What Laura Field does not know about Claremont, a response.

In her essay, What the hell happenned to Claremont Institute (https://thebulwark.com/what-the-hell-happened-to-the-claremont-institute/) Laura Field has done an excellent job analysing Kesler’s, Anton’s, and Ellmer’s writing. Her work though focuses on the symptoms and less on the causes because she did not talk to anyone inside Claremont or familar with any of the prinicpals. I will attempt to provide a tentative answer to her question based on having attended Claremont Graduate School between 1991 and 1996 where I took classes from Kesler and wehre I was a classmate with Michael Anton and Glenn Ellmers.

The following are an initial, therefore brief, response to her question. The answers are offered in no particular order or priority.

  1. Trump. Trump gave Claremont Institute members and affiliates a chance at power, to be in governmnet if not in the White House. Once you realize that Claremont has always been at the fringe of the GOP, not only intellectually but also politically, you understand the hunger, the yearning to be taken seriously, to be accepted into the centre of power, but most important of all the appearance of being able to exercise power not simply write or talk about it. Even now, though, when they would think they are mainstream of Trump’s cultic GOP, they remain on the fringe. On the fringe, they are forced to review books like the Bronze Age Mindset to show some “relevance” for the “youff” culture. The Claremont Review of Books gave serious attention to a crank book that reads like warmed over intellectual vomit. Harry Neumann is laughing! Strauss had Machiavelli. Jaffa had Lincoln. Anton has the Bronze Age Pervert. It about sums up what the Claremont Institute has become. Even as Trump gave them the chance to make their mark and be taken seriously, to live the dream of going to Syracuse, they sacrificed their intellectual honour, their self-respect, and worst of all Harry Jaffa’s legacy. (The Claremont Institute used to claim that it studied Statesmanship but Trump’s lack thereof means it becomes impossible to recover their reputation. How can they convince a student that they are serious about the study of statesmanship when they supported a man who could only demonstrate statesmanship by its absence. Not only that, when Donald Trump declared he was as great if not greater than Lincoln, none of Jaffa’s students spoke up to criticize Trump. (https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/12/02/greatest-republican-president) Anyone who knows anything about Harry Jaffa would know there is no way he would have let Trump, or any President, say something like that without subjecting them to a scorching attack. Jaffa used to write to Justice Clarence Thomas criticizing his use of Aquinas and Natural Law theory so I do not think he would have any qualms nor lack the courage to peel the bark off of Donald Trump for saying such nonsense about Lincoln. Instead of Jaffa’s courage, his students, and those who a scant few years ago praised his legacy, sat back timidly and said nothing.) In return for sacrificing their intellectual reputation, Claremont gained nothing significant.
  2. Harry Jaffa died. It is impossible to overstate how important this was for freeing the Claremont crowd to join Trump. Were Jaffa alive and in good health none of them would have done this and Kesler would never have thought of publishing something as poorly thought out and anti-American as the Flight 93 essay or associating himself with Trump even indirectly. Jaffa’s legacy is what sustains Claremont and his status and stature used to restrain these base urges especially towards white supremacy. What Field does not realize, since she appears to base her research on superficial analysis provided by a podcast (https://know-your-enemy-1682b684.simplecast.com/episodes/teaser-the-1776-project) is that Jaffa represented the belief in equality as a conservative principle. In this he was nearly alone within conservativism. Kesler edited with Buckley a booked called Keeping the Tablets and several of the selections praised inequality with the one by Richard Weaver going so far as to say that slavery was an ethically superior system! “It will seem to many anomalous that a slaveholding society like the South should be presented as ethically superior. Yet the endeavour to grade men by their moral and intellectual worthy maysuggest a more sensitive conscience than proscription of individual differences. I do not claim that the South did this successfully, but the great intellectual effort established some conclusions not yet entirely refuted.” (p. 65) Jaffa’s essay on equality was the only reference to it in the work and his essay was outnumbered by those of Kirk, Weaver, and Kendall who were given more space to promote and defend, the Southern ethos as if the Lost Cause was somehow an honourable experience becacuse it encouraged a false aristocracy that only existed because of White Supremacy. The space given to the arguments for white supremacy exceeds that given to equality by 3 to 1. With Jaffa gone, who will speak for equality? Kesler? Anton? Ellmers? No one is left who can speak of equality and that is what West Coast Straussianism, such as it is, meant and it is now dead.
  3. Harry Neumann died. If few people heard of Jaffa, than only people who attended Claremont know who Harry Neumman was or why he is important to understanding what has gone wronge at Claremont. As the last living nihilist, Neumann cut an important and underappreciated figure within Claremont. He was not so much a figure within the Claremont Institute, as he was too philosophical for it, as friendly towards it because his friend Harry Jaffa. What Neumann did, and this is very much inside baseball, was to keep the Claremont crowd on the straight and narrow by challenging them constantly to disavow nihilism (belief in something rather than the nothing that Neumann argued) and white supremacy (the implicit belief in supremacy and aristocracy in contradistinction to Lincoln’s (Jaffa’s) call to equality). Neumann never confronted those students or professors directly only indirectly since he would engage those students who would disavow Jaffa’s (Lincoln’s) path towards equality as either pursuing supremacy, or not believing in anything except the will to power. Yet, with Neumann gone, they have been freed of his criticism. There is no one to hold them to account as they embrace the Will to Power that Trump embodies. As someone once remarked Neumann bayonetted the nihilist deserters from Jaffa’s Natural Rights army. To put it directly, Harry Neumann would have ridiculed Anton and Ellmers for their loyalty to Trump despite his flaws. He would have pointed out they were no different from Rudolf Hess, except that Hess had the courage, the thymos to admit it, while Anton and Elmers do not have the courage or thymos to face up to their nihilism. Instead, they cling to the fig leaf that they follow the DOI and the USCON and work from a belief in natural right which crumble once their Hess defense is unmasked.
    “To those emphasizing Hitler’s faults and weaknesses, Hess answered, “I know! I know! Hitler too has faults and weaknesses. But if you had understood me correctly you would not have raised that objection. It depends upon us whether we show the world his merits or his faults.” Harry Neumann POLITICS OR NOTHING! NAZISM’S ORIGIN IN SCIENTIFIC CONTEMPT FOR POLITICS * The Journal of Value Inquiry 19:225 234 (1985). p228
    Anton and Ellmers, among many, will never speak of Trump’s flaws or his translegal desires so they instead focus on telling the world he must be embraced simply for what he represents or what must be avoided not whether he is instrincally worthy of such loyalty. Churchill for all his flaws is a great man, a magnanimous man, a great souled man was a man who deserved loyalty. Lincoln was such a statesman. Trump would never be confused with a great souled man, yet, Anton and Ellmers cannot, dare not, admit that because loyalty above all to Trump and his cause, is too important, it is more important than truth, intellectually probity, or decency. Neumann would remark laconically that Anton and Ellmers are too cowardly to even admit their nihilism or their cowardice in the face of Trump supporters. It is for this reason they both stayed far from him at Claremont.
  4. Claremont is dying (intellectually) if you look at the people who are on the masthead none of them present any serious scholarship. Who is coming to the institute with ideas or a vision for America? Are they coming for the white supremacy light? The natural rights masking nihilism? What we do have a focus on culture war topics with the fear Claremont is being surpassed by more extreme sites in much the same way Fox News has had to contend with OAN and NewsMax. Hey kids, read the Bronze Age Mindset and you are now in the intellectual vanguard of the conservativism as understood by Claremont Review of Books. Who is the next Jaffa? Elmers? Anton? One would have expected a better rhetorical defence of the founding from the Claremont Institute and a better rhetorical rebuttal to the 1619 project. In its defence, the CRB continues to publish good book reviews, but mainly by external reviewers, but beyond that it presents nothing meaningful for shaping the country’s intellectual life. Like Isocrates of old, it seems more intent on ideologues who are trained in political rhetoric without any depth or meaning since they lack an education for they have taken the shorter path, someone has given them talking points, instead of taking the long way, to obtain political knowledge. The Lincoln Fellows and the Publius Fellows now appear more of a conservative madrasah, that must make Steve Bannon jealous, than a place of serious scholarship. They can be glib and clever but they are superficial as they do not know anything of substance about politics. Their education, such as it is, is incomplete. How are they going to attract anyone to this bonfire of intellectual probity?

As I said at the start, these are tentative reasons for Claremont’s decline, so they should ly be seen as a starting point for further investigation. One thing I have left out is money. How the Claremont Institute is funded and what it has been forced to do to obtain and sustain that funding needs someone with a deeper knowledge of its finances. I do know that the Claremont Instiute, like any think tank, was always seeking funding and rarely had enough to sustain its then intellectual wealth. One could say it has sold its intellectual wealth for financial wealth. The deal has not served them well and it is not one they are likely to be able to reverse.

In the end, Jaffa is dead and the Claremont Institute is adrift in the fading light from his (and Strauss’s) legacy.

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The American Catholic Church has made a political mistake.

The decision to publicly excommunicate Nany Pelosi ( https://sfarchdiocese.org/letter-to-the-faithful-on-the-notification-sent-to-speaker-nancy-pelosi/?__cf_chl_tk=1X..qcCLlD43rkUK2R6TsPZ510aTCF1gSkWFK6K0w_Y-1653078468-0-gaNycGzNCOU ) was a terrible decision for the following reasons.

First, it is a political decision made publicly for a political purpose.

Second, it singles out one politicia/person.

Third, it singles out one sin.

Fourth, it is disproportionate since it fails to indicate how anyone can elect a Catholic because they must subordinate themselves to the Church for their political decisions even though they are elected to represent the public not the Church.

From now on, every priest must deny communion to any parishioner who is do any of the following and refusing to stop.
Watching pornagraphy
(Note pornography and masturbation are mortal sins ie as bad as abortion.)
Any man who has supported or paid for or required an abortion.
Any actor who simulates sex scenes, drug taking, or any behaviour contrary to the Church’s teaching.
Any homosexual. (This must include any homosexual priest or nun.)
Any parent engaging in physical or sexual abuse of their partner or their children.

If the Church and Bishops fail to excommunicate these followers it fails to be consistent and it demonstrates its political goal is greater than its Christian goal.

Is this the Church we want? Would Christ, who famously chose not to cast the first stone, recognise this Church?

Remember that confession does not absolve you from your sins if you don’t stop your sins. Think on that. You sin and confess and do it again then you are no different from Pelosi theologically speaking. At that point, you should be excommunicated if the priest and Bishop should publicly state you have been excommunicated *and *why* just as they have done with Pelosi.

