Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor

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

Monday, 17 October 2022 13:09

Kengor Writes

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

Remember the Cold War’s Witness

It was 70 years ago, 1952, that Whittaker Chambers published his memoir, Witness. It was a bestseller with a major impact, including on a future president who, more than any other figure, defeated the country that Chambers once served, winning the Cold War.

Chambers exploded onto the national scene courtesy of his dramatic 1948 trial, when he squared off with Alger Hiss in one of the most important cases of the 20th century. Americans were riveted, given the gravity of the charges: espionage. The memoir that followed (published by Random House) was a gripping, beautifully written work in which Chambers not only recounted the high stakes, but also the captivating and often sordid details of his most unusual life. His autobiography made clear, too, that he was a witness, not just in the Hiss trial and this Cold War epic, but to much more.

Whittaker Chambers was born April 1, 1901 and given the odd name “Jay Vivian” by a very unstable mother. An awkward boy and man, he nevertheless grew up to become a witness to many historical events, often unwittingly. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. observed that Chambers “seemed at once to enjoy and to resent the burdens of history.”

One burden of history that Chambers bore was a perilous one. At Columbia University, in the early 1920s, he took up the torch of Karl Marx and became a hardcore Communist. Sam Tanenhaus, in his superb 1997 biography, said that in joining the Communist cause, Chambers “had at last found his church.” The Marxist faith gave Chambers purpose and meaning.

But it was a dangerous and perverse purpose and meaning, and Chambers made it worse by joining the dark side in a deep way. From 1932 to 1938, Chambers became a Soviet spy, conspiring with (among other characters) a high-level State Department official with whom he helped pilfer documents for Moscow: Alger Hiss (1904–1997). Hiss was in many ways everything Chambers was not — charming, smooth, socially connected. He was a darling of the Eastern liberal elite, with sterling credentials among the foreign policy establishment, at one point heading up the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. He had clerked for Oliver Wendell Holmes, attended Yalta with FDR’s delegation, and was present at the creation of the United Nations.

In dramatic exchanges during the 1948 trial, Chambers identified Hiss as “the concealed enemy” that all freedom-loving Americans were fighting against. Hiss denied everything, including even knowing Chambers. Hiss nonetheless was unanimously convicted of perjury and spent 44 months in federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Hiss later quipped that his nearly four years in prison was a good corrective to four years at Harvard. Until the day he died, Hiss claimed innocence. But he was certainly guilty, as Chambers showed in his testimony and his memoir.

In Witness Chambers shared details of the Hiss trial and the larger trials of his tormented life in Witness. The book made it clear that he was learned, highly intellectual, and a deep thinker, and often anguished. Chambers for a long time was unhealthy, physically and emotionally, suffering several heart attacks and still dealing with scars going back to childhood, having grown up in a big-city home of severe family dysfunction.

The succinct title, Witness, is clever. Yes, Chambers became famous as a witness in the Hiss trial, but he was in fact a witness to much more. Chambers showed that he had served as another kind of witness — as Christians understand the word “witness.” The Greek word for witness is “martyr.” Chambers ultimately saw himself as a kind of martyr as well. “I only knew that I had promised God my life, even, if it were His will, to death,” he wrote solemnly in Witness. “This is my ultimate witness.”

Chambers hooked readers right away with a fascinating opening essay, which he titled, “Foreword in the Form of a Letter to My Children.” The foreword can stand on its own, and often does when reprinted in various edited collections of classic conservative anthologies. Here, Chambers stated it was his “fate” to be a “witness” to each of the “two great faiths of our time.” He wrote:

“For in this century, within the next decades, will be decided for generations whether all mankind is to become Communist, whether the whole world is to become free, or whether, in the struggle, civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed or completely changed. . . . It is our fate to live upon that turning point in history.”

It was a turning point that hinged on the battle of good vs. evil.

Chambers went on to state candidly that “I see in Communism the focus of the concentrated evil of our time.” This is hauntingly similar to President Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire speech given some 30 years later, during which Reagan called the USSR “the focus of evil in the modern world.” That is no surprise, given that no other book (with the exception of the Bible) influenced Reagan as much as Witness did. The 40th president kept an extra copy of Witness on a bookshelf at his ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains, in addition to a copy at his home in Los Angeles.

