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You Have to Go Back, Chapter 1

Author’s Note: For the past few year The West has been in a crisis, mostly of its own making, of immigration, perhaps invasion. Countries, communities, cities, and towns all over the Western world are being overrun with peoples, some malicious, some not, who are rapidly changing The West into something else. We are at great risk of losing everything completely by making a virtue into a vice. The virtue, we can say, is “kindness to strangers,” yet we are being so kind that we are being corrosive both to ourselves and to the strangers. We are not teaching the new people our values that we hold as dear, no, we are instead taking on their values in order than no one be offended.

The “Alt-right,” if you’re heard of it, is a pushback against the idea that The West should not have its own countries, its own societies. A main stance this pushback has taken is that of “You have to go back.” That is, the strangers who are not of our culture and values must go back to their homelands. They are not Western, just as we are not of their countries and cultures. It is actually, a very similar stance to the more left-sided idea of “anti-colonialism” where non-Western societies are pushing back against Western influences and sometimes Western peoples in their own countries and cultures. The main idea is that each people, each nation, should have its own place to live, that they are not required to take on another people into their land, no matter how needy those people may be. Today this has become a sentiment many Westerners hold because the push for “diversity” or “multiculturalism” is only focused on one group, mainly, white, mainly white men. It is only the white man who must take in and accommodate everyone else. This is insidious, as the only result can possibly be the extinction of the white man.

What does the argument “you have to go back” really mean? What would it mean for any society, say, even one plagued by a vice like alcoholism? Does it matter if the invaders taking over a society are better, or at least think themselves better than that society – i.e. in this case, the invaders do not drink – or does the statement hold true no matter the circumstances? And, so I wanted to pursue this in a story where a society is invaded, not by a culture that is worse, but by a culture that is better. Too often, I think of story ideas that honestly are a bit beyond my skills, and this may be one of them, but I’d thought I’d try and see how the results turn out.  –Pixie

You Have to Go Back

Chapter one

They rode into Armadillo at the setting of the sun, ten men on horseback, both animals and men weathered and worn, although clean, strangely clean. Paulo lifted his head from the horses’ water trough where he’d fallen the night before in a drunken stupor. Feeling a little sorry for vomiting in the water, at the back of his mind he realized it was a miracle he hadn’t drowned himself. But then, he was only ten, and Papa said drunkenness was a state one grew into. Papa should know. He was forty and always drunk and had avoided an untimely death many times.

Paulo brushed his sweaty black bangs out of his eyes and stared up at the first man on his finely brushed horse. The man’s companions waited silently behind.

“Are you strangers?” Paulo asked, swaying a little.

“Most certainly” The man spoke in a broad way and tipped his ten-gallon hat up to see the child before him more clearly. Paulo squinted, then turned and ran up the boardwalk into his family’s saloon on the right, his leather boots pounding loudly on the wood. He whipped the saloon doors back and tried not to retch at the smell of booze, sweat, and piss that summed up the dank interior. Papa lay on top of the bar, his sleeping form reflected in the mirror behind.

“Stop your shouting, kid.” Rosa peered down at him from the top of the stairs. She was dressed in her tight working clothes with their full skirts. At first she appeared beautiful, but as Paulo ran up to her on the stairs he could see how torn and stained her dress was, how oily, crusty, and gray her hair, how pancaked and flaked her makeup. Rosa had been his mother’s friend. Mother was buried out back between crates of liquor and a rotting garden. Mother had never learned how to drink properly.

“Men!” Paulo cried. “Men have come to town!”

“Oh?” Rosa raised an eyebrow. “Well then, boy, wake your father and we’ll show them a right Armadillo hospitality.”

“But–“

“Now, get on with you.”

Paulo made a face and scrambled back down the stairs. He hopped up on a scratched stool and shook his father’s shoulder, begging him to wake up. After giving Paulo a few blows around the face, his father opened bleary eyes and sat up, putting a hand to his back. “Not noon Paulo. The sun’s got an hour to go.” How his father knew that without even looking outside, Paulo was never sure, but Paulo knew the sun was more than high in the sky and even past noon, but he didn’t dare correct him.

“Men are in town.”

“Men?”

“A gang, Papa, a gang with money.”

“Money?” Papa smiled while holding the side of his head. He rolled over to drop on the floor behind the bar and straightened his vest and shirt sleeves. “Well then, Paulo, you lead them right in here and we’ll show them what Armadillo’s all about.”

So Paulo invited the strangers to come inside, watching with interest as they tied their horses up at the railing, using intricate knots that he wouldn’t have known existed. With knots like those, thought Paulo, he wouldn’t have to run after the customers’ horses when they broke free every evening. He’d get a lot more tips and beer for that.

The strangers were all tall and slim, some with long hair some with short, but Paulo noticed right away how clear their skin was, how bright their eyes. They had no paunch around their bellies like the citizens of Armadillo and they moved swiftly where his fellow citizens moved slowly and carefully. At first, Paulo couldn’t work out why they were different, their skin color and hair color was the same as Armadillans and they spoke the same language only in different intonations. But as the men sat on the stools that lined the bar and stared at Papa with level eyes, it became clear. These men did not drink.

Paulo felt a queer trickle of fear down his back, and his theory was confirmed when Papa offered the leader a whiskey. The leader asked for water and coffee. All on down the bar the ten men asked for water, coffee, or both. They paid readily and quickly enough, so Papa took their coin and muttered how he’d perfected morning coffee, joking it was the best way to get a head clear after a night of revelry.

“Revelry?” The leader stroked his fine beard. Both Paulo and Papa were baffled to realize the men didn’t know what they meant, but then, they didn’t drink.

“What kind of man doesn’t drink?” Paulo thought. So uneasy was he, that he ran around the bar to whisper to Papa that the man weren’t like them, that they didn’t fit in Armadillo.

“They’re strangers, son, that’s all. One coin is as good as another.”

Normally, Paulo considered, Papa was scornful of those who didn’t drink, like the preacher up the road. The preacher came to town seven years ago and new he drank as much as anyone. Papa had teased him into it. Everyone had. And the preacher had stopped being so shocked that every member of his congregation, old or young, was drunk most of the time. At first, his sermons had focused much on gluttony and no one wanted to listen, but now that his sermons were on other things, the town members were regular attendees and brought their drinks and cards with them. The preacher had been excited to have them there, but Paulo’d seen a strange look in his eyes after awhile, and finally the preacher had given into Armadillo and had taken up drink.

After that, the preacher had become the loudest mocker of anyone who’d said they’d had enough. Just yesterday the preacher had teased Rosa for not having another glass of wine when she complained of a splitting headache. Everyone got in on the fun, even Paulo, and he’d had a swallow or two of wine along with her.

“Headache gone now, Rosa?” The preacher had teased.

“Nope. Worse than ever!” She’d joked back and everyone had a laugh together. This was their community and Paulo loved it.

End of Chapter 1.

On the Subject of Vaccine Safety

Out of curiosity, I recently watched the documentary Vaxxed. On its surface, the documentary appears to be anti-vaccine, but it’s not quite that. It is actually pro-vaccine, but questions the safety of vaccines, and especially the current schedule of vaccines for kids. After realizing Vaxxed was directed by Andrew Wakefield, I wanted to dig a little deeper.  Wakefield’s study back in 1998 was debunked, right?  He’s sort of a con artist, right?  If so, why, so many years later, is he continuing to try and inform people that at least for some of us, vaccines appear to be unsafe?

Let me tell you, I’ve read a whole slew of items on vaccines the past couple of weeks, books from the library, stuff on the internet, articles, studies, and so on.  I will tell you now that it is like going down a rabbit hole.  Just looking into Andrew Wakefield’s story alone is mind-boggling. Did he commit fraud? They say he did, he says he didn’t. He never claimed a direct connection with the MMR vaccine to autism, but was looking into a possible gastrointestinal (GI) effect that in turn caused autism. After hearing stories from parents who said their children were fine one minute, and not speaking the next, shortly after getting the MMR vaccine, Wakefield wanted to see if there was some kind of connection with GI issues, as all or most of the kids in the study had bowel issues.  The trouble is, in the press release for the study, he claimed a direct connection with the MMR triple vaccine, and he advocated using only the three separate vaccines for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella until further studies could be done.  Instant hoopla from the media.

