How My Atheist Mission to the Muslim World Brought Me Back to Christ

It has taken me since June 5, 2021 when I said my first prayer in a Turkish jail cell to now, September 17, 2021 to be ready to speak about the incredible and terrifying experience I had and how it has changed my life. I’m telling this story in the hopes of softening the hearts of any atheists, agnostics, or formerly religious people out there who think there’s no way back to God. If I was able to go back to Him, anyone can. Allow me to explain from the beginning. 

Religious Background

I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school. I was very serious about my faith as a child until I was in sixth grade, when my precious devout Catholic Grandmother to whom I was extremely close suddenly and tragically died. My Grandmother was like a mother to me, and she was also my spiritual guide. The spiritual and emotional void this loss left in me is indescribable. 

When I was sixteen I fell hard for a guy who I learned a couple of weeks into dating was an unbaptized Jehovah’s Witness. I was compelled to begin studying with the JW’s in order to stay in the relationship. I attended their services three times a week (6 hours per week), and even ‘went on service’, witnessing door-to-door every Saturday. My religiosity was again lit on fire for a time.

At age eighteen I vehemently rejected the validity of the Bible, Christianity, and theism after spending 2 years studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. At that point, I began on a downward spiral in regards to morality and life choices. My enthusiasm for the Lord turned on a dime into hatred and rebellion against Him, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, in turning away from God, I was by default surrendering my life to the Father of Lies, for, “We know that we are God’s children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.” – 1 John 5:19

Anti-theist Years 

I won’t go into details of all the years where I was anti-God and anti-Christian. I’m quite certain that anyone who knows me who is reading this could tell you horror stories. I will say that I am ashamed of much from those years and I am spending the rest of my life trying to make up for them through fervency for Christ and daily religious practice. I hurt a few people in those years pretty badly, but most of all I regret depriving my children of the Catholic upbringing I was blessed to receive. 

I was a hardcore atheist. I was obsessed with Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. I wasn’t just irreligious, I spent years, decades, actively hating God, Christianity, and the Bible. I shared inflammatory Hitchens videos on Facebook, alienating many. I constantly argued the topic of religion with my Dad. I called people bigots who followed Biblical morality even as I embraced the upside-down ‘morality’ of the world. 

I now realize if I had not believed in God on some level that whole time, I wouldn’t have spent so much time fighting and rebelling against Him. This antagonistic attitude toward God was in some strange way, better than if I had been the dreaded ‘spiritual but not religious’ as God has no patience for apathy. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” – Ephesians 6:10-11

The Turkish Incident

When I first joined Twitter a year and a half ago, I followed primarily atheist and anti-theist accounts. One of them was an ex-Muslim atheist Uighur girl living in Turkey. She was reaching out on Twitter for help to emigrate to the West to escape her extremist family. I began talking with her and offered to help in any way I could, if only to be a supportive voice. Over the span of a year we got to know each other, video chatting and texting daily and became very close. I started to think of her like a daughter, and so I helped her start the process of getting an F1 Student Visa to the U.S. I registered her for school, paid for her courses, and filled out the required documentation to sponsor her and promised the U.S. government to pay for her schooling and provide room and board to her while she was in school. I was planning on adopting her. We registered her for classes at the local college. She had her I-20 completed and approved and her F1 application submitted and was just waiting on the Embassy to open up from the Covid lockdown to get her Visa interview. 

My husband and I decided to fly to Turkey and set her up in an Airbnb until her interview. The Achilles heel in our plan was that she ended up deciding to leave her family’s house the morning before her eighteenth birthday. If she had just waited until midnight, she would probably be here with us now, and I may have never had my ‘come to Jesus’ moment. 

We spent one beautiful day together, and then around 5 pm, when she was just 7 hours away from turning eighteen, there was a knock at the door and two plain clothed police officers told us we were coming with them to answer questions about a reported kidnapping. We were taken to a police station. She tried to explain the situation to the police. There were many tears and she was clinging to me like a child the whole time, begging them to let her stay with me and not to send her back to her parents. She sent the police documentation of her school registration and Visa application and told them of her dad’s abuse and threats of honor violence. The police were kind to us once the whole story was out and evidence was provided. We were told we’d be free to go after we made our statements. Oh, what sweet, naïve children we were to believe them! 

The police told us they were going to have to detain her in a dorm for the night, just to be held until morning, as she was technically still a minor at this point. We hugged and cried and said goodbye, planning to meet again at the Airbnb the next morning. 

I never saw her again. As we were being escorted out we were told that we had to go to one more police station, just to give a formal statement. In the car, my husband and I began exchanging nervous glances as our intuitions simultaneously began to tell us something was very, very wrong. When we arrived at the next police station we were put into a cold, damp, concrete interrogation room with bars on the window and told to wait while they tried to find us a translator. Almost two hours later, our translator came in and told us we were being charged with kidnapping. We were confused and frightened, exclaiming the police told us that wasn’t the case and we were only there to give statements, not that we were being charged!

Later on in our ordeal, he asked us if we had ever seen the movie Midnight Express, and when we said we hadn’t, he said “good, you’d be a lot more scared right now if you had, because this movie is what your situation reminds me of”. Knowing our story and evidence, he felt really bad for us. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch that film, though I have watched the trailer, and that was enough for me. He also asked us whether we understood just how dire the relations between our two countries were right now, and told us he had never seen a Westerner in this part of Istanbul before. 

