Episode 11: Magic Dirt

America is not simply the land in which we live. It is a unique group of people that have grown together over four centuries and which has a unique culture and heritage. The land does not create the people, but the people create the land. Yet the conventional wisdom says that American dirt is magic in that it turns third-world peasants into industrious Americans through a simple trick of geography.

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A Poisonous Culture

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a society in which our mass media and popular culture served to reinforce traditional morality rather than tearing it down. Imagine that the most popular movies, television shows, and music encouraged young men to be morally and physically strong, to build things, and to lead God-fearing families. Imagine that they encouraged young women to get married and have children, and to teach those children the time-tested virtues of our civilization. Imagine that true Christianity was promoted rather than marginalized and mocked. What does this imaginary society look like in your mind’s eye? Does it have the same dysfunction, the same criminality, the same rampant depression as our own? Are divorce and out-of-wedlock births as common? Compare this society to what you see when you open your eyes and consider the influence of popular culture.

Civilizations fall in two ways. Like a great tree, they can either be felled by the woodman’s axe or they can rot from the inside. While the United States has numerous external issues that are influencing its decline, it is the spiritual and moral rot that is the bigger problem. Atheism and agnosticism are the fastest growing categories of belief in the younger generations, but even those claiming to be Christian live as if the words of the Bible do not apply outside of Sunday morning church services. Perhaps just as harmful as our declining faith is the poison that is western culture in the 21st century. Television, movies, advertising, and music are worse than useless today; rather they are active propaganda designed to undermine your family and the traditions that built western civilization. When young people have no knowledge of their own history and culture, yet demand that statues be torn down and names erased from history, remember that this is what the creators of our popular culture want. When you see thousands of young people expressing a desire to mutilate themselves because they think they were born the wrong gender, you must understand that this is not an organic or accidental occurrence. The people who create our culture have an agenda, and that agenda is the destruction of western civilization itself.

Everyone knows the story of George Orwell’s 1984, even if they have not read the book themselves. In the world of the novel, Communism has triumphed so completely that the Party is able to exert total control over the people it governs, and they even rewrite the past to control the way people are able to think about the world. Surveillance is everywhere. One cannot even look the wrong way without the Party knowing. The constant reminders that “Big Brother is watching” keeps the people on tight leashes. There are many ways in which the modern world is approaching Orwell’s dystopia. Surveillance might not be as obvious as it is in the novel, but it is everywhere, and expanding quickly. Rather than being concerned, however, we spend money to have an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod in order to make our lives a little bit easier. In less fortunate nations such as the United Kingdom that lack our strong Bill of Rights, people are being arrested for tweeting or speaking the “wrong” opinions. To be fair, many in America are working hard to bring that level of censorship here too. For those potential tyrants, the Constitution is simply a temporary setback on the road to utopia. For those of us who value our freedom, it is only a redoubt, not a permanent solution.

I believe, however, that the better predictor of our real-life dystopia was Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The leaders of Huxley’s dystopia do not control their people through an invasive surveillance state because they don’t need to – the people are too busy wasting their time and their brains on mindless entertainment to care about anything else. Thirty years ago, Neil Postman wrote a great book about the decline of intelligence in media called Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the introduction to the book, he compared Orwell and Huxley’s respective dystopian visions:

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

Throughout the book, Postman explains how media has been continually dumbed down over the years, from print to picture to video. Media changed from a source of information to a source of entertainment – and he wrote this even before the world wide web had been invented. Media has long been the opiate of the American people, and it has been getting stronger as time goes by. It is interesting to note how every advance in communications technology has served to centralize popular culture in the hands of fewer and fewer influential people. Before the printing press, news traveled slowly, and each community developed its own unique culture. Music, art, and literature were transmitted only gradually. Culture remained slow and decentralized until the invention of radio and television in the 20th century. Imagine what life was like in a city or rural community before the invention of mass broadcasting. Culture was passed down from one generation to the next. Styles changes very slowly, and whatever new fashions were introduced in cities only gradually spread to the country. Each region had its own unique culture, slightly different from their neighbors. How many different variations of the English accent exist throughout Britain? There is the Queen’s English in the upper classes, the Cockney accent in the lower classes, with regional distinctions in Liverpool, Birmingham, Yorkshire, and more. That is not even to mention the variations that are now spoken in Scotland, Ireland, the United States, and Australia. These distinctions are a remnant of the age before a centralized popular culture that was transmitted to everybody all at once.

Mass media changed the way that cultures grew. American culture in the late 20th century was created in New York or Hollywood and then exported to every community in the nation, and eventually the world. Children in rural Iowa are listening to the same music, watching the same movies and television shows, and wearing the same fashions as children in downtown Miami or on the West Coast. Popular culture has become monolithic. A small handful of people now control what most of us see, hear, and think about. If you wanted to destroy a civilization from within then it makes perfect sense to put yourself in a central position to influence the culture.

