, 1969, at St. Jean Baptiste Cathedral. His body lay in a black casket, his hands folded prayerfully with a Rosary wrapped between his fingers. The Rosary represented the faith he had pined for. The priest, Father Armand Morisette, linked Kerouac’s road to the Road to Emmaus, where one of the companions searching for Jesus said to the other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when He talked to us on the road?”

That was the road that Jack Kerouac had searched for. It burned within him until he found his final peace back at that church of his youth.     *

Tuesday, 05 November 2019 12:46

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an on-line publication of Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Homage to a Cold War Prophet

Both my country and I lost a great friend and freedom fighter this week: Herb Meyer, an unsung hero of the Cold War. He received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal for his November 1983 memo predicting a Soviet collapse and victory for the United States. “If present trends continue,” wrote Meyer, “we’re going to win the Cold War.”

Meyer’s bosses, Bill Casey and Ronald Reagan, were all ears. In that endeavor, Meyer was the indispensable man to his beloved mentor and CIA director, Bill Casey.

Sad as I was to hear of his death, it was no surprise. I had been praying for Herb and dreading the news for months, ever since a terrible bike accident last September 25 left this brilliant man, of excellent mind and body, and barely into his 70s, unconscious and incapacitated. Herb’s son, Tom, of whom he was so proud, told me months ago that his dad’s life effectively ended that day. I feared that was the case.

The piece that The American Spectator published from Herb in July 2018 might have been his last, one of many articles he penned in rare moments of down-time when he wasn’t flying everywhere giving lectures on the state of intelligence and the world.

Herb liked to note that he got his start writing obituaries. They were so good that wags would tell him they regretted they hadn’t died when Herb was writing obituaries. I always regretted the day I would write Herb’s obituary, because I knew it wouldn’t be adequate. Besides, he used to rib me that I’d be writing his biography one day. I’d ask about some historical gem or try to yank some secret from his CIA days, only to have him (half) joke: “I’ll tell you when you write my biography.”

I told him that, no, he needed to do that — that is, write his story. He told me he didn’t have the time to start memoirs. I told him he’d better, before it’s too late. I’m sure he figured he had plenty of time. He didn’t.

I have written tributes to Herb in the past, at The American Spectator, in other sources, in my books on Reagan and the Cold War, for which his insights were invaluable. There were countless occasions when he would email or call in response to articles I wrote. I’ve missed that witty correspondence over the last 10 months. It will be hard to reconcile myself to the fact that those communications are permanently finished, and that he’s no longer available to tap for information. That’s what happens when we lose great minds like Herb’s — storehouses, irreplaceable repositories of information. He often told my students that our biggest problem as a nation and culture, in America and the West, is that we’ve forgotten what we already knew.

To that end, I want here to disclose something historically significant, compliments of Herb, and which I’ve long known I could fully divulge only upon his death, though I figured that wouldn’t come for many years.

It was from Herb that I learned that we had learned — specifically, Bill Casey, Ronald Reagan, and a very small group around Casey and Reagan — that the Soviets were behind the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and that Casey and this tight-knit crew reached that dramatic conclusion in an extraordinarily classified CIA report that still has not been released.

It took time for me to extract that information from Herb. Going back through my notes these last couple days, I found my first record in an August 6, 2007, email, in which he responded to my inquiry about the shooting of the pope: “Yeah, I know a lot about this subject. I was in it up to my elbows.” That was the limit to what he could put in writing. He told me to call to discuss. He was traveling the next three weeks. We finally connected on August 31, from his home.

“Look, I know what happened with the pope,” he told me, again tight lipped.

That began many days of digging before it was clear to Herb that I had figured out what happened with the pope. Still, because of the extreme secrecy, he would not confirm anything by email or phone.

Finally, that changed on February 5, 2009, when Herb was on our campus of Grove City College, at my invitation, to give our third annual Ronald Reagan Lecture. It was a typical freezing Western Pennsylvania February day. We were about to hop into my conversion van to drive from a private dinner of about 30 people, held at a dining room that the college refers to as “Old MAP,” on our way to the pre-lecture reception at 5:45 at Pew auditorium. It was only the two of us.

By this point, we had become friends. Amid numerous emails and phone calls, I didn’t badger him about what he knew on John Paul II. If he wanted to tell me, he would. I left it in the hands of Herb, and perhaps Providence.

With a grin, Herb suddenly noted that we had not resolved the “pope issue.” As we stepped into the car, I smiled and said I was quite aware of that. I told him that I was confident I had figured it out, laying out the pieces of the puzzle I had been assembling. He nodded with an impressed “Hmm.” As we pulled out to drive across campus, Herb said to me flatly: “The Russians did it.”

