Cultural Gravediggers

Every free society features an elite cadre bent on surrendering their culture — and with it themselves — to its enemies. They are digging their grave (and ours) as we watch them.

Dear friends and supporters:

The paradox of free societies is that they carry in their DNA the capacity for their own destruction. Free speech and press and assembly; religious, political, and economic liberty; and the encouragement of unhindered intellectual exchange permits ideas inimical to free societies to take root and, if not overcome by equally deep-rooted but contrary ideas, to sprout and overwhelm and choke the flower of freedom itself. This is an inconvenience with which non-free societies need not be troubled: military juntas, single-party totalitarianisms, and Marxist dictators can simply threaten, intimidate, jail, torture, and liquidate vocal opponents. These techniques are not available to free societies, so they have a rougher go of staving off destruction by freedom-denying dissenters.

This has happened numerous times historically. The most obvious example in the 20th century was the death of the Weimar Republic, the free society established in Germany after its defeat in World War I (1918–1933). The champions of both Marxism and National Socialism were vocal and relentless, while the classical liberalism in which the Republic was grounded had few muscular defenders. In the end, National Socialism won out, not by a military coup, but by a series of ballot-box victories. Hitler was duly elected by the Germans. The advocates of the free society, by their timidity and diffidence, dug the graves for their free society — and in some cases, almost literally for themselves as imprisonment and death awaited them at the hands of the Nazi barbarians.

America in 2020 is not Weimar in 1932, but we, too, have our cultural gravediggers, now largely occupying wide swaths of influence in universities, media, foundations, and politics (specifically the Democratic Party). The recent whiplash-inducing toleration of the violence and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s horrid killing evidences just how deeply our cultural grave is being dug. A number of celebrities (including Jane Fonda) drafted a letter proposing defunding the police. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti did just that at the LAPD. The mounting calls by Leftist elites to this defunding would negatively impact the poor and middle class much more than the wealthy, who can afford private security. Leftist social policy, despite the best intentions, is often self-serving and destructive to the very people for whom they profess so much compassion. But in the end, it would erode protection for the Leftist elites presently calling for it, since they would be forced to pay ever higher prices for private protection in a society the majority of whose members would seethe with resentment at their vulnerability in the face of Leftist privilege.

The revolution eats its own

Cultural grave-digging is inexplicable because it is suicidal. The gravediggers will suffer the same fate as their fellow citizens whose all-too-pro-establishment (and Christian) ideas they execrate.

As I pointed out in “Marxism in the Mayhem”:

Every cultural revolution includes the “progressive” elites standing on the sideline, cheering on, abetting, and funding the radicals subverting, looting, firebombing, and smashing “The Establishment.”

Only in the end do they learn the grim truth they are insufficiently pure, zealous, and radical, and will face at the hands of the nihilistic fanatics Robespierre’s guillotine, figuratively or literally.

The revolution always eats its own, who all along hypocritically relied on the evenhanded liberty of the alleged corrupt society that permitted its own subversion — and in the end, they ironically perish along with the society that alone kept them viable.

Examples of this cultural grave-digging abound.

Rage as Subversion

As many of America’s largest cities burned, a tacit (sometimes explicit) assumption among some of the Leftist commentariat was that the violence was an understandable reaction to the false narrative of “systemic racism” of police brutality against blacks. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo trumpeted:

Now too many see the protests as the problem. No, the problem is what forced your fellow citizens to take to the streets: persistent, poisonous inequities and injustice,” Cuomo told his viewers. “And please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful. Because I can show you that outraged citizens are what made the country what she is and led to any major milestone. To be honest, this is not a tranquil time.”

Numerous “thought leaders” encouraged or rationalized the violence:

“A once in a lifetime opportunity,” is how Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey described the subsequent rioting. “Yes, America is burning, but that’s how forests grow.”

Two days after looters devoured local stores, Democratic Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda said: “Colleagues, I hope we’re all saying we understand why that destruction happened and we understand why people are upset.”

 “But what I don’t want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told looting doesn’t solve anything,” said Mosqueda’s socialist colleague Tammy Morales. “It does make me wonder why looting bothers people so much more than knowing that across the country, black people are being killed.”