Like Reagan, Chambers frequently employed the word “evil” to describe Soviet Communism.

“Communism is absolutely evil,” he declared in Witness. “It was Communism that was evil, and the more truly a man acted in its spirit and interest, the more certainly he perpetuated evil.”

As a Communist, he had to come to grips with this. “I denied the very existence of a soul,” he shared. “Communism denies the soul.” At one point, he finally acknowledged to himself: “This is evil, absolute evil. Of this evil I am a part.”

It is here that Chambers rightly saw that the battle against Communism was not merely about politics and economics. He liked the quote from Dostoyevsky:

“The problem of Communism is not an economic problem. The problem of Communism is the problem of atheism.”

(Arthur Schlesinger Jr. noted insightfully that Chambers seemed to see himself as a character out of Dostoyevsky.)

Regarding Communism, Chambers continued:

“It is not new. It is, in fact, man’s second-oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’”

He affirmed that “the Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.”

Chambers ended his foreword by evoking Golgotha, the “place of skulls.” But later he speaks of redemption, his own, by evoking Lazarus. “In 1937, I began, like Lazarus, the impossible return.”

Chambers gave 1938 as the year of his break, when he “freely made the choice — the decision to die, if necessary, rather than live under Communism.” Writing almost like a mystic, he recalled being struck one day by almost audible words spoken to him: “If you will fight for freedom, all will be well with you.” He conceded that he was not sure if he heard those actual words, but he certainly felt them. “What was there,” recalled Chambers,

“. . . was the sense that, like me, time and the world stood still, an awareness of God as an envelopment, holding me in silent assurance and untroubled peace.”

He made his commitment:

“There was a sense that in that moment I gave my promise, not with the mind, but with my whole being, and that this was a covenant that I might not break.”

Henceforth, he began to feel a sense of peace and strength. It is only in God’s will, wrote Dante, that we can find our purpose and our peace. That was where Chambers had at last arrived. He told readers:

“I did not seek to know God’s will. I did not suppose that anyone could know God’s will. I only sought prayerfully to know and to do God’s purpose with me.”

There is so much more that one could say about the stirring content in the pages of Witness, but space here limits us. I will share one particularly moving passage that also hit Ronald Reagan and remained with him. Reagan could quote it off the top of his head. Reagan speechwriters have told me about Reagan doing so, and they and he included the passage in his speeches. Here is the passage in Chambers’ memoirs:

“I date my break [from Communism] from a very casual happening. I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. . . . My daughter was in her highchair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear — those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: ‘No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.’ The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.”

If readers will further indulge me as a Reagan biographer, I would like to conclude with a final point of comparison between Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan, because it gets to the crux of how the Cold War was won by the latter. It also underscores why Chambers’ dramatic message in Witness was so stirring and enduring.

If there was one monumental difference between Chambers and Reagan, it was this: Chambers was a pessimist, whereas Reagan was the quintessential optimist. Reagan was imbued with an intense sense of divine providence and an unwavering conviction that he could work according to God’s “Divine Plan” (as Reagan put it) to change the world for the better.

Chambers somberly feared that, although he had joined the right side by rejecting Soviet Communism, he had left “the winning side for the losing side.” He feared that the side of freedom — America — would lose. Ronald Reagan believed precisely the opposite. He felt the United States would win. As he told one of his advisers (Richard Allen), “We win, they lose.” Reagan was so sure of it that, as president, he sought precisely to achieve that goal. And what happened? We won, they lost.

Reagan was right, and Chambers was wrong. If only the morose martyr, who passed away on July 9, 1961 from yet another heart attack, had lived long enough to witness it.

Mikhail Gorbachev Meets His Maker

When I heard about the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, I sighed. He was one of the final remaining pivotal figures in the end of the Cold War: Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Vaclav Havel, Boris Yeltsin, and Lech Walesa. Only Walesa remains. Gorbachev was 91 years old, living much longer than many expected. It’s a historic loss.

