I just inadvertently read an article by Jonah Goldberg at National Review. That your opinion of me might wane from such profligate waste of precious time would be understandable. We’re only on Earth for so long, and moments spent reading him could have been more usefully deployed counting fibers in the carpet.
National Review is, of course, a sink. Its smooth downward trajectory began as Buckley embraced cocktail conservatism and commenced his long train of defenestrations–Sobran, Brimelow, O’Sullivan among others I forget. There was also of course Coulter and Derbyshire jettisoned, the latter in a spectacular conflagration of RACISM. Even Steve Sailer was apparently excommunicated. But that was reasonable given that he is a hardcore racist, misogynist, white supremacist, anti-Semite, Islamophobe, homophobe, classist, ableist, transphobe, transmisogynist, xenophobe, pseudo-scientist and all-round champion asshole and bigot. THE END.
Of course Buckley also chose the insipid Rich Lowry as successor, all but guaranteeing the magazine’s fresh nadirs carved daily since. Though NR is useful in one regard: as a timecapsule to track conservatism’s utter capitulation. Pick issues in 10 year increments and read back in wonder at how the former flagship publication of the American right has evolved to fully irrelevant respectability.
All of which is prelude to the obvious point: there’s a great article you should read on National Review. It’s a piece about the left’s militarization of the state apparatus as means of punishment and intimidation against political opposition. Opposition who are innocent of all crimes but ideological heresy. It is a piece about lawfare. And it is a piece likely about our future.
“IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.”
That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.
“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.” She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”
It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.
Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television. In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”
As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends. The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends. Yet no one in this family was a “perp.” Instead they were American citizens guilty of nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to support Act 10 (a state initiative intensely loathed by the left) and other conservative causes in Wisconsin. Sitting there shocked and terrified, this citizen — who is still too intimidated to speak on the record — kept thinking, “Is this America?”
The NR piece contains several other equally harrowing tales of impolite breakfast time incursions in that state. All of innocent families driven by open-ended prosecutorial fishing expeditions granted license by duplicitous liberal judges. That this represented a remarkable abuse of office was simply a benign collateral loss in light of the higher ideological power being served. Take note conservatives: while you pledge unrequited allegiance to an inanimate Constitution! liberals are putting your children prostrate at gunpoint in your own home.
“Is this America?” Yes it is.
I’m sure Russians made a similar query of the Bolsheviks circa 1918. Though everyone is informed of that from the abundance of Hollywood films alone. But for sheer repetition, some gaieties of the period as published by wiki:
At Odessa the Cheka tied White officers to planks and slowly fed them into furnaces or tanks of boiling water; In Kharkiv, scalpings and hand-flayings were commonplace: the skin was peeled off victims’ hands to produce “gloves”; The Voronezh Cheka rolled naked people around in barrels studded internally with nails; victims were crucified or stoned to death at Dnipropetrovsk; the Cheka at Kremenchuk impaled members of the clergy and buried alive rebelling peasants; in Orel, water was poured on naked prisoners bound in the winter streets until they became living ice statues; in Kiev, Chinese Cheka detachments placed rats in iron tubes sealed at one end with wire netting and the other placed against the body of a prisoner, with the tubes being heated until the rats gnawed through the victim’s body in an effort to escape.
Executions took place in prison cellars or courtyards, or occasionally on the outskirts of town, during the Red Terror and Russian civil war. After the condemned were stripped of their clothing and other belongings, which were shared among the Cheka executioners, they were either machine-gunned in batches or dispatched individually with a revolver. Those killed in prison were usually shot in the back of the neck as they entered the execution cellar, which became littered with corpses and soaked with blood. Victims killed outside the town were moved by truck, bound and gagged, to their place of execution, where they sometimes were made to dig their own graves.
According to Edvard Radzinsky, “it became a common practice to take a husband hostage and wait for his wife to come and purchase his life with her body”. During Decossackization, there were massacres, according to historian Robert Gellately, “on an unheard of scale.” The Pyatigorsk Cheka organized a “day of Red Terror” to execute 300 people in one day, and took quotas from each part of town. According to the Chekist Karl Lander, the Cheka in Kislovodsk, “for lack of a better idea,” killed all the patients in the hospital. In October 1920 alone more than 6,000 people were executed. Gellately adds that Communist leaders “sought to justify their ethnic-based massacres by incorporating them into the rubric of the ‘class struggle'”.
Members of the clergy were subjected to particularly brutal abuse. According to documents cited by the late Alexander Yakovlev, then head of the Presidential Committee for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression, priests, monks and nuns were crucified, thrown into cauldrons of boiling tar, scalped, strangled, given Communion with melted lead and drowned in holes in the ice. An estimated 3,000 were put to death in 1918 alone.
As breathtakingly macabre as that was, the West must be absolutely festooned with Red Terror museums and remembrance days. “Never Again” would seem an apt epitaph. Surely the posterity of those responsible have been relentlessly shamed and now provide submarines gratis for third generation survivors. Yes, all of those things must be true.
And just imagine what would have happened had the Cossacks been Republicans! I don’t mean to suggest that leftists in Wisconsin are (yet) of a kind with those in civil war Russia, though I do notice that tolerance tends to take on a certain elasticity among this cohort. So much in fact that it easily takes the shape of religious zealotry.
Which makes me imagine how the West would appear if Christians were as devout in worshipping their God as liberals are theirs. Unlike standard Sunday LARPers who shuffle and concede at the first sortie of isms, liberals actually believe in earthly angels and devils. They have dogma and liturgies, both of which are embraced with deadly earnestness. Christians, on the other hand, have a pope (and Protestant leadership) so unserious he appears indifferent as to which Abrahamic faith he ostensibly represents. If removed from the papacy and inserted into a renaissance fair I doubt anyone would notice the difference, least of all him. That is to say, he strikes me as an perfect exemplar for the West’s modern pseudo-religion.
Increasingly it seems the real soul-stirring is available exclusively from a competing theology. True absolution, hellfire, and damnations can only be found in the pews and pulpits of the secular left…and occasionally the pages of National Review.