The core essence of Indian spirituality is oneness of the Individual Consciousness and the Universal Supreme Consciousness. The entire pursuit of Indian spirituality is a remembrance, realization, and recognition of this oneness.
This is too multi-dimensional a concept to be understood entirely by our rational, conscious mind.
A part can never understand the totality. A leaf trying to understand and analyze the tree would only wonder at how absurd and unfair the tree is. The leaf can only view everything from its own limited perspective, and could only react to any event based on its own analysis of whether something served it in the right way.
Indian spirituality asserts that the only way to understand the Whole is to become one with the Whole. The only way to understand the Creation is to become one with the Creation. The only way to understand the Creator is to become one with the Creator.
To know God, you need to become God.
Indian Art forms are a phenomenal means of experiencing oneness with the Divine, by providing a real-time, in the moment, transcendental experience through an orchestration of a wide range of components, weaving together a unique culmination of beauty, aesthetics, elegance, grace, harmony, and sensuality, that transports everyone involved into a state of consciousness beyond the ordinary and the mundane.
One of the several articulations of God in Indian spirituality is in terms of Truth, Consciousness, Beauty—Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram.
Beauty and aesthetics have been an essence of many forms of Indian spirituality, and hence, the Indian classical art forms have been pursued as spiritual paths and disciplines in their own right.
The Indian spiritual heritage transforms every act into a spiritual path, and based on one’s inclinations, one can pick up one or more of these paths, knowing that every single of these paths is complete in itself, and can lead to the realization of one’s divinity—without having to make any change to one’s nature, tendencies, habits, lifestyle, interests, likes, and dislikes.
Some paths may act like by-lanes to the divinity, far removed from the hustle and bustle of life. However, most spiritual paths in India take you to the divine right through the heart of a happening, high-octane life, weaving the most sublime aspects of divinity into the most mundane aspects of our everyday life.
This is evident in its most evolved form in Indian classical dances.
In this edition, we will focus on the most ancient classical dance form, called Bharatnatyam.
Bharatnatyam is a dance that originated in the state of Tamil Nadu. It evolved by mixing elements from two ancient dance forms, one of which was a dance of the temples, and the other a dance of the royal palaces.
This form was known by different names in the past, but in the last century, it was named “Bharatnatyam,” to represent its essential form through these roots:Bha – Bhaavam – emotions
Essentially, it is a dance that is centred around expression of deep, intricate emotions with the aid of music and rhythm, expressed through various body poses, hand gestures, and facial expressions.
The Indian classical dances, including and especially Bharatnatyam, is a feast to the senses and the soul alike. It is danced to the most poignant music and rhythm played on instruments that have withstood the test of time, instruments that have thrived for several centuries, and give out sounds capable of racing past your senses and piercing deep through your soul.
Bharatnatyam involves dancers dressed in the most colorful and graceful attire, presented in an extremely delightful ambience.
A Bharatnatyam performance is no less than a trip to another realm of consciousness, for the performers and the spectators alike. It is an exquisite melange of footwork, body language, postures, musical notes, outstanding vocal renderings, soul-pounding percussions, complimented with the tinkle of leather anklets (ghunghroo), a jewellery belt adorning the waist, aesthetics, costumes, exotic make-ups, jewellery, facial expressions—all working to express the deeper meaning of a sublime text that is being sung to the performance.
The Bharatnatyam compositions can take on different forms, ranging from pure movement (Nritta), to an expression that involves communication and story-telling (Nritya), to a dance-equivalent of a play (Natya).
A snippet of Bharatnatyam often comprises a sequence of perfectly “sculpted” poses, weaved with a graceful transition between these poses, adorned by hand-gestures, called Mudras. Most of these performances express a divine narrative.
Her forehead slighly tinted
With ashes from His chest;
Her neck gently tickled by
The slithering snake;
With the imprint of Rudraksha beads
On Her bosom,
And the fragrance of Kandrai flower
Still tantalising Her,
She slowly looks Him in the eye.
The magical moment,
The Universe is born.
Harinie Jeevitha, in ‘Perspectives’
In 1975, Fritjof Capra, in his book, “The Tao of Physics,” drew the attention of the world to the parallels between Tandava, Shiva’s Cosmic Dance that represents the cycle of creation, sustenance, and dissolution, to “the dance of subatomic particles.”
In 2004, the Indian government presented a gift to CERN, the European Organization of Nuclear Research, an image of Nataraja, the name given to the form of Shiva performing this Cosmic Dance, which CERN was happy to install in its premises.
There are hundreds of sculptures of Nataraja in various poses carved out in the temples of South India. Bharatnatyam is largely inspired by these poses.
Just as anyone delving sufficiently deep into yoga knows that yoga is beyond physical movements, stretching of muscles, or pulmonary and cardiac activity. Yoga is about the movement of subtle energies, called Prana, through the subtle channels in our energy body.
Likewise, Bharatnatyam is much more than graceful movements or symbolic gestures that one may perceive tangibly. Essentially, Bharatnatyam is a means to move our subtle energies, in special ways, and when done appropriately, it is as effective a spiritual activity as yoga. The vast repertoire of Yogic postures (Asanas) and Yogic hand gestures (Mudras) used in Bharatnatyam distinguish the sublime movements of this form from regular body moments.
That’s what makes Bharatnatyam a dance of the divine, and a Bharatnatyam dancer a perfect instrument of the divine.
Beyond all external appearances lies the soul of a Bharatnatyam performance—the consciousness of the performers, right from the musicians, vocalists to the show stopper: the dancer.
We can read all about Bharatnatyam as much as we like, we can watch performances one after the other, but none of these would ever give us a glimpse into the soul of Bharatnatyam, other than a first-hand narrative of someone who has given her life to it, and stands at the peak of this dance form.
In this edition, we speak to one such doyen of Bharatnatyam, one of the foremost youngsters who has taken the entire world in her stride through her talent, her skill, her perfection of the technique, her grace, her elegance, her aesthetics, her perfection in movement and expressions, the devotion that oozes out of her persona and performance, and every aspect of this dance form that one can imagine.
Her persona and her performance define the epitome of Bharatnatyam in the present era.
We present a brief conversation with the global icon, Harinie Jeevitha.
I stumbled upon an online article that described the elements that make a perfect Bharatnatyam performance. Toward the end, the article presented a video as a demonstration of all these parameters. This was a clip from one of the real-life performances of Harinie.
Such is the stature of the recognition of her perfection in this dance form.