I sighed for an added reason. I have written so much about Gorbachev, in so many articles and books, that it’s just impossible to try to sum up the man’s life and legacy. Where to begin?

It’s a daunting task, but I think I can add two worthwhile things that others will ignore or get wrong in their tributes to Gorbachev.

First, most of the world will focus on Gorbachev’s role in the collapse of the USSR and invoke him as the hero of Soviet disintegration. The truth is not so tidy. In reality, Gorbachev’s goal all along was to preserve the USSR. Unlike Ronald Reagan, whose goal was to break up the Soviet Union, Gorbachev tried to keep it together, so much so that he repeatedly used force in several Soviet republics (including the Baltic states) in his final years in power.

To his credit, Gorbachev wanted a kinder, gentler, non-totalitarian Soviet Union, even a politically pluralistic one. In February 1990, he formally stripped the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of its sole monopoly on political power when he repudiated Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution. That was a huge positive change, and only he had the power to enact it. But still, he strove to keep the union together. He said so publicly until the very end.

That end came, providentially, on December 25, 1991, Christmas day — a celebration that the Bolsheviks banned in the USSR. That day, Gorbachev called President George H. W. Bush to say: “You can have a very quiet Christmas evening. I am saying good-bye and shaking your hand.” He informed Bush of the inevitable, namely: He was resigning his position as head of the USSR, a country that by then effectively no longer existed because every single republic had declared independence in 1990 and 1991.

That evening, Gorbachev went on Soviet television to announce he was resigning his post. He began his December 25 resignation speech by noting that he had stood

“. . . firmly . . . for the preservation of the union state, the unity of the country. Events went a different way. The policy prevailed of dismembering this country and disuniting the state, with which I cannot agree.”

He lamented the “breakup” of Soviet “statehood” and “the loss” of, curiously, “a great country.”

Gorbachev would reiterate that position over and over in the years ahead. In April 2006, he told USA Today that, “The Soviet Union could have been preserved and should have been preserved.”

No, it should not have. As Ronald Reagan said, it was an Evil Empire and “it was time to shut it down.” Gorbachev helped shut it down, but the way it unraveled was not what he intended. Still, he deserves credit for helping to peacefully end a Cold War that few of us would have expected to end peacefully. If you had told any of us in 1981 that by 1991 the USSR would cease to exist, we might have assumed it was annihilated in nuclear Armageddon. That nuclear nightmare never occurred, and that was a credit to Gorbachev, Reagan, John Paul II, Thatcher, and the other great leaders of the day.

Great leaders, I must add emphatically, that do not exist on the world stage right now. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis are plainly not Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II. We are impoverished today. We suffer badly for lack of statesmen.

The second thing that I can and must add to the matter of the life of Gorbachev is the one that matters most at this time of death: his faith. And that, too, is very complicated.

Born in March 1931, Gorbachev was secretly baptized as an infant by his mother, Maria. He later told Vatican Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli that his mother would surreptitiously remove an icon from the wall and bless him with it. Three of his grandparents were Christians.

When Reagan first met Gorbachev at Geneva in November 1985, he was immediately taken by Gorbachev’s religious references, which were plainly remarkable coming from the leader of what Reagan rightly called an “Evil Empire.” Reagan became deeply intrigued at the possibility that Gorbachev might be (in Reagan’s words) a “closet Christian.”

When he arrived home from Geneva, Reagan immediately called Michael Deaver. He said of the new current leader of Lenin’s and Stalin’s atheistic state: “He believes.” An incredulous Deaver responded to his president and longtime friend: “Are you saying the general secretary of the Soviet Union believes in God?” Reagan walked his statement back, but only a tiny bit:

“I don’t know, Mike, but I honestly think he believes in a higher power.”

Gorbachev proceeded to suggest that with his stunning overtures on behalf of religious freedom, rolling back his predecessors’ brutal “wholesale war on religion,” as Gorbachev described it. “Atheism took rather savage forms in our country,” he lamented.

It did indeed, and Gorbachev called off the war on religion.