There are a lot of troubling things about Wakefield, to be sure.  His study only had 12 children in it (though I’ve read/seen things elsewhere indicating there were 40+ other kids in the study). There are claims he faked some of the results to get what he wanted.  When one journalist, Brian Deer, actually took the time to investigate Wakefield (I know, what a novel idea, right?) he found that Wakefield had a patent for a potential vaccine to compete with the MMR vaccine. Wakefield claims this vaccine wasn’t really to be a vaccine at all, but a treatment for those whose GI systems have been adversely affected by vaccines (yet it is labeled in the patent form as a vaccine). Brian Deer is himself a bit of a sensationalist in his writing. He has an elaborate website detailing all of his stories. He has thrown a lot of accusations at Wakefield, which ended up getting Wakefield’s medical license revoked and his paper on the study redacted from the Lancet journal that printed it (you can still read the study on their website). Deer has his TV spot regarding Wakefield on Youtube, and I have to say, that although he may be correct, there’s still an seedy undertone to the whole thing, especially an interview with a really senile old man in the American South. This man is supposedly connected to Wakefield, but it was a very bizarre exchange to say the least. Wakefield and the others on his Vaxxed team (Del Bigtree a journalist who worked on the show The Doctors) don’t do their side any favors by often hosting meetings that seem a little to much like an old-time healing revival. In this whole story, Wakefield and Bigtree come across as being very well-spoken and charismatic, whereas Deer is the awkward, straight-talking journalist hunting the truth. There’s a sensationalist major motion picture somewhere in there.

So in watching Vaxxed, some of Wakefield’s interviews and interviews of other advocates for better vaccine safety (some are outright anti-vaccine), and then reading and watching what Brian Deer has to say, it’s difficult to figure out where the truth lies. I mean, Deer supposedly filed the complaint that ultimately got Wakefield’s license taken away. That strikes me as odd, but I don’t know if this is a common practice of journalists to in essence report their subjects to the authorities or to just publish the story and let the cards fall where they may. I also get the impression that just as the media didn’t really question Wakefield initially, neither do they question Brian Deer. This is troublesome, because it’s ultimately a failure of the media and journalism as a whole. When did the media become so lazy? Maybe they always have been lazy and we’ve just chosen to overlook it. And maybe I just haven’t done enough reading on this subject yet.

Aside from that whole story, the issue of vaccine safety is something people have instant opinions about, but if we’re honest, don’t really know much about. We want to believe the health care industry, the doctors, the drug companies, and the government all have our best interests at heart. But I think in our current time of universal deceit, especially from the media, we don’t know as much of the story as we should in order to make an informed decision. We want and do trust our doctors, but looking at the bigger picture, what if the doctors themselves have been lied to about the safety and/or effectiveness of vaccines? What if we all have been lied to? I bring this up due to Vaxxed’s biggest claim, that of having been contacted by a CDC whistleblower named William Thompson.  Thompson supposedly has a lawyer for whistleblowers and currently is still working at the CDC, though perhaps not in the same capacity.

According to Thompson’s phone calls (which were recorded without his knowledge), the CDC in doing their study (in which he was an administrator) to hopefully refute Andrew Wakefield’s study results, they deliberately hid and changed data that indicated a percentage of correlation (not causation) between the MMR vaccine and autism, especially when it comes to black males.  Some have asked that Thompson be hauled in front of Congress to give testimony.  To this date, I don’t think that he has been called.  This claim, that the CDC’s study actually found a high correlation with MMR and autism in black males is directly related to the current Measles outbreak in Minnesota.  Somalian mothers are worried about them getting autism from vaccines and so have not been vaccinating their children.

Let me add that lost in all this is that we are not really talking about a direct connection from the MMR vaccine to autism, but a connection between the vaccine causing GI issues that result in autism. Let me additionally add that anyone thinking rationally would come to the conclusion that the CDC’s study should be questioned every bit as Wakefield’s should. Their study was done at a time in which the drug companies, government, and health industry were under enormous pressure to restore the good name of all vaccines in public opinion. Vaxxed also states that the head of the CDC during this study shortly after went to work for Merck, one of the main drug companies making vaccines.

Now, if at that this point one was still “all in” for vaccines and trusts the CDC study, one really wouldn’t look much further, but I have looked further, and I really don’t know what to think.

One the one hand, it’s clear to me that vaccines in general do work to keep away certain diseases. However, after doing more reading, it has also become clear to me that this general idea is easily questioned, and for good reason. Take the flu vaccine. Why do so many people get vaccinated each year and still get sick?  Well, we know that the flu has many strains, so it could be a person vaccinated against one strain ends up catching another.  A second and probably more important reason is the timing of the vaccines. I don’t think it’s widely publicized enough that one should not get any vaccines if they are in any way sick or under the weather. The big push for the flu vaccine each year comes in fall/early winter, a time when everyone is stressed out, when the weather is getting colder, and when there is less sunlight.  All three elements tax many people’s immune systems. This can make someone susceptible to the very vaccine that is supposed to prevent illness.

Incidentally, I have found out that you can get the disease even if you have been vaccinated, and you can also possibly spread or be a carrier of the disease shortly after getting a vaccine. This was something I didn’t know, but then, this is the first time I’ve really looked into the criticisms of vaccines.

The main issue anti-vaxxers or those who question the safety of vaccines is the immune system component. Again, this was also something I didn’t know. I never knew the actual reasons and the basis of their arguments. Yes, I’d heard of the side effects listed on the vaccine inserts, and yes I’d heard of the stories of children and some adults being adversely affected by vaccines, but I never really understood the full argument against them. Most people know how vaccines work. The virus is introduced into our bloodstream and instigates our immune system making antibodies that will protect us against the virus if we ever are exposed to it. The argument against the safety of vaccines is this: Ultimately they overtax our immune system, something that most likely comes with a cost (possible auto-immune issues or GI issues that cause auto-immune symptoms).

We can see this line of thinking about the immune system is correct because the first argument pro-vaxxers jump to is that of: what about the poor children or others who can’t get vaccinated due to compromised immune systems?!? Leaving the moral dilemma of choosing one child’s well-being over another aside, that argument is somewhat conceding the point. These individuals have flawed immune systems. They are always at risk and are vulnerable whether vaccines exist or not. In fact they are so vulnerable they cannot even take the very vaccines that may save them. And why, again? Because vaccines tax the immune system. That is how they work.

Another interesting tidbit I’ve learned is regarding Measles. People don’t die from the Measles, per say; they die from pneumonia or some other such illness due to their immune system being so compromised. Measles also greatly drains the Vitamin A in a body. This is what causes blindness in some who get the disease because they already have depleted levels of Vitamin A and with the Measles it becomes almost nonexistent.  In places like Africa, vaccines aren’t going to work for the starving kids there until they are healthy, most often needing Vitamin A and other supplements. Once again, vaccines don’t work on compromised immune systems.

Let’s also take the idea of herd immunity.  On the face of it, herd immunity makes sense. If everyone is vaccinated, then the disease cannot be passed along and can even be eradicated from a certain location. But that doesn’t really hold up if indeed a vaccinated person can still get the disease and if vaccinated people can pass along the disease. And if the trade-off to a disease free life is a compromised and overtaxed immune system being passed down from generation to generation, this may ultimately lead to a society’s ruin. The herd immunity argument also brings up questions of freedom. If herd immunity is the only way for vaccines to work, then shouldn’t everyone be forced to get any and all vaccines available? Most liberty-loving people balk at such an idea, even if they think vaccines are completely safe.

Add to that the current fashion for “No Borders,” a policy instantly destroying any hope of herd immunity in a particular country (see Minnesota Measles outbreak begun by a “foreign” traveler).

It gives one even greater pause to learn that the current vaccine schedule is 60+ for kids and higher for adults (they are inventing more and more vaccines for all age groups). When exactly do we reach the point of too many vaccines? Have studies been conducted on the effects of getting multiple vaccines on a body? Throughout a lifetime? How about a developing baby’s body?