While we would briefly look into her life and her persona, it is more of her consciousness that she brings to this sublime art that we would explore here, as a live example of what it takes to be an exponent of an art form like this, on what makes her the most perfect instrument of the divine when she performs this dance form, and how does it all tie up to the core essence of Indian spirituality.
Her book on poetry, Perspectives, reflects the spiritual essence of her art, her persona, and her life with a great depth.
This is a poem from her book, which has the fragrance of surrender to the divine. When I first keyed in this poem, I ended up doing so with the normal rules of punctuation. Checking back, I realized that I had used the normal upper-case form of “I,” as one should, while her poem used the lower-case “i” throughout the poem.
That’s how she loses herself in the pursuit of the divine and celebrates being “caught” by the divine and being subsumed by it.
This poem reflects her art and her persona completely.
We played a game together,
She and i,
She opted to run first,
And made me seek Her,
i ran and ran,
And as far as i could,
i tired out,
i couldn’t catch Her. i lost.
Next, it was Her turn.
This time, She was to catch ,
And i, to run, run and run,
i ran slowly; inch by inch,
i ran slowly so that
i would lose to Her.
She caught me: but i didn’t lose.
i was caught by Her.
NS: I came across an Instagram post of yours, where you shared a video of you performing at the Kaancheepuram Temple. Your expressions were so deep and intense, and anyone who goes through the post would presume that you felt the presence of the Divine as clearly and vividly as any tangible experience a human may have.
Could you share for our readers on this connection that you felt for the divine that you expressed so intensely in that short clip? How is your art connected to the divine and spirituality?
HJ: ‘Spirituality’ is a vast term, and it could be different for each of us. I believe that the Indian Classical Dance forms are spiritual in nature because they allow us to traverse past the mundane and touch a Higher place, even if it is only for a few moments. ‘Natya’ (Indian Dance), and in this case, ‘Bharathanatyam,’ involves a lot of conversations with the Divine, which is usually personified as a Deity. The tone could be that of plea, of praise, or even chiding, arguing, or romance.
I believe that Dance offers an ‘Experience’ to any sincere seeker. The experience could be surreal, cathartic, or of simple joy. While I dance, I strive to have a taste of that Experience.
NS: How do you prepare for a dance performance? What do you do after your dance performances?
HJ: The relationship that I have with Dance has constantly changed over the years, and so has the meaning of ‘practice.’ Rather than ‘preparing’ for a performance, I wish to see performance as an extension of my practice. I see practice as a means to cleanse the body and mind, thereby preparing it to have an experience. Finesse in technicalities and nuances might come as by-products of the practice.
After a performance, it is mostly pensive recollection of the event and experience, and of course, good food and sleep!
NS: That’s a priceless wisdom for all artists. I know many bright and talented artists who excel at practice, but freeze during performance. Performance as an extension of practice is a deep sign of commitment and transcending your small self in your pursuit of art.
You have played a devotee in many of your dance performances. You have played Shiva in your dance performances. You have also played Goddess in some of your compositions. How do you prepare differently when you are playing a devotee vis-à-vis playing the Divine? What is the difference in your states of Consciousness in these two kinds of roles?
HJ: Dancers are, in a way, actors. We are constantly engaged with expressing emotions, either our own or ‘borrowed.’ This gives us a chance to be empathetic and the exciting possibility to see the world through the lens of another and experience a wide spectrum of emotions. Whether it is the role of a devotee or a deity, a villain or beloved, a child or a wise man, it’s the dancer’s duty to visualise, understand, internalize, and project the assigned character in all possible authenticity and honesty.
Some roles might come naturally to us because of commonalities between us and the character; while others could be challenging to portray. Again, it is about preparing the body and mind to step into the shoes of another, leaving behind inhibitions. Depicting some characters can be a little exhausting too, because of the intensity and depth in emotions. But, eventually one learns to ‘detach’ from the character and just ‘perform’ the role, which could become a lesson for life too!
NS: How do you approach a performance that is not explicitly spiritual? How are such performances different from those that have a direct connection with the divine?
HJ: ‘Spirituality’ is not limited to ‘Bhakti’ or religion.
According to me,
‘Discipline’ is also a form of spirituality.
Being in the moment is spirituality too.
Having a pure intent can also be spirituality.
Giving your best without any expectations could also be termed ‘spirituality.’
If you ask me, a piece in the repertoire (known as ‘Jathiswaram’ in Bharatnatyam), which only has groups of movements of the body, which usually might not convey any meaning (technically called ‘Adavus’), is as ‘spiritual’ as a song that sings the praise of a Deity.
NS: How do you think young minds can develop an interest in intricate, traditional Arts like Bharatanatyam? There are so many means of instant gratification out there—how do you attract more and more young minds to Arts which call for a lot of patience, forbearance, and painstaking work?
HJ: Art is for all to experience and enjoy, but to learn it or pursue it full time, demands a lot of discipline. A sense of interest and awareness can certainly be created at home or in the schools; but only if the child has genuine interest of their own, can they pursue it truthfully. I also think that dance teachers play a major role in sustaining the interest of the students, by making the learning process interesting and inspiring.
NS: If you got an opportunity to popularize Bharatnatyam in the West, through shows as well as through teaching opportunities, what would you do differently to involve more Westerners into the dance form?
HJ: It is said about the famous Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ that, ‘Anything that is there in the world is in Mahabharata; and all that Mahabharata has, is in the world.’ I like to think that this is true of Natya too. Anything can be expressed through the medium of Natya; from the complicated scientific innovations to the subtlest of human emotions. Of course, whether or not the aesthetic quality of the art was not compromised in doing so, depends on the artist’s propriety.
It would be an exciting prospectus to try something ‘different’ for the thrill of it, and certainly, it is not impossible for an artist to choose themes and stories that might be familiar to audiences they address. But, isn’t the true challenge in exposing the audience to something new and make them learn something from it, and leave behind a thirst? After all, art is meant to be educative too.
I believe that our Indian dance forms are steeped in beauty, which any keen audience wouldn’t fail to take notice of. There are many inquisitive students from the West who pursue this art with sincerity.
I think that is the duty of the artist to present a feast to the audience which is a good balance of what they might know vs. what might be new to them.
At the end of the day, names of characters might be different; circumstances might be different; plots might be different. But, human experiences and emotions are the same in whichever part of the world they are.
NS: Your insights and perspectives are as deep and poignant as your dance and poetry. It creates a curiosity to know and understand all the factors that shaped all this.
A friend of mine from U.S. visited Sridevi Nrithyalaya last year, accompanied by her very talented daughter, and they were totally blown away by the environment there. They found the rigor, creativity, and the expectation of perfection from every student to be very clearly perceptible.