After several hours in the second police station, providing our statements and waiting for them to decide what to do with us, the girl’s parents and brother showed up to confront us. We explained everything to them, and begged them to drop the charges. Seeing we meant no harm and truly cared about her, they agreed to consider dropping the charges if we’d let them be involved in the plans of her studying in the US.

After they left, we waited a while longer in the interrogation room until we were told they couldn’t release us, because we were foreigners involved in a crime, so had to be transferred to an immigrant detention facility and from there likely deported. The translator told my husband this was not turning out to be a good outcome for us.

On the way to the immigrant detention facility we had to stop at a hospital and be examined to prove that they had not beaten us at the police station, then the police car broke down and another had to come and take its place. By the time we arrived at the immigrant detention facility it was about 2 o’clock in the morning. Our translator had to leave us at the mercy of the police who took custody of us, but before he did, he asked the police not to separate us and to put us in a separate cell from the other prisoners. He warned us that if we were separated, my husband could end up in the cells with terror suspects and other actual criminals. Things were getting darker and darker in our minds, as you might imagine. We were beginning to lose it. 

They took our mugshots and our fingerprints, but since it was late and nobody was available to run the passport/background checks, we were told it would be about 5 hours of waiting so we could either sit on the stairs to be put in an empty cell where we could at least try and sleep. We agreed to the cell only after confirming we’d be together. At about 4 in the morning, they came and took my husband out of our cell and put a woman in with me, taking him off to the cell with the other prisoners. 

At that point I completely broke down. I prayed for the first time in years. I asked God if he was out there, to let me know, and to please deliver us from this situation and to let me go home, to be with my son. I promised God that I would devote my life to Him if I ever got out and got home.

A few hours later, I asked to use the bathroom and begged to see my husband and make sure he was okay. My husband was doing well, as he ended up befriending a young man who knew English; it turned out he was an interpreter for our troops and was detained while trying to escape Afghanistan through Turkey to get to Europe, but was caught without identification. He had been there for 8 months, because without any identification they didn’t know where to deport him, so he had no hope to ever leave and no way for his family to contact him or vice versa. He was an angel for us and I wish there was something I could do to bring him to America, as he told us he was permanently stateless and would be in the detention center indefinitely. I don’t know his name but I pray for him. 

My husband asked to use the bathroom and also use his phone. They let him, and he brought his friend with him and ended up contacting a lawyer our first translator had given him in case things got dire, and he explained the situation. The lawyer then insisted he hand the phone to the officer on duty and they talked for a bit before my husband got the phone back and was told that if we weren’t released by 3pm to call back and the lawyer would formally represent us. We went back to our cells to wait.

I lay there on the floor of the cell in utter despair for about 6 more hours. I woke up to a guard calling me to get up. I jumped up as my heart raced, I felt delirious but hopeful. I was led into the police office and my husband was already in there talking with a very sullen police chief. I told my story yet again as our ‘guardian angel’ translated for me. 

At first the police chief was incredulous of our story, as was every police chief at each police station who heard it. The questions I kept being asked were, “Why would you do all this for a stranger in a Muslim country? Why would you spend thousands of dollars, fly all the way across the world, and go to jail to help someone from a totally different culture?” All I could answer was because I loved and cared about her and I wanted to give her a better life. This answer was hard for them to believe or relate to, and they all thought I must have had an ulterior motive. 

The police chief continued to interrogate me to find out my ‘real motive’. I told them about my Grandmother and what an incredible angel she was, about how fiercely she loved me and how she taught me to love others with that same energy. I can’t speak about my Grandmother without getting choked up, and as you can imagine I was extremely emotional at that moment. After seeing my emotion, the hardened police chief was touched, told my husband that he had an amazing wife, gave us tea and Turkish pastries, and asked us if we could also adopt him, pay for his college education, and bring him to America; all the other police officers were also touched, had a good laugh over this and joined in asking me to be their mother and adopt them too. 

After a while chatting and drinking tea, the chief got a phone call and we were then told the passport and fingerprint checks were finally processed and we were clean, so we just had to sign some final papers and then be released for real and this time given back our passports. We were finally set free around noon, after being in police custody for 19 hours. 

On our way out, our translator friend pulled us aside and said, “If I were you, I would leave the country immediately.” We didn’t need to be told twice. When we got back to the Airbnb we immediately booked the first flight home which was in the morning and went directly to stay at the airport hotel. We called the dorm where the girl was staying and they told us she was still in custody. I emailed her saying she could still return to the Airbnb and continue with our plan, but that we had been advised to get out of the country ASAP. 

A couple of days after we returned home, I received the final email from the girl, telling me she had been given an option to remain at the dorm or to be released to her parents. Her father promised not to hurt her and to let her continue her education and she went back home. I have not heard from her since. All her social media accounts are disabled. I think her father took away all internet access from her and I suspect he married her off. I don’t know if I will ever see her again or where she is, or even if she is okay, but honey, if you are reading this, know that I will always love you and I am waiting for you to reach out to me again anytime, and that I am so, so sorry about how this all turned out. I hope to be able to help you one day and you are always in my heart. 