Another aside: I had no idea that we are now giving babies the Hepatitis B vaccine on the day of their birth. This is done despite there being no immediate risk (i.e., the baby’s parent’s do not have Hep B) to the baby and that it is usually a sexually transmitted disease, or something passed on by dirty drug needles.

Are anti-vaxxers really the crazy ones, here? Is there no point at which we can question the validity and effectiveness of vaccines, or at the very least, the need for more of them?

Let’s go back to Andrew Wakefield. So maybe he’s a con artist. But what about other studies (and the anti-vaxxers claim they are out there both before and after Wakefield’s time) on GI and Autism? What if, in the process of vaccines taking our immune systems for a workout, the balance of our bodies is damaged, including the GI equation? This is not even to mention the other harmful elements in a vaccine that may adversely affect our immune system and our gut. I don’t know many people who would deny they feel and function better when they eat healthy foods. If someone has difficulty digesting their food it can drastically affect their body, and, yes, brain function, as they may not be getting the adequate nutrition they need.  I know this from personal experience as I grew up with major GI problems myself. In America in particular, our diet is often vitamin depleting, so we have these nutrient-deprived bodies that are getting more and more vaccines all the time, and I have to wonder if our immune systems are having trouble keeping up. In addition, is this problem is being passed on to our kids and then getting compounded when they get vaccines as well?

Wakefield’s big thing was to administer the vaccines singly and over a more reasonable time frame, giving young children’s bodies the time to adjust, indicating that as late at 3 years old would be a much better time to administer especially the MMR one. This isn’t unreasonable in general, but it could be very unreasonable if you’re a drug company planning a schedule of 60+ vaccines before the child turns ten. No way are you going to get parents and kids coming in 60 times just to get a poke in their arm. That problem is even better solved by creating multi-vaccines, like the MMR, that vaccinate for a few different diseases at once. So it’s really no surprise that after the excitement around Wakefield’s statement, they did away with the single vaccines both in the UK and the USA, leaving parents with no choice but to give their children the triple MMR shot.

And somehow parents aren’t supposed to wonder if they’re being lied to?

Add on top of that the fact that drug companies cannot be directly sued (at least in the US) for harmful effects of their vaccines. If you’ve heard of the “vaccine court” that’s essentially what the government put in place (thanks a lot, Reagan) in the 1980s. You go to the government entity and they decide if you are owed monies and how much. And where do they get these dollars, pray tell? A tax on each individual vaccine, more if it’s the multiples (if I recall it was $0.75 for a single and $2+ for multiples). The vaccine court has dished out billions to vaccine injured parties and their families, and the government keeps the rest. If there was a perfect scenario for corruption, this is it. Neither the drug companies nor the government have the incentive to withdraw a single vaccine from the market. At best, they would wait until there are so many people adversely affected (I think it’s supposed to be half the population will have Autism in the near future?) and so much harm done that they would be forced by the public to take such vaccine off the market. The vaccine court is similar to a huge failing of the Catholic Church: insisting that all priests be celibate and unmarried. They essentially set themselves up for failure, and the eventually public outcry was entirely predictable, especially since the truth of the child abuse was deliberately hidden for a long time. If that’s the Church, how can we  then place any and/or more faith in secular government and public institutions? We already know that both the government and large corporations lie to us. It’s really not much of a stretch to consider they may be lying to us about vaccines, especially when a jaw-dropping amount of money is at stake.

At the end of all of this reading and watching, I go back and forth between both camps.  Vaccines are good, vaccines are bad. Vaccines are flawed, but still useful.  It’s thrilling to read books like Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio and think, yes, how wonderful for those children at the time, and then disconcerting to find that Polio was already on the downhill before the vaccine was largely implemented, and that after its invention the definition of “polio” was changed. So “polio” is eradicated, but we now have Guillain-Barré and other syndromes. Most people wouldn’t equate renaming a disease to it being eradicated. Anti-vaxx sites will claim this has happened with other diseases, that they are renamed to show how much the vaccine is “working.”

If you’ll notice, I haven’t cited any sources for this article and that is because, if you are curious about the whole discussion on vaccine safety, go out and read and watch and make up your own mind.  Nothing I write will ultimately convince you either way. A lot of information is available on the CDC’s website, on the NIH website, on the vaccine court’s website, etc. We have Andrew Wakefield’s story. Did you know that a number of his colleagues were exonerated from blame? Was the study really Wakefield’s long con or is something else going on? If there’s one CDC whistleblower, are there others? What is the connection between our immune system and GI issues? How much do GI issues affect our bodies and our brains? What adverse effects, if any, do vaccines have on our immune systems?  On our guts? Is there a gut-brain health connection? If the choice regarding vaccines is not between certain death from a disease and a healthy long life, but a choice between probable immunization from a disease that you may or may not be ever exposed to or even be permanently damaged or die of and the possibility of getting an auto-immune disorder for life that makes even eating an ordeal, what would you choose? What would you choose for your children?

As much as I want to believe that vaccines are ultimately safe, the very fact that they do harm some, gives me pause. The fact that they are such “holy” artifacts to our society that the companies that make them cannot be sued, gives me pause. The fact that our government is making money on the vaccines gives me pause. The fact that Andrew Wakefield may have falsified his results, gives me pause. His results were only seriously questioned after Brian Deer’s reporting and complaint. How many other scientific studies, both in favor and against vaccines were, have been, or are currently falsifying their results?

The anti-vax sentiment is merely part of a larger one: The disillusionment of public confidence regarding institutions. We have a media that outright lies to us on a daily basis. We have a government that often lies, too, and worse, they are not being held to account by said lying media. Vaccines are one of the last holdouts in public confidence. With the passing of Obamacare, faith in the health industry as a whole (not to mention Congress) is rapidly failing.  It’s only a matter of time before the public starts to question vaccines on a massive scale.

People immediately take offense over vaccine safety. They jump to anger ahead of any other response when anyone questions vaccines. Those who question God in Bible study don’t even get such a response. On comment boards, pro-vaxxers eerily mimic those in the the pro-Global Warming (or whatever it’s called these days) camp. They say the “science is settled” and that people who question vaccines are “deniers.” Pro-vaxxers often wish a horrible disease-ridden death on anti-vaxxers and their children or anyone who merely questions the safety of vaccines. Why is this? Is this not a huge red flag in some way? Before doing all of this reading, I reacted with certainty, too. Weren’t anti-vaxxers needlessly putting other people at risk? Hadn’t that all been debunked? Yes, it has been debunked, but only if one has confidence in large corporations, our government, and our public institutions. I can say I don’t have confidence the way I used to. These large entities are only as good as the people who run them, and if those people do not possess integrity, or moral excellence, it is very probable these entities are corrupt and should be seriously questioned, not blindly followed, even, and perhaps especially, when it comes to vaccines.

However I think about vaccines today (and I go back and forth as I do more research and reading), I can at least say I am informed, that I understand the arguments on both sides, and that I am not blindly following. If you are pro-vaccine, I highly recommend you start researching the other side and really look at their arguments. Look at the studies, too, if you find you can trust them. Anti-vaxxers, or those who question vaccines, be brave enough to question the claims your side is making. Understand that the pro-vaxx sentiment is largely emotional, but so is the anti-vaxx side. The generation now in their sixties grew up with a major media, government, and drug company campaign regarding Polio. The March of Dimes, the iron lungs, the horror stories of what happened to the children. This campaign of propaganda (the benefits of the vaccine aside) was pushed largely when our parents and/or grandparents were young children. Ever see a child completely melt down if their parent has a single cigarette? Yeah, that’s what I mean. Most older people also may have no idea just how many vaccines kids are supposed to get these days. What was two or three back in their day, is 60+ today.

For me, this is the biggest issue with vaccines:  In the future there will be more and more of them, and more combined – 10 in one shot, then 20! Whispers about mandating them or that unvaccinated children are somehow “unclean.” Little to no incentive for either the drug companies, the health industry, or the government to pull in the reigns. Where does it stop? How does it stop? How do we even reach the place where we can calmly  discuss if it should stop?