In addition to becoming monolithic, pop culture has also become pervasive in American life. Go to any workplace or coffee shop and try to see how much of regular conversation revolves around movies, TV shows, and music. How much of our dialogue is simply a string of catchphrases from the latest popular movie? Pop culture has replaced thinking for a lot of people. Orwell was right about one thing – the ability to think is dependent upon having words to express those thoughts. Modern vocabulary is becoming limited to whatever we see on our screens. Our very thoughts are being programmed by nameless writers in New York and Hollywood. An entire generation of journalists have grown up and gone to work having consumed nothing but late-night television comedy, and they think that their sarcasm and snark make up for their lack of education in history, science, law, or the Great Books of western civilization.

We all live in one bubble or another. There is the famous anecdote where journalist Pauline Kael was supposed to have marveled at Richard Nixon’s election, wondering how he could have won being that nobody she knew voted for him. If you spend all your time around other people who share your tastes, styles, and worldview, it is easy to forget that you are part of a relatively small group. People who grew up in a Christian homeschooling community start to believe that the majority of America shares their values. People who spend all their free time on anime forums online get the impression that anime is much more popular than it really is. Many years ago, Joss Whedon’s television show Firefly aired for a few months on FOX and was then canceled. Despite its short run, Firefly had built up a dedicated group of outspoken fans who quickly organized across the internet and started a movement to restore the show. Movie studios, seeing this passionate fanbase, gave Whedon the funding and the opportunity to continue his story in the form of a movie. However, that movie, Firefly, flopped spectacularly. The fanbase was passionate and outspoken, but still fairly small compared to the mass of American entertainment consumers. They forgot that they lived in a bubble.

What happens when a small group of people who live in their own bubble are also the people who create our culture? The communities in which I grew up seemed normal for America at the time; mostly white Christian children. I did not grow up around Jewish culture, African-American Culture, or Hispanic culture. However, I noticed that many of the young adult novels I read and television shows I watched had a lot of references to Jewish culture. For a while I assumed that I must have lived a sheltered life, that America was much more Jewish than I thought. On the contrary, however, as of 2016 the Jewish population of America is just above 2%. It turns out that the population of authors, screenwriters, producers, and others in media is disproportionately Jewish, and they naturally write about the world they know. With popular culture being so centralized, this small minority can share their worldview with the greater population in ways that were impossible just a few generations before. I was not the one living in a bubble. This is not to single out a single group for condemnation but is merely an example of how a centralized pop culture allows a small group to influence the thought processes of the entire nation.

The same effect is seen with the homosexual population as well. Polls have consistently shown that 2-4% of Americans are homosexual, yet they too are tremendously overrepresented in media. Every television show must have a gay character, and these characters are almost always portrayed in a positive light. Every now and then a polling company asks people what they think the gay population of America is. Many people guess that it is about 30%, despite this being obviously exaggerated to anyone who thinks clearly about it. Why would we think this is the case? It is because that is the world we are presented in media; the world that reflects the people who create it.

Recently, taxpayer-funded PBS aired an episode of the children’s television show Arthur where a major character came out as homosexual and had a gay wedding. Marvel at how quickly our culture has changed: just ten years ago, Democratic presidential candidates declared in their primary debates that marriage was between a man and a woman, but today gay marriage is being propagandized on state-run children’s television. This is how you capture an entire generation, and this is how conservatives have lost the culture war. The right ceded control of the media and academia and then wonders why their children grow up to be transgender socialists. The left doesn’t even hide their intentions here. I remember sitting down to watch the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated which promised to be an expose of the way Hollywood movies are rated by the studios. Instead it ended up being a complaint-fest by a lesbian filmmaker that her lesbian propaganda movie for teenagers was rated R, which kept it mostly hidden away from the impressionable young girls she wanted to reach.

The people who create our popular culture have an agenda, and they are interested in your children. One of the most popular YouTube streamers lately was a homosexual man who creates videos to talk about wearing makeup. He was heavily promoted by YouTube, to the point where the company’s CEO visited him at home for a photo op, but he found himself in a scandal after he was accused of grooming boys toward homosexuality. In a sane world, this would surprise nobody. In a sane world, people like this would not be allowed to influence children in the first place. But in our clown world, men like this are promoted. Men who wear diabolical makeup and dress in women’s clothing in order to read to children at libraries are lavishly praised and promoted by our mainstream media, while anyone who disagrees with them are called homophobic bigots. Buzzfeed News endlessly promotes young boys who dress in drag and dance for gay men at strip clubs but they proudly doxed and attacked a teenage girl who made videos mocking the left. There is a consistent agenda at work here, and it seems to be coordinated throughout media, academia, and government. The people behind this agenda will steal your children’s minds if you allow them.