Pope John Paul II most certainly noticed, and appreciated Gorbachev’s glasnost. The two men respected one another and reached out to each other. In December 1989, Gorbachev became the first and only Soviet leader to visit the Vatican. Like Reagan, John Paul II was cautious, not knowing for sure if Gorbachev was privately a closet Christian. Nonetheless, the pope considered the general secretary to be a “Providential man.” He believed that God was surely working through this very different Soviet leader. “I’m sure that Providence paved the way for this meeting,” he told Gorbachev.

But did Mikhail Gorbachev believe in God?

That is a subject that not only perplexed Reagan and John Paul II but also Reagan’s son, Michael, and Reagan’s closest aide, Bill Clark. I was Clark’s biographer, and he and I and Michael Reagan many times discussed the subject of Gorbachev’s faith. We all tried to get answers. Michael once asked Gorbachev directly to his face if he believed in God, and was frustrated that he couldn’t get an answer. I tried to interview Gorbachev for my 2004 book God and Ronald Reagan, where I first wrote about Gorbachev’s faith. The old Leninist wanted a minimum of $10,000 for the interview (yes, seriously). Mike Reagan advised me not to pay up, given that Gorbachev was not going to tell me what I wanted to know, and given that I didn’t have that sort of cash.

A more productive outreach was initiated by Bill Clark. Clark learned of Gorbachev’s quite intriguing fascination with St. Francis of Assisi, which the London Telegraph reported in March 2008 when a British reporter very unexpectedly happened upon the figure of Mikhail Gorbachev in apparent prayer on his knees at the tomb of St. Francis. I read the Telegraph piece and quickly emailed it to and called Clark and Mike Reagan. I immediately drafted an op-ed for Mike to review and co-author. No sooner did we finish a draft to send to Christianity Today than did Gorbachev publicly step forward to insist that he had not become Christian, declaring the Telegraph’s reports to be false, or at least premature.

Our op-ed was dead, but the story of Mikhail Gorbachev’s evolving faith was not. Bill Clark had been Ronald Reagan’s most important aide in seeking to win the Cold War and undermine the Evil Empire. He was a very devout Catholic. Now, post-Cold War, Clark turned his attention to the soul of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Clark immediately began working the phone and his diplomatic contacts, as he had 25 years earlier as Ronald Reagan’s top aide in foreign policy. He told me that he had heard from informed “religious friends” who knew Gorbachev that “the word is that he has converted but doesn’t quite know how to talk about it or deal with it publicly.”

The reasons for Gorbachev’s reluctance would always remain a mystery. Clark, however, didn’t give up.

Clark labored with friends in Russia, notably a friar who wanted to remain anonymous and had the connections to get to Gorbachev a rare Russian translation of the works of Saint Francis. Clark arranged to have the collection hand-delivered to the former general secretary.

Clark’s outreach proved quickly fruitful. Two weeks later, Clark called me and told me that Gorbachev wanted to meet with him to talk about St. Francis and the Christian faith generally, a process which, said Clark, “is in the process of being arranged.”

Clark and I worked together to arrange that meeting, but alas, it never happened. Geography and health limitations made it overwhelming.

So, did Mikhail Gorbachev ever become a Christian? We never found out. Gorbachev took the answer to that question to the grave.

In the end, that’s the question that matters most. What Mikhail Gorbachev did in this world had huge consequences. But the consequences that matter most are eternal ones.

Hey, Gorbachev knew. And God knows.     *

Monday, 15 August 2022 12:20

Kengor Writes

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

What Reversing Roe Really Means

Throughout the 2015-16 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, I urged conservatives not to nominate Donald Trump. When November 2016 arrived, I did not vote for Donald Trump. Of course, I most certainly didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I wrote in the name of another Republican instead.

One of my chief concerns was that I could not imagine that Donald Trump, a lifelong pro-choice, playboy, billionaire, obnoxious New Yorker, truly had become pro-life, and would nominate pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. I had additional issues with Trump, but that one really stood out. When Trump produced a list of pro-life judges he promised to appoint, I didn’t trust him.

In turn, many pro-life conservatives urged me to nonetheless vote for the lesser of two evils when it came to abortion. The Supreme Court — plus countless other court appointments at other levels — hung in the balance. If Hillary Clinton were elected, we would lose the courts for at least another entire generation. You would never reverse Roe v. Wade and its companion case of insanity, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Pro-lifers insisted on voting to save the court.