He had heard my argument and knew that I knew — or at least as much as I could know without confirmation from one of the individuals who personally read the CIA report that Herb had read over 20 years ago. He also knew that the Italian Parliament had recently come to the same conclusion in an official report.

“The Soviets did it,” he told me. “They shot the pope.” That was the conclusion of the CIA’s investigation. He quickly added that I could not quote him.

Herb then told me about the moment they all learned the truth for the first time. He was in a room with a handful people: Bill Casey, Bob Gates, Jim McMahon — a CIA establishmentarian who, Herb noted, was “stunned” by the reality that the Kremlin could have been so vicious as to try to murder the pope. Herb reiterated that the finding is contained in a still-classified report, located somewhere, and that he had “never, ever seen anything that classified.” Herb quipped of the report’s sensitivity: “The last thing I saw, we were burning out the eyes of the girl who typed it.”

Herb would continue to tell me more on later occasions. Most notable, he said it was the Soviet GRU, military intelligence, that carried out the hit on the pope. It was not a KGB job.

“That’s what threw off everyone,” Herb said, “because everyone looking into whether the Soviets did it looked at the KGB, and pinged their KGB contacts for information, but found nothing. In fact, the KGB knew nothing because it wasn’t involved.”

I ultimately weaved together this information for my 2017 book, A Pope and a President, carefully not mentioning Herb Meyer as my key source. Intensely interested parties wanted to know who told me about the CIA finding of Soviet culpability. Most figured it was Bill Clark, Reagan’s closest aide, who was like a grandfather to me (I was his biographer). It wasn’t Clark. It was Herb Meyer.

One wonders what other gems Herb was keeping to himself, maybe for those elusive memoirs one day. We’ll never know.

The last time I saw Herb was at my good friend Bo DiMuccio’s house, when Herb returned to Grove City for our 10th annual Reagan Lecture. A group of us smoked cigars, had drinks, and talked about life and the world. The conversation continued to the front porch of the house where Herb was staying in Grove City, though Herb was tired out and went to bed early. It was a special night. It was the last.

Herb Meyer: Cold War prophet; agent of victory in the epic defeat of an Evil Empire; man of great stories; knowledge; and secrets. And a really good guy. Requiescat in pace.

What Lenin Said about Christians and Socialism

“If someone calls it socialism,” said Rev. William Barber at the August meeting of the Democratic National Committee, “then we must compel them to acknowledge that the Bible must then promote socialism, because Jesus offered free health care to everyone, and he never charged a leper a co-pay.”

Barber’s statement brought secular progressives to their feet in thunderous applause. That included DNC chair Tom Perez, who says that democratic socialists like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represent “the future of our party.” That’s a party once headed by men like John F. Kennedy, who warned of the “fanaticism and fury” — the “ruthless, godless tyranny” — of the “Communist conspiracy.”

Describing the U.S. Constitution and the Bible as “socialist documents,” the Rev. Barber exhorted the faithful: “If you want to have a moral debate, bring it on, baby!”

A moral debate on socialism and Christianity, pastor? Sure, let’s have it.

But there’s no need to pick on Rev. Barber. He’s interchangeable with any number of “social justice” proponents on the Religious Left. His statement actually pales to what was published in the Jesuit-run America magazine a few weeks ago — a stunning piece titled “The Catholic Case for Communism.” The column, which was written by an America staff writer named Dean Dettloff, came with a defense and explanation by America’s editor-in-chief, Fr. Matt Malone, S.J., called “Why we published an essay sympathetic to Communism.”

The spectacle prompted one reader to comment, “What will America publish next, ‘The Catholic Case for Atheism’? or ‘The Catholic Case for Satanism’?”

That’s no laughing matter. The Roman Catholic Church in the 1937 encyclical Divini Redemptoris referred to Communism as a “satanic scourge,” a “truly diabolical” instrument of the “sons of darkness.”

Can you imagine a publication in 2019 defending such an ideology? What did Communism produce in the interim, between 1937 and 2019? Only 100 million corpses or so.

But back to this democratic-socialism infatuation by many on the modern Religious Left. I dealt with this not long ago in a recent piece laying out at length what the Catholic Church has taught about socialism and even its alleged more “democratic” variants. Here, too, this article could run thousands of words with endless examples, including some from the very founders of socialism, Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, and past democratic socialists and Social Democrats refuting this stuff. Socialism is, in Marxist theory, the final transitionary step to Communism.

Here today, I’ll offer merely a snapshot from Vladimir Lenin himself — who, for the record, was a Social Democrat. Yes, you heard that right. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union began life in 1898 as the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party. In 1903, at the party’s 2nd Congress, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin split their Bolshevik faction from their rival Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were self-professed Social Democrats.