It has taken me a few months to heal from all of this enough to be able to talk about it. I have been trying to make good on my promise to dedicate my life to God since returning home. My faith did not return overnight. It has been a process. At first I just began praying for an increase in faith, in the spirit of this verse: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8 

The bridge that got me logically from atheism to Christianity was watching Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series in its entirety, which is 33 hours of lectures on the psychological significance of the book of Genesis. Watching this series gave me an almost miraculous new appreciation for a book that I had previously despised. I am still in awe of how much heavy lifting this series did to allow my faith in the Bible to return. I found a deep reservoir of wisdom in a book I had once said was pure evil. Only after watching this series and praying daily for my faith to return was I able to find my way back to a God. 

Next, I became a parishioner at a traditional Catholic Church with faithful Priests who preach true, unadulterated Catholicism and celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. I went to Confession for the first time in twenty-eight years and had my marriage recognized by the Church. I’ve discovered courageous and inspirational spiritual shepherds like the Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and Father James Altman. My husband is in the process of converting to the faith, which is a blessing I will never be able to wrap my mind around. 

I now pray the rosary everyday, go to daily Mass, and am reading the Bible again. I know nothing I could  ever possibly do could make me deserving of the warm embrace I have received from the Lord after twenty-five years of apostasy and mortal sin. On a daily basis, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humility that I was even allowed to come back into the fold as a Catholic in good standing after what I have done. In the time since I have returned to God, this verse comes to me daily in prayer, and every single day it brings me to tears: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. -Luke 15:4-7

One would think that it would be much harder for a militant anti-theist to come to God than for one who vaguely believes in a higher power. I have discovered that this assumption is very wrong indeed. I was trying to understand why this was the case when I came upon the following verse while reading the Book of Revelation: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” -Revelation 3:15-16. I now realize that it is a blessing that I am never one to be lukewarm, as it made it possible for me to turn fervently back to Christ. 

 

Do Recent Anti-CRT Bills Ban the Teaching of Slavery and Racism?

Recently I’ve been hearing claims from corporate media such as The New York Times as well as an avalanche of blue checks on Twitter that the recent Texas bill HB 3979 banning the mandatory teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools is somehow akin to whitewashing history.  They claim these bills ban the teaching of the history of slavery, the legacy of Jim Crow, and the history of white supremacy and racism in this country.

All that is needed to evaluate the truth or falsity of these claims is to read the bill (it’s only five pages long). Reading NYT opinion pieces, listening to talking heads on cable news or NPR, relying on Politifact or Snopes entries to tell you what’s true, and jumping on the bandwagon of ‘what people are saying’ do not equal due diligence. If you truly want to find out the truth about what these bills do, go directly to the source and read the actual bills. My hypothesis is, people who are inclined to believe these claims don’t actually want to know what the Texas bill says. They would rather stick with what their tribe says that it says, instead of committing to the due diligence of doing their own fact finding and thinking for themselves.

It is much easier to subcontract out independent thinking and fact finding to someone else. It’s also safer to believe whatever your tribe is telling you, because what if you look into it for yourself and find out they are lying? Besides, it’s fun for people to read the story in the NYT or hear it on NPR: “Republicans are banning the teaching of slavery in Texas”, and exclaim to their friends and family, “Did you hear what those racist Republicans are doing now? They’re banning the teaching of the history of slavery and racism in schools! Gasp! Those evil, sick fascists, what will they do next!” The thing is, this tendency to be tribal and rely on others to do our thinking for us is hardwired into us. It’s our default mode to be this way. But we also have the capacity as humans to rise above our tribal and sheeplike nature and overcome that tendency. We have the capacity to ask questions, follow the evidence where it leads, and decide what is true for ourselves based on said evidence. Let’s do that, with this issue, shall we?

So, let us look at what the Texas bill actually says. The meat of the bill is below:

(6) “No teacher, administrator, or other employee in any state agency, school district, campus, open-enrollment charter school, or school administration shall require, or make part of a course the following concepts:

(1) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;

(2) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;

(3) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;

(4) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;

(5) an individual ’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;

(6) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;

(7) any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex;

(8) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.

As you can see, this bill does nothing that the New York Times says it does. It does not ban the teaching of slavery or the history of racism in America. What it does do is prevent schools from pushing racial essentialism and collective ancestral guilt on children. It prevents teachers from demonizing and shaming children for their immutable characteristics. It honors the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, who would have supported this bill.  It is congruent with the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial discrimination.

It prevents teachers from judging children based on the color of their skin or the sex into which they were born. It prevents teachers from putting the guilt of dead ancestors on the shoulders of children. The moral code of judging a person based only on their own actions, and not judging them based on what their ancestors did is thousands of years old. For example, The Bible forbids judging people for the ‘sins of the father’. Ezekiel 18:19-20 “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

It is basic common sense that shaming children for things that their ancestors may have participated in long before they were born is immoral to the core. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Anyone who actually believes it is moral and right to demonize children and assign moral value to them based on their skin color or sex has gone so far off the moral deep end, I don’t know if they can be helped. I hope most of the people believing these slanderous claims of corporate media on this bill are doing so out of tribalism and ignorance. I hope that if they knew the truth and actually read the bill, they’d agree with it. I hope with all my heart they don’t actually believe it’s ethical to assign moral worth to children based on their race or sex.  If they do, we are in bigger trouble than we realize, and I fear we won’t be able to stay together as a country.  This moral divide cannot be bridged.