Embrace it because if you want it to apply to Pelosi in your righteous indignation then you must expect it to be applied to you.

Look, I don’t make the rules, I am telling you how they apply now.


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What did they think was going to happen?

Our society is based on the idea that we do not use violence or force to settle disputes and that our response to a problem or a dispute should be proportionate. The idea of proportionality is linked to the idea that we believe that the response should match the problem. We would not expect someone to use a bucket to stop a flood nor would we expect someone to use sandbags to respond to a leaky faucet. In practical terms, disputes between people, especially in a school setting, are resolved by a reasoned discussion or debate with each side presenting evidence to support their claims. In other words, if we disagree about something we discuss it and if the issue is a potential crime, that is a breach of the law and not simply a disagreement about rules or conduct that is less than a breach of the law, then we turn to the police or the courts for redress. We do not take matters into our own hands, except in matters of self-defence which is one of the few cases in which force is justified under Arizona law.1 If we take matters into our own hands,2 we become the judge, jury, and execution at the same time. In effect, we do not provide due process, that is treat the other party fairly and equitably, and we assume that we are right without considering the claims and evidence of the other side, nor do we consider whether we are wrong or whether we can persuade the average person in the street of the righteousness of our position. In other words, before we act we need to consider would our claims hold up in front the public or more specifically before a jury or a judge. At a minimum, it should give us pause before we act especially when we are usurping the legal forms of law enforcement that exist within society.

According to the Daily Beast and other news reports, three men ( Rishi Rambaran, the father, Kelly Walker, and Frank Tainatongo) entered, and then refused to leave, an elementary school principal’s office with one man carrying plastic handcuffs. They went to the school to confront the principal because Mr Rambaran believed she had violated the law as his child and six other children were required to wear a mask and quarantine after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 which would mean that Mr Rambaran’s child would not be able to go on the school trip the next day.3 In social media postings before they arrived, one of the men Mr Walker, who does not have any children in the school as he home schools them, had indicated they were going to place her under citizen’s arrest. What is not clear, though, is what they expected would happen after they made the citizen’s arrest? From the reporting, it appears the men were intent on using the threat of the citizen’s arrest, or at least their physical presence as an implicit threat of violence, to get the principal to reinstate the child on the school trip. Walker went so far as to claim that the school administrators, by enforcing the rules, are engaging in “coercion and bullying…and breaking the law….” which would require a citizen’s arrest as the appropriate response.4 In effect, the men thought that if they confronted the principal, then she, the school, and the public health authority would change their rules. The men thought that might would make right and that force, not reason, was the correct response to what they perceived was at a minimum something they disagreed with or at a maximum illegal. One thing to note is that the father could not do this on his own. He had to enlist the help of his friends to talk to the principal. 

In this case, the three men convinced each other that their course of action was correct, that the principal was acting illegally, and best course of action was a citizen’s arrest because they had violated the parent’s rights.[“A local coffee shop owner posted a message on social media saying that the school was breaking the law and violating the parents’ rights by not letting their child attend the field trip.” ^https://www.kgun9.com/news/education/sahuarita-principal-calls-police-to-remove-unruly-group] One problem is that citizen’s arrest only applies to specific crimes and whatever the principal is alleged to have done is not one of those crimes. 5 Thus, the central claim that the citizen’s arrest was the appropriate response is clearly wrong. It was not the appropriate response. Instead, it appears the father and his friends were threatening a citizen’s arrest as a way to justify the threat of violence as well as to justify why they had confronted the principal. Despite their claim that father’s rights were being violated, they have yet to specify what rights were being violated when the school enforced the public health regulations to require the children to isolate. From the men’s confused claims it appears the alleged crime was either that the principal was acting arbitrarily or discriminating against the parent’s child (and by extension the other children) or that the mask and the requirement to isolate was illegal or that the parents had a right to insist they could force the school to reinstate the child. None of those acts or alleged crimes are crimes and certainly not crimes that could or would warrant a citizen’s arrest. Instead, they reveal that the father disagreed with what the school was doing and wanted it changed. When the school follows the law, it is not a crime. So far no other parents have said that they agreed with the men that their rights were violated.

When we consider what the men thought they were going to achieve, secondary issues emerge. First, how were they going to achieve it, and second, what they thought the consequences would be.
First, it is important to note that the father was able to convince his friends that this was a good idea or that they should help him. At no point do they appear to have tried to talk him out of his plan nor do any of them appear to have suggested that they call the police instead of attempting the citizen’s arrest. These are adult men and at least two of them are responsible for children, yet none of them stopped for a moment to think that what they were doing was disproportionate, unreasonable, or simply wrong. Instead, the friends appeared to reinforce what the father wanted to do and one of them filmed the event and posted the video online. (It has since been deleted.) That is, one of the men thought it was a good idea to vidow their illegal trespass. These are men who appear to have responsibilities and hold down jobs, own a business, and have employment where they are in charge of people or resources, yet do not appear to have any common sense nor do they appear to have considered the consequences. 6 In this moment, they appeared to have reasoned or agreed that this was a good plan. What is not clear, though, is what they expected to happen? From the statements, or what has been reported, it appears they thought that this would either force the principal to change her mind, or the policy to be changed, or the health regulations to change or all three. At a minimum it appears they thought the child would be able to attend the school trip. 

If parents could threaten a citizen’s arrest to get their way, then it would undermine how the principal works, the school works, and the health regulations work. The principal, the school, and the public health agency work to rules and follow the laws that govern what they do so that they are consistent and effective since that is what the public expects and has given them a democratic mandate to do. At a minimum having rules that are regularly enforced, means the public, as well as students and parents, know what to expect and what to do as well as to know if something is not being done correctly. If the rules are not followed or are applied arbitrarily, then further problems can emerge which need to be corrected. However, identifying arbitrary policies or acts as well as fixing them do not require physical confrontations nor do they require threats of violence or the threat of a citizen’s arrest since neither arbitrary policies nor poorly enforced school policies are criminal acts. Instead, our society is based on the principle or the idea that we can resolve our differences or disagreements peacefully with recourse to reasoned arguments where we present evidence to support our claims and counter the claims of others as well as rebut the evidence they have supplied. In this case, the father, and by extension his friends, disagreed with the principal, the school, and the local health authority but instead of presenting reasons or providing evidence that the decision was arbitrary or illegal, they thought that the physical threat or threat of violence through a citizen’s arrest, would be sufficient to overturn one or all the claims regarding masks and isolation. Let’s assume that was true. What would happen next?

If the father could do this to get his way, then what would that say for any other parent that disagreed with the principal, the school, or local or state government? Moreover, what would it say about disagreements with other public authorities or private individuals. Would similar disagreements require a citizen’s arrest. For example, would he arrest the bank manager if they refused to give him a loan or required him to wear a mask to make a loan application? If the local McDonald’s mixed up his order, or required him to wear a mask in the store, would that warrant an attempt at a citizen’s arrest of the manager or the worker? Although one of the men asserted that a citizen’s arrest was warranted because rights were being violated, he never explained which rights or why citizen’s arrest, which only applies for specific crimes, had to be invoked. If the father could do this does that mean other parents are similarly entitled to do it? The unasked question is what about the other side of the issue, that is what about the parents who want their children protected from Covid-19? “Would parents who wanted the rules to be applied so their children could be safe, be able to do the same? Would they be entitled to arrest the father and his friends?” Or could they threaten the principal to ensure the rules were upheld? Finally, if the citizen’s arrest is only a precursor to calling the police, that is all a citizen’s arrest achieves in that it keeps a person from fleeing a crime scene, why not skip the citizen’s arrest and just call the police? 

Let’s consider these in turn. 

  1. If this parent was able to succeed, then that would mean any time a parent thought they or their child’s rights were being violated, they could rely on confrontation and a citizen’s arrest or the threat of a citizen’s arrest. If we followed this logic, then we would soon have conflicting claims in that those who want a rule upheld would be in conflict with those who opposed it. Yet, our society and our political system is based on the idea that we have mechanisms for resolving these types of questions. We do not have to rely on force or the threat of force. Instead, we rely on reason and persuading others of our cause so that we can help change the minds of others or elect candidates or hire people who support our views. Even if we do not go to the extent of electing a different school board, schools and other institutions have dispute resolution or appeal mechanisms for situations where parents disagree with the school. None of the men used that appeal process.
  2. The father and his friends claimed the principal acted illegally, but that was his opinion. None of the men has yet to provide either evidence of illegal activity or the rights that were being violated. All they have provided is that they disagreed with the principal, the school, and the public health authority. If we take their claim seriously, that is the principal committed a crime, then the next step is to call the police. They are trained and legally responsible for dealing with breaches of the law. There was no urgency that required him to attempt to take the law into his own hands. At the same time, why did his friends not ask that question? Why did they not recommend calling the police? More to the point, if his opinion about the law is all that matters, does that mean that others can approach the school or the three men with their version of what is legal or illegal and apply to the men or the school? Clearly, the answer is no because we have a process and an institution for making laws as well as another one for enforcing it and a third for judging whether the law is sound.
  3. The next issue is whether the parent, and his friends, act this way with other public sector institutions, where there rights might be violated or they disagree with the decision by the public sector organisation, or if they act this way with private institutions or private individuals. Was the issue about a public sector institution or was it about an illegal act no matter where it occurs. We have to wonder if the parent, and his friends, threaten a citizen’s arrest if they disagree with the wastewater reclamation or parking? Would they approach a parking ticket dispute, that is they thought the parking enforcement officer was acting illegally, in the same way? Is it only the institution, the school, or is it the issue of what they perceive as criminal action? If their bank refused them a loan would they act in this way? If not, why not? One immediate answer might be that the father acted to protect his child or at least ensure he attended the school trip. On the surface, this might make sense if the child was in immediate harm or if the parent is concerned with his child's safety since he might be concerned his child was in danger. Yet, the only danger to the child was that the child had been potentially exposed to Covid-19 and would miss a field trip. Does a missed field trip warrant a response that includes the threat of a citizen's arrest as well as requiring two other adult males to support the father? No, it does not. Yet, if that claim is made, it raises the subsequent question, would the parent do this in other issues involving his child? For example, would he do this if his child was denied a place on a sports team because he had been in contact with someone with Covid-19? Would he threaten the coach with a citizen's arrest? If the child could not go to the public library, would that require the threat of a citizen's arrest against the librarian or the library administrator? This seems unlikely but it remains a possibility as the father has shown that he would act this way. However, it is clear that the threat of citizen's arrest is disproportionate to the issue and is not applicable to the situation.
  4. If the father and his friends are willing to act this way in public or with public institutions, would they act this way in their private lives? If they have a dispute with their neighbour or think their neighbour is acting illegally, such as burning rubbish, would they threaten them with citizen’s arrest? It remains unclear whether they would or not. We would need to find out if they have attempted a citizen’s arrest at any other time. However, given that they do not appear to understand that citizen’s arrest only applies to certain crimes, the alleged act by the principal is not one of them, it suggests that they have never applied it nor do they understand what it means. The men are ignorant and seem to think they know what they are doing which is a dangerous combination that seems quite common these days in America.
  5. A further concern is that no one thought to dissuade the father and his friends from what they were doing. They did not stop to think whether they should do this or whether this was a good idea. In other words, no one pointed out that if what they believed was true, then they should have called the police. The citizen’s arrest is only a prelude to the police making an official arrest if the law appeared to have been broken. It appears none of the men, nor any of their family or friends, pointed out that if they believed a crime was committed that they should call the police nor did they point out that the citizen’s arrest is only for holding someone until the police arrive. Even when asked to leave, none of the men thought they should wait until the police arrived. If the men had believed in the rightness of their cause they should have stayed until the police arrived so they could explain the situation and ask the police to arrest the principal. 