And what did Lenin say about religion? “Religion is opium for the people,” wrote Lenin in December 1905, echoing his hero, Karl Marx. “Religion is a sort of spiritual booze.” That was a mild assessment from a man who wrote that “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.” Yes, necrophilia.

Sticking to this 1905 statement, Lenin saw socialism as incompatible with religious belief: “Everyone must be absolutely free to . . . be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule.” He declared: “Complete separation of Church and State is what the socialist proletariat demands of the modern state and the modern church.” Sounding like a 21st-century secular progressive in America, Lenin insisted that “religion must be declared a private affair.”

Of course, once Lenin and his Bolsheviks took over a decade later, they refused to tolerate religion even as a private affair. In fact, even in that 1905 letter, Lenin conceded as much: “We demand that religion be held a private affair so far as the state is concerned. But by no means can we consider religion a private affair so far as our Party is concerned.” In his Soviet state, the Party was the supreme, infallible authority, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would relentlessly pursue what Mikhail Gorbachev called “a wholesale war on religion.”

Lenin continued, stating that in order “to combat the religious fog . . . we founded our association, the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, precisely for such a struggle against every religious bamboozling of the workers.” Lenin wanted a political system “cleansed of medieval mildew.” He wanted to halt “the religious humbugging of mankind.”

Other examples from Lenin? I could go on and on. These are tame examples taken from a decade prior to when Lenin came to power and began murdering by the thousands. This is the restrained Lenin. Still, one can see the absolute repudiation of religion vis-à-vis Communism, socialism, and democratic socialism.

Four years later, in May of 1909, Lenin repeated: “Religion is the opium of the people — this dictum by Marx is the cornerstone of the whole Marxist outlook on religion.” Here, Lenin was writing explicitly on behalf of fellow “Social-Democrats.” What he wrote is worth quoting at length, given what our Christian “democratic socialist” brethren now assert:

“It is the absolute duty of Social-Democrats to make a public statement of their attitude towards religion. Social-Democracy bases its whole world-outlook on scientific socialism, i.e., Marxism. The philosophical basis of Marxism, as Marx and Engels repeatedly declared, is dialectical materialism — a materialism which is absolutely atheistic and positively hostile to all religion. . . . Marxism has always regarded all modern religions and churches, and each and every religious organization, as instruments of bourgeois reaction that serve to defend exploitation and to befuddle the working class . . .

“Marxism is materialism. As such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion. . . . We must combat religion — that is the ABC of all materialism, and consequently of Marxism. But Marxism is not a materialism which has stopped at the ABC. Marxism goes further. It says: We must know how to combat religion.

“This combat must be waged in order to reverse religion’s hold on the ‘backward sections of the town proletariat’” — that is, the town idiots.

Could a pastor (perhaps the Rev. Barber) or a priest who subscribes to America magazine be a fellow Social-Democrat and member of the Party? Apparently, even in Lenin’s day, a peculiar priest or two must have occasionally considered hooking up with Lenin and his Social-Democrats. Lenin himself reflected on the absurd thought:

“The question is often brought up whether a priest can be a member of the Social-Democratic Party or not, and this question is usually answered in an unqualified affirmative, the experience of the European Social-Democratic parties being cited as evidence. But this experience was the result, not only of the application of the Marxist doctrine to the workers’ movement, but also of the special historical conditions in Western Europe which are absent in Russia . . . so that an unqualified affirmative answer in this case is incorrect.

“It cannot be asserted once and for all that priests cannot be members of the Social-Democratic Party; but neither can the reverse rule be laid down. If a priest comes to us to take part in our common political work and conscientiously performs Party duties, without opposing the program of the Party, he may be allowed to join the ranks of the Social-Democrats; for the contradiction between the spirit and principles of our program and the religious convictions of the priest would in such circumstances be something that concerned him alone, his own private contradiction. . . . But, of course, such a case might be a rare exception even in Western Europe, while in Russia it is altogether improbable. And if, for example, a priest joined the Social-Democratic Party and made it his chief and almost sole work actively to propagate religious views in the Party, it would unquestionably have to expel him from its ranks.”

If a left-wing priest were foolish enough to join the Party, Lenin and the boys would accept his help (Lenin is infamous for allegedly referring to such people as “useful idiots”). But if the strange priest ever tried to share his faith with the comrades, well, he would be shown the door and the boot.

Lenin knew better. So, too, did Marx: “Communism begins where atheism begins,” he asserted.

Once the Bolsheviks took over Russia, atheism was required of Party officials. Any lingering religious sentiment by the Party member must be purged. This was likewise true for the American Communist apparatchiks. “Many workers join the Communist Party who still have some religious scruples, or religious ideas,” conceded William Z. Foster, head of the Communist Party U.S.A., in testimony to Congress:

“. . . but a worker who will join the Communist Party, who understands the elementary principles of the Communist Party, must necessarily be in the process of liquidating his religious beliefs and, if he still has any lingerings when he joins the Party, he will soon get rid of them.”