 

 

Once a Rebel, Always a Rebel?

I’m not the first to notice that the people who claimed to be ‘the resistance’ in 2016 are the bandwagon riders in 2021. When the corporations, the government, the political establishment, and entirety of ‘polite society’ are on your side, you might want to reevaluate whether you are in fact, part of the ‘resistance.’ I admit that I arrived late to the party. I didn’t clearly see that the counterculture had become the culture until 2020.

As someone who was part of the counterculture as a young person, I saw a thread by Jack Murphy on Twitter that really spoke to me. He writes about a woman he was friends with in the nineties who used to be punk, anti-establishment, a rebel who has now become ‘the man’. This seems to be the case in the music world with the few exceptions of Morrissey, Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols), Ian Brown (Stone Roses), Van Morrison, and Eric Clapton. Many of the people raging against the machine became the machine and don’t even know it, nor do they see the irony in their predicament.

It was much easier to be an rebel in the 90’s when raging against the machine was socially acceptable. True, my parents didn’t let me dye my hair, dress how I wanted, decorate my room the way I wanted, or go to shows on weekdays; I did have to fight for my right to party. But on the weekends, I’d go to local punk/indie/hardcore/goth shows with my friends at American Legion Halls and VFW’s in my hometown of Peoria, Illinois. There was a burgeoning underground music scene in my town back then (1993-1997); an old acquaintance of mine even wrote a book about it, coming out this June called Punks in Peoria: Making a Scene in the American Heartland.

I felt a sense of camaraderie when I was at these indie shows, like I was ‘in the know’ among the few who built their own secret counterculture, and when I was at school I felt special because I knew of a world that my classmates didn’t know existed, (plus I had excellent taste in music, whereas they listened to terrible pop music, obviously). This provided me an identity apart from the majority of my peers, it gave me a culture that set ‘us’ apart from ‘them’. My friends and I looked down on the conformist ‘popular’ kids at our high school who drank themselves into stupors at lame keggers on the weekend; we were straightedge, getting high only on life, adventure, and music.

After high school, I continued to embrace the counterculture, I got into Malcolm X, Beat poetry, Communism, and roots reggae. I lived the punk lifestyle with my then co-conspirators, forgoing college to move to California with seven dollars in my pocket on a mission to live out the Jack Kerouac life in the city of the Beat poets. I went pretty far with the counterculture lifestyle. The funny thing is, it wasn’t hard, socially. My friends never shunned me, my parents didn’t bat an eye. Even when I announced that I was a Communist and that Obama was too far right for me in 2005, my dad shook his head, told me how offensive that was, and moved on. I paid zero social price.

Back then times were simpler, it was easy to see which side the rebels were on and which side the establishment was on. Now that everything is upside down and backwards, most people have yet to see that the sides have flipped, the tables have turned, and we are not in 1995 anymore, Toto. Every major corporation has sworn allegiance to the new national religion of wokeness. The press, the coastal elites, comedians, musicians, Hollywood, the universities, big tech, the Democrat party, everyone who controls the culture in the US is firmly on the side of the woke, and out to silence, shun, and cancel anyone who questions the prevailing orthodoxy.

This leaves me in a weird spot, with former friends and relatives who never had a problem with me when I was at my wildest and most rebellious, suddenly shaming me for not following the established and ‘correct’ course of thought. I see friends who call themselves ‘skeptics’ treating science as a religion, and being appalled by anyone who dares question the approved message of Democrat politicians and corporate media. I see people who are willing to turn on their neighbors, relatives, and friends for straying off of the approved script of woke talking points. I see people who I used to respect swallowing the media’s lies, hook, line, and sinker; people who call themselves punk blindly trusting Dr. Fauci, CNN, NBC, the FBI, the CIA, Bill Gates, and The World Economic Forum.

I’ve been mulling this all over for a while, and the conclusion I’ve come to is this: these people were never punk to begin with, they were never free thinkers, anti-censorship, anti-establishment, or anti-conformity, they were followers all along, and they will follow the crowd wherever it leads, even to their own demise. They don’t have the strength of mind or the courage to separate from the flock, because in this day and age, unlike in the 90’s, there is a very real social cost. They would never be able to withstand the onslaught of hate, derision, and social punishment that standing up to the mob in 2021 inevitably brings. Most people are sheep, but it’s much more interesting to be a rebel.

 

 

 

The Wisdom of Frederick Douglass

From 2016-2019, I taught 7th Grade US History. My counterpart teacher at the time assigned her students the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass’s autobiography. I quickly read it myself, fell in love with it, and added it into my history curriculum. After I taught it that first year, I decided that I would never teach early American history again without including it in full. I consider it to be the most important book for young people to read and study, especially young people who are below grade level or from disadvantaged households.

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass contains in it the wisdom and inspiration needed to lift oneself out of any bad situation. These lessons empower young people to reach their potential in their own lives, but perhaps just as importantly, it communicates deep truths about the power of the human spirit, the limitlessness of human resilience, the complexity of human nature, and the struggle between good and evil.