When we understand that our acts have consequences and what we do can be used by others, then the Golden Rule rule; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” becomes a sensible approach to life and one that allows us to live civilized lives free from the threat of violence. In other words, it encourages us to understand reciprocity since how we treat others is how they will treat us, which leads us to an important counter argument against using force or the threat of a citizen’s arrest when we disagree with someone.

If the men thought they were empowered to act as they did, then the question becomes whether the principal, who was upholding the rules and enforcing the law, would have been reasonable in resisting their demands with force. If she had pulled a firearm in response to their refusal to leave her office, she reciprocates and escalates because she disagrees with them, would the men have agreed with her approach? Would they have agreed with her point of view because she had shown greater force and thus a greater threat? How the men behaved would seem to suggest that they would have to accept that response since they worked from the premise that force was acceptable to get their way in which case if the teacher used greater force, then she must be right. The question was not whether the principal, the school, and the public health authority were acting within reason and in accordance with agreed rules and procedures, but whether they had sufficient force to get their way.

What appears to have happened is that none of the men considered the consequences of their actions. They appear to have assumed or acted on the belief that they were right and there would be no consequences. In other words, they thought they could act with impunity. This belief that they would not face consequences appears to have been part of what had encouraged them to act. If they thought through the potential consequences of their actions or at least called the police, they might have made a different decision.

What appears to have happened, but is not clear from the reporting, is that the men encouraged each other to act. They convinced each other that the plan was a good idea and to act accordingly. How the men acted is not surprising within the social media cultural context which shows videos of people who act with apparent impunity when they shout at public school officials or at public meetings, or confront public officials. In these videos we rarely see anyone face a response to the claims they have raised nor do we see them experience consequences for what they have done. To some extent that is the benefit of free speech in that people can speak their mind even if they appear to have lost their mind. The danger, though, is that it gives the impression that such behaviour, when it moves beyond free speech to intimidation and threats, can be done without impunity and may even have broad support. After all, you do not have the audience jeering them or anyone approaching them after the meeting asking them to explain why they believe the School Board are lizard people. In other words, they rarely have to justify themselves. Even though the people might, and often do, face consequences after the event that was captured on video, most people never see or hear of those consequences. As a result, the audience can develop the mistaken belief or can be encouraged to believe that they can act similarly because there will be no consequences. Yet, our moral life is one in which our choices have consequences. In some cases, such as this, they are immediate and in others it can take longer for the consequences to arrive. However, one could suggest that the folks who disrupt public meetings, act inappropriately, and disgracefully are already living with the consequences of their behaviour. 

What we see is that the people who act inappropriately at public meetings have lives that appear chaotic as they cannot restrain themselves in public as would be expected of an adult. We do not expect adults to act as these men have. The father could not talk to the principal on his own but needed two other men to support him, with one of them brandishing zipties. In this case, the decisions will have legal consequences as the men have been charged with criminal trespass. The indirect consequences is that these men have shown their inability to think clearly or behave appropriately to an issue. In other words, they have shown an ability to control their emotions as we would expect from a functioning adult. They have shown their ignorance of a citizen’s arrest, which the court should consider as an aggravating factor since it brings the law into disrepute. The men behaved in a way that showed a clear disregard for the law by claiming the law had been broken. They also showed a disregard for law enforcement because they sought to take the law into their own hands. Vigilantism is a criminal behaviour. They have demonstrated they cannot act moderately or proportionately when faced with something they think is illegal as they did not call the police. In the end, the event shows the men as childish, ignorant, unreasonable, immature, and unable to manage their emotional response to events. They acted like unruly children when they needed to act like adults. Now they face adult consequences.

  1. Arizona law allows for the use of force in three cases, these include self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property. ↩︎
  2. According to the Daily Beast, Kelly Walker wrote on his Facebook account that, “When this kind of coercion and bullying is perpetrated by school administrators, breaking the law, a citizen’s arrest is an option worth looking into,” This suggests that he has determined the crime, determined the penalty, and will enforce the law as he understands it. He and his friends have become, judge, jury, and executioner in that moment. https://www.thedailybeast.com/arizona-dad-rishi-rambaran-arrested-after-angry-trio-threatens-to-zip-tie-principal-over-covid-rules ↩︎
  3. https://www.thedailybeast.com/arizona-dad-rishi-rambaran-arrested-after-angry-trio-threatens-to-zip-tie-principal-over-covid-rules ↩︎
  4. https://www.thedailybeast.com/men-charged-for-ambushing-mesquite-elementary-school-principal-with-zip-ties-over-covid-rules ↩︎
  5. https://www.thephoenixcriminalattorney.com/blog/2020/may/making-a-citizen-s-arrest-in-arizona-can-you-get/ As the article explains, if you make a citizen’s arrest, you have to prove to a jury it was reasonable or you will face potential criminal charges. “In order to properly and legally assert the defense that you were effectuating a citizen’s arrest, you will need to prove to a jury not only that you (yourself) violated the law to prevent one of these crimes, but that you were reasonable in doing so.” ↩︎
  6. “Walker, a local marketing strategist and copywriter, co-owns a coffee shop in Tucson” ↩︎
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No, Afghanistan is NOT a humiliating defeat.

We have heard a lot of overheated rhetoric about America suffering a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan. Among the many commentators are those who should know better than to characterise the end of the conflict as a humiliating defeat. 

When compared to *any* previous humiliating defeat, America’s withdrawal from Afghtanistan after 20 years of war, at a time, place, and pace of its choosing, is anything *but* a humiliating defeat. To argue otherwise, is to be intellectually dishonest and to dishonour those who have suffered a humiliating defeat. 

  1. France 1940 is a humiliating defeat. France (and its allies) was defeated in six weeks. A well equipped, well trained, modern, experienced army was steamrolled in six weeks by the Nazis. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/fall_france_01.shtml  
  1. Dunkirk 1940 is a humiliating defeat.  Britain had to evacuate most of its troops but still left behind all their equipment and 40,000 men. They fled under an improvised evacuation under continuous fire as the remaining French and British troops fought a valiant, if ultimately futile, rearguard action. Nothing was negotiated and France and Britain surrendered on the Nazis terms. https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/defeat-west
  1. Burma 1942 was a humiliating defeat. As General Joseph Stillwell put it bluntly, the Allies (British, Chinese, and American) were run out of Burma by the Japanese. He had to fight an exhausting regard action holding off the Japanese while he walked out of the Burmese jungle leading his men in one of history’s greatest retreats. https://www.historynet.com/joseph-stilwells-escape-from-burma-during-world-war-ii.htm  

“I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is as humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back and retake it.”

  1. Singapore 1942 was a humiliating defeat as the Japanese overran the British and conquered what had been considered a defensive bulwark in seven days. The Japanese were outnumbered and bluffed the British into surrendering even though Churchill had told the local commander, Percival, to fight to the end. As a result, 80,000 British, Indian, and Australian troops were captured. It is the largest surrender in British history. Once they surrendered the local population was subjected to horrific treatment by the Japanese military.  https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryofBritain/The-Fall-of-Singapore/
  1. The fall of the Philippines was a humiliating defeat for the United States as the Japanese who were outnumbered defeated the Americans and the Philippine armies. It is estimated that 23,000 Americans and 100,000 Filipino soldiers were killed or captured. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippines_campaign_(1941–1942)  
  1. Berlin 1945 was a humiliating defeat.  Nazi Germany was crushed into dust by the Red Army. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Berlin (The Allies defeated Germany overall but the battle of Berlin was done by the Red Army.
  1. Tokyo 1945 was a humiliating defeat. The Japanese signed an unconditional surrender after being firebombed for months and having two atomic weapons used on them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan
  1. The Arab countries losing the 6 day war was a humiliating defeat. The Israelis using a decisive opining air attack to wipe out the Egyptian airforce on the ground in one strike and the next day took out the Syrian airforce. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Focus 

The United States had been in Afghanistan for 20 years and had done as it pleased throughout the country. At no point was it close to being militarily defeated nor was any area off limits to a determined effort to reach it or patrol it. 

When the United States agreed to leave, it negotiated its withdrawal because staying served no strategic purpose. In other words, it chose to leave. When you choose to leave, instead of being forced at gunpoint or pain of death, you are hardly humiliated. You retain your agency. A surrender means you have no say in the matter because you cannot resist. 

As for casualties, the figure is even more extreme and demonstrates the disparity of other defeats and battles. In 20 years of war, the United States lost 2,401 servicemen. By contrast, Britain on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 lost 19,240 killed in action and 38,230 wounded. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-happened-on-the-first-day-of-the-battle-of-the-somme   In less than 12 hours, the British lost 8x as many men as the US lost in 20 years in Afghanistan.

To choose the time, place, and pace of your withdrawal is not a humiliating defeat unless you are arguing in bad faith about what constitutes a defeat.

It is time to stop arguing in bad faith and begin to be honest with the American public. If you believe America was humiliated in Afghanistan, you are lying to the American public. If you believe what is being said, the you are being taken for a fool and you owe it to yourself to get an education. 

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Bronze Age Mindset: for the credulous rubes, a waste of time and money 

The “book” is a waste of time and money. I have read it and now wish I had read something else in the time it took to read it and write about it. 

Why read it? 

I read it for two reasons first, people like Mike Anton had reviewed it positively as if it was worthy of serious thought for the insight it would provide to conservatives. If he had meant the MAGA faithful, then he would be right because this is their type of book and they are the author’s preferred audience, the credulous rubes desperate for someone to tell them how to live as well as to tell them that their lives have meaning and purpose. His review in the Claremont Review of Books was so mistaken https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/are-the-kids-altright/ , it makes me question his judgement, unless he was simply channelling Norm Macdonald’s deadpan delivery by taking something so unserious seriously.