Burn It All Down,” an Essence headline insisted. Yesha Callahan cited George Floyd, other unarmed blacks killed by cops, and the “insurmountable rate” of black COVID-19 fatalities. “Until these things disgust you, we riot, we protest and do whatever it takes to get your attention – including burning it all down.”

The Santa Cruz Sentinel excerpted California Governor Gavin Newsom’s message for the peaceful protesters as well as rioters:

Gavin Newsom on Monday voiced common cause with the activists who have taken to the streets to denounce police brutality across the country, saying “your rage is real. Express it so that we can hear it.”

“The black community is not responsible for what is happening right now. We are — our institutions are — accountable to this moment,” Newsom said at a news conference streamed from Genesis Church in south Sacramento.

But the governor delivered a different message to what he called a small group of opportunists who have turned peaceful protests toward violence and looting in the wake of the killing of George Floyd — a black man who died last week after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes.

“To those that want to exploit this moment and that want to fan violence and fear — we hear you as well, but we don’t have the same sensitivities as it relates to those that are trying to exercise their voice from a place of hurt and pain,” he said.

This is an extraordinary statement. To allegedly peaceful protesters the governor encourages rage. Rage is defined as “violent, uncontrollable anger.” Urging peaceful protests to rage at the very moment violent protesters mingle among them is morally inexplicable. Perhaps Newsom (in his rage?) misspoke, but just as rioters were laying waste to innocent people’s lives and businesses and health, the counsel to “rage” is counsel to rip the fabric of culture that keeps a free society from fraying. Pressing the peaceful to vent rage as they stand shoulder to shoulder with nihilistic sociopaths is not to advocate valid political speech but cultural grave-digging.

Free societies live by contract ( = covenant): they agree to respect one another’s life, liberty, and property, even in tumultuous times. They do not alter their covenants to each another even in the face of tragic police brutality. They know that one price of a free society is protecting others’ freedom even (perhaps especially) when we disagree with them. The notion that it is justified to plunder property and assault people on the grounds that they collude with the “racist system” is not just wrong; it is self-destructive. The people and property injured or eliminated in the violence are indispensable aspects of the culture from which we all benefit. Destroying them, we destroy ourselves.

The sensitivities of violent sociopaths

But the inexplicability runs deeper. Newson disagrees with the violent rioters but, far from cautioning them about their patent rage, he states he does not share “the same sensitivities” as they do. Apparently, breaking into and looting Nike stores, setting police precincts and churches ablaze, and kicking store owners senseless on the ground are “sensitivities” that Newson cannot endorse.

In short, he counsels peaceful protesters to rage, and he expresses mild disagreement with the “sensitivities” of violent sociopaths.

The governor of the most prominent state in the most powerful nation on earth encourages thinking and actions that, if followed consistently, would overturn a free society in which life, liberty, and property are inviolate.

And he and his office would perish right along with the society that grants him the freedom to dig its grave.

This is not the only present cultural grave-digging.

War on Reality

J. K. Rowling, world-famous rags-to-riches author of the Harry Potter series, got herself into hot water lately. Mark you, she is a dedicated “progressive” feminist, not an establishment-defending dyed-in-the-wool conservative. But she is fully aware of how the latest permutations of the Sexual Revolution by fellow “progressives” undo womanhood, and she had the audacity to say so in public.

Rowling is no Christian, but she intuitively recognizes truths hard-wired into God’s created order. One of them is sex as biology. Men are men and women are women. Our sex is issued to us at conception, and if we want to change it, we should at least know what we are trying to do. Not that she has qualms about transgenderism. She draws the line, however, at the transgender apologetic that erases femaleness, encoded in the nomenclature “people who menstruate” — as though more than one sex can do that.

The outcry was immediate and intense. She was accused of “transphobia.” Daniel Radcliffe, actor in the Harry Potter movies based on Rowling’s books, chastised Rowling for “invalidat[ing] their [the trans’] identities, and . . . caus[ing them] further harm.” To insist on reality is to cause harm.

Gnostic sexual utopia

Sex as a contra-reality social construction is only the most bizarre step of the Sexual Revolution to date. It will not be the last. It is modern Gnosticism. Gnosticism is the ancient heresy birthed within Christianity that survives in modern secular culture. The the contemporary secular version, like its ancient predecessor, believes that creation is inherently defective. Man’s problem is not sin, but God’s created order.

