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From Russian Nihilists to Al-Qaeda: The dark spectre of political correctness

By promoting a culture of relativism and denying the importance of objective truth Political Correctness has sown the seeds of today’s catastrophes.

Vladimir Golstein

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A spectre is haunting Europe—and it is not the spectre of communism.  Marx’s dream had been replaced by a much more primitive, pernicious, and grotesque spectre, that of Political Correctness and by its twin brother: equally primitive, grotesque and virulent xenophobia and racism.

This spectre replacement is hardly coincidental. Like a good cop, bad cop routine, these twin brothers seem to succeed in their insidious attempt to suppress any serious discourse of domestic or foreign policies, any attempt to go beyond the previously approved and predetermined lines of reasoning so that the ruling order remains protected from Marx’s or any other truly dangerous spectres.

Besides its philosophical poverty, PC had recently demonstrated its utter bankruptcy in the face of wars, invasions, population displacement, and cheap labor policies. It failed to formulate and carry out a proper response to the so-called refugee crisis that overwhelmed Europe first by the sheer amount of people indiscriminately admitted into Europe, and then by the amount and intensity of violent crimes that some of those refugees have committed.

It is getting painfully obvious, that neither brushing the violence under the rug, nor permitting skinheads to demand the banning of all refugees provide an adequate response to the problems raised by the years of colonialism, exploitation, and military adventures.

The situation appears to be beyond the intellectual league of a well-meaning PC politicians, like President Hollande or Chancellor Angela Merkel, to solve. 

For many Americans, PC belongs to the esoteric domain of academia. In Europe, however, PC’s reach is much deeper and wider, its philosophy dominates various aspects of society, as been amply demonstrated by the recent wave of violence.   

PC penetration into the social fabric of European life is much more thorough.

One day we read about Dutch museums, which intend to rename various paintings and other objects of art whose titles use terminology no longer acceptable by today’s PC commissars; next day we read of German decision to ban pork products in school cafeterias so that its Muslim students won’t be offended, on the third, we learn about Danish politician convicted for his 2014 complaint that new, “religiously intolerant” Muslim refugees bring old prejudices, such as anti-Semitism, into European discourse.

Persecuting people who write or tweet on the subjects that go against the main PC narrative became a popular past-time for the European politicians.

All these cases are usually relegated to the domain of curiosity, similar to some bizarre incidents on US campuses, be it complaints about micro aggression, demands for safe space and gender-neutral pronouns, or accusation of cultural appropriation.

Yet, the role of PC is much more insidious: it prevents the society from adequately addressing a new wave of violence and brutality.

PC’s role as the leading political force was made painfully obvious during the recent scandals connected with brutal attacks on women, the violence and mayhem against innocent bystanders in Nice and Berlin, and the failure of the police, press, and politicians to confront it in the adequate manner that can re-assure the public of its safety.

The warnings about the pervasive and pernicious power of PC discourse have been sounded on many occasions, ranging from radical politicians and journalists, to the counter PC humour.   

The German press, for example, awards an annual prize to a ‘weasel word,” that is to “an awkward or controversial term that has shaped public discourse.”

In 2015, such award was given to a term “gutmensch,” the word that became too popular to the point of mockery and which refers to uber-politically correct person, a well-meaning but utterly helpless individual.

That’s hardly a coincidence. The refugee crisis, destined to shape the public discourse for years to come, had exposed the total bankruptcy of “gutmensch” and his PC approach to social, political, and cultural life.

It is a mark of a “gutmensch” not to offend anyone’s sensitivity. But when it came down to mass media’s failure to report violent crimes out of the fear of instilling in the heads of populace the wrong information about perpetrators, it became clear that PC has gone too far, and that “gutmensch” has become an accomplice of a vicious criminal.

It is this role of a gutmensch, of a well-meaning enforcer of orthodoxy serving as an accomplice that I want to explore in this essay.

While many relegate the PC debate to the so-called culture wars, it is clear that what lies at the bottom of it, is the plain old struggle for power.