The second reason was that someone suggested I read it so I could at least understand what was swirling around the edges of the rightwing septic system that passes for thinking these days. In that sense, I am glad I did read it as it confirms the thesis that the right wing grift machinery exists to exploit the sucker who is born every minute. 

On the surface, the book’s title appears to be either an homage, or a satire on, the book called The Gorilla Mindset. A book that I have neither read nor has anyone ever recommended it as worthy of interest for it lacks any insight or writing that is worthy of any time or money. In his review of the Bronze Age Mindset, https://www.cernovich.com/bronze-age-mindset-book-review/Mike Cernovich makes the weird point that he thought the Bronze Age Pervert was hitting on him (why do we need to know this or that Curtis Yarvin is better looking person than he is on his Wikipedia page?)

There is a story that claims the Bronze Age Mindset was found in a safe box in Kowloon, which clearly borrows from the nonsense of the Celestine Prophecy. In reading Bronze Age Mindset, I kept being reminded of the pseudo science presented in the Chariots of the Gods. Any self-respecting author would have kept this “book” locked up instead of inflicting it on readers given how poorly written it is and therefore how poorly thought through it is. 

The book is poorly written, some suggest this is intentional, which is demonstrated or confirmed by the author attempting to write coherently in the American Conservative in response to Mike Anton’s review in the Claremont Review of Books. https://americanmind.org/salvo/americas-delusional-elite-is-done/ In that response the Bronze Age Pervert, drops his pidgin English schtick as the tries to explain why he is a dissident and the American regime is doomed. 

The book’s sentences are meandering to the point I began to wonder what would happen if I had finished each sentence with “Yadda, Yadda, Yadda,” would it have improved he argument? At one point  I dropped my printed copy of the book mixing up several pages. I could not tell if that made any difference as it seemed to make more sense when several of the pages were read out of order. Perhaps that was what the author intended.

When we look at the book’s many claims, we find it shallow or simply wrong. We find claims or assertions like “Question everything” which sounds like the old 60s slogan “Question authority”. It sounds “deep” until you realise the young are stupid and don’t know anything which means they don’t know which questions to ask, how to ask a question, but most importantly they rarely know what to do with the answer they receive.  The book does not move beyond platitudes to make a coherent argument. When it does try to present something that appears light a right wing counter cultural argument, it is married by stupid claims as if the author is scared to make an argument for fear of confirming he has no argument to make or to have one beyond anything he could deny as a jest or joke. 

We have statements like “Suburbs are living arrangement for slaves and subjects.” which is nonsensical but again sounds deep to the credulous. If that statement were true, then what does it mean? Who are the masters? How does one ever escape servitude? Do we need to turn to the Pedagogy of the Oppressed for us to overcome our servitude? How did the Bronze Age Pervert escape to tell the tale of our servitude? 

Nearly every section of the book is littered with these clearly false statements, which raises the concern that Mike Anton took them as true because they sound plausible to him. 

His range of knowledge is vast—or at least appears so. I often found myself willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on scientific concepts I don’t understand because so often when he writes about something I do understand, he gets it right. And when he doesn’t, I can’t be sure he’s not just trolling. 


Anton’s seriousness in reading Bronze Age Pervert is undermined when the Bronze Age Pervert writes

If I would have emphasized anything else to people who had never heard of my book, it is that it deals with a large range of topics, from history to literature to my own personal experiences. It is a book written primarily for fun and entertainment: it’s not a philosophical treatise, and it’s not a political manifesto. I wrote it in a mood of revelry and laughter, these being the sentiments principally to be found also in the phenomenon of dissent that Anton seeks to understand.

By using this claim “I was just joking” or “it was just fun and games” the author wants to have it both ways. He was being serious, he is a dissident apparently, but if he is taken seriously and shown to be writing lazy bullshit as serious advice for profit, he can duck out to say “hey, it was just a joke, I was just trolling…”

The reality is that the book is replete with false claims that are easily disprovable, which make a mockery of Anton’s credibility or his willingness to interrogate the work seriously for his reader. It is as if the author is too lazy to do any work let alone any serious thinking beyond, the system is rigged against us and it sucks.  Even if the author is not trolling or simply lazy, we have one those “lifestyle “hacks”” books that, like the Gorilla Mindset, is designed to get the credulous to depart with their money by telling them how to live a better life, which is boiled down to some basic common sense about getting more sleep, avoiding drugs, alcohol, and junk food and exercising regularly. Instead, the reader has paid good money for someone to have a laugh at your expense. Take for example his claim in section 23 that Nietzsche avoided reading anything written by others. It is simply wrong. Nietzsche was a voracious reader, he was a trained philologist, and even a brief Internet search shows that Nietzsche had an extensive private library of books many of which were closely annotated. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Friedrich_Nietzsche Yet for the average Bronze Age Pervert follower this sounds true. The book is replete with such nonsense.  Anton who fancies himself a “serious scholar” should know that his claim about Nietzsche is bullshit. Yet, Anton does not say anything which suggests he dd not know that it was wrong, was too lazy to check, or does not care. 

Another the stupid claim is in section 16 that chimps masturbate in captivity never in the wild (which seems to be borrowed from this 2015 blog http://www.mehergutta.com/masturbation/ , yet dozens of animals masturbate in the wild. https://www.earthtouchnews.com/natural-world/animal-behaviour/masturbating-macaques-give-scientists-a-hand-with-semen-collection/People do research on these topics and he thinks it is funny like some teenage boy laughing because someone said “masturbate”.

In section 49, he claims that the men of Athens were capable of feats fo strength and speed unimaginable today. He supports this claim with the Greek charge at the battle of Marathon as evidence of their physical superiority. He asserts the Greeks, in full armour, charged for a mile. Yet, this is not the case. As this article argues conclusively, the distance was likely less than 400 metres. http://www.electrummagazine.com/2020/06/the-greek-charge-at-marathon-ready-set-go/ The Bronze Age Pervert never investigates his claims in part because he expects them to be accepted uncritically.

What is strange or perhaps illuminating is that Bronze Age Pervert claims to be in good physical shape because he takes care of his body, exercises regularly and understands the demands of being strong and healthy. Yet, he says “I don ’t think any special military units would be able to equal this feat today, and these were average citizens of Athens.” Anyone familiar with the SEALS or the SPETNAZ or the SAS know that this is simply wrong. The soldiers who train in these units endure as harsh training. https://www.verywellfit.com/navy-seals-workout-routine-3119129  But then that is not the point, no one needs to charge in full armour because warfare has changed. It is as if he wants to have his cake and eat it too. The past was better except a unit of SEALS would probably have wiped out the Athenians with automatic weapons, sniper fire, and grenades before they even knew what hit them. 

Another claim illustrates this sloppy work, which we find in section 42 that the Puritans who introduced hops to beer to make it bitter. Yet, a cursory glance at the history of beer making would disprove his claim. https://www.britishhops.org.uk/hops/history/ Mike Anton treats this type of argument as a serious work full of serious scholarship that conservatives should take seriously. At some point, we have to realise this is sloppy work that panders to prejudices that flatters for a profit. 

For those who consume this “book” as intelligent it shows they are either credulous rubes or the type of person who thinks that “covefe” is some sort of secret Trump teaching. Anton writes about the Bronze Age Pervert telling his readers to join the Leviathan but retain the pirate’s ethos so that they can change the system from within and bring down the Leviathan. 

This rhetorical reversal reminds one of Machiavelli, who frequently tempers his most outrageous statements with sensible and moderate teachings; or to say better, who obscures his sensible and moderate teachings with outrageous statements that appeal to the impetuosity, zeal, and bravado of the young. Machiavelli intimates that the primary purpose of his Discourses on Livy is to prepare a certain subset of the youth to act, when the time is ripe, to overthrow a corrupt “sect” and restore ancient virtue. It is my impression that Bronze Age Mindset was written with the same intent. 


So, there we have it. Bronze Age Pervert is saying he wrote the book as a joke and Anton is saying he wrote it as a secret teaching in which his stupid claims hide his deeper serious statements. That Mike Anton says that the author might be writing esoterically (here Leo Strauss laughed) and for the audience that “reads” is perhaps as clear of illustration of confirmation bias similar to those essays that tried to explain “covfefe” as something serious instead of a typing error. It is perhaps this type of thinking by people who claim to be serious that explains why Americans are ingesting horse de-wormer paste instead of taking a vaccine. It is almost as if Americans now lack common sense in that they must follow the political cult over the clear instructions on the side of the packet that says “not for human consumption.”

If we can have adults with PhDs arguing seriously that Trump meant something profound when he tweeted the word “covfefe” by accident, we know that tribal loyalty is more important than critical thought. Socrates would never accept such nonsense and no self-respecting thinker would either, but when politics is more important than the truth, we have left philosophy for ideology.  Claremont has accepted irrationality as worthy of respect and followed politics over truth. 

No, the Bronze Age Pervert is not writing esoterically, he is writing bullshit and charging you good money for it. More to the point, his poor writing reflect his poor thinking. When he does attempt to write seriously, he comes across as talking points without insight or explanatory power. Here is his claim that he is a dissident because the oppression of his views and those of his followers is worse than the oppression experienced in the Soviet Union or the Easter Bloc countries of the 1970s and 1980s.

If you fail to see that you live in the Soviet Union of the 1970’s or 1980’s, or rather something slightly even more repressive than the Eastern Bloc of that time, it may be you don’t know about the threats, financial ruin, and mob violence that Trump supporters and anyone really who steps out of line has been subject to since at least 2016—but actually since some time before that.

Seriously, if you believe that the United States of 2021 is akin to the USSR of the 1970s or slightly *more* repressive than the Eastern Bloc of that era, then you are stupid. In neither of those places or times could you have had this argument or stood up and voted to change the system. Let alone run campaigns, donate money, and live your life. It is simply nonsense and an insult to anyone who had to live through that era or was a dissident in that era. For some reason, the Bronze Age Pervert and Curtis Yarvin become upset about the DMV as if spending time in line or dealing with a bureaucracy is on par with the torture and death that dissidents in the USSR risked. 

 https://americanmind.org/salvo/americas-delusional-elite-is-done/  His thinking sums up to being “We are fascists because the left were fascist before us and we need to catch up”.