–P. Beldona

The Useful Idiot: The Circle

Absolute freedom and absolute tyranny both can be defined and enforced starting with the individual.  If the individual is not free, neither is society as a whole. If individuals are tyrannical without resistance, society eventually becomes tyrannical. Both the left and right sides of the political spectrum often use the term “useful idiots” to refer to those individuals who are fanatical to a fault in believing in the cause of their respective sides. These individuals are useful in the sense that without them tyranny would not gain a foothold and fools in the sense that they willfully ignore the truth and fail to anticipate the larger picture for the future.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (now a movie starring Emma Watson) tells the story of one useful, unthinking idiot, generally a progressive, but only in the sense that she wants to be part of the “in” crowd. The readers gets the feeling this twenty-something, Mae, would joyfully promote whatever was deemed to be popular and eagerly becomes part of and instigator in what can best be described as a “happy” fascism (see Hitler happy face on Jonah Goldberg’s bestseller Liberal Fascism). Her story instantly brings to mind the timeless quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

I read The Circle in about a day and a half. The book consumed me and I think not unlike the unhealthy way that media in general can consume an individual’s attention. It is a horror story in the purest sense, relating our own eagerness to create hell on earth and highlighting that whatever technology humans create, there is always, always a downside. That Egger’s writing reels the reader into being able not to do much but read the story, he is genius in recreating the addictiveness of entertainment and the desire to “know.”

The Circle fits into two story genres for me, the first and perhaps more benign one of young people (often women) obtaining a dream job in which the company consumes their life, draining and using them up all for the almighty dollar. This story belongs alongside The Firm and The Devil Wears Prada as much as it also belongs with 1984. The second category, those stories of totalitarianism is what makes The Circle rise far above the first genre.  In reading the story, those who are well-read or have seen totalitarian films or movies will find instant parallels to 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Minority Report, The Giver, Antitrust, and thousands of other, similar stories.

Mae’s useful idiocy in The Circle is truly amazing. The Circle is a modern tech company with tentacles in every conceivable human endeavor, clearly symbolic of Google, Facebook, Apple, and the like. The story is so horrifying because the consuming nature of social media and modern technology has become evident to all. People spend thousands of hours a year (including myself) scrolling through news feeds, trying out new apps, liking and disliking, and commenting on topics we know little about. We see daily how our privacy is constantly infringed upon, whether it be yet another requirement in airport security or cameras installed (with or without our knowledge) in our neighborhood. This is presumably all to keep us safe, but leaves us more vulnerable than every to tyranny.

Useful idiots are hard to resist because together they make up millions and millions of people.  Technology makes it easy to become disconnected to reality. Just think of all the people rapidly accepting the Transgender movement without question. It’s easy to take on a cause online. One doesn’t have to think or research or actually comprehend the larger picture. With social media, it is also increasingly easy to think that “online” equals reality. Think of when Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of girls in Africa. What was our response?  The #bringbackourgirls hashtag for Twitter. The Circle parodies this perfectly as Mae “frowns” at a militant group terrorizing another country and then becomes concerned that the militant group will, first of all care that she is virtually frowning at them, and second of all, take steps to stop their behavior. Laughably, she also worries that they will physically try to target and attack her due to her one “frown” among millions of others.

To perhaps highlight just how unthinking Mae is, Eggers shows her as a young woman eager to sleep with almost anyone, even those she’s really not attracted to. This relates directly to the social justice nonsense that people are some how “-ist” (racist, agist, sexist) if they have preferences along race, gender and so on for romantic partners. Just as Mae feels bad if she doesn’t instantly reply to any message from anyone around the world in The Circle system, it’s no jump to figure she would feel just as bad rejecting any of the same people’s sexual advances. One of her partners seems to only use her for sex and then suddenly, inexplicably, relies on her to save the planet from tyranny. Mae isn’t the only useful idiot, just the one we happen to follow in the story.

The part where The Circle implements “instant democracy” is profound. Mae herself still can’t just immediately mark or voice her opinion. She (who has a lot of influence and power by this time) waits until others have given their “smiles” or “frowns” before she herself chooses the most popular option. If there was one thing I could change about modern education it would be to have a class clearly discussing and explaining to young minds just what democracy is and means. Pure democracy isn’t much different from mob rule and the only reason the young champion it is because they are young and are being taught by totalitarians. If all of one’s opinions match perfectly with those already in power, it is easy to think that pure democracy is a great thing. It’s easy to think that the governments have every right to force their citizens to speak or even to think a certain way.

The true horror of The Circle is that it is an all-knowing, all-seeing, mandatory participation system created and run by humans. If atheists think God is awful or should be disbelieved for demanding holiness, they should consider the alternative: humanity trying to be God.  This is the “god” that Satan would have for the world. In this Tower of Babel system, people have no chance to opt out, no rest from interference from their fellow humans, and perhaps most importantly, no forgiveness and no real love.  It is an evil that Boromir of Lord of the Rings would say “does not sleep.”

As harsh, or rather as just as God is, for love of us, He made a way out of punishment and eternal damnation. In Hell, there is no God and no forgiveness. Hell’s inhabitants have no relief from the evil they have done and that is the basis of their torment. We joke that everyone online is permanent, but it’s really no joke, and past information on people (especially of a political nature) is often used as a weapon against them and by all sides.

The invasive tracking of the individual in The Circle also brings to mind biblical prophesies like that in Revelation in which people are forced to wear the “mark of the beast” to buy or sell anything. The ironic thing about constant surveillance and tracking is that it is at the same time very inept. If the NSA tracks our every keystroke, in looking for the criminals, their haystack is impossibly huge. In addition, even though the information is in the “cloud” or “ether,” it still needs a physical space to be stored and itself uses a ton of physical resources. Talk about a burden on nature.

The Circle was so horrifying to me because it’s not so much telling the future, but telling what’s going on right now. The good thing is that people are becoming tired of social media. The bad thing is, once the next big social media site has a foothold, the obsession will start all over again. It’s at once great and also terrifying technology. People are peer-pressured into only sharing positive things online. People are increasingly (myself included) mistaken in the importance of their own opinions and thoughts. People are pushed into holding up only the popular or politically correct views and are more and more afraid of listening to any other views. In fact, young people especially, are starting to believe that any view that doesn’t conform with their own, or that of their college professors, is dangerous, and–even more remarkably–as physically dangerous to their person. This is where the “snowflake” accusation comes into play. We are attempting to make the world into a place where no negative or bad thing is spoken, seen, heard, or felt.  However, as any realist knows, this is futile. It is impossible to erase all of the bad things in the world and it is impossible to make utopia. This experiment is bound to fail in the long run, and worse than failure, will likely end with totalitarian oppression that must be overturned with physical violence. If one side will not listen to the other, if we “don’t use our words” as Stefan Molyneux often says, “we must use our fists.” This is no more clearly shown in episodes like that of the Berkeley riots against anyone on the “right” side of the political spectrum, and the rise of Antifa, purportedly a group against fascism, but fascistic itself and prone to physical violence against anyone who merely disagrees with them. Brave new world indeed.

Darkest before Dawn

The little ironies of life are funny sometimes.  Often when we think we look our best, we feel great all day, go home and look in the mirror and find that the feeling doesn’t quite match our appearance. Perhaps there’s food stuck in our teeth or dandruff on our shoulders. Maybe we have sweat stains under our armpits and a spot of toothpaste pooled on the bottom of our shirt. We may in actuality have looked pretty scary, but we felt great and so acted great and happy all day. We were at our best even if an outsider would say we looked our worst.

In contemplating the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ this Easter Season it struck me how when things look bleakest, those are often the most significant and important moments. By all accounts on that morning of the third day, Satan had won. No one’s sins were forgiven, and everyone was doomed to be apart from God and with Satan forever in the torment of Hell. The women walking to Jesus’ tomb were in mourning for their dearest friend. They were shocked to find that he was alive. Jesus was alive again after suffering the punishment of God’s wrath in our place. He took on our sin and gave us his holiness, his perfection, and his death was his finest moment, even though an outsider would have said it looked like he failed. But he didn’t fail; he rose again, conquering, death, sin, and the Devil all in one fell swoop.