Numerous journalists and politicians, who failed to report, or tried to spin the real nature of the sexual assaults that took place in Germany, Sweden or Finland, have used only one argument as an excuse: we don’t want to give ammo to our political rivals.  As Peter Ågren, police chief in central Stockholm, put it:

‘Sometimes we do not dare to say how things really are because we believe it will play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats.’ [The Sweden Democrats are the anti-immigration party in Sweden—VG].”

In other words, while the impulse to hush the accusations directed at a group traditionally marginalised or suppressed might be understandable, especially when considered within the context of German and European genocidal and colonial wars, it is clear, that what drives politicians, is not the desire to correct the past abuses, or the fear of offending somebody’s sensitivity, but rather the fear of losing power.

Whatever it is, the impulse to control the flow of information is very human.  Consequently, the desire to prevent certain themes or doctrines from entering the public discourse turns censorship.

Those in power strive to impose a particular narrative, a particular way of looking at things that keeps rulers feeling useful and noble, and the ruled ones either hopeful and grateful, or hateful and paranoid, which in both cases distracts them from the comprehensive analysis of their exploitation and abuse.

Political correctness, however, does not present itself as an enforced censorship on behalf of the powerful. And herein lies its ingenuity. Since imposing the limits on conversation is clearly a manifestation of power, nobody should doubt that PC is the instrument that the ruling class uses to protect itself.

Yet, this imposition of the limits on the discourse is carried out in the name of the dispossessed, marginalised, and underprivileged. It is as if at a certain moment, crocodiles had agreed not to say anything bad about the rabbits that they devour, so that a crocodile that cracks up a joke about a particularly tender rabbit’s bone that he broke the other day, would get silenced and shunned.

Some agreed to do it for pragmatic reasons: why spook the rabbits, when it is more convenient to let them believe that one of these days they can turn into crocodiles themselves.

Others might have idealistic reasons: imagining that if nothing bad is said about rabbits, that might induce some of their fellow crocodiles to change their dietary habits.

And why not? The example of those converts can be used by rabbit propagandists, that is by rabbits, hired by the croc-collective for the sole purpose of convincing the rest of the rabbits that the crocodiles have suddenly become vegetarians, and therefore, there is no reason to be concerned, worried, or stay alert.

By imposing the rabbit-friendly discourse, crocodiles resort to a rather cynical or pragmatic game of masquerading their cruelty as sentimentality. They might even write stories about sweet little rabbits and their cruel treatment in the hands of some wolf or fox, or even some pre-historic crocodile, but not in the hands of the current croc-establishment. 

There is certain pragmatism to that: why say nasty things about rabbits, why be gratuitously rude or condescending: the less said about eating rabbits the better.

Of course, from the perspective of a devoured rabbit all this sounds like crocodile tears. Rabbits would prefer the real, moral improvement rather than the linguistic one.

It sometimes happens that rabbits wrestle the power from the crocodiles. At that moment, they immediately introduce new narratives, the ones stressing the unmitigated cruelty and malicious hypocrisy of crocodiles on the one hand, and the infinite nobility of the rabbits on the other. But by no means these new narratives would ever imply that the rabbits that gained power have become crocodiles themselves: the transformation so brilliantly exposed by Orwell’s Animal Farm.

When they came to power, Russian radicals — whose writings were diligently suppressed by the tsarist Empire–began to suppress the writings of the “exploiting classes” in their turn. Lenin’s wife, Krupskaia, drew a famous list of books that were supposed to be banned in the Soviet Union, the list that included everything from the Bible and Koran to Dante and Schopenhauer. She also proposed to ban ninety-seven children’s books, including famous folk tales, for their promotion of wrong ideology. “Children’s books are the weapons of social education,” she claimed, and therefore “the content of the books should be communist.”

What this cultural politics presupposes, as the case of Krupskaia reveals, is a particular moral stance, a particular sense of superiority, manifested by any victorious zealot, martyr, or revolutionary, This superiority results in accepting two highly dubious propositions as axioms:

(1) It presupposes certain moral and intellectual arrogance, implying that the regime that came to power, has an inherent knowledge of right and wrong; it can therefore proceed with instilling only “the politically correct” information into the heads of its population.

(2) That there is correlation between what one hears in schools or reads in books with what one becomes. This correlation is by no means straightforward, however. One can grow very delicate in a vulgar family, or visa versa.