The left completely abandoned Americanism in the 1960’s; at this point they’ve also abandoned biological reality. Vitalism is all that is left against their demented biological Leninism. Encouraging health, normality, and physical nobility against their celebration of deformity, obesity, and sexual catamitism must be one of the basic functions of conservatism in our time. It is one of the reasons my message is powerful among many who are fed up with the left’s gospel of wretchedness: what is your plan to take that on?

The Left abandoned Americanism so we need to abandon it to keep up with them because we are now the counter culture to their counter culture. Except that the Bronze Age Pervert only understands the 1960s counter culture as diluted and mediated by his preferred writers which means he understands it as he wants to understand it not as it is or was. 

If you want to understand the 1960s counter culture, the read some Joan Didion because at least you get someone who lived within it and understood it for what it was and understood what it would mean. 

Instead of insight, we get warmed over platitudes which is not much help. We want change because we do not like what we see but we do not understand what we see or experience beyond we do not like it. The DMV is our Lubyanka appears to be the Bronze Age Pervert’s claim. He and others think somewhere there is a better alternative without understanding either the status quo beyond a solipsistic view of the world or what an alternative means assuming that one has understood what is happening instead of buying into bad faith arguments that America today is more repressive and dangerous than USSR of the 1970s. 

If the goal is to raise the challenge of a right wing counter culture movement similar to the one that we saw in the late 1960s in the United States, then the author has done a poor job. We perhaps await a right wing Joan Didion to set out the crisis. If one does not exist, it certainly is not the Bronze Age Pervert, Mike Anton, or Curtis Yarvin, then we would be better served by revisiting what Joan Didion wrote in Slouching Towards Bethlehem since her words are directly applicable to what appears to be happening among the right wing culture at least suggested by Bronze Age Pervert and endorsed by Mike Anton.

“We were seeing the desperate attempt of a handful of pathetically unequipped children to create a community in a social vacuum. Once we had seen these children, we could no longer overlook the vacuum, no longer pretend the society’s atomisation could be reversed. … [W]e had somehow neglected to tell these children the rules of the game we happened to be playing. Maybe we had stopped believing in the rules ourselves, maybe we were having a failure of never about the game. Maybe there were just too few people around to do the telling. These were children who grew up cut loose from the web of cousins and great-aunts and family doctors and lifelong neighbours who had traditionally suggested and enforced the society’s values.  They are less in rebellion against the society than ignorant of it, able only to feed back certain of its publicised self-doubts, Vietnam, Saran-Wrap, diet pills, the Bomb.

They feed black exactly what is given them . Because they do not believe in words….their only proficient vocabulary is thin the society’s platitudes. As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that heir mother and father do not live together, that they come from “a broken home.” They are…. an army of children waiting to be given the words.  Slouching Towards Bethlehem pp122-123

It is here that Didion proves a better critic than the Bronze Age Pervert who seems to revel in his pidgin English as if by ageing the pidgin English of the internet he is somehow making a statement because she understands that freedom, if not being human, depends on the mastery of language. In effect Bronze Age Pervert and the other rightwing grifters do not want to pass on the mastery of language because they do not want the young, their followers, to think for themselves. Instead, they and others enforce the echo chamber because they will give their followers the words to follow. 

If instead of following their nonsense, you want to educate yourself and begin  the arduous but liberating process of learning to think for one’s self, I offer the following books as a possible starting point. All of these books are relatively short, on average less than 200 pages in length. 

One book that will actually teach you something about the world and how to live, then try something like A Guide for the Perplexed by E F Schumacher. He knows about the world, how it works, and best of all how to think about it. 

If you want to understand the counter culture, then pick up Joan Didion’s the White Album and read the essay The White Album. 

If you want to understand what it means to know a topic, and to educate yourself, then consider Umberto Eco’s How to Write a Thesis. If you want to begin to understand the problem of modernity then pick up Sigmun Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents or Nietzsche’s Anti-Educartion. If you want to begin to master language, so that you can think for yourself then get a copy of Joseph Pieper’s Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power. 

In the end, if you follow the Bronze Age Pervert and buy what he sells, then you have been taken for a fool.  The old adage that a fool and his money are soon parted is proven true by those who bought this book. For those of you who read it and think it is serious, then you appear to want to be in on the long con as you seem unable to admit it is bullshit because it would make you question the bullshit you have been presenting as a “teaching” or some “deep” insight into politics or culture. The Bronze Age Mindset is intellectual Ivermectin. 

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No, the storm will not change politics in Texas

This is what Texas wants.

  1. Texas knew about this risk and did nothing to prevent it. A similar storm in 2011 should have changed the industry or the regulators or even the public’s mind, but nothing changed.
  2. The politicians who are responsible and the political parties they represent will shift any blame. This has already begun. They will blame the Green New Deal. They will blame socialism. They will say that government regulation caused the failure to modernize, insulate, or to prepare. We will hear stories that no one could have predicted this so why spend money on it? None of the politicians will take responsibility for the past decisions nor take responsibility to fix it for the future.
  3. Even if change is attempted, it will be diluted in details and bogged down in committees. Much will be said, but little will be done. This is intentional in a state where the weakest and most vulnerable live a precarious existence.[i] Increased taxes are needed but no one wants them.
  4. Once the immediate problems are fixed where water and power are restored people will be distracted and pre-occupied with more important issues. Soon the attention will focus on whatever it is that occupies the public instead of the public infrastructure. When the warm weather arrives, people will turn their attention to other things and the storm its effects will be forgotten. Hook ‘em Horns!
  5. This is Texas. We are not going to let anyone tell us how to live. We know best. As former governor Rick Perry said during the storm. “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business” [ii]
  6. Enough will be done to placate the public so that they can move on with their lives. People will be told they should not litigate the past. If they want a positive future, they need to stop pointing fingers and assigning blame. They need to support their government and stop complaining.
  7. There is no desire to change because those that benefit from the status quo see no need to change. They have survived the storm and they see no need for any change to a system that has worked and will continue to work once it is fixed.

The status quo to resist change is powerful in Texas. What you face is a situation where the powerful elite who are insulated from these events will only do enough to placate the public and ensure the problem is diluted, deferred, and diverted onto others to avoid the serious requirements for change. If Texas had wanted a different outcome, they could have voted for it or they could have argued for it in 2011 but they didn’t.

Perhaps 2021 will be a point where something changes. I doubt it. The storm will not be a factor in 2022 or in 2024 because the status quo is too powerful in Texas.

[i] https://www.governing.com/archive/gov-maternal-infant-mortality-pregnant-women-texas.html

see also those who need health care coverage https://stateofreform.com/news/texas/2019/08/new-report-finds-texas-ranks-in-the-bottom-percentage-for-health-care-coverage/

and the elderly https://familiesforbettercare.com/index.php/news/bottom-10-texas

[ii] Former Governor Rick Perry summed it up https://www.republicanleader.gov/whats-up-in-texas/

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Donate — Life After Hate


In this age of increased political polarisation, we can feel that we are powerless to change what is happening to society around us. When someone we know or love gets caught up in the polarisation, such as espousing racist beliefs or showing an interest in racist organisations, especially around White Supremacy it can be difficult to know what to do.

One thing you can do is donate to an organisation, like Life after Hate, to help rescue those who have been seduced by the anger and hatred.

If you have the resources, even a one time donation of $5 can help.

You may think you can’t do anything about what is happening and those who benefit from this hatred and chaos want you to continue to think that, but you can act by either promoting the work of groups like Life after Hate or making a donation.

As citizens, it is our duty to contribute to the common good of this great country. Let’s change America for the better by working to reduce the anger and disarm the hate.

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Is Trump our first female president?

My essay is inspired by Toni Morrison’s claim that Bill Clinton was the first black President[i] and Adrienne Rich’s essay Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying (1975).[ii] I came to her work to understand Donald’s Trump lying. We often believe that politicians lie, but the reality is that they don’t lie very often because they know they can get caught and punished by a loss of credibility, trust, and ultimately voter confidence. Trump is different, though, in that he lies and his lying is not simply political; it is apparently pathological for it infuses all aspects of his life.

To understand why he lies, I turned to Rich’s Notes as she provides an insight into lying and from there, I developed the question as to whether Trump is the first female President.

Rich begins with the observation that a man is known by his honour. If he gives his word that something is true, then it is true for it is guaranteed by his honour.

The old, male idea of honour. A man’s “word” sufficed – to other men – without guarantee

Trump’s word is rarely, if ever, good so he is a man without honour since he cannot be trusted without a guarantee. Trump rarely keeps his word except when it suits his interests or he forced to keep it. Yet, it is not simply his own behaviour that is problematic for what he does through his lies is that he ensures that the people who serve him are also without honour. They either enable his lies or they, in turn, are compromised by his lies. If you work for Trump, you never know if you are being lied to now or in the past. More to the point, you cannot be certain that once their lie is discovered, that they will tell you the truth. When you work for Trump, the problem is that any future statement you make is most likely followed up with the unspoken question “Are you lying now?”

In contrast to a man’s honour, Rich points out, that a woman’s honour has a different relationship with the truth and lying. Women, as she explains, are prized for their loyalty or fidelity not for their honesty.

Honesty in women has not been considered important. We have been depicted as generically whimsical, deceitful, subtle, vacillating. And we have been rewarded for lying.

In a similar way, Trump has been rewarded for his lying as they help him to succeed or at least sustain his appearance of success. His promises to pay suppliers. His promises to business associates. His promises to his wives. His promises to girlfriends. His promises to relatives. His promises to the court. None of these have been kept except under extreme duress such as the court enforcement. In all these matters, Trump does not consider honesty important but he does consider loyalty from others important. He believes that they should put that loyalty beyond obedience to truth or the law.

Trump’s demand for loyalty means that he must come before others so that his feelings are what is important. The same self-centredness emerges with his lies. As Rich points out the liar is only concerned with their feelings.

But the liar is concerned with her own feelings.

However, it is more than protecting his feelings for as Rich explains, the liar lies to retain control of the relationship. A liar cannot have a relationship without manipulation which explains Trump’s relationships since manipulates others to suit his purposes. What we find is that for Trump, there is no such thing as unconditional love. Instead, all his relationships are conditional or transactional so that he can retain control.

The liar lives in fear of losing control. She cannot even desire a relationship without manipulation, since to be vulnerable to another person means for her the loss of control.

To love someone unconditionally would be to accept a loss of control, to trust them, to put them before yourself. For Trump, he cannot love someone else as much as he loves himself and that creates a life of loneliness. Despite his claims of popularity or many friends, Trump, lacks the intimacy of friendship created in mutual vulnerability or shared trust. Instead, what he lives is a life of loneliness sustained by a transactional manipulation of other people.

The liar has many friends, and leads an existence of great loneliness.