If it’s ironic that we often feel at our best when often we actually look laughable, how much more fascinating is it when we feel at our worst. Some days, nothing seems to go right. We are crabby, we snap, we burst into tears, and we make one mistake after another and by the end of the day we wonder if there’s anything lovable or even likable about us at all. For Christians, we fill those times with the comfort that God always loves us no matter what. Still, we may feel we failed, as people, as Christians, as witnesses of that love. Sometimes when we feel at our worst, sure, it’s true, but sometimes we feel at our worst, but realize later that we may have been at our best. We may have been crabby yet brutally honest with someone who needed to hear the truth. We may have smiled in solidarity with someone else who was also having a bad day. Ever think you gave an awful performance or speech and everyone else thinks you were great? We scratch our heads at that, right? What are other people seeing that we don’t see?

The truth is, as much as we know ourselves, we don’t know ourselves very well. The picture of ourselves in our heads is a far cry from what others see. And, generally, that’s a blessing, for other people are far kinder to us than we are to ourselves. For Christians, God uses us as our weakest moments to shine brighter in his name, because it’s all not about us, but that wonderful salvation. And those moments that are the hardest, those times when we are really struggling, those are the times we grow the most as people.  Those are the times we learn the hard lessons and we learn the truths about love and live.  We don’t know it at the time, of course, and later on we discover we’ve grown gorgeous butterfly wings and think, how did I get here? How did God get me here? And sometimes we realize it was those dark moments, and sometimes we never know when it was that we grew.

For myself, those times when I’m feeling down and I’m definitely not at my best and I’m stalling with writing, I find myself thinking about how it’s always darkest before dawn. My prayer is that in the moments of despair, God will push me to hope. And I do find that after a time of heartbreak or melancholy, my mind is more focused, my story ideas brighter. I don’t always notice it, but when I really think about it, when things are going well, I don’t work as hard, I don’t try as hard, and I become soft and slothful. If it weren’t for the dark times, I wouldn’t be writing at all. The joy of anything in life, especially Easter and the Resurrection shines out the brighter because there’s something to contrast it against. I have to wonder if that’s why God started it all in the first place. I mean, he knew we were destined to sin, to go against his will and holiness, but he loved us so much and maybe loved that contrast that at once makes human life so perilous and so precious, that he found it worth it to create us, that it was better to create us with both the peril and preciousness rather than not create us at all. That it was better to have to face the suffering of the cross for our sake rather than face nothing at all.

Yes it’s darkest before dawn and sometimes it seems like dawn will never come, but sometimes dawn comes so slowly it creeps up on us and one day we stop and think, “hey, I’m happy!” Life is so miraculous and ironic and such an adventure. Just when we think winter will never end, the earth shakes off its slumber and teems with new life. Just when we think we hit rock bottom several fathoms ago we come to find that we helped someone without knowing it, or inspired someone, or wrote all our tearstained poems in perfect iambic pentameter. Life’s kind of exciting because we actually don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. We don’t know what we are capable of until put to the test. It’s at once terrifying and fascinating, and even in those moments when we really, truly fail or behave awfully, we take it to heart and learn from it whether we want to or not.

Happy Spring, Happy Easter. When you think you look your best, don’t forget to check your teeth and when you’re at your worst remember that butterflies have those beautiful wings from struggling out of that binding cocoon. Without that struggle the butterflies would be fragile and weak, with it their wings are strong and they can fly out in to the world and beautify it. Without the cross, Jesus couldn’t have given us salvation and eternal life. Anything worth having comes with struggle. This is the tightrope we walk in this world of sin.

Romans 5:3-5 says: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (NIV)

Sensitivity Readers

This baffles me. Why hire someone to read your work and ensure you don’t offend anyone? Actually, not “anyone,” but those who live and breathe by whatever current form of political correctness is in place. As a writer, there is no guarantee, no matter what you write, that you will never offend someone. That truth alone should make the practice of hiring a “sensitivity reader” a poor investment, but pour on top of that the increasingly shrill culture of offense today and the question becomes: Why write in the first place? How in our overly sensitive PC culture can one hope to be any sort of artist without offending that culture at some point? And the rules of what is “offensive” are changing all the time.

It used to be a badge of honor for writers and artists to offend the prevalent narrative or world view. Why the heck would any writer want their stories or essays to be so lukewarm that they offend no one? How far down the rabbit hole have we gone even thinking that’s it’s possible to never offend. What about the readers who want exciting stories that challenge how they view the world? What about the offense they take at a boring story with feminists rants they’ve heard a hundred times already? No, no, let’s give them more drivel toeing the PC line. Keep to the status quo, everybody’s doing it. Marxist collectivism, when it’s not murderous is actually really boring. Everyone must be the same all the time with no differences, whether in dress or viewpoint. Used to be that artists were the ones holding this stuff back. Now, they share in the oppression of anything remotely interesting.

Fellow writers, if it’s authenticity you’re worried about, hire a good researcher, not some “sensitivity” tool.  If your book sparks a reaction, great, that means that people are reading it, that they care about it, and that they will tell more people about it who will spend their money to read it and will also be talking about it.  Twilight had a lot of mockers and offended many, but they were all talking about it and you couldn’t walk anywhere for months without hearing about sparkly vampires. Guess who now has enough money to continue writing and getting better at her craft? Uh, huh, that’s right.

Should our goal be to offend? I suppose that depends on what kind of writer you want to be. Satirists thrive on offense. If you’re just a storyteller like me, though, the goal is to tell an exciting and engaging story and often that involves challenging readers’ sensitivities. So what?  They are reading, and that is the point.

 

Long-Nose-Hiccups-Pants-on-Fire: Kdrama Pinocchio’s media redemption fairytale.

What is a journalist?

Pinocchio_(Korean_Drama)-p1

Pinocchio

Pinocchio, a Korean TV drama from 2014-15, seeks to answer this question. It follows the story of a boy whose family has been irrevocably wronged by reporters, and a girl who has an unusual syndrome called “Pinocchio” syndrome. The fictional syndrome doesn’t refer to a wooden puppet with a long nose, but a person who is unable to lie without hiccuping. Tailor-made for a show about reporters, being a “Pinocchio” means one also hiccups when withholding the truth and even when one merely has doubts. In the real world, a person plagued with Pinocchio syndrome would be hiccuping nonstop. In the show, Park Shin-Hye and the writers make it fairly believable.

Choi Dal-Po is the main character and played by Lee Jong-Suk. Lee adds such heart to his acting, making it easy to connect with his character, who balances between being the scared and angry little boy that he was, and the brave and thoughtful young man he has become. Park Shin-Hye plays his best friend Choi In-Ha. The first few episodes deal with a lot of back story and their time in high school and then the show launches into high gear when both decide to be reporters, In-Ha because her estranged mother is a famous reporter, and Dal-Po, because he wants to answer the question of what a journalist is.

Pinocchio is real and surreal at the same time. It’s a story attempting to get at real truths while highlighting its own fairytale aspects, from the slightly exaggerated characters to the episode titles, to the magical winter setting. As a person who has read countless books and watched an embarrassingly large number of movies and TV shows, I can tell you that in my view it is a near-perfect story. If there is a misstep it is only in the beginning episodes in which it first appears to be a high school knock off of Slumdog Millionaire. The cast is huge, due to the number of reporters and journalists from the fictional broadcasting stations, MSC and YGN, but a few of the smaller players manage to steal all of their scenes, especially Lee Yoo-Bi as feisty rookie Yoon Yoo-Rae, and Min Sung-Wook (No Tears for the Dead) as veteran “stick-it-to-the-man” reporter Jang Hyun-Gyu. Other standouts are Lee Joo-Seung, who rocks as a young world-worn police detective, Kim Hae-Sook (The Thieves) as business chaebol Park Ro-Sa, and especially Jin Kyung, whose deadpanned expression is vital to reporter Song Cha-Ok.