You started learning at the age of 6 at Sridevi Nrithyalaya. What role did Sridevi Nrithyalaya and your guru Shrimati Sheela Unnikrishnan play in moulding your dance?
HJ: I had met Sheela ma’am in my school where she worked as a dance teacher, and my mother tells me that I was the one who told my mother that I want to learn dance from her. That’s how I joined Sheela ma’am’s institute Sridevi Nrithyalaya in October 2001. My batch mates and I, a group of 10, used to spend hours together in dance class, under the watchful eyes, commanding voice and caring arms of Ma’am. It was almost like a Gurukulam (an Indian system of learning where the student lives with the Teacher and pursues the learning). She was a strict, demanding teacher whose presence was enough to extract the best from you. Many of her classes and corrections are still etched in my memory. Her efforts were untiring; she literally moulded us inch by inch. She was not just a teacher to us, she became a mother who would make sure that we ate our veggies, and a friend who ensured that we had our share of fun!
In my former years of learning, Sridevi Nrithyalaya has offered me varied experiences which demanded hard work, time management, planning, good memory power, physical endurance, team spirit, creativity, patience, resilience, presence of mind, etc. It was not just the learning of the Art that was happening, but in a way, a preparation for Life itself.
Now, as a teacher in the same institute, it brings a smile when I see kids coming in with eyes sparkling with aspiration and hope, and I feel compelled to take them through at least fragments of the journey that Ma’am has taken me so far.
NS : You are a mega-icon to a very large number of youngsters all over the world, including the very talented dancers and dance aspirants of the next generation.
What message would you give to these youngsters who look upon you with such reverence?
HJ : The beauty of Art is that it has multiple faces; all beautiful ones! Anybody can learn an art form; Art is a warm host that welcomes us with open arms. For some, Art might not mean anything more than a hobby. For some, art can become a friend, a confidante to which we pour out everything—joy, agony, excitement. It could become a mother that embraces us, or even the Supreme that’s walking us through the Roads.
But, it is up to us to earn the Art for ourselves—be it as a friend or the Supreme, and that happens with relentless engagement with the Art—learning, practising, reflecting, and finally trusting and surrendering.
NS: Thanks a lot, Harinie, for providing us a glimpse into the consciousness behind the amazing artist that you are. We wish you all the best for all your future endeavours, as an artist and as an ambassador of this wonderful art to the whole world. You have truly come across the perfect “Instrument of Divine” as we have always thought of you to be.
Note to the Readers: You are most welcome to share any comment on this interview or any message for Harinie to email@example.com or any of our social media posts on this interview.
“…Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!—All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
—Abraham Lincoln, “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions”:
Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois,
January 27, 1838
In 1860, the adolescent United States stood over an abyss. As a presidential election loomed, little but frayed threads of formality still joined the nation together. In its northern half, labor was free and paid; in its southern, men and women owned millions of others as chattel slaves. Six years earlier, a new political party, the Republicans, was founded specifically to destroy that half’s “peculiar institution.” This meant that the abolitionist Republican Party’s lightning quick rise to being the Democrats’ chief rivals brought with it a bitter sting.
The slaveholding, Democrat-ruled southern states knew that their economies’ unjust foundation was in peril if the Republican nominee, Abraham Lincoln, won the White House; when he did, their only recourse, they believed, was secession. South Carolina issued its own declaration of “independence” more than two months before Lincoln’s inauguration, followed by the ten other states of what would become the Confederacy throughout the winter of 1861. Following large troop mobilizations on both sides, on April 12, Confederate gun batteries opened fire upon the besieged, Union-controlled Fort Sumter off Charleston harbor. As the Stars and Bars rose above the defeated fort, civil war and only civil war could have come to pass. Only blood—that of perhaps 750,000—could finally begin to quench an already burning house’s division.
Today, America may well be more divided than at any time since 1860. Even in the radical, violent 1960s, opposition to the Vietnam War was not ubiquitously radical or violent. When a communist-led anti-war riot ravaged the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, subsequent polling indicated that a healthy majority of Americans reacted to the violence with shock and disgust. Worse was yet to come in the first years of the following decade, from the Weathermen to the Black Panthers, but America eventually survived that trauma, as it, miraculously, had secession, Civil War, and Reconstruction a century earlier. By the 1980s, a renewed sense of unity, born of the 1970s’ economic and foreign policy failures, swept Ronald Reagan to victory in two of the largest electoral victories in the history of the Electoral College.
The divisions that ail the first decades of what historian Richard Landes calls “our so-far unhappy century,” however, appear even more disturbing and even more incurable. The nation whose sixteenth president’s heroism saved it from one catastrophe quickly exhausts itself toward another.
The mainstreams of both political parties have become increasingly infected with open extremism. So many on both sides of the aisle now support political ideologies and measures that have nothing to do with the Constitution or America’s founding principles. On one end, the largely anti-communist Democratic Party of Harry Truman and John Kennedy has been conquered by what radio host Mark Levin has concisely named “American Marxism.” On the other, many claiming to be conservatives have embraced a vengeful, conspiratorial worldview characterized by fanatical—sometimes anti-Semitic— “Christian nationalism” and a cult worship of demagogic political saviors.
For years now, there has been no hope promoted by either side in American politics. There has been no revamped version of “It’s morning again in America.” Democrats have painted a gloomy picture of an irredeemably bigoted America, a tainted attempt at democracy that has somehow become as bad as—or worse than—Jim Crow. Republicans have portrayed an America constantly in a state of decline, ruined from within by tentacles upon webs of globalist conspiracies rendering the country entirely hapless. Both parties blame the other for America’s perceived state of immorality. Neither party sees any virtue whatsoever in the ideals of the opposing side—an enemy that must be completely destroyed to save the country. In order to maintain power, Republicans and Democrats have ignored the moderate majority—selling their souls to groups of extremists on each side in order to remain in office.
Should there be doubt as to whether most Americans are still moderate? Perhaps a bit of doubt is healthy overall, yet it must be said that more Americans identify as Independents than ever before. In fact, more are identifying that way than identifying as Democrats or Republicans—a trend growing amongst all age groups. This is happening so much so that a major Democratic Senator, Kristen Sinema of Arizona, felt comfortable enough to abandon the Democrats (without becoming a Republican) in 2022.