This is why religious people generally have historically understood Communism and socialism to be antithetical to religion: the Communists and socialists told us they were.

I know that some Religious Left Christians will take issue with this article focusing on the likes of Lenin and William Z. Foster. Fair enough. But that’s my focus here in this article (just one of numerous I’ve written on socialism and Communism), and it isn’t irrelevant. These things have been thought about for a long time. This isn’t new.

This is crucial history that the modern Religious Left surely doesn’t know, no doubt because it was never learned. Our universities have failed to teach this material, instead criticizing anti-communism and anti-socialism. We are now reaping what we’ve sown. You know you’re in spiritual darkness when not even the religious can be counted on to refute the anti-religiousness of Communism and socialism.

The Last of the Bailey Brothers of World War II

Five years ago, for Memorial Day 2014, I wrote about the five Bailey brothers of World War II. This year, I’m writing about them maybe for the last time.

Yes, there were no less than five Baileys who served in WWII. That fact is known to those who attend the annual Memorial Day parade in Mercer, Pennsylvania. The parade is pure Americana: local rotary club, high-school bands, church groups, veterans of wars.

The veterans marching today largely wear the camouflage of distant regions like Iraq and Afghanistan, or uniforms from Vietnam and Korea. Veterans from World War II, unfortunately, are a dwindling sight. I wonder if we’ll see any this year.

One exhibit has long been part of the procession: a classy old car with a placard announcing the “Five Bailey Brothers.”

Back in 2013, after several years of watching the Bailey car ride by, I took the time to track down the last surviving brother: Dick. I was pleasantly surprised to learn he lived in my town — Grove City. I called and asked if he’d give me some time to hear and write about him and his family. He agreed.

Born Christmas Eve 1922, Dick served in World War II along with his brothers Fred, Alphonse (known as “Fonnie”), Jim, and John. All five volunteered after Pearl Harbor and were dispatched into enemy territory. “All had combat,” says Dick — in Europe, the Pacific, Northern Africa; land, sea, air.

Fred was shot and taken prisoner by the Nazis. “The Germans didn’t treat him well,” Dick told me. “Fred said it was horrible. . . . He was only 110 pounds when he came home.” He won a purple heart.

Dick was in the Army Air Corps. He and his brother John were in the war the longest. Dick served on six Pacific islands. In the Schouten Islands, the Japanese bombed almost every night, typically two hours at a time, throughout Dick’s eight-month stay. “You didn’t sleep very much,” remembered Dick.

In all, Dick served continuously from December 1942 until January 1946: “I was never home the whole time until January 1946.”

I asked Dick about the moment he finally got home. It was the winter of 1946. For weeks, he sojourned from the other side of the earth, only to encounter a terrific snowstorm as he neared Western Pennsylvania.

He took the train from Pittsburgh to Grove City. Unbeknownst to Dick, his parents had moved to the nearby little town of Harrisville. Dick arrived very late, consigned to a 24-hour diner by a foot-and-a-half of snow. His parents had no idea he was headed home. Amazingly, they hadn’t heard from him in years, and he hadn’t heard from them — such were the dreadful lines of communication and secrecy. Dick hadn’t been in touch with his brothers either. For all he knew, they might all be dead. He had no clue.

Dick also had no clue of his parents’ new address. At the diner, he saw an old buddy, who informed him where his parents were living. With this useful new information, Dick made his way. He showed up at his parents’ house at 5:00 A.M. His half-asleep mother scurried to the door and saw her son for the first time in four years. She cried, he cried.

Dick’s parents then informed him of something he yearned to know: all of his brothers had survived. He was the last one they were waiting on.

Unfortunately, all of Dick’s brothers now lived elsewhere, two of them newlyweds. His two sisters had also gotten married. In 1942, Dick had left a happy, vibrant home of nine. The war had emptied the Bailey household. But at least all were alive.

Dick would go on to outlive them all.

Over the last couple of years, I was curious about Dick’s situation. I often drove by and looked toward his house, the one with the giant flagpole in the front yard, with Old Glory always raised high. He lived across the street from the fire hall, between two churches. Lately, the house looked like it might be vacant. It turns out it was.

A few months ago, I unexpectedly got an email from Dick’s grandson, Kody, noting that his grandfather had passed away a few days shy of his 95th birthday.

And so, with Dick Bailey’s passing, so ends an era. The five Bailey brothers are all gone, and there will no longer be a car in the Mercer Memorial Day Parade with a Bailey boy wearing World War II badges. They have left us, but they leave us with the eternal hope that the entire Bailey family is united again at last.     *

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