What helps the liar function, though is that they never have to confront their lies or when they are confronted, they escape with a form of amnesia. Rich describes this amnesia in a way that could be a form of self “gas lighting” since it helps the liar control the other party but serves another function; it helps the liar avoid their own sub-conscious awareness of the lie. This type of amnesia emerges when Trump says he does not know someone or cannot remember who they are.

The liar often suffers from amnesia. Amnesia is the silence of the unconscious.

For Trump, though, lying is a way of life so his unconscious is dead to him. He has no self-reflection or inner life that allows him to consider his conscience since he does not want the truth that an inner spiritual life requires.

To lie habitually, as a way of life, is to lost contact with the unconscious. It is like taking sleeping pills, which confer sleep but blot out dreaming. The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than truth

Honesty, though, requires that the speaker express and accept complexity within reality. Instead, the liar avoids complexity so they lie to simplify the world to serve their purposes.

This is why the effort to speak honestly is so important. Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler – for the liar – than it really is, or ought to be.

We can see this in the way that Trump will lie about complex events or issues since that allows him to simplify them so he can understand and manage them as a pretext to controlling them to his ends.

Rich is prescient in helping us to understand why Trump has never been in love.

An honourable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in so doing we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us

Trump lies to others because he is only faithful to himself. He has cheated on his wives and he has cheated on his mistresses when cheating on his wives. He does not have an honourable relationship with anyone since that would require him to tell the truth to someone else or even to himself. He might think he is telling the truth, as when he said he would probably date his daughter if she wasn’t his daughter, but even that truth is simply a lie about his responsibility as a father since he avoids having to consider what such a thought means for him as a man or a father.

More than anything, though, Trump is haunted by fear. To keep that fear at bay, he lies. His lies, mask his fear of inadequacy that he cannot live up to his father’s image or reputation as a “real man”. Even though he is President of the United States it is apparent he cannot shake that feeling of inadequacy, a void he is desperate to fill with lies and performative spectacles.

The liar is afraid.

What is this particular fear that possesses the liar?

She is afraid that her own truths are not good enough.

She is afraid, not so much of prison guards or bosses, but of something unnamed within her.

The liar fears the void.

The fear grows from an emptiness that can never be filled no matter his success, an emptiness that keeps him from being able to enjoy who he is, what he is, and why he is. Instead, he seeks to fill that physical emptiness with the junk food and the spiritual or emotional emptiness with lies that allow him to forget for a time. The cheering crowds, the positive press statements, the grand spectacles are never enough because they do not love him for who he is but for what he means for them. It is the cost of his transactional emotional life. His lies deny the fear so that he can remain in control or at least the appearance of control to himself.

Every time he is confronted in a lie, he lies again to escape. If his inaugural wasn’t the largest, then it was because

“Someone told me it was.”

“That is what they are saying.”

“People are saying it was the largest.”

Rich understands this void for a woman confronts it in her dishonesty as her lies become a way to retain some control over herself, her relationships, and her situation.

The liar in her terror wants to fill up the void, with anything. Her lies are a denial of her fear; a way of maintaining control.

What is as consistent as his lying is his fear of and avoidance of confrontation over his lies so that he must deny that he lied, or say he forgot, he cannot remember, or he is protecting someone else. He never admits to his lies or what he lies about because he must hide how he feels.

The liar may resist confrontation, denying that she lied. Or she may use other language: forgetfulness, privacy, the protection of someone else.

Trump’s lies make him less interesting, less surprising, and less full of possibilities. He is not an inventive man who creates a greater good beyond himself for others to enjoy. In this way, his political leadership becomes the antithesis of decent politics. What makes decent politics possible is honesty, truthfulness, and honour for they provide the foundation from which something larger can be created, the exciting possibility of people coming together in a complex relationship. However, these virtues do not occur spontaneously nor do they remain unaided for once created they need to be sustained, defended, and renewed. For politics relies on honour since a man must give his word and mean it just as a woman must be faithful that is be honourable and, in this relationship, both must be truthful with each other for from that relationship a larger community can be created.

Truthfulness, honour, is not something which springs ablaze of itself. It has to be created between people.

This is true in political situations. The quality and depth of the politics evolving from a group depends in very large part on their understanding of honour.

What Trump destroys with his lies are the decency and honour needed for decent politics since his lies undermine trust and honour. The possibilities for trust between people are what Trump removes as his lies make honesty meaningless. How can you be honest in a relationship based on a transactional emotional world sustained and driven by lies? In such an environment, complex relationships from which a group can develop become impossible. Aristotle famously argued for the importance of political friendship as the basis for political society. Within that friendship, we have the trust, honour, truthfulness, and a shared intimacy. Yet, that is what Trump lacks but also what Trump requires as a basis for loyalty. You cannot be friends with others and remain loyal to Trump; it is how he corrupts those around him and the Republican Party since political friendships are impossible. Those within his political orbit are compromised, morally deformed, by their attempts to justify his behaviour or avoid his displeasure.

Trump does everything he can short of physical violence to destroy the possibilities between people to develop those complex relationships based on trust, honour, and truthfulness. We see how he attacks those who speak up or those who might show allegiance to people who have resisted him. Instead of a life of surprising possibilities created by friendship, the liar’s life is dreary and repetitious which requires them to seek stimulus from novelties, audiences, and ceremonies to replace the friendships that contain the possibility of complex relationships of love. Without those external stimuli, the liar returns to the constant dramas of the next lie but the liar and their lies cease to be interesting to anyone except the liar since the behaviour is simply repeated. In such a cycle, human possibilities cannot flourish with the liar or those he manipulates or controls through his lies as neither he nor they can live beyond the lie in a realm of trust or truth.

Rich captures the difference between the drabness of the liar’s life and the exciting alchemy of a people living honestly.

The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life. The liar is someone who keeps losing sight of these possibilities. When relationships are determined by manipulation, by the need for control, they may possess a dreary, bickering kind of drama, but they cease to be interesting. They are repetitious; the shock of human possibilities has ceased to reverberate through them.

What we find isn’t so much that Trump kills everything he touches[iii] so much as he drains it of meaning. Through his lies he drains people, events, and places of the possibility of being interesting or full of possibilities. Trump isn’t so much a female president for he lacks loyalty or even a male president[iv] since he lacks honour, but he must be considered our first eunuch president simply incapable of any lasting achievement beyond the performative spectacle of his lies.

[i] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1998/10/05/comment-6543

[ii] http://www.oregoncampuscompact.org/uploads/1/3/0/4/13042698/women_and_honor_-_some_notes_on_lying__adrienne_rich_.pdf

[iii] https://www.npr.org/2018/08/07/635978021/in-everything-trump-touches-dies-few-are-spared?t=1593279963212

[iv] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/donald-trump-the-most-unmanly-president/612031/

Posted in corruption, justice, privacy, statesmanship | Comments Off on Is Trump our first female president?

How the documentary Hoaxed manipulated Black Lives Matter.

The film Hoaxed claims to be a documentary that tells the truth about the media and fake news. One part of the film looks at how the media covers racial violence. The directors and Mr Cernovich, though, want to look at how the news distorts coverage since the media focuses on violence by whites on blacks and they argue the media under report violence of blacks against whites. To demonstrate this claim, they enlist the help of Hawk Newsome the President of the Black Lives Movement of greater New York.

We see him in the trailer so his part in the movie, which is from 1h44 to 1h55 is central to the film. The film appears to treat Mr Newsome sympathetically as he has time to explain why Black Lives Matters is important and he could reach a wider audience. A wider audience that is not filtered by traditional media reporting. However, the film used Mr Newsome’s appearance and edited a key sequence of the film for their purposes.

In the trailer Mr Newsome is surprised by a story that he has never heard of. To understand that scene and his surprise we need more context than the film provides. In this the film violates an important rule of documentaries because it edits the scene to fit the film maker’s agenda instead of letting the character or the topic explain itself.

The scene, in question, occurs at 1h50. Mr Newsome raises the point that when you hear about a black victim they are villainized as you hear about their criminal record, or if they were an alcoholic or had a drug problem. By contrast, he argues that a white victim is described as victimized.

“The first thing you hear when a cop kills someone of color, is their criminal history, if they alcoholic, they were a woman beater, they were who knows. When a black person is killed, they’re villainized. And when a white person is killed, they are victimized. Villainized an victimized and that is the media.”

At this point in the scene, the cameraman hands him a mobile phone and asks:

“Did you hear the inverse situation of the complaints against the media in terms of interracial crimes like the Dylan Root Shooting in Charleston and then there was the shooting in Tennessee that was like a black man shot up a church and so people were saying oh that the Charleston shooting got this big media coverage, that shooting got nothing because it was the inverse.”

“How do you respond to that?”

On the screen we see what appears to be an image, a screenshot, of a news story but the source is not identified.[i]

Mr Newsome is being presented something for the first time. He knows about the Charleston shooting but he is unaware of the Tennessee shooting. The film plants the idea that the Charleston shooting had more coverage than the Tennessee shooting because it was white on black violence.

Mr Newsome reacts as we would expect; he has not heard of it and cannot understand why he has not heard of it despite having three to four thousand Facebook friends who might have drawn his attention to it.

“I don’t understand why I have heard of this. Like, what’s unbelievable. I don’t understand why I never heard of that story. And what’s more amazing to me is I have over, I don’t know three to four thousand friends on Facebook. I have never seen that story published. It is interesting to me.”

What is unstated is that white on black violence is prioritised over black on white violence. The film suggests that these events are equivalent and worthy of the same coverage. Moreover, it suggests that the Tennessee Church shooting had less coverage because it does not fit the preferred media narrative of white on black violence.

Mr. Newsome reads from the phone and an image of what he is reading appears on the screen. It says that the initial report of the event shows that the shooter, Mr. Sampson did attend the church on occasion, but that is not mentioned in the film nor does Mr Newsome notice it.

“And church members told investigators that Samson had attended services a year or two ago. “1hr51m22s

Instead, he and the film makers focus on the sentence that reads

“All of the victims in Nashville were white, but it is not clear whether Samson specifically targeted them based on their race.”

Mr Newsome is surprised as would anyone else who is unaware of the context for each shooting. The film would convince an uninformed audience that the Tennessee shooting was not covered because of the black on white violence and the shootings are similar. However, the context and outcome for each shooting explains the difference in coverage and the film does not explore that difference because that would undermine its narrative which is more important than the truth. In this manipulative scene, the film does exactly what it accuses the media of doing. It distorts the issue, creates a false equivalence, and leads the viewer to the wrong conclusion about black on white violence. The only thing that links the shootings is that they were at a church and the second shooting was in response to the first. After that, the comparisons fade.