Douglass models for us how to prevent ourselves from becoming bitter and resentful at the world, even when it treats us with gross unfairness and cruelty. He shows us how to keep our hearts from becoming hard, how to have compassion for our enemies and forgive them. He also teaches us the surprising truth that doing evil to another does just as much to destroy the humanity in the evildoer as it does to the person he is thrusting his evil upon. “Slavery proved as harmful to her as it was to me”, Douglass says of his mistress. He makes the almost shocking claim several times in the book that the institution of slavery harms the slaveholder as much as the slave. This truth, when understood deeply, enables a person to have compassion for those who have harmed him, and provides a pathway out of the damage that trauma can do. This is a healing truth I feel compelled to share with my students, especially those who have traumatic home lives.

The main lesson of the book, however, is the unstoppable power of literacy, knowledge, and critical thinking. Here are two student reflections on the book that I have gathered over the years:

“After reading the autobiography of Douglass, I realized just how lucky I am to not be in such a state like the time period Douglass was living in. This is when I realized that even though that some days, I don’t want to come to school, I don’t want to learn anything today, and I question the idea of getting an education, I realize just how much the slaves back in the time, wanted to have the privilege and the authority to get a stable education, and not remain clueless of what they do for the rest of their lives, I also realized that without the power of knowledge that they gained, they weren’t able to get anywhere in life. This is when I noticed that rather than being lazy and going to school with a wandering mind, at the end of the day, you’d be able to go home  and think, Huh, I learned something today, and it feels great. This is why the book is so significant, it teaches a powerful lesson.”

“My opinion on the book is that Frederick Douglass was a good author and man who was very talented and intelligent. He taught others and educated them and also found ways to trick others to teach him how to read and write. I think this book is important because it shows that education is vital in freedom and being a human. It also shows the cruel and harsh life of a slave from birth to final days of being a slave.”

These are the empowering lessons that kids in poverty or from dysfunctional households need to hear, if we really cared about our kids we would ask ourselves, ‘what values and beliefs would help them succeed’? What attitudes and lessons would kids need to internalize that would enable them to stop the cycle of poverty, abuse, or dysfunction?

Sadly, this is not the question very many educators (and certainly not administrators or school boards) are asking themselves. If I had to come up with a question that they are asking themselves, based on what I have seen of their actions since I’ve been in the education field, it would be something along the lines of, ‘how can we make sure kids from disadvantaged families continue the cycle of poverty, dysfunction, and ignorance so that we can continue to easily control them and use them for our own purposes?” Actions speak louder than words.

Douglass’s message, that you can do anything you set your mind to if you make yourself literate, and seek knowledge, truth, and freedom, is antithetical to the message we as educators are giving kids. These days it is considered ‘white supremacy’ to tell your students that America is a land of opportunity, and that it is possible to climb the ladder of success. Even the claim that America is a meritocracy is considered hate speech in some big city schools in which I have worked.

There is a part in the book, where young Frederick goes to Baltimore to live with a new family, where his new mistress begins to teach him how to read. Her husband finds out, chastises her and demands she stop giving him lessons: “He told her, among other things that it was unlawful and unsafe to teach a slave to read. Pointing to me, he said, “If you teach that nigger to read, he will be spoiled as a slave. He will become unmanageable and of no value to his master. It will harm him as well; it will make him discontented.” These words sank deep into my heart, stirring up thoughts that had until then lain asleep. They explained things that I had not understood before. I now understood the white man’s power to enslave the black man. From this moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. It was just what I wanted, and I got it when I least expected it. While I was sad at the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was glad to have learned, quite by accident, something of great worth from my master. Although I realized the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with great determination to learn how to read. The very firmness with which Mr. Auld spoke convinced me that he deeply believed the truth of what he was saying. What he most dreaded, I most desired. What he most loved, I most hated. That which was to him a great evil, to be carefully avoided, was to me a great good, to be earnestly sought. His arguments only served to inspire me. In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the opposition of my master as to the kindly aid of my mistress.” Douglass, F. (1845). Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Simon & Schuster.

History is filled with people and stories with the potential to inspire greatness in kids. If we really cared about kids, we would use history as a means to lift kids out of poverty and dysfunctional families. Instead, what is happening in many history classes these days is just the opposite. The 1619 Project has been adopted as mandatory curriculum in countless inner city schools, exactly where it can do the most harm. Kids are being taught that they have no capacity to change their lives or better themselves. They are told they are helpless victims born into the most oppressive country the world has ever seen. They are told that America is just as racist now as it ever was, that American society is against them and will never get it’s knee off of their necks.

I sometimes wonder if Nikole Hannah-Jones of the 1619 Project has ever read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and how exactly she would explain away how Douglass describes the freedom, self-determination, and prosperity ex-slaves were enjoying in the North in the year 1838.

After Frederick Douglass escaped slavery and fled to the north, he was shocked at what he saw: “To me, however, the most astonishing thing was the condition of the blacks. Like me, many of them had escaped to New Bedford from slavery. I found many who had been free less than seven years but were living in finer houses and enjoying more of life’s comforts than the average Maryland slaveholder. My friend, Nathan Johnson lived in a neater house, dined at a better table, read more newspapers, and better understood the nation’s moral, religious, and political character than nine-tenths of the slaveholders in Talbot County, Maryland.”