Pinocchio is not so much the story of all reporters, but that of reporter Song Cha-Ok. Song is a successful reporter who has sold her soul to get where she is. Throughout the show, the question changes from, “What is a journalist?” to “Can dishonest journalist Song Cha-Ok be redeemed?” The Pinocchio angle comes into play when Song’s estranged daughter, In-Ha, a Pinocchio, decides she wants to be a reporter. This is not possible, in Song’s opinion, because the very nature of the job requires her to lie from time to time, even if the lies are lily white (as in needing to be undercover for a story).

Choi Dal-Po, who has been very, very wronged by Song’s irresponsible past reporting and by another “Pinocchio,” has a more scathing view of not only journalists, but also Pinocchios unable to lie: In one early scene he excoriates both as not comprehending the enormous duty they have to the public. By default people will always assume that both are telling them the truth, and that is not a status to be flippant about. Throughout the series both Dal-Po and In-Ha learn just how complicated it can be to tell the truth with no agenda.

Although the show delves only shallowly into the full political ramifications of what the News media’s lies do to society, it is a relevant story in our time of constant media spin, obfuscation, and outright falsehood. These days more and more people are waking up to the fact that the media as a whole has its own agendas apart from just giving us the truth or facts. They exaggerate and make false claims in order to get more viewers or readers, they outright campaign for certain candidates while at the same time proclaiming that they are not biased, they insert themselves into the story where it is not pertinent, and so on and so forth.

My Take on the Media

The second time I watch Pinocchio, this time in order to review it, it struck me how timely the stories is in this age of news media, mass media, social media and new media.  Truth and lies are simultaneously rampant.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to being a kid when I thought the reporters I saw on TV every night were giving me facts and truth. I wish I could go back to a time when I had no idea I was being lied to, but I can’t. Once you see the media’s lies and bias, you can’t un-see them. I now know that a lot of the American news media not-so-secretly (anymore) detests the regular, hardworking people of this country. I now know that many, if not most, reporters are in it for the fame or the money or to further an agenda, but not in it for sharing the truth. The news sources I read and listen to now, openly share their biases and their agendas. I like that honesty and I think its better than media pretending a false neutrality they do not possess.

This U.S. Presidential Election cycle has been interesting largely due to Donald Trump. Had he not run, it would have been same old-same old, and the Republicans would have folded to the media’s lies as usual. He’s done a great service highlighting (for those who have eyes to see) just how untruthful and agenda driven most of our news is. In addition, he brilliantly decided to run as a Republican, effectively showcasing those who claim to care about conservative ideals and the country, but really are only concerned with their own power and sphere of influence. He’s also laid a death blow to political correctness, the media’s biggest weapon in their agenda against anyone who, well, disagrees with them.

Over the years I’ve found some news sources or interesting perspectives that cover a different view of the world than the MSM, or mainstream media. More importantly, these sources point out the inherent, usually Leftist bias in most of the MSM. The sources I go to are biased, but openly so, and I respect them for that. They don’t pretend objectivity, like CNN, or Fox News, or any of the other major cable networks. The truth is that all news sources and all reporters and journalists have bias. A good consumer of the news should gauge to what degree bias affects what stories the news source covers and how the story is related or “spun.” Each person has to decide for themselves whether a news source is trustworthy—and often this takes time to tell—and whether the spin is helping to accurately understand the stories shared, or whether it is promoting a narrative (Hillary must be elected! for example) only.

Today, because of political correctness, the greatest danger in any reporting is what people have coined as “virtue signaling,” that is claiming to care about something only for the sake of those in earshot. It’s a quick ego boost that we are all guilty of from time to time, but lately, is running rampant, especially in the news media. We can see it everywhere from the push to continue bad, expensive programs to “save the poor!” or “save the planet!” despite factual evidence that the programs are not realistic and often harm those they intend to help. Pushing on despite the reality is virtue signaling, not actual virtue. This is a big reason the current presidential campaign has been so torn and bitter. People care more about a “nice” tone than the facts a candidate is presenting. Vice-versa, if a candidate is well-mannered, for many that covers over any multitude of sins and I can’t help but think of all those people who knew serial killers and say, “Oh, but he was such a nice young man.” What does it take to wake up from this?  How do we get back to substance?

Here’s my story:

In 2006 I was living and teaching English in China and went to friend’s house in Hong Kong for a few days. They had cable, which I hadn’t watched in a few years. During breakfast Headline News (at least I think it was that) was on with a guy named Glenn Beck. I always assumed (because of past experience) that any MSM outlet was liberal or Leftist in bias (thought I still didn’t know how much it affected their reporting), so I was surprised to find him saying and talking bout things that I was interested in and agreed with. Beck became a hit on talk radio and eventually landed a show on Fox News. His popularity largely stemmed from discussions and facts on history, things that put into perspective the upheavals in tradition that still are being overthrown in America and around the world. The great political struggle of the world was presented not so much as Right vs. Left, but Liberty vs. Tyranny.

For the first time, I really contemplated that the Nazis were national socialists, what that meant, and, why for so many years they had been painted as right wingers. And then I couldn’t stop seeing it, I, and many others. We couldn’t stop seeing the obvious Leftist bias in nearly all of the mainstream media’s reporting. This is something we intrinsically knew, but had never really faced head-on. I give Beck much credit for sharing a lot of these things and also promoting the American ideal, the American dream, and so on. For the first time, I understood why everyone in college was obsessed with Che Guevara, why by default, most college student were perceived Socialism as good, why everyone had a desire to show how “multicultural” they were, and why everyone seemed so concerned with the sins of America, their own country. I finally understood that all of the media was lying every single day, and that their lies slanted sharply to the Left because that’s where the power is.

The kicker was, it wouldn’t have been such an big failing if the media had simply been willing to self-evaluate and be honest about their views and how it affected their reporting. I also saw a bigger issue behind that: culture. American pop culture is now almost always for big government and always, again, slanted to the Left.

If the news media has a problem with virtue signaling, don’t get me started on pop singers, Hollywood stars, artists, and the like. (So many Christians in the early 00’s near-worshipped U2’s Bono due to cultural virtue signaling. I was floored to find out that he’s only give 1% – one percent!! – to charity.  This, for me, is Leftism in a nutshell, it sounds so moral, so virtuous, but in the end, it’s just a cash grab not much different than selling indulgences for a ticket to heaven.

Back to Beck. I don’t listen to Beck now, and it’s same for a lot of former listeners. It wasn’t just that he betrayed his message, he fell prey to virtue signaling of the worst kind. And I’m left having to consider that he never really cared at all. People who never liked him to begin with will probably snicker and say, “see, told ya,” but they likely never listened to him anyway, only swallowed the articles and stories biased against him. I don’t say this to be mean or bitter, I say it because it’s the truth. Few people (largely on the Left, some on the Right) who disliked Beck and his message a few years ago actually took the time to listen to him and to understand why people thought his show was appealing. Many who did like him found his show informative and entertaining. I can’t go back in time, to see, knowing what I know now, if I would have that same opinion. I have to say his constant crying first started to turn me off. It’s not that men should never cry, it’s just rare that anyone, male or female, would regularly cry on a cable news TV show. I had hoped the tears were evidence of his sincerity. That hope proved false.

So how did Beck fall? I, along with many of his former listeners, would say it was back in 2014, the summer we had the big crisis of children arriving at our Southern border from Central America. They came by the thousands and it was at this same time that I began to see friends and acquaintances post that they cared so much about those kids. They cared more for those kids than their own families and countrymen, more than their neighbors’ welfare and safety, more than the rule of law, and more than our national sovereignty. It was a great time of PC rearing its ugly head. If any of us had forgotten that PC dictated our daily lives, bleeding-heart virtue signaling brought us back to remembrance with a jolt. It was surreal to see people I thought I knew fail to critically consider our open border situation. I think they just wanted to sound like nice, caring people, the trouble is, it was just a veneer, but they couldn’t seem to see it, and were untroubled by their flippant disregard for the very real and serious safety concerns of their fellows citizens.  And anyone who called them out on it was not playing “nice.” I began to recall that the original meaning of “nice” was “foolish,” and since then have become increasingly suspicious of calls for “niceness” or criticisms that people who are telling truths people don’t want to hear are not “nice” enough in manner or tone.

