Kengor Writes . . .
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. *