Attempts to control the educational discourse also imply that there is a split between goodness and truth, the split, unknown to ancient Greeks, for example. Great Russian authors have constantly resisted this split as well.

This split presumes that goodness has by far greater value than truth, and therefore it is reasonable to sacrifice truth for the sake of some imaginary goodness.

This politically correct, or expedient approach to truth, has surely received an additional boost from recent theories claiming that since the category of truth is constructed in any case, it is our task to construct it in a particular, politically expedient way.

Granted that the truth of any complex event is elusive and depends on the eyewitnesses who always have their agenda, it does not mean that we should simply give up on our investigations and probing and concentrate on constructing stories any way we see fit.

Recent failures of western press to adequately cover major political events, be it the US presidential elections or the war in Syria, have revealed that the public is not ready to accept the fairy tales peddled to it by the mass media. As opposed to the irresponsible western journalists, the public still remembers the prophet Isaiah’s warning: 

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

The years of lies, perpetrated by all kinds of benevolent regimes, have taught us, that it is truth that is the best friend of anyone who is oppressed, no matter how elusive the search for truth is, or whatever facts it uncovers. In the long run, it is truth that sets us free, not lies, fantasies, or propaganda. Yet, it is this truth that is immediately sacrificed by any self-appointed PC regime that strives for some sort of imaginary goodness.

Dostoevsky had thoroughly explored this phenomenon of sacrificing truth for the sake of some imaginary goodness. His writings, Diary of a Writer in particular, provide a fascinating panorama of post-Reform Russia, the period that had abolished serfdom and introduced radically different economic and political situation with its new discourse.

Consequently, the old serf system began to be accused in all possible sins: it was this system that induced, if not forced the poor and underprivileged to commit crimes.

Among other things, Great Reforms introduced the trial by jury with concomitant adversarial legal procedures. It is these procedures that fell victim to new politically correct discourse. The commission of crimes began to be attributed to the evil effects of environment (the faults of the previous regime, in other words), while the lawyers manipulated the newly minted and inexperienced jury, into issuing endless acquittals.   

Reading the reports of such acquittals, Dostoevsky became shocked and bewildered. He mounted an attack upon it, which sounds as fresh today as it was 150 years ago; it clearly contains both analysis and warning. 

“I came away [from reading these reports –VG] with a troubled feeling, almost as if I had been personally insulted.  In these bitter moments I would sometimes imagine Russia as a kind of quagmire or swamp on which someone had contrived to build palace.” (Dostoevsky, Fyodor. “Environment.” In his Writer’s Diary. Vol. 1873-1876. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1997: 132-136)

This failure to use common sense or common morality, made Dostoevsky to compare unfavourably Russian jurors’ propensity for mindless acquittals– which  were turning Russia into swamp–to that of their British counterparts:

Yet, over there the juror understands from the very moment he takes his place in the courtroom that he is not only a sensitive individual with a tender heart but is first of all a citizen. He even thinks … that fulfilling his civic duty stands even higher than any private victory of the heart…. the English juror grudgingly pronounces the guilty verdict, understanding first of all that his duty consists primarily in using that verdict to bear witness to all his fellow citizens that in old England (for which any one of them is prepared to shed his blood) vice is still called vice and villainy is still called villainy, and that the moral foundations of the country endure—firm, unchanged, standing as they stood before.

Dostoevsky, in other words, refuses to separate morality from truth. The ability to achieve and assert truth (when vice is called vice, and not virtue) is viewed by him as the very foundation of society. That’s why he despairs over the corruption of morality and understanding, as the result of which, crime becomes a duty or noble protest. 

These moral and intellectual principles are so important for Dostoevsky, that he is willing to attack – for the sake of them –- the generosity, compassion, and religiosity of his fellow Russians, who were acquitting the criminal due to sympathy or the sense of their own moral inadequacy.