In that respect, they stand vindicated. I still had much I didn’t like about Trump, but the man proceeded to govern as the best pro-life president the country ever had. It was astonishing, and I was shocked every step of the way, but it is indisputably true. A pro-life colleague of mine who loathes Donald Trump insists that Trump did what he did for pro-lifers strictly for political expediency. Even if that were the case (for the sake of argument), it is undeniable that Trump became the most effective pro-life president ever, including more so than my buddy Ronald Reagan.

Most critical and most obvious, of course, were Trump’s three Supreme Court picks: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. They gave us this reversal of Roe and Casey. Had Hillary Clinton been president, we would’ve gotten three more like Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (even as RBG knew and candidly admitted how flawed Roe was). (For the record, Reagan gave us Sandra Day O’Connor, the hugely disappointing Anthony Kennedy, and just one outstanding pro-life pick — Antonin Scalia.) Hillary Clinton quickly came forward after the Dobbs announcement to denounce a new “day of infamy” for America.

That said, what does this decision overturning Roe really mean?

First and foremost, it affirms what numerous constitutional scholars — including many liberal scholars and even the likes of Ruth Bader Ginsburg — always knew, namely: Roe v. Wade had no basis in the U.S. Constitution. Roe was a constitutional absurdity. It was never constitutional. I heard one news anchor on Fox News report that the Dobbs decision “eliminated the constitutional right to abortion.” No. There never was a constitutional right to abortion. That’s the whole point.

Roe was preposterously based on a “right” to an abortion invented and extended from a so-called “penumbra” or “shadow” of a “right to privacy” lurking somewhere in the arcane recesses of the Constitution. In fact, neither abortion nor even the word “privacy” are mentioned in the Constitution— no, not one time — even as the rights and protection of “life” is mentioned three times (in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments).

Yes, shocking but true.

One can certainly argue that when the framers mentioned life, they were not thinking of abortion. No doubt that is correct. But still, a pro-lifer looking for a right to “life” in the Constitution clearly has a little more to grab on to than a pro-choicer looking for a right to abortion or even “privacy.”

Roe v. Wade is a legal absurdity that any jurist not jaded by ideology would concede was utterly without foundation in the U.S. Constitution. The reality is that the Constitution is silent on abortion, which is why the federal government should never have enshrined it. It should have been left to the states. This was something that Judge Robert Bork tried to explain to Senators Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy and feminists and liberals everywhere over 30 years ago, and for which he was called everything from a misogynist to a gargoyle.

And so, abortion now goes to the states. What does that mean?

Despite the hyperbole and hysteria, this certainly does not mean an end to abortion. Not at all. You will now see the emergence of abortion states — the abortion states of America. Already leading the charge at the state level are the likes of New York’s new pro-choice governor, Kathy Hochul, and Governor Gavin Newsom of California.

Vigorously supported by President Joe Biden, Hochul and Newsom are militantly committed to battling the efforts of states like Mississippi and Texas and others to limit abortions to the time of the unborn child’s heartbeat. The Texas action outraged Biden, who has promised to throw the “whole of government” against it. The bill infuriated Govs. Hochul and Newsom, who have responded by offering their states as destination centers for women nationwide to come for abortions.

“Abortion access is safe in New York,” Hochul ensures voters. “To the women of Texas, I want to say I am with you. Lady Liberty is here to welcome you with open arms.” She vows: “We will help you find a way to New York.”

As for Gavin Newsom, he vows to make California a “reproductive freedom state.” “These are dark days,” says a dire Newsom.

What’s happening with states like California and New York is something that many of us have long expected. Which states will be the dominant abortion states? Figuring that out isn’t rocket science. The answer is simple and predictable: Go to political maps of presidential elections and look at the blue states vs. red states; that is, Democrat states vs. Republican states. The firmly Democrat states, especially on the West Coast and in the Northeast, will become America’s abortion states. They will roll out the red carpet.

For states like New York and California, this process has already begun. The governors there are eager to fly the Roe flag as premier destination centers for abortion.