The archaic chit-chat on the debate stages is ultimately a waste of time that continues to turn people off from politics. The tiresome swarms of venous Twitter “politiwasps” and their hate-filled tirades have driven rational people away from the platform. Indeed, Twitter (now “X”)—though always a cesspool of political depravity and anti-Semitism—has today degenerated from being the Internet’s subway bathroom to the fly-ridden air above a World War I army latrine. In public spaces, such as gyms or barber shops, news channels like Fox or MSNBC are often changed to local news stations or sports channels. In fact, Newsmax, a far-right and Trumpian conservative news network, was dropped by DirecTV due to low ratings—pulling in, at most, only 230,000 people per day in a nation of more than 330 million. For those who claim that this is the result of Democrats lobbying against a conservative interest network, that doesn’t explain why the AppleTV series The Problem with Jon Stewart was also canceled due to low ratings. Jon Stewart has for years been affiliated with Democrats, and had great ratings when on cable. But as he moved onto platforms like Netflix and AppleTV, he embraced woke talking points. Just as happened with Newsmax, the audience literally tuned him out.
With moderates feeling cowed or checking out of politics, all restraints come loose. On the far left, there is a desire to foment an anti-capitalist revolution—words that echo Lenin and his desire for a calamitous world revolt against anyone who disagreed with him. On the far right, there is a need to abandon American values of liberty and to side with dictators like Vladimir Putin or criminals like Andrew Tate in order to “preserve” ultra-nationalist and “traditionalist” ideologies. Americans in the middle—both ideologically and geographically—are forced either to submit and engage in this political gang war, or self-censor to allegedly buy time. New American citizens, seeking a better way of life, and blue-collar workers trying to keep food on the table are both abandoned while coastal elites on one end and waves of nativist fury on the other fan the flames of extremism. The most extreme, of course, rail against the center—which supposedly got us to this abyss—seeking to undermine democracy from within. For the alt-right, it seems, only a god-like leader from above can solve the country’s problems. For the alt-left, only a new form of religion—wokeness—can redeem the country’s original sins.
Communications between the two sides in particular, and Americans in general, have derailed. Familial ostracism due to political differences has skyrocketed. At best, acceptance of disagreement has declined, while honest, good-faith discussion appears all but banned. In place of the open exchanges of opinion once encouraged in great universities and enshrined in classics like Lincoln’s debates with Stephen Douglas over slavery, echo chambers and media insulation have replaced dialogue. Most chilling of all, for many on both sides, political violence seems to have progressively supplanted talking as far more of a first than a last resort.
The current crisis could be summed up in a line from the 2011 movie The Help. When Hilly, the film’s racist antagonist, successfully gets one of the film’s main characters fired on false charges, the maid in question—Aibileen—asks her: “Ain’t you tired?” Hilly, tearful and speechless, soon leaves the scene. The question is a valid one, because it has no answer. After years of bullying, hate, and vitriol, she is, indeed, tired. Alone, friendless, and with a ruined reputation, she realizes that her years of domination and power have come to mean nothing. While she succeeded in getting Aibileen fired, she is left with nobody to comfort her, nobody to love her, and with the bitterness of loneliness and rage to forever consider in her mind.
It is time that the United States ask itself the same question. The politics of hate, demonization of the opposition, and grievances can animate and mobilize political armies for a number of years, but they do nothing to form a common national vision and identity on which future generations can build. They lead us to the precipice of a second Civil War.
As a nation and a country, then, we must ask ourselves: ain’t we tired? To continue wallowing in the negativity of the propagandized, 24-hour news cycle is exhausting. To consume information that keeps us in a mindset in which the ends justify the means, in which the other side is an irredeemably wicked enemy that cannot be allowed to win anything, is draining. To keep settling for aggrandized mediocrity in our leadership, looking to conspiracy theories for answers, and giving ground to those who spew hate and division, is not going to make a better America for any of us.
Lincoln said that “All the armies” of the world “could not, by force… take a drink from the Ohio”—that the only way America could be destroyed was if its end sprung “up amongst us.” A nation so great and so strong, those fraught antebellum years taught him, could only “die by suicide.”
America is a great country, with a great many problems that need to be solved. Many of these can only be solved by Republicans and Democrats working together. We don’t need to—and will not—agree on everything, but we should start from at least understanding each other and learning from each other. We should seek to operate on common ground toward some point or place both sides can bear to inhabit. And we can begin by reminding ourselves that it can be—and must be—morning again in America in order to mobilize our citizenry for the pursuit of a better country. That suicide—not just failure—is not an option.
I watched the movie Mississippi Burning a few days ago. The 1988 film stars Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, and Frances McDormand. It is about the Ku Klux Klan’s murder of three civil rights workers: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who were attempting to organize a voter registry for African Americans in rural Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964. I was amazed by the similarities between the racial segregationists of the ’60s and the contemporary Christian Nationalist Movement that is today blossoming across the American religious landscape and calling for a Christian takeover of the U.S. government. The brand has not changed.
The film exposes the deep religious influence on the racial segregationist movement in the South at the time. In a moment of vulnerability, Mrs. Pell, played by Frances McDormand, says: “It’s ugly. This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it’s like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn’t something you’re born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what’s said in the Bible… Genesis 9, verse 27. At seven years of age, you get told it enough times you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it. You breathe it. You marry it.”
One example that illuminates Pell’s remarks is Clayton Townley, the fictitious character representing Samuel Bowers, an Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and architect of the murders of the three civil rights workers. In the film, Townley responds to a question from a television commentator and states, “I’m a businessman. I’m also a Mississippian and an American! And I’m getting sick and tired of the way us Mississippians are getting our views distorted by you newsmen and on the TV. So, let’s get this straight. We do not accept Jews because they reject Christ! And their control over the International Banking Cartels is at the root of what we call Communism today. We do not accept Turks, Mongrels, Tartars, Orientals, nor Negroes because we are here to protect Anglo-Saxon Democracy and the American way!”
The real Samuel Bowers was more sinister—menacing. On June 7, 1964, two weeks prior to the murders of the three civil rights workers—two of whom were Jewish and the third an African American—Bowers proclaimed to his followers: “As Christians, we are disposed to kindness, generosity, affection, and humility in our dealings with others. As militants, we are disposed to use physical force against our enemies. How can we reconcile these two apparently contradictory philosophies? The answer, of course, is to purge malice, bitterness, and vengeance from our hearts.” Bowers, ever the teacher, is helping his followers rationalize how their deep hatred and contempt that spills over into physical violence can exist within the context of their Christian virtues. This is sickening—dark. It’s clear that the militant terrorism of Samuel Bowers was driven by his Christian worldview—a distorted one for sure, but, in his mind, a holy mission.