At first Beck stuck to his previous line. America’s sovereignty and the safety of its citizens is more important than letting anyone and everyone in across the border.  He indicated to have disregard for our borders was not kindness, but reckless both regarding our safety and the safety of those trying to get in illegally. And then something switched and he was all of a sudden concerned that he was encouraging all of his viewers to hate these kids, or something. Maybe he read too many troll internet comments? Who knows. At any rate, it became his mission to show that conservatives were not heartless (giving in to Leftist claims that we were heartless), that we cared about these kids, and that caring meant letting them stay at the border instead of sending them home.

This was such an about-face it left people baffled. Just a few weeks, perhaps even a few days earlier (I don’t really remember) he’d been proclaiming that we needed to have a realistic view of the situation. That simply letting the kids in would only mean more would come, etc., and so on. That we shouldn’t let our emotions overcome the facts in the situation. Then he jumpstarted a plan to bring soccer balls and teddy bears to the kids being held at the detention centers along the border. This was to show the Left that, see, conservatives care. Although the detention centers were a bit overwhelmed, none of the kids or people held there were being treated inhumanely, yet suddenly Beck seemed to think they were. Even more troubling was that he started to turn on his listeners, saying that those who disagreed with what he was doing didn’t care about the children. He started using Leftist arguments against his own followers and even crowed about those Leftist celebrities and journalists who gave him a shoutout for appearing so nice and caring (I stress “appearing”).

Beck had stepped up into the self-labeled cool club and, I think, never looked back. Even more alarming, was the fact that Ted Cruz joined him on his gift-giving trip. This was a big judgement fail on the part of Cruz, and it was the first time I questioned how smart of a politician he really was.  It also made Beck’s early professions early in the 2015 primaries that he hadn’t yet chosen a candidate to back, ring a bit hollow. I doubt few were surprised that he ended up becoming a spokesperson for Cruz. That Cruz allowed him to become so despite his increasingly erratic behavior, was another glaring error in judgement. After that incident, I didn’t listen to Beck quite as much, though I did still follow him on Facebook and also read his news site The Blaze from time to time, because they often had stories no one else did.

Enter Donald J. Trump. Still mostly a fan of Cruz, I rolled my eyes when I heard Trump was running. But, what I knew of Trump up to that point, was what the MSM had told me. He wasn’t something the more right-sided news sources I’d started listening to had covered much, save for his strange quest to weed out Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Even today, I’m not really sure what was going on there. Was Trump already beginning to run for president at that point? Did he truly have insider information the rest of us did not? It ended with no revelation from Trump, but in Obama releasing a document some say is forged. Who knows? It was strange, and that was my opinion of Trump. He was strange.

And then I listened to his speech on the border and immigration, and I was fascinated that he seemed to get it. That he seemed to get that something was really wrong with the U.S. not securing their southern border. And he also offended Mexicans and virtue signalers, most of whom did not take the time to examine what he actually said or why he said it. Suddenly Trump wasn’t “nice” and that was the same (for many) as being Adolf Hitler. Trump also, interestingly, refused to go on Glenn Beck’s show, and thus began months and months and months of Beck tearing down Trump every chance he got. For some reason, Trump made him lose his mind. Beck lost any and all objectivity when it came to Trump, as did many, many others.  And it lost them readers, viewers, and followers in droves.

Their anger of those against Trump seemed not fact-based so much as it was virtue signaling. People who had, say, a basic understanding of business, seemed to lose that understanding when Trump’s bankruptcies were mentioned. It was as if no one in business had ever failed, and one failure was a terminal failure of a person for the rest of their life. Okay, not “a person,” Trump. Beck began to bleed, and bleed, and bleed viewers, and in response he doubled and tripled down on how nasty Trump was.

At this time Beck and others, formerly pretty decent to their fellow man, turned with an onslaught of hate, spite, and anger directed not at Trump, but at his supporters. This was because Trump supporters were not being good little children and doing as they were told, to support Cruz or Rubio or anyone on the ticket but Trump. That Trump was fulfilling all of their hopes and dreams at bringing more people to the Right, that for the first time someone running actually seemed to care about the country and its citizens, vs. the rest of the world, didn’t seem to matter. And suddenly, for a lot people, figurative scales fell from their eyes.

The conservatives nearly spitting mad didn’t really care about their country, and they had no respect for someone choosing a different candidate, instead painting them as “angry” and “crazy,” not necessarily in that order. These Never Trumpers preferred virtue signaling and pretending that everything would continue as normal when our country was hurting and wounded on multiple fronts. That people didn’t agree on Trump being a candidate wasn’t really a problem (that happens all the time in politics), what was unusual is the outright anger against those who supported him. Gone was the previous “nice” ideal that even though people supported different candidates for the Republican ticket, they were generally on the same side as far as concern for the country. For some baffling reason it became important to many not only that Trump say the right things, but that he say it a certain way. A “nice” spin was wanted where brutal truth is what we needed.

And Beck could not be trusted.

These days he’s spending his time still targeting Trump and encouraging people to “vote their conscience” (code for not-Trump) in a race where if Clinton wins, it really could be the end of liberty in this country. We’ve seen fact after fact after fact of her dishonesty, her treason, and her disregard for anything but her own power and wealth. But we mustn’t vote for the man who could stop her, oh no, we must vote for “nice” people, people who will continue to sell out this country’s wealth and sovereignty for political correctness and money for themselves. I now doubt Beck’s sincerity. I doubt his trustworthiness, and I really doubt his claims to moral superiority (being “nicer” than Trump) because in the next moment he plasters Cheetos on his face trying to turn his skin as orange as Trump’s. Because that’s what “nice” people do, I guess.

The relaying of this is not to bash Beck, but to show how extreme bias prevented him from looking at Trump critically, but fairly. I tell it also as a way of explaining how trust in a media source is lost. It happens in a variety of ways and is different for everyone, but that’s one way it happened for me. The rest of the media lost me largely during the Bush years when I realized they just didn’t care about the truth. They cared about putting Democrats in power. No quarter was shown to Bush, while people on the Democrat side were given endless benefits of the doubt. All while the media pretended it was objective.

Bush himself didn’t impress me in the fact that he seemed to think if he never addressed their attacks, they would just go away. He did this even when it gave the Left more and more fuel for the next presidential race. McCain and Romney ran, neither of them putting up much of a fight, though, making sure to appear “nice.”

This, I think, is the big reason Trump ran as a Republican. A lot of people knew that something was wrong with the party, we just didn’t know what. It took Trump to show us what we couldn’t see: Many Republican politicians will not fight even with the country’s welfare at stake. They are too happy to go along to get along, too happy to think that the gravy train will never end for them, too happy to continue to believe their fellow Republicans are suckers, too happy to believe that nothing is worth rocking the boat for, too happy to believe that nothing is worth ticking off the media for, and too happy to believe that “nice” lies are more important than the “offensive” truth. Trump is a fighter and he knows that America is something worth fighting for and that is why he is winning the support of millions of his fellow citizens.

If you’ve read this far, my hat’s off to you, and if you’ve read this far and are not a Trump supporter, double thumbs up for at least reading a different perspective. I can’t ultimately tell you who to trust, either in the media or in politics. I can, however, tell you with certainty that both the media and politicians lie to you all the time, and they do it on purpose. Pinocchio plumbs some of the depths of deception, but not all. It considers that news reporting can be redeemed, but the reality is, it can only be redeemed if reporters and journalists are dedicated to telling the truth, and first and foremost, the truth of their own biases and agendas. It can only be redeemed if journalists begin to consider that the truth is more important than the political correctness of the day. It can only be redeemed if journalists consider the real power allotted to them. By default, people believe journalists and reporters are presenting them with facts and truth. The internet is rapidly shattering this default, as insta-news from fellow citizens now showcases the constant spin and obfuscation the media puts on everything. People are getting new narratives, and starting to question the old ones, like why, CNN, for example, should have any claim on their trust at all.