I believe if Frederick Douglass were to come back to life today, he would reject The 1619 Project and the critical race theorists, and would be on the same page as the men and women who founded 1776 Unites, whose mission reads as follows:

“1776 Unites is a movement to liberate tens of millions of Americans…by helping them become agents of their own uplift and transformation, by embracing the true founding values of our country.”

https://1776unites.com/

Preparing for the Great Unpersoning

When so-called ‘normies’ (aka normal people) find out what I believe to be happening to our country, and what I am doing to prepare for it, I reliably hear accusations of being hyperbolic, paranoid, brainwashed, a conspiracy theorist, or even Qanon. I’d like to explain to people who have not yet seen behind the curtain what I am talking about and provide evidence and reasoning for my (what appear to be, when not fully understood) extreme views. First of all, I’d like to begin by acknowledging that if I heard someone discuss what I’m about to discuss a few short years ago I would have accused them of the same. So, I really, really, get your skepticism, contempt, and even disgust on an experiential level. Like I explained in my previous post, I was ‘one of you’. I hope that knowing that will persuade you to listen to what I have to say with an open mind.

When I was growing up, my father taught me that we are all Americans; we disagree about how to achieve our goals and solve our problems, but we share the same American principles, goals, vision, values, and destiny, we just disagree about how to get there. He taught me that it’s rude to ask people who they voted for, people’s political views are none of your business. We are all Americans first. This view is so antiquated it now seems naive, nostalgic, and charming.

Last night in Biden’s State of the Union address, he said, “We won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism.” You might say, “what’s wrong with that? White supremacy is obviously bad!”, to which I would wholeheartedly agree. Of course, there are actual white supremacists in our society, and we should condemn them unequivocally.

The problem comes in when you realize the meaning of the term ‘white supremacy’ has been cynically redefined so that it can applied to anything or anyone who is not on board with the Critical Race Theorists, including liberals. This is not an accident, it is an intentional part of the Critical Race Theorists plan to take over our society. For example, if you go down the list of how the Smithsonian Museum has redefined ‘whiteness’, you have to include the following: rugged individualism, the nuclear family, and emphasis on the scientific method. (image from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture below)

nmaahc.si.edu/talking-about-race/whiteness

Redefining ‘white supremacy’ like this allows Critical Race Theorists or so-called ‘anti-racists’ to cast anyone who believes in the American values of self-reliance, the nuclear family, objective, rational linear thinking, or the idea that you are in control of your own destiny into ‘white supremacists’. This is not your grandmother’s white supremacy.

The cynical redefinition of words is a fundamental part of their dystopian plan to seize power, and it’s working. If you haven’t read Orwell recently, I suggest you do so if you want to understand our current historical moment. Redefining words is an essential strategy totalitarian regimes use to gain power and control, and it’s running rampant. Any deviation from or questioning the ideology of critical theory (sometimes called intersectionality, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or DEI) gets you labeled as one of these redefined words (racist, sexist, islamophobe, white supremacist, transphobe, TERF, fascist, etc.), effectively shutting opposing viewpoints out of the conversation.

This is a premeditated strategy to prevent free and open inquiry and debate, the very backbone of a liberal, free society. Critical theory is illiberal to it’s very core. It is a regressive, totalitarian ideology. Liberalism cannot survive without free speech, open debate, and free scientific inquiry. This is why you may have heard people say, “I didn’t leave the left, the left left me.” The left is no longer liberal. Thinking liberals such as Bill Maher, Michael Shermer, and Sam Harris have begun to grasp this fact, but their hatred for and misunderstanding of the ‘other side’ has prevented them from taking the next step: connecting the dots in order to see the big picture.

Take for example, Robert Reich’s tweet yesterday, which has since been deleted: “FDR didn’t have to contend with a paranoid, xenophobic, racist opposition drenched in lies and extremist propaganda from right-wing media.” If you read or watch mainstream media, you must have noticed, the powers that be are hellbent on painting half of the country as racist domestic terrorists. This is an extremely dangerous and irresponsible move. But why are they doing this?

They are preparing to unperson us. In fact, the great unpersoning has already begun. Thousands of people have been banned from Twitter and Facebook, Parler was shut down, ‘controversial’ books have been digitally banned, people who have committed no crime have been put on no-fly lists and blacklisted from banking institutions. The first people to be unpersoned will, by intention, be people you violently despise, such as Alex Jones, Donald Trump, and Nick Fuentes. But rest assured, they will eventually come for you. First, they came for the conservatives, and you did not speak out because you are not a conservative. Next, they will come for the liberals, but there will be no conservatives left to speak for you. The ideologues will come for anyone who does not succumb to their compelled speech, anyone who refuses to repeat their lies.

How far will this go? I don’t know. Right now we are already past the point of political persecution and dehumanization of the ‘other’, which is the first step to becoming a one-party totalitarian state. The second step is well underway. People who were simply present at the January 6th protest, who were not involved in any criminal activity, but were peacefully protesting, have been identified and cancelled. You may be thinking, “good, anyone who was there deserves to be cancelled!”. But wait, like I said, this is only the beginning. First, they will come for people you hate, by design.

Will this proceed to gulags for the unpersoned? I think it’s possible. In their view, communism cannot emerge until all it’s enemies are silenced. James Lindsay said in the podcast linked above, New Discourses: Communism Doesn’t Know How, “The fundamental belief driving communists is that once enough people become true believers that the communist utopia lies on the other side of certain social changes, a perfect society will manifest.” This is why communism inevitably leads to mass death, anyone who does not share the vision of utopia is seen as a blockade preventing the utopia from arriving, so therefore must be exterminated.

Jack Murphy summed up the situation well on the Timcast IRL podcast last night, “Social exile, social shame, fear of becoming the worst thing possible, a member of the out-group…You’ve gotta give it to them, they won, all the media, all the institutions, all the narrative, big tech, corporations, the government, your thought processes, your value system, they won, they totally won. It will now take people willing to be part of the out-group in order to fight back against this, and that willingness to to be part of the out-group involves being financially in the out-group, economically in the out-group, politically in the out-group, socially in the out-group, you have to be willing to be a pariah and an independent operator in order to withstand what’s happening and just to survive and maintain your sense of self and your sense of identity. But to fight back, you need to be able to amass resources, you need to be able to amass teammates in a way that’s still outside the system.” -Jack Murphy Timcast IRL 2/28/21: 34:20-36:45

This is why I’m preparing my life now to withstand being in the out-group. This is why anyone not on board with the communist utopia should flee to a red state before it’s too late. Liberals, moderates, libertarians, and conservatives alike, anyone who will not repeat their lies, we will all be unpersoned. Make yourself uncancellable, start your own business, learn how to grow your own food, tell the truth, become self-sufficient, buy land, join with like-minded people, form a resistance. If we are to survive this impending catastrophe we need to wake up now and unite.

4/29/21

On Apostasy from the Left

What’s it like knowing firsthand the vile thoughts and feelings being had about you upon ‘coming out’ to friends and family as a conservative? How does it feel once you know that they know your deep, dark secret: that you have violated the oath of loyalty to the left, betrayed the tribe, and joined with ‘the enemy’? I’d like to start by being brutally honest about how I used to feel, and what I used to think and say about conservatives (pre-Trump times) and “Trump supporters” when I was a leftist. Acknowledging this ugly truth helps me relate to the people who are slandering me right now and find forgiveness in my heart for them. This is not going to be flattering to my past self. I am ashamed of the way I used to think and speak about the so-called “other side”. Considering the extreme polarization threatening our country and dividing us in this historic moment, I think it is an important story, and something to which others may relate.

When I was on the left in the pre-Trump era, I thought Republicans/conservatives were less intelligent than liberals; they were too dumb to see they were voting against their own interests. I thought they had the blood of children on their hands due to their stance on guns and gun control. I thought they were racist, sexist, and heartless to poor people who needed help. Mind you, this was how I thought pre-Trump. When Trump won the Republican nomination, these feelings intensified tenfold. I was horrified at the people who voted for him, and I believed, strongly, that everyone who voted for him was either stupid or had bigoted intentions. When Obama was criticized for saying of conservatives, “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them”, I cheered. I believed his statement was self-evident, that he was just speaking the plain truth. When Hillary Clinton made the comment about “deplorables”, I thought the same. Trump was, to me, the worst of the very, very bad Republicans and made Mitt Romney, (who horrified me years earlier) look quaint.

As embarrassing as it is to write my former internal thoughts (and conversations with other leftists), it is important to speak honestly about the way leftists talk about and think about ‘the other side’. Knowing my own and my fellow leftists opinions on conservatives (and God forbid, Trump supporters!), probably kept me from noticing the inconsistencies within leftism for a long time. Social pressure is like that. You are snugly nestled within your tribe, you are bound together by shared ideas and values. But what happens when you slowly begin to suspect that your political beliefs do not, in fact, align with your deepest values? Do you try to squelch the sinking feeling that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, or do you investigate it, damn the consequences?

I chose the latter. But that’s what I do. I have a history of investigating uncomfortable doubts and following them to their end result, and somehow am unable to suppress them. It’s not really a choice. I’ve always been this way. I’ve been asked by several friends and family members “why are you doing this?”, “is it really worth losing all your friends and family?”, and “are you happier now that you have no one left?” I was told by my closest friend, “I feel like you are betraying our tribe, like you are betraying our friendship”. A close family member, in response to me arguing the importance of freedom from lockdowns and liberty to choose whether or not to wear a mask, quoted the Eagles song, Desperado, in response, “Freedom, oh freedom, that’s just some people talking, your prison is walking through this world all alone.” Ouch. As someone who loves the Eagles and the song Desperado as much as Elaine’s boyfriend in the famous Desperado episode, that cut deep.

The worst thing, by far though, that has happened since ‘coming out’ is my precious dead grandmother being drug back from the grave in an attempt to shame me into submission, when I know without a doubt that she would be proud of me for doing what I know in my heart is right. That particular blow will be hard to forgive, but I know I need to forgive it. I am trying my best to keep my heart open during this painful process, not allowing myself to get angry and burn bridges when loved ones hit below the belt, partially because I used to be on their side, and I know that I probably would have reacted similarly if it had been another family member who had apostatized from the left instead of me.