Some who have researched Samuel Bowers’ multiple hate crimes believe a historic Christian nationalistic ideology caused the pin to fall from the proverbial grenade in his hand. Bowers was influenced by the Christian Identity Movement of his day, which demonized minorities as sub-human and railed against Jews as satanic conspirators seeking to replace Anglo-Saxon whites. According to the Christian Identity Movement, Jews were not the Chosen People but rather the offspring of Satan.
In the fall of 1964, after the FBI found the bodies of the three civil rights workers, Bowers wrote in the Klan Ledger:
Today’s so-called Jews persecute Christians, seeking to deceive, claiming Judea as their homeland and they are God’s Chosen… They lie, for they are not Judeans but are the Synagogue of Satan!… The “long, hot summer” has passed… [and the three civil rights workers and the civil rights organizations they represented] had no laurels to their credit, and the general public of Mississippi has had a fill of their very existence…. For the success of our struggle against this scum, we offer our thanks to Almighty God, our Creator and Savior.
In his warped religious worldview, Bowers saw himself as a holy warrior on a crusade of sorts to forcibly create a white Christian America—much like a radical Islamist seeks to build an Islamic Caliphate in a given region of the world. Not only was Bowers found guilty of instigating the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, but he also murdered (white) civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1966, and was accused of bombing Jewish targets in Jackson and Meridian, Mississippi. He would die in prison at the age of 82 in 2006 after piling up a “Christian” killing spree of nine murders and 300 beatings, burnings, and bombings. These acts of vengeance were often accompanied by a burning cross—the signature emblem of the Klan that was designed not only to declare their devotion to Christ but to instill fear in their victims.
It is accurate to say that Samual Bowers was sincerely devoted to his purported Christian faith during his time as the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights—a terrorist group numbering 10,000 vigilantes under his leadership. In all public meetings of the Knights, Bowers opened in prayer, read from his Bible, and spoke in religious language with statements like: “A Solemn, determined Spirit of Christian Reverence must be stimulated in all (White Knight) members.” One may find it difficult to comprehend how Bowers, on the one hand, can appear dedicated to Christian charity but, on the other, use militant force against his enemies. I think the seventeenth-century philosopher Blaise Pascal explained this paradox best when he noted, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”
When one examines the Christian nationalistic ideology behind the hatred depicted in the film Mississippi Burning, one concludes that the Christian nationalist brand has not changed since the time Christianity first sounded the genocidal note—the moment when the Church merged with the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. and declared a final separation from its Jewish foundation. Here is a decree from the Council of Nicaea:
And truly, in the first place, it seemed to everyone a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holiest solemnity (Passover) who, polluted wretches, having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds…. It is fit, therefore, that rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order…. Let us have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews.
In his book Has Anti-Semitism Roots in Christianity? Jewish historian Jules Isaac states, “After very deep historical research, I say and maintain that the fate of the Jewish people did not take on a truly inhuman character until the 4th century A.D. with the coming of the Christian empire.”
In his Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew, written between 155 and 160, church father Justin Martyr lays the groundwork for the Christian Identity Movement that would later influence Samuel Bowers to demonize and terrorize Jews when he writes,
The true spiritual Israel and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham… are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ… We who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ are the true Israelitic race… They [God’s promises to Israel] are not yours but ours.
Driven by jealousy, the early Church fathers developed a Christian theology that delegitimized Jews, Judaism, and Israel. This theology continues to be widely propagated today in Christian seminaries and church pulpits and is known as replacement theology, supersessionism, or triumphalism. This theology teaches that Christians have superseded Jews, triumphed over them, and replaced them as God’s Chosen People. This theology inspired the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, and the Holocaust. This same theology of replacement is the impetus behind the long history of Christian anti-Semitism and the rudder of historic and contemporary Christian nationalism. Whenever Christianity merges with the state while at the same time being driven by the apostate doctrine of supersessionism, it never ends well for Jews. Modern scholars call this merger of secular nationalism with ideological religious terrorism “hybrid terrorism.”
The marriage of Justin Martyr’s doctrine of replacement to Constantine’s secular nationalism was consummated in 325 C.E. Since then, the brand has not changed. The emblems and rallying cries of Christian nationalists change, but the brand remains constant. The symbol of the murderous Christian crusaders was the cross, and their cry was Deus vult: “God wills it.” The emblem of the Inquisition, in which many Jews (specifically those forcibly converted to Catholicism in previous years) were tortured and murdered, was an olive branch of peace and a sword—symbols that sadistically mixed kindness with physical violence, much like Samuel Bowers sought to do. Inscribed on many devices used to torture the Church’s victims were the words Soli Deo gloria (“Glory be only to God”). In most cases, the murders were not performed by the Church but carried out by secular authorities under the Pope’s command. The Inquisition is an example of hybrid terrorism.
In Nazi Germany, many emblems represented the merger of Christianity with Nazi ideology, including the iron cross. As well, the belt buckles worn by Wehrmacht soldiers were emblazoned with the words Gott mit uns (“God is with us”). The favorite rallying cry of the German people during Hitler’s reign was Deutschland erwach! (“Germany awaken!”). Hitler was demanding that Aryan Germans come to the realization—awaken—to the Nazi belief that Jewish Bolsheviks were coming to replace them and destroy their Christian values. Hitler—who, ironically, rejected Christianity as a form of European “Judaism” that had corrupted the purity of the Germanic spirit—wrote in Mein Kampf that “In standing guard against the Jew, I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.” The emblem of the KKK was a burning cross, and the motto was “For God, Race, and Nation.” During the insurrection of January 6, 2021, at our nation’s capital, Christian Nationalists displayed crosses and held up banners proclaiming, “Trump is my president, and Jesus is my savior.” One carried a huge picture of Jesus wearing a MAGA hat.
Christian anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head not only at events such as the January 6 insurrection, but also at ostensibly Christian public events. To promote its thirty-five-stop 2023 national tour, the Christian Nationalist group ReAwaken America used an anti-Semitic trope. The headline is in bold letters: “THE GREAT REAWAKENING VS. THE GREAT RESET.” Pictured on the “Great Re-Awakening” side are six people, including the founder of the organization, longtime anti-Semite Clay Clarke, Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and Mike Lindell, founder of My Pillow. Conspicuously positioned on the side of the “righteous” is a holy Bible. On the Great Reset side, there are also six individuals pictured: Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, Jewish billionaire George Soros, Bill Gates, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, Barack Obama, and Jewish entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg. Also featured in this section is the cover of a book by WEF founder Klaus Schwab entitled COVID-19: The Great Reset and a graphic picture of a (satanic) serpent with its mouth opened and fangs extended toward the book.