The sexual Gnostics see man’s and woman’s bodies as barriers to human imagination of The Good Life. They are chains on wild, exciting, possibility-rich human imagination. The notion that there could be only two permanent sexes is boring; worse, it tacitly acknowledges that God creates and controls human sexuality. A society like ours whose deepest conviction is human autonomy (self-law) will find any creational restriction unacceptable. We must, therefore, break the bonds of sex and get to “gender,” which in modern parlance means a socially constructed sexual “identity.” Sex is not something God gifts to us; we create it. Humans are gender-inventing machines.

Gender creation is the step toward sexual utopia, when all barriers to sex except underage sex (soon to be routinized) will be cast aside in favor of the society of endless, indiscriminate cavorting. “Knowledge — gnosis — of the method of altering being,” Eric Voegelin observes, “is the central concern of the gnostic . . . . the construction of a formula for self and world salvation.”

Reality stands in the way. So reality is dispensable.

Black Lives Matter

This Gnostic sexual utopia is the agenda of Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter as an assertion is virtuous. Black lives are created in God’s image; and to disparage, demean, belittle, patronize, enslave, harm, or kill them (including in the womb) is anti-creational and -Christian at its very core. At this level, Black Lives Matter is an incontestable application of normative Christianity. To oppose it is to oppose the biblical truth of the imago dei.

But Black Lives Matter as a movement is another story altogether. You might assume that BLM was created to highlight the obvious injuries suffered to black Americans and to reassert their great value in God’s world.

But you would be wrong. BLM was birthed in a sociocultural vision to champion “intersectionality,” transgenderism, radical feminism, and other cornerstones of the Sexual Revolution and Gnostic sexual utopia. BLM is as much about autonomous and socially constructed sexuality as it is about race.

It is a striking exhibition of Cultural Marxism — the intentional assault on traditional Christian Western sexual standards (marital [hetero]sexuality) and racial standards (social colorblindness).

For this reason, Christians can (and must) champion Black Lives Matter as an implication of biblical faith, and can (and must) oppose Black Lives Matter as a movement.

Biblical cure of racism

Since there’s so much racially motivated chaos and violence going on, perhaps it would be helpful to summarize the biblical cure:

All humans are created in God’s image. This is a fundamental fact of human existence, not race, ethnicity, skin color, social standing, wealth, nationality, intelligence, appearance, or “sexual identity.”

Each of us should treat one another, whether Christian or not, with respect, dignity, and care, all of us equally created in God’s image.

Race, skin color, and ethnicity are marginal, secondary, and, quite frankly, unimportant.

Highlighting or magnifying racial distinctions is not simply a surefire way to stoke resentment and hatred. It is sin.

But the broader issue of reengineering reality to make way for unhindered human autonomy digs culture’s grave. The humanly constructed world of Gnostic sexual utopia bangs its head against reality. The more it resists creation, the more is eviscerates itself, like the lunatic who assumes he is not bound by the law of gravity and aims to prove his liberation by leaping from a 14-story building. The autonomous reality engineers will not destroy God’s reality, but they might destroy the culture that depends on recognizing that reality for its preservation.

In assaulting reality, they dig their own cultural graves.

Liberty as Slavery

Senator Tom Cotton’s New York Times editorial “Send in the Troops” met a storm of protest from the very newest New Left, primarily the 300 youngish staffers (notably the black staffers) incensed by the editorial and claiming it jeopardized their lives. The Times editor originally defended the inclusion of the piece, but quickly backpedaled when many staffers called off work and unleashed a public howl of sensational protest. The editorial did not appear in the print edition, and, as you will notice in the link above, it now includes a lengthy preface apologizing that the editorial was not properly vetted. This is code for: “Senior staff knew it was properly vetted at the time, but our politicized and culturally Marxist young staff had not properly vetted it.” The Times opinion section editor James Bennet, who has tried to bring actual diversity to the famously “progressive” daily, resigned. Senior management claimed the article was substandard. Vox explained how:

[I]t’s a question of how journalists should think about their roles as guardians of mainstream discourse. Does every idea that’s popular in power, no matter how poorly considered, deserve some kind of respectful airing in mainstream publications? Or are there boundaries, both of quality of argument and moral decency, where editors need to draw the line — especially in the Trump era?