Dostoevsky insists that truth and the pain of dealing with a guilty verdict is infinitely preferable to some simplistic and well-meaning acquittal. The writer offers a complex moral scheme instead of the PC fantasy: if the reality is ugly, it is our task to improve it without hiding behind the flights of rhetorical well-meaning fancy: “how is it that our people suddenly began to be afraid of a little suffering?’ ‘It’s a painful thing,’ they say, ‘to convict a man.’ And what of it? So take your pain away with you. The truth stands higher than your pain.” And then he adds these profound words:

If this pain is genuine and severe, then it will purge us and make us better. And when we have made ourselves better, we will also improve the environment and make it better. And this is the only way it can be made better. But to flee from our own pity and acquit everyone so as not to suffer ourselves -–why, that’s too easy. Doing that, we slowly and surely come to the conclusion that there is no crimes at all, and ‘the environment is to blame’ for everything. We inevitably reach the point where we consider crime eve a duty, a noble protest against the environment.

Dostoevsky’s rejection of legal newspeak, of the false compassion that under the guise of understanding of the downtrodden, has ignored their true predicament, fell –predictably –on dead ears. Dostoevsky’s complex scheme of condemning the criminal while simultaneously engaging in hard work at improving reality was ignored by the majority of his contemporaries who –in their propensity for “simplifications” –preferred much more linear schemes.

Similar dismissals of common sense and hard work, characterise all sorts of PD doctrinaires, ranging from Nadezhda Krupskaia to Angela Merkel, the political leader of today’s Germany who prefers the politically correct approach to reality, resorting to the Obama-like speeches instead of the hard work of addressing and stopping the causes of Middle Eastern emigration, while simultaneously organising the proper procedures for the integration of refugees into a different culture.

It is always easy to do nothing, while pontificating on the virtues of an open society.

Consequently, one indeed feels that Europe has been plunged into a swamp or quagmire of Dostoevsky imagination, a groundless entity incapable of dealing with concrete reality.

By insisting on discourse that obfuscates reality, the leaders of Europe turn it into a swamp, into a primeval mud and chaos. The language usually develop into a particular direction, it strives toward more nuanced and complex understanding of reality.

Politicians and media have to have courage to dismiss the charges of Islamophobia, while differentiating between the Islamic fanatics, criminals, and terrorists on the one hand, and the law abiding Muslims on the other.

The deliberate obfuscation, the obliteration of distinctions, the piling of everyone into generic “refugees” helps no one.

The Biblical God operated by turning chaos into a set of distinctions and differences, dividing dry from wet, light from darkness, heaven from earth, and man from woman.

PC acts in the opposite direction, it obliterates the distinctions, it clearly pushes us back into chaos.

There is an expression “to fish in troubled waters” (Russian uses the term “in muddy waters”). PC practitioners deliberately muddy waters, so that the criminals can fish, abuse, violate, and destroy with impunity.

The angels of political correctness have turned into the demons of chaos and destruction. The events that shake European cities are the grim reminder of this process.

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BBC producer admits Douma attack was false flag that nearly sparked Russia – U.S. hot war (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 176.

Alex Christoforou

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BBC producer Riam Dalati believes that the scenes caught on video from a hospital in Douma, Syria were staged, all in an effort driven by jihadist terrorists and White Helmet “activists” to draw the U.S. and its allies into full on confrontation with Syria, and by extension Russia.

The viral images caused a media firestorm in 2018, showing children allegedly suffering from chemicals, as main stream media channels, like the BBC itself, called for war with Assad.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the BBC producer’s stunning admission, after a 6 month investigation, that reveals the “‘chemical attack” hospital scenes in Douma were completely staged.

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Via RT


Emotive scenes of Syrian civilians, among them crying, choking, half-naked children, dominated the airwaves in April last year after rebel-affiliated mouthpieces reported yet another “chemical attack by the Assad regime” in the town of Douma. Disturbing reports, including some from the controversial White Helmets, claimed scores of people had been killed and injured.

Mainstream media quickly picked up the horrific (but unverified) videos from a Douma hospital, where victims were treated after this “poison attack.” That hospital scene was enough to assemble a UN emergency session and prompt the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ to rain down dozens of missiles on Damascus and other locations.

But Riam Dalati, a reputable BBC producer who has long reported from the Middle East, took the liberty of trying to sift through the fog of the Syrian war.

He believes Assad forces did attack the town, but that the much-publicized hospital scenes were staged.