Here is a comparison chart that explains why they had different coverage.

  Charleston[ii] Tennessee[iii] Notes
Shooter Dylan Storm Root Emanuel Kidega Samson  


Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church/ African American Church Burnette Chapel shooting/ Mixed Congregation The Charleston Church is a symbol of the civil rights movement including the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Known to victim or location No Yes. He had attended the church few times but had not attended for over a year.  
Casualties 9 Dead

1 Injured

1 Dead

9 injured

Charleston was the largest Church Shooting ever to occur up to that date.
Affiliation or ideology Online manifesto/statement White supremacist Some interest in black supremacist figures and groups like  
Reason White Supremacism and desire to kill black people and start a race war. Revenge for Charleston Shooting  
Context No mass shootings in the month before or after with a high death toll or higher profile target location.[iv] One week after this shooting the largest mass shooting and murder in US history occurs in Las Vegas with 59 people killed and 869 injured with 413 by gunfire.

A month later the largest church shooting occurs in Texas with the Sutherland Springs church shooting where 27 are killed including shooter and unborn child and 20 are wounded.[v]



At the time the article was written Samson’s motive was unknown so it would have been irresponsible to speculate. By contrast, Root was explicit in his motive before, during, and after the shooting. He was a white supremacist who wanted to start a race war by killing African Americans. He was attacking African Americans at a place symbolic of the Civil Rights movement, a target with a significant political and racial profile. At that point, the Charleston Church Shooting was the deadliest church shooting in the country’s history. To put it mildly, it was an unprecedented event. Unprecedented events against a high-profile target for a racist motive will gain a lot of attention and there was no other event before or after it to dilute the coverage.

By contrast, the Tennessee shooting’s target, context, or outcome would not draw the same attention. The shooter attended the church, the church is not a political or racial symbol in the community or the nation. The shooter did not want to start a race war, but he wanted revenge. In all aspects it is not an unprecedented event as it is does not eclipse the Charleston shooting in deaths or in the wider context of racial politics. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, one week later it is overshadowed by the largest mass murder in American history as the Las Vegas shooting claims 59 lives and leaves 869 people injured. The mass murder story gets global attention for weeks. Then a month after the Burnette Chapel shooting, the worst church shooting in American history occurs in Sutherland Springs and draws national attention for weeks.[vi] Yet this context is not provided by Mr Cernovich or the movie and it is not given to Mr Newsome so he can understand why he has not heard of the Burnette Chapel shooting.

What makes this particularly manipulative is what happens next.

The documentary shifts to Mr. Cernovich who claims that the media will not report it because it would mean that whites might start to think they “Hey, this could happen to me” that they might get shot by a black person and therefore they might sit down with black people to find common cause with them. Mr Cernovich then claims the media do not want that as the media do not care about white lives or black lives, they just want the show to go on, which is ironic given that is exactly what his documentary is doing with this scene.

“Now, in my view, the media doesn’t want to give attention to white people who are shot because white people might say, oh that could happen to me too. Maybe I ought to talk to these Black Lives Matters people. Maybe we can find common cause. The media does not care about black lives. They don’t care about white lives. They care about the show. And a Black Lives Matter leader who was reasonable and nuanced, and wanted to talk about both rights and responsibilities, would resonate with the people. And that would be very frustration for the media. They don’t want people to resonate.”

Except none of what he says is true nor does he provide any evidence. He wants his audience to believe that the reason why there is disparity between whites and blacks or why African Americans continue to struggle for their civil rights is because of the media. He does this without evidence that black on white violence occurs as often or to the same intensity as white on black violence. He has no evidence for his claims except for his beliefs about the media. The reality that white on black violence is much more common than black on white violence. They are not equivalent. Moreover, the media do report on groups who seek to reduce violence and create racial harmony, but that doesn’t suit his narrative. Instead, he wants to push the narrative that the media wants whites and blacks to kill each other. In this, he acts in bad faith.

Mr Newsome, however, is acting in good faith. He acts in the belief that the film will show the Black Lives Matters movement to a larger audience. What is not clear is whether he would have been aware that he would be used as a foil for the film to claim that black on white violence is not covered as much as white on black violence. Moreover, it is not clear whether he understood that the filmmakers were linking Black Lives Matters message to the Alt-Right movement. The film uses his surprise, which features in the trailer, as an important hook for the film, just as they use him, and by extension, the Black Lives Matter movement to create a false narrative about the media, about media coverage of black on white violence. When they equate the Burnette Chapel shooting with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting, we find that the film makers and Mr Cernovich have created a fake news narrative to achieve their goal which is to indoctrinate not document and to deceive not to discern.

If Mr Cernovich and the directors were interested in the Black Lives Message, why did they manipulate them in this way?


[i] The source appears to be the Associated Press as several outlets carried this texted and many carried variations on it with some editing it for emphasis or adding extra details. See for example,

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/u-s-world/note-in-tennessee-church-shooting-refers-to-revenge-for-dylan-roof-massacre-ap-sources (retrieved 16 May 2020)  See also https://www.foxnews.com/us/ap-sources-note-in-church-shooting-refers-to-roof-shooting (retrieved 16 May 2020)

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston_church_shooting (retrieved 16 May 2020)

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnette_Chapel_shooting (retrieved 16 May 2020)

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States#2015 (retrieved 16 May 2020)

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States#2017 (retrieved 16 May 2020)

[vi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutherland_Springs_church_shooting (retrieved 16 May 2020)

Posted in education, Government, justice, public opinion | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on How the documentary Hoaxed manipulated Black Lives Matter.

Initial review or thoughts on the documentary Hoaxed.

Arrogant, resentful people believe deception works.

–Jordan Peterson, minute 94, Hoaxed (2019).

Know thyself.

–Delphic Oracle

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

―Soren Kierkegaard

The documentary Hoaxed is not worth your time or your money. It is more a 128-minute work to whitewash Mike Cernovich’s reputation as an Alt-Right member[i], troll and bad faith actor than it is to document fake news as a media phenomenon. What I found was that it was in part disingenuous, incomplete, and seriously flawed as a documentary since it provided no insight nor new understanding as its rehashed events to gaslight an unsuspecting or credulous audience about Mr Cernovich and the alt-right.

These are my initial thoughts to be followed by a more detailed commentary in a few days.

First, it fails as a documentary from a technical point as well as from intent because it does not tell us anything new. It rehashes things from two or three years ago without offering insight, analysis or an alternative view, which for a controversial topic like “fake news”, is a bare minimum for a decent or honest documentary. Without some attempt to provide a context or insight into the topic beyond the preferred view of the speakers, it becomes a self-indulgent exercise akin to a video diary where the speakers just provide their own views unopposed or without any context which would suggest that there is a different understanding to the reality it describes. What we get is perhaps a film that offers higher production values than the usual Mike Cernovich podcast or YouTube offering with the added benefit of a few academics as guests who seem out of place. The academics, unsurprisingly, are the most coherent, cogent, and thoughtful of the many speakers throughout the documentary in large part because they speak from expertise grounded in research and training, which gives them a sense of self-awareness.

Second, Mr Cernovich and most of the other speakers lack the self-awareness born of having to test their thoughts against a research literature and an informed community. To a surprising degree, most of the speakers lack self-knowledge for what they are saying within the context of the documentary. Moreover, those with self-knowledge, the academics and the leader of Black Lives Matters movement, do so because they act in good faith with the film and how they understand the world. The other speakers don’t.

Third, there were many assertions that relied on bald unsubstantiated claims that are never tested even when there is clear evidence to the contrary. For example, Mr Cernovich makes the following egregious claim around the film’s 95 to 96-minute mark.

The context is coverage of the 2017 Congressional baseball shooting, which occurred on 14 June 2017

Mr Cernovich says the following:

“There was a shooting by a Bernie Sanders supporter and pro antifa person at a congressional baseball practice. Called the Scalise shooting now.[ii] And the mainstream media acted like they really care. Oh, they really cared. No, the people know. The people watch them laugh when they were asked about violence. They know the media wants more shootings.

They want people to get shot because they act as a propaganda arm for antifa, which is a domestic terrorist group, under investigation by the FBI, and they laugh at violence against people they don’t agree with politically.”

It is a bald, unsubstantiated claim to say the media want people to get shot, that they laugh at violence, and they are a propaganda arm for antifa. Mr Cernovich offered no evidence for this claim.

It seems horrific for Mr Cernovich to claim that American media wants American politicians to get shot and does not care about shootings. More to the point, he claims “they laugh at violence against people they don’t agree with politically.” Such a claim is clearly one from a bad faith actor because it is a view so out of touch with reality as to appear to be from someone with a warped sense of the world, politics, media, and America.

The reason it is a bad faith claim is that Mr Cernovich has not considered that his claim must include himself since, as a self- professed journalist he too is part of the media just as Fox News is. Once Mr Cernovich begins to qualify his remarks, which he will once he has to explain them or defend them, his equivocations will show he was not acting in good faith.

In the film, the directors and Mr Cernovich attempt to contextualise his outrageous claims with an earlier scene that covers Mr Cernovich’s video from his visit to the White House Press Briefing Room on 1 May 2017. This is before the Congressional Baseball Shooting. In minutes 91 and 92 of the film, he presents this visit[iii] and claims that the media present laughed at his demands that they cover antifa violence as much as they cover violence by Trump supporters and that they demand that Democrat politicians, like Bernie Sanders, be required to disavow antifa violence in the way that President Trump had been asked to disavow violence by his supporters. In minute 92, he then claims in the film that they laughed at him which is what he wanted them to do.

Mr Cernovich’s claims when investigated are not substantiated.

On the surface, it appears that what he claims has merit because there is laughter at the beginning of his video. However, if you look at footage of the event from other sources, such as CSPAN or other outlets[iv], it does not appear to be as he claims. First, it is not clear that the laughter at the start is aimed at him or another person who shouted a question. Second, it is not clear whether they are laughing at him and the sound of his voice, which some commentators have described as whiny and lispy[v], or simply his appearance at the White House Press briefing. It does not appear that they were laughing at his questions since the laughter was before his questions could be heard clearly as most people tended to ignore him. One person did engage him which seemed to be something garbled but sounded like they were saying they were there to question the Republican President and not the Democrats so until one of them is President it would not make sense.[vi]

Basic research reveals that what Mr Cernovich described is not accurate.