It is true that on the “righteous” left side of the image also included the late Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, outspoken advocate of natural COVID treatments and pious Orthodox Jew. Still, given the context, let us not be fooled. The underlying message of the promotional image is clear: The leaders of the great re-awakening represent all that is holy, and the six leaders of the great reset represent all that is evil. It is Bible-believing Christians against evil men who desire to reset the world to a new un-Christian standard. If that optic is not troubling enough, it gets worse. Of the six people on the “evil” side, half are Jewish by birth. So the ultimate message is obvious: ReAwaken America is about righteous Christians fighting evil Jews. The organization’s (cynical) inclusion of Zelenko is far more likely a way of covering its anti-Jewish tracks than genuinely showing that Jews—religious, non-leftist ones at least—are welcome in their Christian utopia. Evidence very much to the contrary is that, in the massive product stores at ReAwaken conferences, one distributor was caught handing out a recommended reading list which included the anti-Semitic booklet The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—first exposed as a forgery more than a century ago—free of charge.
One of the speakers in the ReAwaken America line-up is Scott McKay, who is also known as “Patriot Street Fighter” and has a streaming program on Rumble. Mckay sympathized with Hitler because he was attempting to break “free of the Rothschild’s corrupt money-magic fiat system” and develop “a banking system for the people of the free world.” He has said, “Hitler was fighting the same people we’re trying to take down. These people are so elusive and slippery and cunning that we ended up having WWII.” The implication is that Jews caused the very war which culminated in their near-extermination. McKay also says that the 9/11 terror attack was orchestrated by “the same group of people that has done a very good job at hiding under the religion of Judaism.” McKay draws from the ancient anti-Semitic myth of the blood libel when he proclaims Jews practice “satanism” and “child sacrifice” in which they bleed children to death, “torturing them, consuming them, eating their hearts.”
Another prominent speaker in the Reawaken America tour is pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee. In a May 7, 2023, sermon, Locke proclaimed, “If the Jewish people are really God’s people, then how come all these centuries they’ve had so many problems, and there’s a curse upon them, and Hitler killed six million of them? And how come it took till 1948 to get back into their homeland, and why is there right now the threat of civil war this month in Israel? Why are they [Jews] having so much trouble if they really are the people of God?”
To sum it up, Christianity is in a religious war against an evil world empire controlled by Jewish billionaires, Jewish entrepreneurs, and Jewish academics. The organization’s motto “ReAwaken America”/“the Great Awakening” sounds a lot like the Nazi rallying cry Deutschland erwach! It is a clarion call warning contemporary Christian nationalists that if they don’t wake up, they will be replaced by the globalist vision of nefarious Jews.
Christian nationalist Rick Wiles, founder of the cable/radio/online outlet TruNews and pastor of Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, Florida, regularly blames Jews on his media outlets for “attacking American Christian culture” and warns Jews that Christians plan to impose a “Christian rule in this country.” Wiles foments hate by claiming things such as the following: “A day is coming when Christians are going to lose their lives as they confront the synagogue of Satan… [T]hey [Jews] are coming for you… there will be a purge… when Jews take over a country… they kill millions of Christians. Our culture has been decimated. Who has attacked our Christian culture? Who has filed lawsuits to remove crosses and Bibles? Who has done it? The synagogue of Satan [Jews].”
Christian Nationalism has taken root in American Evangelicalism, and rampant within this movement is a concerning anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism. A 2023 Public Religion Research Institute-Brookings Institution survey of more than 6,000 Americans found that 27% of Americans (close to 100 million people) believe the U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation; 44% believe American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America; and 23% believe Jewish people hold too many positions of power in the U.S. government. Echoing this sentiment is Christian nationalist Nick Fuentes, who proclaimed soon after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “If Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Jewish woman, didn’t die last year , so that Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic woman, could be appointed to the bench, we would still have Roe v. Wade. Now, you tell me that this is a Judeo-Christian country. You tell me that it doesn’t matter that we have a lot of Jewish people in government.” Driving Jews out of the public square is an act of tyranny. Fuentes declares himself to be a “Christian Futurist” and proclaims that he wants the present century in America “to be the most Christian century in the history of human earth [sic].”
There is nothing new in the Christian Nationalist brand. The lust to mix piety with political power is just too tempting. The jealousy embodied within replacement theology is apparently too powerful for many Christians to overcome. That’s why Jews are always the enemy of those who embrace hybrid terrorism. Declaring Jews are no longer God’s chosen people makes it easier—convenient, really—to say they are Satan’s seed. What the early Church fathers, the Nazis, Samuel Bowers, and contemporary Christian nationalists all have in common is they all drink from the same poisoned well. Anti-Semitism that comes from the left is like climate change—it moves slowly. But anti-Semitism that comes from the Christian Nationalist right is like a hurricane—its destructive force has always led to tyranny and ended in Jewish bloodshed.
The rhetoric of contemporary Christian nationalists sounds a lot like the ideology of Samuel Bowers, and it is leaning toward a call to violence. FBI agent Ward asks a foreboding question in Mississippi Burning: “Where does it come from? All this hatred?” Let’s hope today’s Christian nationalists will connect the dots to their brand’s blood-soaked past before more people are hurt.
“…I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”
—Donald Trump, campaign rally at Dordt College,
Sioux Center, Iowa, January 23, 2016
“Why do Democrats want you to hate Putin? Has Putin shipped every middle class job in your town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked your business? Is he teaching your kids to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Does he eat dogs?”
—Tucker Carlson, opening monologue,
Tucker Carlson Tonight, February 22, 2022
“…[O]n [my website] cobratate.com, I have my ‘PHD’ program… ‘PHD’ is, ah, ‘Pimpin’ Hoes Degree.’ …That teaches, basically, how I got girls, how I met girls, how I got girls to like me, how I got girls to fall in love with me [so they would] work on webcam [OnlyFans] for me. ’Cause that’s what I did.… And that’s how I got rich.”
—Andrew Tate, interview with Tripp Kramer, January 20, 2020
Would the founders of National Review ever have feared that American conservatism’s most formidable threat might not come from Democrats, the KGB, jihad, or domestic Marxists?
In previous ages, such a thing seemed impossible. Internal squabbling over the subtlest points of policy or principle was constant and necessary, but core values and objectives were reliably shared across a firm majority. The finest and godliest of humanity’s political thinkers had designed a constitution more worthy of preservation, protection, and defense than any other. Even limited adherence to the Framers’ vision had, despite immense racial and social blemishes, made Americans the freest and most prosperous people on earth. In subsequent generations, holding to that vision even vanquished the Soviet Empire—killer of millions—and unleashed the most monumental spree of wealth creation in human history. These events were not computer model projections or academic opinions; they actually happened to real people in plain sight. Conservatism had been tried, and it had succeeded.