After almost 6 months of investigations, I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital.

Anticipating further queries, he said no one from the White Helmets or opposition sources were present in Douma by the time the alleged attack had happened except for one person who was in Damascus.

Dalati also says that an attack “did happen” but that sarin, a weapons-grade nerve agent, was not used. He said, “we’ll have to wait for OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] to prove chlorine or otherwise.”

However, everything else around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.

The journalist said Jaysh al-Islam, an Islamist faction that fought the Syrian army there, “ruled Douma with an iron fist. They co-opted activists, doctors and humanitarians with fear and intimidation.”

Dalati’s revelations could have become a bombshell news report, but instead it was met with a deafening media silence. His employer preferred to distance itself from his findings. The BBC told Sputnik in a statement that Dalati was expressing “his personal opinions about some of the video footage that emerged after the attack but has not claimed that the attack did not happen.” 

After a while, Dalati restricted access to his Twitter account which is now open only to confirmed followers.

Interestingly, his previous inputs did not sit well with the official narrative either. “Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative,” he said in a tweet which he later deleted over “the breach of editorial policy.”

In all, Dalati is not a lone voice in the wilderness. The Intercept has recently run a story that also cast doubt on the mainstream coverage of Douma, although it doesn’t doubt that the attack itself happened. While a veteran British reporter Robert Fisk suggested there was no gas attack at all, saying people there were suffering from oxygen starvation. Witnesses of the “chemical attack,” for their part, told international investigators the story was a set-up.

Moscow, which supports Damascus in its fight against terrorists, has long stated the Douma incident was staged, calling for an international OPCW inquiry. Last year, the Defense Ministry presented what it said was proof the “provocation” was to trigger Western airstrikes against Syrian government forces.

This time, the military recalled a similar 2017 incident in Khan Sheikhoun, where an alleged chemical attack took place. The ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that a closer inspection of footage from that location clearly shows this was a set-up as well.

Now the Foreign Ministry has suggested Dalati is being silenced for voicing inconvenient views, with spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asking on Facebook: “A telling story. How about Western advocates of rights and freedoms? Had they accused BBC of censorship and pressuring the journalist?”

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President Trump schools liberals with National Emergency declaration

President Trump skillfully defeats Democrat naysayers, by increasing support for the border wall prior to declaring a National Emergency.

Seraphim Hanisch

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President Trump signed a continuing resolution to keep the US government fully running through the rest of the 2019 fiscal year. The CR contained a $1.374 bn allocation for US border security, and that money includes and pays for the completion of some fifty-five miles of border fence (or wall, or barrier, or “not-a-wall” depending on one’s preferential phrasing.) He also declared a National Emergency, theoretically freeing at least another $8 bn for the continued construction of the border wall.

Yes, it is a wall. And, yes, it is being built right now. And yes, it will be completed. The President of the United States has made this abundantly clear.

Some news reporters talk about this matter still as though there is in fact no wall now, and that there is no construction in progress on any wall. To that we can say, please watch this:

This section of the wall is going up near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It augments a very well-designed 18 foot wall stretching from west of Santa Teresa, NM to Tornillo, Texas. If someone wants to cross the border without having to negotiate this barrier they have to go very far off the beaten path to do it. President Trump wants to make it even more difficult; in fact, he wants to have the barrier run the entire length of the US-Mexico border.

This second video says a bit more about the situation:

His campaign to get this has been brilliant in terms of getting the American people informed that there is a problem. How did he do this with a press that hates him?

Easy. He made an issue out of it, knowing that the news media has no choice but to cover the President’s every antic, and in so doing, while seeking fodder for criticism, they actually ended up reporting on the actual problem.

This has been an interesting flow of events:

  • Mainstream news slamming the President’s every statement about the need for a wall
  • The fury of Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles “Chuck” Schumer in their 100% opposition – their own temper tantrum whilst blaming that tantrum on Trump, who actually acted more like a strict parent than a bratty teenager
  • The very public presentations of Border Patrol experts that Trump arranged, the purpose being to listen to their own expert assessment of the actual needs at the border

This last issue marks a need for even the conservative press to have a wake-up call. Daniel Horowitz wrote a piece in The Conservative Review excoriating President Trump’s signing of this present deal as a “sell out”, noting that:

Trump originally demanded $25 billion for the wall. Then he negotiated himself down to $5.6 billion. Democrats balked and only agreed to $1.6 billion. This bill calls it a day at $1.375 billion, enough to construct 55 miles. But it’s worse than that. This bill limits the president’s ability to construct “barriers” to just the Rio Grande Valley sector and only bollard fencing, not concrete walls of any kind.