Leaving these points aside, which are enough to call into question his claim that they were laughing at his demands that they condemn violence and condemn the antifa, his substantive point which is an attempt to equivalate President Trump supporters and antifa with the Democratic Party is not sustainable. First, antifa is an anticapitalistic, socialist, anti-fascist group, that does not organise public events nor are they affiliated with any political party nor do they have the patronage of the Democratic Party or a Democrat in an elected office. Second, the White House Press Corp focuses on the President and the White House so a fringe group like antifa, even though important to Mr Cernovich, are not going to attract their attention unless President Trump or the White House focus on it. To expect them to do otherwise is specious if not dishonest in that their job is the White House and President Trump not the Democrats or a fringe political group.[vii] Third, the White House Press Corp are not the media, they are a subset of a subset within the media at best since there is a small number of reporters across world who are part of the White House Press Corps. Fourth, the people present are under no obligation to explain themselves or their organisation’s editorial policies to Mr Cernovich especially in that location and under those circumstances. To believe they should be borders on juvenile or sophomoric behaviour. Fifth, after Charlottesville in August 2017, the media has condemned antifa violence as much as they have condemned Neo-Nazi violence.[viii] Sixth, the Democrats including Bernie Sanders have condemned antifa violence.[ix] Senator Sanders condemned violence[x] on 24 April 2017 a week before Mr Cernovich’s question at the White House Press briefing, thus, disproving his claim that Senator Sanders had not disavowed violence. However, Mr Cernovich at the time nor in the film prepared a year later, considers these points or the alternative meaning of the event which suggests he lacks self-knowledge or the willingness and perhaps the ability to reflect on events. It appears he believes there can be only way to understand an event, his way, and no other. In this, he is acting in bad faith as a person and as a documentarian.

Was this a documentary or was it something else?

As you can see, this is one of the many unsubstantiated or disputable claims in the documentary which rob it of having any chance of providing an insight into fake news since it only present a partial or biased view. There is no balance in the film. You get the queasy feeling that you are watching an indoctrination film designed to groom the audience. A documentary would have had a narrator to provide context or balance failing that regular comments by media academics or media professionals who could explain how the media works would have indicated it was a documentary. A basic understanding of the media starts with the challenge that any news organisation must prioritize coverage, based on available resources, within severe time constraints against a hyper competitive media market. Most importantly, it has deal with the public attention which is limited as well as changing hourly. Without these limited interventions, it fails as a documentary.

What we find, instead, is that Hoaxed is a resentful screed which covers the same tired topics of any fringe group resentful, disgruntled, and disappointed with the status quo. The targets are the same: the left, the media, the lack of coverage for topics they believe the media should cover or don’t cover enough, the unfairness of what they do and so forth.

Mr Molyneux does not understand Plato.

In a strange twist, the film ends with a bizarre attempt to suggest that the film was some sort of educational project or attempt to enlighten the audience as if they have been brought the truth. Stefan Molyneux an avowed white nationalist talks about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Mr Molyneux has a clumsy, crude, and confused understanding of Plato and the allegory. He wants us to believe this film leads us on a path to enlightenment and thinking. It doesn’t. Mr Molyneux does not understand Plato and his account provides an incorrect analysis that the Cave represents the City since it misses out essential issues or basic points for anyone who has read the passage in Plato. For example, it leaves out the puppet masters[xi] who create the shadows and who have access to the sun or knowledge of the Good yet remain in the cave. He leaves out the difference between the fire and the sun, as well as ignoring the central point that there are no politics in the cave as it is not a political community nor it a simulacrum of one. Finally, the philosopher does not return for political reasons. To put it bluntly, Mr Molyneux is not supported by any serious Plato scholar or any honest reading of Plato’s Republic so he is misleading his audience.

Plato’s cave is about the philosopher and not the city.

The Allegory of the Cave is about the philosopher’s soul, it does not have a political message since the philosopher rejects politics and the people chained in the cave are not in a political environment, but you would not get that as Mr Molyneux, speaking in a theatrical voice, attempts to present himself as letting the audience in on some deep truth that will liberate them. In near hushed tones, he ends the film by invoking the claim that the truth has been revealed to them so they can begin thinking. Mr Molyneux says in minutes 121 to 122 regarding the philosopher who has seen the sun and understands the Good.

“He says, I must share this with the people below, with my friends, my companions, my compatriots chained in the cave. So, he takes a last look to drink the glory of everything that he sees and then with excitement, with joy, with anticipation, he turns back down into the cave.”

This is simply wrong. Plato does not write this. No one is a friend in the cave as they are chained facing forward unable to turn their heads and unaware of anyone else.[xii] There is no dialogue in the cave and therefore no community and without a community there is no politics. The philosopher must be compelled to return to the cave just as he was compelled to leave it[xiii] so we find compulsion central to the Allegory of the Cave. The philosopher does not return to the cave with excitement, joy or anticipation. Instead, he would do anything to avoid returning to the cave.

“I think that he would choose to endure anything rather than such a life.”[xiv] Plato’s Republic 516e

Mr Molyneux is misinforming his audience and distorting Plato’s work to serve his purposes. He also leaves out that when the returning philosopher tries to tell the chained inhabitants of their predicament that they would, if they were not chained, kill him.

And if it were possible to lay hands on and to kill the man who tried to release them and lead them up, would they not kill him2?” “They certainly would,” he said. 517a Plato’s Republic [xv]

He also leaves out that when the philosopher does return to the cave, he is blinded by the darkness[xvi] just as he was blinded by the light on the exit and it takes the philosopher a long time to adjust his eyes to the cave which leaves him appearing ridiculous to the inhabitants. Instead, he suggest that the cave is the reality manufactured by the media to tell you what to think and he suggests that the main speakers within the documentary, Alex Jones, Anthony Scaramucci, Cassie Jaye, James O’Keefe, Mike Cernovich, Scott Adams, an anonymous internet troll named “Myron Gaines” to name a few, are the philosophers who have come back to the cave to wrestle the lies from the minds of those stuck in the cave. This is a nonsensical reading of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

A philosopher as described by Plato’s Socrates is as rare as hen’s teeth.

The path by which one becomes a philosopher is not started by watching this video or buying some self-help book from Mr Cernovich or Mr Molyneux. A philosopher will have a lifetime of study dedicated to the Good and the pursuit of wisdom done through dialogue and conversation, not political goals such as those promoted by Mr Cernovich or Mr Molyneux, for them to make the journey in their soul. A philosopher lives for discussion and dialogues within individuals they do not participate in harangues or speeches to an unresponsive audience. To put it bluntly, the philosopher begins or lives in a state of wonder or bewilderment always asking questions search for the truth.

None of the people in this film are philosophers or are even close to being philosophers. At best, one of them, Professor Peterson might speak philosophically and have a sense of what the Good means but that does not make him a philosopher returning to the cave to liberate us. Instead, they are people like Mr Molyneux or Mr Cernovich who believe they know what the truth is and they will force you to listen to it.

To a credulous or uninformed audience Molyneux’s analysis might appear revolutionary, insightful, or empowering like “Wow, man, I have learned so much that it all makes sense that I have freed my mind and now I can think and fight to free others.” However, Professor Peterson disabuses anyone of that belief when he says in minute 98.

“You live out the falsifications and, uh, the world hits you.”

If you follow Mr Molyneux or Mr Cernovich, you will be living out a falsification and reality will bite you the ass.

Save your time and money and avoid this movie.

Save your money, by a decent copy of Plato’s Gorgias, Phaedrus, and Sophist as well as Cicero’s Orator and Aristotle’s Rhetoric to understand what rhetoric is, how it works, and what it relates to the truth in a political setting. You will be better served by that education than anything you would learn from this film. You will not find any education or enlightenment in this film and you will have wasted two hours watching as you become less informed. In the end, you are in the dark wondering why you or anyone else listens to the bad faith clowns on the screen.

[i] This article explores how Mr Cernovich has been trying to distance himself from the alt-Right even as he continues to parrot their views. https://www.mediamatters.org/maga-trolls/new-right-brought-you-former-allies-alt-right However, he has worked with alt-Right figures such as Charles C Johnson and in this film with Stefan Molyneux. https://www.thedailybeast.com/mike-cernovich-chuck-johnson-alt-right-hyped-anti-schumer-forgery-that-plagiarized-conyers-complaint

[ii] It is referred to as the 2017 Congressional baseball shooting because Rep Scalise was not the target as the shooter targeted Republicans not him specifically on the baseball field.  By contrast Gabby Giffords the representative from Arizona was shot in an attempted assassination to which Mr Cernovich is silent and which demonstrates the hollowness of his claims about the media or Democrats. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Tucson_shooting

[iii] https://twitter.com/Cernovich/status/1055220427100803072?s=20

[iv] See for example this footage of the incident from Media Matters. https://www.mediamatters.org/maga-trolls/heres-what-happened-when-trump-white-house-gave-alt-right-troll-access-press-room here is one that shows the laughter comes before his questions are understood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2QySs3CNu8

[v] https://theslot.jezebel.com/mike-cernovich-has-a-whiny-dork-voice-1794814445 see also https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/trolls-for-trump

[vi] Here is the incident as captured by CSPAN. https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4868564/user-clip-cernovich-clip

[vii] If we track the term antifa it does not rank very high on the Google search which also suggests that it is not high in the public’s consciousness except for specific events when it does enter the public domain. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?cat=16&date=2016-04-11%202017-12-12&geo=US&q=antifa

[viii] https://fair.org/home/in-month-after-charlottesville-papers-spent-as-much-time-condemning-anti-nazis-as-nazis/

[ix] In August 2017 Nancy Pelosi condemned antifa violence. https://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/30/nancy-pelosi-denver-violent-antifa-activists-should-be-prosecuted-dont-represent-democrats/  See also https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/08/30/pelosi-condemns-violent-actions-of-antifa-protesters/  In 2016 Bernie Sanders condemned political violence aimed at Donald Trump. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/bernie-sanders-condemns-violent-protests-san-jose/story?id=39602627

[x] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/24/bernie-sanders-slams-berkeley-activists-attempts-t/

[xi] See Plato’s Republic 514e http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D514b

[xii] See 515a and515b. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D515a

[xiii] See 515c “When one was freed from his fetters and compelled to stand up suddenly and turn his head around and walk and to lift up his eyes to the light…” http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D515c   See also 515e “And if,” said I, “someone should drag him thence by force up the ascent1 which is rough and steep, and not let him go before he had drawn him out into the light of the sun,…” http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D515e

[xiv] http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D516e

[xv] http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D517a

[xvi] See 516e “ “And consider this also,” said I, “if such a one should go down again and take his old place would he not get his eyes full1 of darkness, thus suddenly coming out of the sunlight?” “He would indeed……” http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168%3Abook%3D7%3Asection%3D516e

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