Why, then, would the world’s most proven political philosophy need to be gutted and redecorated in millennial drab? Why change anything; or, rather, why change everything?
Some on the right—if not now, a great many—would answer that these humane yet practical ideas have actually failed. Indeed, they say, there are better ideas to espouse instead, and far better leaders, both in politics and in thought, to articulate them.
These ideas went far beyond the long-standing, perfectly legitimate debates within American conservatism concerning the tension between liberalism and traditionalism—fluidity and solidity. Something was different.
The 21st century’s second and third decades have, to the contrary, seen a rapidly accelerating backlash against American conservatism—not simply from the usual sources, but from legions of people claiming not just to be conservatives, but “real” conservatives. The apparently unbreakable grasp such ideas, which are so far removed from conservatism, have on these massive swathes of Americans is proof of that autoimmune condition—and its lethal ramifications.
By the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, many Americans had had enough. Both the Bush and Obama administration’s failed policies had created enormous discontent. Living in an economically anemic, re-racialized, militarily humiliated, borderless, proto-woke society, the country was ripe for a different direction. Donald Trump’s descent down a golden escalator, bereft of fashionable pieties, post-national shame, and all the aspects of politician-hood that had so disappointed Americans for years, seemed a delicious refreshment. The failure of both parties to make America great and ensure its pride, security, and prosperity—this had, genuinely, created “America last” policies, and a popular “America first” revolt was on the horizon.
The country was rumbling with talk of a new political philosophy: “populism,” not conservatism. Like Marxist socialism, conservatism, many said, had failed—even betrayed the people. Only a “populist-nationalist” president could put America back on track and restore its sense of greatness and historical optimism. America was decadent (which it was) and needed to become more Spartan, or just “stronger”—to an even more comical few, more like Russia. The excesses of feminism needed to be corrected with a resurgent masculinity unashamed of its power. All of the left’s degeneracy needed to be addressed in kind, if not copied in mirror image—with the dogma that the ends justify the means copied most fervently.
Yet, such observers and activists were wrong. They misattributed America’s horrific condition to conservatism itself, not a combination of leftism and a Republican establishment’s rejection of conservatism in favor of radical interventionist, get-along-to-go-along, big-government folly. To any knowledgeable onlooker, George Bush was not a conservative, therefore, his failures and their results had nothing to do with conservatism. Still, wiser counsel was neither to be heard nor heeded. “Anti-conservatism” was on the march.
From the beginning, Donald’s Trump’s campaign was about him, with his personality alone attracting people to his policy positions. Traditional governance had achieved nothing, his fans seemed to believe, so they yearned for an uncontrollable strong-man to make things right.
In the end, Trump triumphed, both over his Republican rivals and the Democrat favorite Hillary Clinton. But the reason for his victory lay in his marked departure from the traditional, Constitution-based conservatism his chief rival Ted Cruz represented. As Matt Lewis wrote in The Daily Beast in 2017, “Trump [was], in many ways, the right-wing overreaction to Obama. Rather than scaling back Obama’s executive overreach, there’s a sense he would use the presidency to get our things done… to make the trains run on time.”
Yet, the Trump presidency—genuinely excellent in many ways—was marred by much more than the endless, unconstitutional leftist attempts to destroy him. The messianic cravings of so many who felt abandoned, let alone betrayed, by secular authority caused them to turn to Trump for salvation. The same conspiratorial fanaticism with which the left battled Trump was equaled in his followers, from often anti-Semitic “Christian nationalist” zealots to fevered militiamen ready to die for their leader. For everything from “chemtrails” to 9/11 being the work of George Bush and Israel, Trump somehow was the answer. The “QAnon” conspiracy theory—a delusional (and fraudulent) web of blood-thirsty intrigue involving UFOs, “lizard people,” the Titanic, a living John F. Kennedy, Jr., cabals of evil Jews, and much more—was, in fact, a new religion with Trump as its lord and savior. Trump, like a god, would triumph over all his enemies and restore light and order to the cosmos, they believed. His failure to do any of that in the 2020 election did nothing to quench their belief. Because “the plan” stated that Trump must be president to destroy the forces of darkness, president he had to be. While it is unclear how much Trump knows of the details of his worshippers’ beliefs, he has openly encouraged them. In 2022, he went so far as to proudly re-share a post on TruthSocial comparing him to Jesus.
Thus, to his worshippers, Trump’s horrendous post-2020 behavior is not a negative but a positive—who is man to expect that a god should show restraint in vanquishing his enemies? Trump and no one else has a “right” to the presidency, and anybody who challenges him is just wasting his or her time. A serious conservative with a proven, muscular record like Ron DeSantis, Trump says, is a “RINO GLOBALIST,” while Nikki Haley, his exemplary former U.N. ambassador, is a “Birdbrain” (to whom Trumpers sent a real birdcage and birdseed). Conservatives, regardless of their actions, are somehow actually “establishment” RINOs. Trump is the only truth. “MAGA” or else.
Perhaps Donald Trump’s most influential supporter in the media is former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Once a reasonable and somewhat measured conservative, Carlson has moved far from his roots in recent years, becoming a full-throated bugle for anti-conservatism.
The best example is Carlson’s long-standing and ever more explicit admiration for Russia and its dictator Vladimir Putin. “Could any of these people actually tell you what makes Vladimir Putin so bad?” Carlson asked in 2019. Documented atrocities aside, for example, that Putin, as part of his unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, allied himself with Razman Kadyirov, the ruler of Chechnya. It was Chechen Muslim terrorists who carried out the deadliest jihad attack after 9/11 when they besieged an elementary school in Byeslan in 2004 and murdered 331 people, including 186 children. The very same Vladimir Putin who met with those children’s weeping mothers and spearheaded brutal (and controversial) counter-terrorism efforts in response is now using those same vicious terrorists to murder Ukrainian civilians—yet it is Ukrainian self-defense measures that Carlson calls “terrorism.”
Americans can have a perfectly reasonable debate about how much the United States should involve itself in Ukraine’s war, but Carlson believes that America should not support Ukraine at all. Yet, taking this position as a defense of “nationalism” is, as Rich Lowry writes in National Review, ridiculous:
Putin’s nationalism trespasses against a pillar of true nationalism, which is that the nation belongs to the people, who deserve to govern themselves and not see the national wealth plundered by a ruling elite.
…So, Putin can’t teach us anything useful about how to honor America’s national tradition. Likewise, just because Putin is pursuing his self-interest in Ukraine, it doesn’t mean we can’t pursue ours.
Putin is not a conservative hero, and Russia is not America’s friend; but, in the name of anti-conservatism, Tucker Carlson will say so.
Yet, perhaps anti-conservatism’s greatest and most emblematic act of barbarism is its normalization of accused sex trafficker, predator, and rapist Andrew Tate.
Tate, a former kickboxer, first achieved fame in 2016 as a contestant on the British version of the reality TV show Big Brother, from which he was ejected after a video surfaced of him whipping his then-girlfriend with a belt for texting another man. (Tate claimed that the video was merely a “kinky sex video and we’re acting out a role play [sic].”)
In the ensuing years, Tate, often under the self-granted title “Top G,” built a social media empire averaging billions of views geared toward “dating” advice, which frequently took the form of helping men live lives of maximum promiscuity. He also monetized this wisdom in the form of the online “Hustler’s University,” where he sold exclusive access to video lectures of himself teaching young men how to get rich. How they were to get rich was his “PHD program,” an acronym for “Pimpin’ Hoes Degree,” where he detailed how to procure vulnerable women and then emotionally manipulate them into producing paid solo pornography on OnlyFans. Tate would scour Instagram and Tinder to procure and groom the women who later became his harem of online prostitutes. He would then use the so-called “loverboy” technique of manipulation to win the women’s hearts and then entice them to move to his adopted country of Romania to “work” in the hope of one day marrying him. According to Tate, he became a “self-made trillionaire” by having “75 women working for me in four locations” and making “$600,000 (£480,0000) a month from webcam.”
In 2022, Romanian police arrested Tate, along with his brother Tristan and two female Romanian associates, on multiple counts of rape, human trafficking, and running a criminal organization. The organization in question was his touted “webcam” business.
Why, then, would anti-conservatives love Andrew Tate? Because master manipulator Tate had noticed the legitimate, global social ill of young men feeling lost, unappreciated, and unsure of how to forge fulfilling lives for themselves. And because conservatives, both real and not real, have rightly taken up the cause of young men against all the leftist socio-political obstacles they endure, some fooled themselves into thinking that Tate was somehow a conservative, too—if a bit “rough” for their personal taste.
What followed was a blizzard of grotesque fascination and adulation, simply because Tate was telling young men to be “strong”—and nobody seemed to care that what he actually meant was turning lost boys into sexual criminals like him.
The crowning infamy began in the summer of 2023 with arch-anti-conservative Tucker Carlson’s two-and-half-hour interview with Tate shot under house arrest in his mansion in Romania. Carlson introduced Tate purely as a kind of youth guru to young men in need of confidence and direction without outlining the Romanian prosecutors’ damning indictment, which, if Carlson is a true journalist, he or his research team must have read beforehand. Carlson then spent the whole interview indulging Tate’s endless lies and deflections, particularly Tate’s absurd assertion that his arrest was actually due to his supposed efforts on behalf of young men—blaming “the Matrix”’s conspiracy against him but never himself. Carlson crossed a line in interviewing Tate, and not a thin one.
Then, not long after, The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens—already a borderline anti-conservative for her reprehensible defense of Kanye West’s anti-Semitism—released her own three-hour interview with Tate. Only, this time, it was worse, as Tate successfully manipulated Owens into believing his lies, and even into abandoning some of her own conservative beliefs regarding the dignity of women. They even discussed the evils of pornography—even though Tate made his fortune through producing it, and is charged with coercing women into appearing in it under false pretenses.
As with Carlson, it did not matter that Tate had spent years boasting of his crimes in public, (nominally) converted to Islam because its attitudes toward violence and misogyny appealed to him, that he left a woman a voice message detailing how much he enjoyed raping her, or that both Tate brothers had boasted of grooming and raping underage girls. The genuineness of the problem Tate was exploiting outweighed his own personal evil. In fact, so much did this unforgivable moral soul-selling outweigh Tate’s criminality that Owens, in response to real conservatives’ fury, proceeded to attack one of the women accusing Tate of rape. How? By parroting the lies of multiple sex offenders accused and convicted of raping the woman in question—when she was a minor.
In conclusion, what else can be said? In all aspects—from Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” to Carlson’s anti-conservatism—the Republican Party teeters on the edge of no longer being the party that freed the slaves, made America rich, and crushed Soviet communism.
Some of this impasse’s root causes, of course, are legitimate: America needs good-paying middle-class jobs, a sense of national pride, and strong, productive young men who believe in themselves. Yet seeking to mirror the left’s savagery is not the way to transmute America back into Ronald Reagan’s shining city upon a hill.
The disgrace of Tate’s normalization is symbolic not only of anti-conservatism’s final triumph but also of its bitter, inevitable end. The political madness Trump and Carlson have wrought and legitimized has found its true abyss. Seeking to beat the left by becoming an equally brutal inversion of it will always destroy the godly traditions, individual freedom, and human dignity true conservatism exists to conserve. And, as always, the innocent will suffer either way.
Elixir of the masses
Addicted, strung out
Crave their fix
A historical roundabout
Waving their colors
Red, Blue, or Gold
The story’s been told
In a cultural vacuum arises
A modern deity
The Influencer Almighty
All praise the depravity
Faith without question
Sight but can’t see
Knowledge bereft of wisdom
The Cult of Personality
Hopes for America are problematic, since there isn’t much brotherhood (or sisterhood) around now. With civilized avenues for debating issues closing down, the prospects for both American and Israeli society are indeed grim.
It’s hard to think of a moment in the past 40 years in which American conservatism itself—as well as the Republican Party—has been more riven.
Vivek’s trilogy of books can be useful for understanding how wokeness has penetrated American businesses and allowed the victimhood mentality to spread. It can also serve as a warning: that being a political outsider and successful businessman doesn’t make a good conservative politician.
The anti-Semitism on the right is like a heart attack—it’s violent and fast moving. The right has guns and is hence more dangerous to our immediate security and wellbeing. The anti-Semitism on the left is like a cancer—it’s slow moving and corrosive. It threatens to disenfranchise Jews from politics and society. And both forms seem to be feeding off each other.
Attacking the ADL is a proxy for ending censorship of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism and making anti-Semitism mainstream all under the guise of “free speech.”
Our fears of a creeping authoritarianism are not just a spasm. Both the left and the right have become embroiled in Orwellian tactics to curb speech and censor those with whom they disagree.
In order for schools to meet their most basic mandate—educating students—they must first refocus on just that. And to do that, school administrators and educators need to stop playing partisan games and get back to teaching kids.