Daniel’s point is great for rhetoric because, of course, the President originally did promise a big beautiful concrete wall running the entire length of the border.

However, he missed the point about using bollard-style walls that can be seen through – the Border Patrol agents themselves said this kind of wall is to their advantage. A solid wall prevents natural visibility and the agents were getting rocks thrown at them from people they could not see on the other side. A see-through capability means that people approaching the wall on the other side can be seen and tracked.

This marks an example of conservative ideology being too strongly fixed, just as the liberals’ ideology is fixed at the level of a four-year old child refusing to let someone else play with his toys.

They both do not understand that President Trump is not concerned with ideology. He is concerned with useful results, which he got in this deal.

Now about that National Emergency. Is this really the constitutional crisis Trump’s detractors say it is?

Probably not.

It has been widely reported that the US is currently running under some 31 other national emergencies, and that the one President Trump declared makes it number 32. The rhetoric from the news media and Democrats is centered around the idea that no President has ever used this power to get money that only the Congress can allot.

We also probably already know that this is an irrelevant point – the President is in charge of the national security of the nation, and he can and must do what he can to ensure it. The huge numbers of illegal crossings, nearly half a million in 2018 were largely apprehended and released into the United States, rather than deported. Half a million is far less than the 1.6 million that came through in 2000, but it is also not zero. Half a million is the size of the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

The distractors in the Democrat party and media do not want anyone comprehending this fact, so they try to divert and dissuade. But President Trump has not let any of this get past him. In a media event, the President had parents and relatives of people who were murdered by illegal aliens in a direct face-off with none other than CNN’s provocateur-in-chief Jim Acosta, and the reporter was forced to listen to what these family members had to say about their convictions that the president was correct in his:

Trump pointed to angel moms in attendance, asking them for their thoughts.

“You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women who lost their daughters and their sons,” Trump said. “OK, Because your question is a very political question because you have an agenda. You’re CNN. You’re fake news.”

Trump told Acosta the statistics he provided were “wrong” and told him to take a look at the federal prison population for proof.

“See how many of them,percentage-wise, are illegal aliens,” Trump said. “Just see, go ahead and see. It’s a fake question.”

Acosta was subsequently confronted by the angel moms in attendance, after the press conference. As angel moms confronted the CNN reporter, he invited them to appear on the network in the background of a live shot.

“There is no attempt whatsoever to diminish what they’ve gone through, or take away what they’ve gone through, but as you heard in that question that I had with the president … it was really about the facts and the data,” Acosta said on CNN following his exchange with Trump. “Some of these folks came up to me right after this press conference … they’re holding up these pictures of loved ones who lost their lives.”

An angel mom then discussed that a previously deported illegal alien murdered her son.

“President Trump is completely correct on this issue, we need to protect this country,” the angel mom told Acosta.

Acosta actually was a victim of his own passions when he went to the border to a place where the bollard wall presently stands and reported that nothing was happening there. It seemed that he was expecting that there were supposed to be angry mobs on the other side trying to get through. However, no one was there, because it is rather pointless to try to get over this wall at this place. Even liberals were forced to acknowledge Mr. Acosta’s strategic miscalculation.

The new national emergency is about getting results. If we were concerned only with smooth and impressive politics, we could only remark on the President’s success in maneuvering the Democrats (not all of them were slavishly going with the Pelosi-Schumer stance) and his ability to do what he does best – getting his message to the American people, and giving them information with which to decide what they want.

This campaign is not over, but this particular battle appears to have been won with a lot of hard work.

Slowly, oh, so slowly, it would seem that the forces of common sense are making some headway in America.

 

 

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“This is America” reveals a shocking vision of the United States

The Grammy Award winning Song and Record of the Year feature the very darkest vision of what America has become.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Grammy Awards are the second of the three most significant musical achievement awards in the United States. Two of the anticipated awards that many fans of this event look forward to learning are the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year.

The Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters of a given song, where the Record of the Year goes to the artists, producers and engineers involved in crafting the recording (the “record”) of a song. Both categories are huge and both usually go to an artist or organization responsible for a pop song.

It also happens to be that usually the song that is picked is beautiful and in most cases, reflects the character of beauty (whether in music or lyrics or both) for that year.

This year was quite different. Both awards went to Donald Glover, a.k.a. “Childish Gambino” for his song This is America.

This song features a radically different tone than previous winners going back for many years. Though rap remixes are usually less musical, the Grammy winners among these mixes have nevertheless retained some relatively positive, or at least attractive, aspect.

This is America is very different, especially when watched with its video.

Musically, it is genius, though the genius appears to have gone mad. Glover paints a picture of some very positive segments in American life, but then destroys it with his audible form and message that says absolutely nothing positive, but even more so – it doesn’t make sense unless one knows the context.

That context is revealed in the video with frightening images: someone getting their brains blown out (we see the blood fly), a gospel choir shot up with an automatic rifle while they were singing, and cannabis, front and center, being smoked by the artist himself.

This is America?

For Glover, this song and others on his album do seem to reflect that point of view.  Feels like Summer, one of Glover’s other recent songs, also reflects this sense of hopelessness, though it is far more musically consistent. The video gives the most clear contextual information that one could ask for, and while the video is not violent, it features degradation in society, even though the people depicted appear to be trying to make the best of their life situations.

The image Mr. Glover paints of America is a far cry from that which was known to most Americans only twenty years ago, and in fact, in many parts of the country where cannabis is still illegal there is a corresponding sense of positivity in life that is absent in Childish Gambino’s California-esque view of life.

There is a massive change that is taking place in American society. Our music and art reflects this change, and it sometimes even helps drive that change.

The United States of today is at a crossroads.

How many times have we read or heard THAT statement before?  But does it not seem so now? The attempt of identity politics to separate our nation into groups that must somehow fight for their own relevance against other groups is not the vision of the United States only twenty years ago.

Further, the normalization of themes such as drug-use and racism, the perpetuation of one in reality and the other as a mythological representation of how life “really is” in the US is radically bizarre.

In discussions with people who do not live in the United States, we found that sometimes they believed that white-on-black racism really was happening in America, because the media in the US pumps this information out in a constant stream, often with people like Donald Trump as the scapegoat.

But it is not true. Anyone in America’s new “accused class” of white, Christian, European-descent males (and some women who are not feminists), will note that they are not racist, and in fact, they feel persecuted for their existence under the new mantra of “white privilege.”

But it does not matter what they say. The media pumps the message it wants to, and with such coverage it is easy to get to halfway believing it: I know I am not this way, but I guess things are getting pretty bad elsewhere because all of those people seem to be getting this way…

This is the narrative the press promulgates, but upon conversations with people in “those places” we find that it is not true for them, either, and that they may in fact be thinking this is true about us.

Made in America is a visionary song and video. However, the vision is not a dream; it is nothing that anyone in the country would sincerely hope for. Even in Donald Glover’s case – as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, and as a big success in music, he is far from being one of the “boys in the ‘hood.” In fact, Time Magazine in 2017 named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Certainly his musical work creates a powerful influence, but it also must raise questions, with the main ones being:

  • Are we really like this?
  • Is this what we really want to be as a country?
  • Is this the kind of image we want our children in the US to adopt?

In fact, if Mr. Glover’s work was viewed with care (rather than just as something that is “cool” because the media says it is), it might help us steer away from the cliff that many Americans are in fact heading towards.

We have elected not to link to the video because it is too disturbing for children. It is even too disturbing for many adults. For that reason we are not making it one-click-easy to get to.

Parents reading this opinion piece would do well to screen the video by themselves without the kids around first, before deciding what they want to do. Even though the video is probably something that they have already seen, the parents still stand as the guides and guardians for their children through all the perils of growing up.

These times call for great guardians indeed.

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