That sad reality ought to give some measure of comfort to pro-choice forces. They should be immensely satisfied with that they got from Roe. They got themselves nearly 50 years of legalized abortion. They threw open wide the doors to abortion “clinics” in every state. This long, insidious period was protracted enough to get them to a crucial hump they needed, namely: chemical abortions, abortions by pill, do-it-yourself-at-home abortions. This was symbolized by the group of young pro-abortion women who stood outside the Supreme Court a few months ago and en masse swallowed down abortion pills.

From here on, countless abortions will be done that way — as well as in the abortion states.

Pro-choicers: your “choice” will have plenty of options, including altogether new ones.

As for pro-lifers, they should nonetheless celebrate this achievement. Roe v. Wade was a monstrous injustice that produced over 60 million abortions of unborn children. It was a colossal sin and a dark stain on America.

1776 and Slavery

Many progressives today are eager to redefine America not as starting in 1776, which is literally when the very title “United States of America” began, but in the year 1619, before Plymouth Rock and before John Winthrop and the Arabella arrived upon our shores. They instead want to define the nation by slavery and racism. So much so that The New York Times’ 1619 Project dates America that way, defining the country’s start by the year 1619, with the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Virginia that year.

But that is not the heart of America. Americans should look back at their Founding as based on the principles of 1776 — that uniquely great achievement for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that was the Declaration of Independence. These were principles for all of humanity, though they would indeed take decades to fully implement for all Americans, both black and white. Their full achievement would require to nothing less than a Civil War.

Mobs today target statues of everyone from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to (curiously) Union generals like Ulysses S. Grant, who defeated the Confederacy before battling the KKK, and even Abraham Lincoln, and (most bizarre of all) Frederick Douglass, the brave black abolitionist.

Let us not argue, however, with this historical reality: The United States of America, as our Founders conceived it, started in 1776.

But what about those same Founders and the undeniable evil of slavery? Well, that is a subject that is indeed far more troubling and complicated.

A full accounting must acknowledge first what the American Founders said about slavery, and what they did. Consider these testimonies:

“Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature,” said Benjamin Franklin in a November 1789 speech demanding its “very extirpation.” In his February 3, 1790 petition to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which he wrote as president of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, Franklin urged that they

“. . . devise means for removing this Inconsistency from the Character of the American People, that you will promote mercy and Justice towards this distressed Race, & that you will Step to the very verge of the Powers vested in you for discouraging every Species of Traffick in the Persons of our fellow men.”

Franklin’s closest ally at the Founding was John Adams.

“Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States,”

he urged in a June 8, 1819 letter. “I have, throughout my life, held the practice of slavery in . . . abhorrence.”

So many of the Founders felt this way. In fact, nearly all the most influential Founders felt that way. Professor Thomas G. West put it categorically: “Every leading Founder acknowledged that slavery was wrong.” He noted that

“. . . even those who defended slavery knew well that blacks are human beings. Hardly anyone claimed that slavery is right in principle. Each of the leading Founders acknowledged its wrongness.”

Indeed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, blacks were “men, by the laws of God and nature.” Regardless that “laws of certain states . . . give an ownership in the service of Negroes as personal property.” The law might say one thing, but it did not supersede the eternal reality of the laws of nature and of nature’s God — i.e., natural law and Biblical law.

John Jay, an author of The Federalist Papers and the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, has been called “America’s Wilberforce.” Jay in 1785 organized and became the first president of the New York Manumission Society. That March, he wrote to fellow abolitionist and founder Dr. Benjamin Rush:

“I wish to see all unjust and unnecessary discriminations everywhere abolished, and that the time may soon come when all our inhabitants of every color and denomination shall be free and equal partners in our political liberty.”

But what about the likes of George Washington, our nation’s first president, who owned slaves? Well, he likewise knew it was wrong.

In an April 12, 1786 letter to Robert Morris, Washington said of slavery: “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.”

In an August 4, 1797 letter to Lawrence Lewis, he affirmed: “I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see a policy of the gradual Abolition of Slavery.”