A Trump-era opinion is “poorly considered” if there is little “quality of argument and moral decency.” In other words, calling for the forcible quelling of looting and rioting and murder is not a quality argument and not morally decent.

This is not an example of censorship in the conventional meaning. The state did not stamp out the story. It is, however, an example of a potentially more pernicious censorship: cultural censorship in which reasonable, if even mistaken, ideas are simply not permitted to be communicated in the mainstream. Cotton argued for, if necessary, the imposition of the Insurrection Act, which grants the President wide latitude in quelling violence. One could reasonably disagree with that viewpoint, and Leftists are not the only ones who would disagree. Libertarians certainly would.

But Cotton’s view is certainly not beyond the pale of reasonable discussion. Many thoughtful people hold Cotton’s view. The reasonable course is to publish Cotton’s editorial, and then publish a rebuttal. That is how free societies work.

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A free press rests on certain assumptions about a free society. One is that open and unhindered discourse contributes to a robust intellectual culture that solves its problems largely by open debate, not by summary decree. You do not overcome bad ideas by silencing them but by forcing them to compete with good ideas.

The real danger to this free discourse is not state censorship (yet) but, in fact, something more pernicious. It would be one thing if media outlets were trying to give both (or more) sides to a story but were muzzled by jackbooted fascist thugs. But the form of censorship going on at the Times is self-censorship driven by Leftist and Culturally Marxist ideology.

As journalist Ezra Klein at the far-left-of-center Vox writes,

The news media likes to pretend that it simply holds up a mirror to America as it is. We don’t want to be seen as actors crafting the political debate, agents who make decisions that shape the boundaries of the national discourse. We are, of course. We always have been.

“When you think in terms of these three spheres — sphere of consensus, of legitimate debate, and of deviancy — a new way of describing the role for journalism emerges, which is: They police what goes in which sphere,” says Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at NYU. “That’s an ideological action they never took responsibility for, never really admitted they did, never had a language for talking about.”

What has changed is that the ideological attack by major media on free speech and the free society is now public, bold, and apologetic. They do not report the news. They decide what is newsworthy and what readers should be taught to believe. Their task is not information, but indoctrination. Not the free exchange of ideas, but the forcible imposition of ideas.

One of the leading Cultural Marxists, Herbert Marcuse, an ideological architect of the 60’s New Left, laid the groundwork for it in his (in)famous 1965 Brandeis University lecture titled, “Repressive Tolerance.” The idea sounds self-contradictory, but it has a logical, if chilling, meaning. Free societies are actually repressive societies, because they foster free speech that encourages views the Cultural Marxists consider socially destructive: Christian culture, economic and religious liberty, personal responsibility, and the traditional family. These views are repressive because they keep unbelievers outside the kingdom of God, keep the lazy from owning as much as the diligent, keep false religions from being socially approved, keep identitarians from blaming other classes and races and sexes for their plight, and keep homosexuals from getting the social approval married people get.

In this way, the politically free society is the culturally repressive society. What is needed is the politically repressive society that will liberate everybody from families and churches and businesses and traditional expectations that enslave them.

“Repressive tolerance” is the guiding principle behind the New Left and a number of decisions by the Times and other prominent elite institutions as well as individuals in our society. They are using our free society to subvert that society.

They are cultural gravediggers.

Conclusion

The free society — that is, the society our Founders envisioned and fashioned, based on Protestant truth — will not be preserved without a fight. We freedom lovers must refuse to employ the tactic of cultural censorship like many of our opponents employ. We are happy to fight on level legal and cultural ground.

Our arguments for the free society will vanquish the arguments of the unfree society, if we are allowed to make them.

If we are not, and the cultural gravediggers get their way, the future of our grandchildren looks bleak.


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This past week our daughter Peace, a Santa Cruz County deputy sheriff, was called to a grisly crime scene in which two of her fellow deputies were ambushed by a young man with an assault rifle and bombs. The suspect was eventually captured and arrested for murder, but not before he had killed one of Peace’s beloved colleagues, a husband and father of one child with another on the way. The tragic story became national news after the suspect was possibly linked to the killing of a federal officer at a protest in Oakland last month. Here is a photo of Sharon and me with our daughter at her academy graduation two years ago. We are immensely proud of her: