“What is truth?” the governor asked, but not very enthusiastically. He knew it was his duty to see that justice was done. And he knew the accusers of the man in front of him were acting out of jealousy. His wife had even sent him a special message just a few minutes ago: “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream.” But he wanted peace; he wanted the local power brokers on his side.
He tried again, “What evil has he done?” Their answer was all about words and meanings and offenses against their sacred values. The murmuring of the orchestrated mob was becoming vehement. A riot was forming. Above all, he wanted to avoid any unpleasant use of force. He decided to jettison his principles.
Calling for a basin of water, he washed his hands ceremonially. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he proclaimed. Then, proving the opposite, he delivered over the victim into the hands of those determined to enforce their own brand of justice. He had no doubt about what that would be. But sometimes sacrifices had to be made – in the interest of the common good, of course.
Purging the undesirable from our midst is an age-old temptation. “Righteous anger” is not hard to stir up, when we turn a blind eye to our own failings. Social pressure to enforce conformity to certain rules or standards is very effective when begun early. In our schools today, this shaping process is called “socio-emotional learning.” One aim is to mold easily manipulated “change agents,” armies of activists.
Influence over children in their formative years is crucial for any revolution to take root. In 2007, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and his education minister, also his brother, declared that “the old values of individualism, capitalism, and egoism must be demolished.” To accomplish this, they were instituting a new type of educational system, “red, very red.” Their goal was “to create the new man,” a phrase lifted from Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s Cuban revolutionary days. (Fatherland, Socialism or Death, The Economist, 10/11/2007)
According to Guevara’s theory, society was divided into two groups, “the enlightened elite, possessing a higher consciousness and a true ideology: Marxism-Leninism” and “the sleeping masses that needed to be woken up, educated, mobilized, and pushed….” The latter “must be subject to incentives and pressure of a certain intensity.” The youth were “the malleable clay from which the new person can be built with none of the old defects.” (Che Guevara and the Making of the New Man, Erasmo Calzadilla, Havana Times, 10/30/2012)
The shaping of youth in the Hitler-Jugend, aka the Hitler Youth, was the route to domination by the Third Reich. Designed to eradicate the traditional structures of German society, its aim was to replace parental instruction and other sources of influence like church youth groups and the Boy Scouts. Instead, ruthlessness and blind dedication to the Fuhrer and his goal of a pure master race, were the new requirements.
In order to create the ideal new man, the “impure” had to be eradicated. Strangely resonant today, the targeted group were herded together and quarantined, under the pretext of being spreaders of dangerous disease. Deportations to the death camps came later.
During the National Socialist (Nazi) occupation of France, an entire shadow government of collaborationists operated out of Vichy, a deceptively charming spa town. There, amidst the gardened villas and tree-lined lanes, toadying locals aided their German masters in an ethnic version of “contact tracing,” to further their Final Solution for the racially “impure.”
Scapegoating has a long history. It is much easier to project fault onto others, than to recognize it in ourselves. Virtue signaling with a “Hate has no home here” sign in the front yard may aim to localize evil elsewhere, but our neighbors know better. As Solzhenitsyn, who survived the Soviet gulags, concluded, “The line separating good from evil runs…right through every human heart” (my italics).
The crushing of individual autonomy in the name of some superior system, results only in oppression and misery. In the end, only fear will keep people in line with goals that disregard their personhood and ignore their self-interest. The power of fear to enforce conformity to an imposed ideology is apparent here now, in the sudden appearance of Black Lives Matter signs, placed in windows by nervous shop owners. A coup of sorts is underway.
BLM’s founders are avowed Marxists, as expressed in the words of Patrisse Cullors. She told The Real News Network in 2015 that she and co-founder, Alicia Garza, are “trained Marxists…super versed on ideological theories.” Marxist theory predicts that a better society will somehow rise from the ashes of the violent destruction of the old one. BLM’s goals are more about bringing down the pillars of society, than about valuing Black lives. Recent events have made it clear that BLM works in concert with Antifa, an anarchist group, to sow chaos and destruction, generally in the Black communities that it claims to want to help. (If You Really Believe Black Lives Matter, Stop Supporting Black Lives Matter, July 3, 2020, The Federalist).
Members show no concern about the vast majority of Black murders that are not attributed to the police, 90% of which are by people of their own race. (Race and Homicide in America, U.S. News & World Report, 9/29/2016).
Certainly, there are flaws in our current system. No reasonable person justifies unnecessary police violence or mistreatment. However, as the police are forced to pull back, the evidence is that crime and murder rates jump. The statistics analyzed by Black Harvard economics professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr., show that unjustified police killings are extremely rare, and not racially unbalanced (What the Data Say about the Police, WSJ 6/22/2020). Consider for a moment the enormous number of police officers throughout our nation, and the huge number of interactions that they have with people of less than law abiding, peaceful intent. “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”
This is not to say that we should not strive for improvement. That has always been America’s strength. Senator Tim Scott, a Black Republican, has crafted a police reform bill in consultation with many advisors – but been blocked by opposition forces, which prefer to keep the outrage alive.
Encouraging lawlessness and disorder to continue only increases the need for a strong police presence. We must support practical reform efforts, especially as regards excessive police union protections, while being heartily grateful to those still willing to daily put themselves in harm’s way to stand between us and that harm.
Delaware resident Deborah Kruse Guebert is a longtime educator who has taught in Europe and currently tutors students in mathematics in the local area.