And yet, in maintaining his farm and property, Washington relied on a mass of 316 slaves, of which 143 were in his possession entirely. Washington kept the slaves not because he felt it was right for one man to own another, but because he viewed them as a necessary evil to maintain his farm. It could not exist without them. It would go bankrupt, dry up, and wither away. Was this purely self-serving by Washington? Yes, most definitely. And he knew it.

The situation tore not only at Washington’s wallet but his conscience. He knew that slavery was wrong, but like so many of the Founders who owned slaves (including Thomas Jefferson), he felt he personally could not financially extricate himself from the situation. He plainly could not accept the catastrophic financial cost of setting them free. The devil had him by the tail.

As stated by Thomas Jefferson, “We have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” And yet, said Jefferson, “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.” The key — the overwhelming task — was how to make that happen, especially peacefully. That was the problem. And to be sure, it would never happen peacefully.

It would take Abraham Lincoln — and an actual Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation — to fully extend that equality principle to every single American, including black Americans. It could not be extended in 1776, least of all because southern states would have seceded from the very American republic being conceived at the time. Certain southern states plainly said they would not ratify the Constitution if it undermined the slave system. The Founders might have found themselves in a civil war amongst themselves in July 1776 rather than a unified revolution to break free from the British. The abolition of slavery in 1776 was not possible. The very principles launched by 1776 and stated in the Declaration of Independence, and the subsequent Bill of Rights and Constitution, would have never gotten off the ground to begin with.

Abolishing slavery in America, as in every country, would not happen overnight. It took much time and pain. This was an evil, and eradicating the evil would not be simple. In America, it required blood to be spilled at a level (the Civil War) unprecedented in its history. No other war, including World War I and II combined, saw the loss of so many American lives. For its original sin, America would suffer terribly.

Looking back, however, we must credit the farsighted and noble ideas of 1776. They set forth a proposition — that all men are created equal — that would abolish within America’s borders a nefarious practice that had existed worldwide for thousands of years.

And yet, that laudable reality seems lost to the modern mind, or at least resisted by those with an ideological agenda to reframe America and the American Founding as something that it was not — as something altogether sinister and misbegotten.

To be sure, there is obvious ugliness in America’s historical record with race. Slavery is really America’s original sin, though not original to America alone. As for America’s Founders, they were torn about slavery and how to end it. That lack of clarity tore at the nation, almost permanently ripping it asunder a century later. Fortunately, great men like Abraham Lincoln found a way to keep the nation together and end the abomination that was slavery, ensuring that that nation, so conceived in liberty, should not perish from the face of the earth.

Ukraine’s Freedom Fighter

“Two visions of the world remain locked in dispute,” said President Ronald Reagan in July 1983.

“The first believes all men are created equal by a loving God who has blessed us with freedom. Abraham Lincoln spoke for us. . . . The second vision believes that religion is opium for the masses. It believes that eternal principles like truth, liberty, and democracy have no meaning beyond the whim of the state. And Lenin spoke for them.”

Reagan said that on July 19, 1983, in remarks at an official ceremony marking Captive Nations Week. Captive Nations Week had begun in July 1959 via an official Act of Congress, Public Law 86-90, supported by President Dwight Eisenhower, and was resurrected with a vengeance under Reagan in the 1980s as he sought to re-moralize the Cold War. The law set aside a week every July to designate and honor the unfortunate nations suffocating under the jackboot of Soviet and international Communism. Among them was Ukraine.

I thought of that Reagan statement yesterday, July 19, 2022, nearly four decades later to the day, as I sat in a packed room at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and Museum in Washington, D.C., I was there as a lecturer in a national seminar for teachers learning about the tragic history of Communism. Fortuitously, my two days at the foundation and museum coincided with a visit from the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, whose husband and countrymen and countrywomen have bravely battled for eternal principles like truth, liberty, and democracy against the calculations of brooding men from Vladimir Lenin to Vladimir Putin.

Zelenska is in Washington this week, speaking at the State Department and to Congress. In between, she visited the Victims of Communism to pay homage to the people of her country and other nations crushed by Soviet Communism. Among those peoples, few suffered like her fellow Ukrainians. In the 1930s, Stalin unleashed a famine on the population that killed anywhere from 5-10 million. The horrors of Holodomor are hard to surpass in the history of human rights abuses.

While touring the Victims of Communism Museum, Zelenska paused to accept the organization’s Dissident Human Rights Award, which was presented to her by VOC staff and founders Andrew Bremberg, Ed Feulner, Elizabeth Spalding, and Lee Edwards, the latter of whom has worked tirelessly and nobly in the decades since the end of the Cold War to establish in our nation’s capital this crucial memorial to the estimated 100 million-plus Communist victims. (Dr. Edwards is also the author of Freedom’s College, an excellent history of Grove City College.) This week is once again Captive Nations Week, and who better to be on hand to accept that award than the first lady of the Ukraine? Her nation, right now in 2022, is battling to avoid again becoming a captive nation to yet another Kremlin thug, former KGB lieutenant colonel and reigning Russian despot for life, Vladimir Putin.

“Communism is just another form of totalitarianism,” noted Zelenska, speaking in her native tongue through a translator. “That is exactly what Ukraine is facing today.” She accepted the award “in the name of every Ukrainian man and woman fighting Russian aggression today,” including their would-be “enslavement” and Russia’s denial of basic freedoms and human rights.

Zelenska observed that modern Russia’s aggression against Ukraine shows that “the 20th century is repeating itself in the worst and ugliest forms.” She told the story of a mayor in a town near Kiev who was shot and killed by Russian troops for the crime of distributing food and medicine to his residents.

It indeed sounds like the 20th century is repeating itself in the worst and ugliest forms, at least for Russia’s neighbor. That was something that Stalin’s goons would have done as well. No country ever shot dissidents like the USSR.

“In certain places,” said Zelenska, “the darkness has never faded away.” The despots now find more sophisticated weapons to use and ways to exploit social media. Whatever the means, the results continue: the people of Ukraine remain victims of Russia’s brutal rulers.

To this day, in certain places like Ukraine, what Ronald Reagan said on July 19, 1983, remains eerily similar to what Olena Zelenska said on July 19, 2022: Two visions of the world remain locked in dispute. The first believes in the blessings of freedom bestowed by a God who creates all men and women equal; the other vision believes that eternal principles like truth, liberty, and democracy have no meaning beyond the whim of the state. Lenin spoke for the latter; Lincoln and Reagan and Olena Zelenska spoke for the former.     *

Monday, 14 February 2022 13:44

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

Teach MLK, Not CRT

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

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

A few more questions:

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

How about Thurgood Marshall?

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

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

How about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass?

What about Abraham Lincoln?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King’s associates who survived him certainly rejected CRT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, everyone approves of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID and Conscientious Objection

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

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

Gorsuch added in his 14-page dissent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note the crucial second word there: conscientious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 13:46

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

Critical Race Theory: Myths, Marxism, and More

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

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

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

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

That’s no myth. This is real.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a terribly dehumanizing way to view individual persons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Year Without Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

Enough is enough. This has to stop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 05 October 2021 12:45

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLB Strikes Out in Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLB strikes out again.     *

Tuesday, 27 July 2021 12:34

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Punk the Woke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      He hastened to add:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid Vaccination: My Body, My Choice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That includes you and your children.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 24 May 2021 12:10

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

The Early Church Was Not Socialist

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

“The early church was a socialist church.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 12:18

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He continued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warping the Credit for Trump’s Operation Warp Speed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pagans for Biden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I’m repeating myself. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 09 December 2020 11:02

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

 

Pennsylvania Bombshell: Biden 99.4 Percent V. Trump 0.6 Percent

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giuliani: “For Biden?”

Waldren: “Correct.”

Giuliani: “And how much for Trump?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But back to Pennsylvania, which is my focus here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tikhon: “I am citing only Church law.”

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 05 October 2020 12:54

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

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

Why Not Cancel Karl Marx?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marx on Christianity, Judaism, and Evolution/Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering and Teaching 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember that. Teach that.

Tear All the Statues Down?

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

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

“Who?” said one.

“Stephen Foster,” replied the other.

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

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

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

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

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

Consider Confederate statues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re all flawed, we’re all sinners.

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

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