None of these reactions have been surprising to me, however. The religious zeal with which most (there are exceptions, thankfully) of my family and friends hold their leftist political beliefs is more akin to a cult than to anything else. The punishment for questioning leftist sacred cows is similar to the punishment for leaving a cult. Shock, disbelief, grief, anger, banishment, name-calling, and vicious gossip are some of the reactions one faces when apostatizing from the leftist tribe. I knew from the very beginning of questioning my political beliefs that this is exactly what would happen if I allowed myself to follow those trains of thought. My internal voice warned me, as my doubts crept in, that entertaining those doubts would come at a high price, if I wanted to maintain my place in the tribe, I needed to shut them down and not allow myself to follow certain questions to their logical conclusions.

Something in my personality does not allow me to heed those warnings. As soon as I hear my internal voice saying things like “you’re not allowed to ask that question”, my rebellious spirit kicks in and makes it impossible not to follow those dangerous questions to their inevitable ends. This is how I’ve been trying to answer desperate pleas from family of “why are you doing this?”. It is not a choice. I can’t not investigate those questions. This is how I’m able to not allow myself to feel shamed by the lyrics to Desperado being quoted at me. I cannot pretend to believe things I don’t believe to be true to keep my place in the tribe. It just isn’t in my nature. I believe truth is the highest virtue. I believe in freedom of thought, speech, and expression. When someone tells me what questions I’m not allowed to ask, or what thoughts are forbidden to be thought, it causes a backlash within me because it conflicts so strongly with my core principles of freedom, authenticity, and truth.

I have the conviction of my beliefs behind me and truth as my guiding light. I obviously do not want to lose my loved ones, nor do I want to “walk through this world all alone“. I am not breaking those relationships. I simply refuse to be disrespected and called offensive and slanderous slurs. All I want is for my loved ones to accept me as I am, understanding that I am still the same person with the same values, it’s just that I realized that the left doesn’t share those values like I thought they did, and I discovered (much to my surprise) that the right (broadly, with obvious exceptions) reflects them much more closely. I am joining with people who share my values. I am working with those who share my vision for the direction our country needs to go for the good of our children and grandchildren. This does not mean I am rejecting anyone in my personal life on the left. I just ask for mutual respect, common decency, and the acceptance of our differences.

I should not have to conform to the beliefs of my loved ones to have their love and acceptance. Love should be unconditional; it shouldn’t depend on shared views or tribal allegiances. I know I am not the only one going through these kinds of issues. We have to find a way to bridge the divide in our culture. We must have the freedom to fight for our values and the future we want without being vilified by ‘the other side’. Love is the only thing that can cross this deep divide. We must not give up on the power of love to keep our families and our country from splitting apart. I love my family with all my heart, and I refuse to fall into the trap of making the same mistake I made when on the left of painting everyone on the ‘other side’ as evil with bad intentions.

4/27/2021

Is Patriotism Fascist?

Recently, I faced pushback for using the word “patriotism” on my website. A family member said he reads the word “patriotism” as “fascism”; it reminds him of the horrors that excess nationalism brought in Nazi Germany. Many people on the left share the horror of the word “patriotism”.

First of all, what is patriotism, and what isn’t it? The left and the right have very different ideas about what the word means. The left seem to think that patriotism means “my country, right or wrong”. This is an incomplete quote from Missouri Sen. Carl Schurz in the 1870s. The rest of the quote adds much needed context, “if right, to be kept right, and if wrong, to be set right.” The difference between only hearing the first part of this quote alone, and understanding the full quote in context isn’t hard to miss. Does being patriotic mean that you excuse the bad things your country has done, or turn a blind eye to sins it is now committing? Does being patriotic mean you think your country is blameless, or that might makes right? The left seem to think so.

To be sure, there are extremists on the far right who would defend the sins of our country in the name of patriotism. However, that is not my experience of what most people who embrace the idea of patriotism mean. Seeing as only one side of the political aisle embraces the word in our current political climate, as well as how polarized Americans are, the word has become a red flag for the left. The Trump years only exacerbated this division. The more the left see the so-called ‘deplorables’ waving flags and promoting patriotism, the more they recoil from and demonize the very idea, when in reality, patriotism used to be an idea, and should again become an idea, that is nonpartisan, that unites all of us, no matter creed, ethnicity, race, or political party. The extreme polarization our nation faces in these times is exactly the reason why we need a common thread more than ever. A nation cannot survive without the glue of a shared bond holding it together. We are at a point in our history where the threat of being torn apart is a very real possibility. We need a unifying patriotism more than ever.

Why is it necessary for the United States, in particular, to value patriotism? No other country in the world needs patriotism the way the U.S. needs patriotism right now. Other countries are much more homogenous than we are, they share a religion, ethnicity, or a culture. The US stands out in this regard as the most heterogeneous country the world has ever seen. There are many different cultures occupying the US depending on your location in this vast nation. East coast vs. west coast, rural vs. urban, so-called ‘fly-over country’ vs. coastal elites, southerners vs. northerners, and this is before we even mention immigrant enclaves and religious sects. We have 330 million people, with wildly different religious beliefs or lack thereof. We have citizens from all over the world with a multitude of different cultures, customs, and values.

A nation cannot hold together without a common, shared thread. The more heterogeneous a country is ethnically, religiously, racially, and culturally, the more crucial it is for its citizens to share love of country. For this reason, Americans need patriotism more than any other country in the world.

2021/04/25