To end, here is a list of some of the sources I follow. They are nearly all Right Wing and/or Libertarian, but they give different perspectives on things than the MSM, and can be a good place to start in comparing sources. I trust them for the time being, but it’s always possible they will do something to break that trust. Some I used to trust, like Beck, lost me because they couldn’t report fairly on Trump. Their anger against him clouded their judgement. If they are critical, but fair, they are still on my list. The general media is, by default, on the side of the Left. I don’t know if this is because Leftists are currently in power or if it has always been so. I think the best shift for news media would be for both sides to be represented more equally. This shift is happening, not by force of government, but by the blessings (and curses) of the internet, by Youtube channels, and blogs. Because New Media threatens government power, be on the lookout for calls to suppress many of these people and the views they hold.

One final rule of thumb in deciding who to trust: Follow the money. Monetary gain is the first order of business in the news business.

In no particular order:

drudgereport.com

breitbart.com – One of their heads has now joined Trump’s campaign, so I will be checking to see that their bias for Trump doesn’t take over in holding him account if he does become president.

Breitbart writers I like:
Milo Yiannopolous
Raheem Kassam
James Delingpole
Allum Bokhari
Brandon Darby
Lee Stranahan
Ildefonso Ortiz

Rush Limbaugh – Great at highlighting MSM bias, has been more or less fair to Trump, even though he doesn’t appear to be a huge supporter. Realizes it’s more important to defeat Clinton.

Michelle Malkin – Twitchy

Thomas Sowell – Okay, he lost his mind a bit over Trump, too, but is still good on other matters.

Charlotte Iserbyt – Eye-opening research into government-run education — see YouTube

Dennis Prager – Prager University – thought-provoking videos.

Stefan Molyneux – “Not an Argument!” – Educating on how to debate – big on the facts.

Sargon of Akkad – This Week in Stupid

Paul Joseph Watson – Infowars

Alex Jones – Infowars

Vox Day – Alt-right – also, fantasy writer

Rebel Media – Canadians! – free speech!
Lauren Southern
Ezra Levant
Gavin McInnes

Gad Saad

Adam Carolla

Dave Rubin – The Rubin Report

Tommy Sotomayor

American Thinker – offers a variety of articles from different writers. Pro-Tump or Anti-Trump depending on the day

The Conservative Treehouse – This site is unabashedly for Trump, thus they have very enlightening articles on media bias against him and for Clinton.

Political Correctness and the Ministry of Magic

Since that awful day on September 11th, 2001, I have watched in perplexity as politically correct Progressivism has tied itself into knots to deny that we are in a war against Islam. Some will want to chastise me for saying that, but it’s true. Islam is the enemy, not radical Islam, but Islam itself, for no one can be a radical Islamist without first being a follower of Islam. Islam is a religion, an ideology, a governmental system, and a way of life that is completely incompatible with the West and our freedoms. In Islam there is no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, no freedom for women, and no freedom for those of other faiths and lifestyles.

Never have I seen such a passion as I have in the past couple of weeks by fellow Americans to assure me that Islam is a “religion of peace.” If only they had a tenth of that passion for defending their own country and their own religion (some of these defenders are Christians), what a different world that might be. Instead, fellow Americans, including those in our government are much like the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter series in their increasingly ridiculous attempts to deny that Voldemort has return—I mean that radical Islamists are causing terror around the world. Forget Islam in general, even calling the radicals terrorists is a bridge too far for some, and I have to wonder, is that reason fear? Are Islamists “they who must not be named?”

If you’ve read Harry Potter, you know that as the hero and his friends try to thwart the evil magician’s plans that they are continually hampered at every turn by the very politically correct Ministry of Magic, the UK magical world’s government. The Ministry refuses at times to even acknowledge there’s a threat. They chastise Harry for every un-PC action and are not even willing to give him a chance to explain himself. They put him on trial for breaking a law without wanting to listen to the reason he broke it. Harry illegally uses magic to ward off soul-sucking creatures that are attacking him and and his non-magical cousin (a cousin he thoroughly detests, yet chooses to save, btw). Instead of investigating why these dangerous Dementors who are supposed to be guarding a magical high-security prison are instead attacking teens, the Ministry chooses to try and strip Harry of using magic, maliciously attempting to leave him defenseless.

Farther into the series, Ministry official Dolores Umbridge (love that name) refuses to even let the Hogwarts students continue learning Defense Against the Darks Arts. No need for self-defense, government’s got it, right? Gun control, anyone? Watch or read Order of the Phoenix and tell me that Umbridge’s whole schtick isn’t a mirror image of the current “safe spaces” movement where one doesn’t want to hear anything unpleasant, un-PC, or anything resembling the truth. Tell me it doesn’t illustrate a perfect picture of an inept government unable to protect its citizens, while at the same time dismissing their very real fears and experiences, and even worse, denying them the right to defend themselves.

The prankster Weasley twins, Fred and George, represent the best of Libertarianism as they tease Umbridge at every turn, bringing laughter and joy to students as she tries to suck it out of them with rule after politically correct rule. Adding even more insult, Fred and George drop out of school to start a thriving, creative business that in no way needs the Ministry’s help to succeed. They are the very picture of Entrepreneurship and Capitalism.

The most disturbing part in comparing PC puritans with the Ministry of Magic is that in the end it was discovered that the Ministry itself was infiltrated by Voldemort’s supporters. Just why is it so neccessary for our government to deny Islam as the root cause for most of the terrorism going on in the world? What’s really at stake here? Bad enough if it’s merely fear worrying them (As an aside, defending Islam won’t save one if Islamists do take over. One’s house, like the Voldy-loyal Malfoy family, will be the first to be occupied. One’s safety will be constantly in question as one must cave to increasingly more uncomfortable demands, the final demand which may even be one’s life or the lives of those one holds dear), what if the motivation is more because they share commonalities with the Islamists or are even supporters of jihad themselves? At this stage in the game, is seems a reasonable question to ask.  Anyone remember good old Andrew McCarthy? He called out numerous people in the U.S. government for being Communists and Communist sympathizers (another ideology incompatible with our freedoms). They don’t bother to tell one in school today, but turns out Andrew McCarthy was right.

We can debate all day long over what to do about terrorism, both foreign and domestic, but we cannot even have that discussion if we don’t acknowledge what it is we’re up against. Islam is at the center of terrorism today. The first step in defeating the extremists is in acknowledging this fact. So interested are we in puffing ourselves up in “tolerance” (we’re just so awesome and special and PC) that we are putting ourselves and our countries in very real danger. How many more people must be slaughtered before we wake up? Let me also add, this denial has been an issue for the U.S. before, namely in not recognizing the great threat that Hitler and his Nazis presented to the free world. J.K. Rowling’s depiction of the Ministry of Magic echoes the very real history that we are dooming ourselves to repeat. Our current government is threatening those who would speak any ill against Islam. Is this a direction that will keep a free society free? Is this a direction that will help in the fight against terrorism?

Let’s take note from Harry and Co. and press on despite the idiocy of political correctness. Let us take on the threat calmly and firmly, forgiving those like Malfoy, who will eventually realize they are fighting for the wrong side and will wish to come back to the right one. Let us accept them back with open arms. Let us join together with those who love freedom. More than that, let us speak up for love, goodness, and faith. Let us speak up for America and for the West and the good they have done for the world. Let us speak up for freedom of speech and for freedom of religion, both of which are so important to the sharing of the Christian gospel that Christ died for our sins so we could live (ok, shameless plug, but it’s honestly the best news in the world).

Let us speak up for self-defense and against the lies that we are mere children who should have no say in our own security. Let us speak up for the fact that although most Muslims may be peaceful, their religion is not. Let us speak up for the fact that a Republic and a Democracy are better than Sharia. Let us speak up for the fact that both men and women are worthy sexes, that both play key roles in society, roles which should be cherished, not reduced to a burka. Let us speak up for the truth and let us not allow lies to flourish. Let us be free in the truth, even when the truth is painful or difficult to hear. Politically correct lies are cancerous tumors that can only be exorcised with the sword of truth. Let us ridicule PC-dom with so much truth and joy that like Umbridge against the Weasley twins it is left exhausted and maybe even a little impressed by our living  so brazenly without it.

(This post has been updated to fix some typos.)