Many conservative and Christian parents seem to have a “see no evil” approach to our culture. They might complain about how much worse it is than in their day, but they nevertheless still send their children to public schools, let them listen to whatever music is new and popular, and watch whatever television shows, movies, and YouTube streams they want. Even if they exercise some discretion, they still underestimate the pervasiveness of the poison in our culture. Take Disney, for example. Walt Disney worked hard to make his name synonymous with wholesome family-values, and many parents still make that association today. Yet what is the message that Disney is giving young people today? They are telling girls that getting married is for losers and that disobeying your parents and doing your own thing is laudable. They are deconstructing heroism and teaching that evil is simply misunderstanding. This is on top of the invidious carpet-bombing that Disney does to our popular culture, in which their licensed characters penetrate every facet of your family’s life. Walt Disney is long dead, so we should ask who is now creating the culture that is so dominant in our society? What is their agenda?

Netflix is another insidious example. After I canceled my subscription a year ago, I found that the only thing I really missed were the excellent nature documentaries. I am happy to no longer support their original programming that is clearly designed to warp the minds of children. Whether it is suicide propaganda, or transgender propaganda, or sexual propaganda, our children are being subverted before our eyes, and we are paying for it to happen. Remember Bill Nye, the goofy science man from the harmless and educational children’s television show in the 90s? He recently appeared on Netflix to talk about all the degenerate sexual fetishes he thinks you should engage in. The outcry from concerned parents was harsh but brief, and they soon moved on. In the meantime, the propaganda continued unabated. Nye himself, who is not even a real scientist, still appears on various television shows in order to lecture us on how we need to give up our way of life or else the planet will burn in a dozen years.

Our culture has become poisonous, and that poison is killing entire generations of Americans. I believe that America as a nation is the people; not the land, not the buildings, nor the government institutions. You can conquer a land with an army, or a government with a coup, but to take over the minds of the people requires intense propaganda and brainwashing. Look back at the last two generations of popular culture. If you were trying to destroy a people using the media, what would you have done differently? If you wanted to turn a generation of children away from the virtues and traditions that created our civilization in the first place, is there anything else you could do that they have not already done? If you want to save the next generation then turn off the spigot of propaganda before it reaches your home and your family in the first place. Cancel Netflix and cable. Be aware of what your children are watching on YouTube and listening to on Spotify. Exercise discretion in the messages you allow your family to hear. Instead of filling their heads with the poison that is created in Hollywood and Madison Avenue by people who want you destroyed, fill them instead with the Great Books and stories of Christendom. It is an absolute shame that the heirs of western civilization are almost entirely ignorant of the art, literature, and music that is our cultural heritage. If we expect our children and grandchildren to reclaim and rebuild Christendom, then we must build them up with more than a popular culture that is mindless at best and at worst, deadly poison.

Episode 10: Cultural Poison

Popular culture is worse than useless. It is poisonous propaganda that is stealing entire generations from Western Civilization. If we are to have any hope of reclaiming and rebuilding our culture in the next generation, we must first stop the flow of propaganda that is warping the minds of our children.

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Episode 9: A Province of the World

Is America a sovereign nation, whose government and resources should serve its people? Or is it merely a province of the world to be exploited by its neighbors? In episode 9 of the podcast I argue that while our globalist leaders have been treating America as spoils for the rest of the world, a nationalist revival is underway in the hearts of patriotic Americans.

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Remember Your Heritage

On last week’s podcast, I discussed the descent of western civilization from its peak of glory following victory in World War II. I mentioned Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole, the last of the Doolittle Raiders, who was laid to rest earlier this month. I watched the recording of his memorial service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas and was struck by some things. Here were the Secretary of the Air Force, the Air Force Chief of Staff, and other high-ranking officers and dignitaries speaking at the memorial of a man whose heroic deeds occurred before any of them were born. They grew up reading about him and the other larger-than-life heroes of World War II in school, and now they have taken their places in the old institutions. Like most memorial services, Colonel Cole’s was all about remembering the man and his deeds.

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Imagine going through life with the certain knowledge that you will not be remembered when you are gone. Imagine knowing that nobody will remember your name, your face, your deeds; that everything you ever do in life will vanish after your death. I cannot imagine that being anything but depressing. Life would lose its meaning if there was no chance of being remembered after you’re gone. The recent seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones have been hit or miss, but there was a line in a recent episode that stood out. As the zombie villains of the show were preparing to wipe out all humanity and to erase the memory of men from the world, the character Sam remarked that life is memory, while death is forgetting. This is what makes apocalyptic stories so terrifying; not only is humanity on the verge of extinction but there will be nobody left to even remember humanity. Gone forever are the memories of wars and battles, art and literature, architecture, stories, ideas, and philosophies. Only animals remain, crawling amongst the ruins of ancient civilizations, without any awareness of the people who lived and breathed there.

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Knowing your heritage provides answers to some of life’s most fundamental questions. Where did you come from? What made you *you*? You are the sum of uncounted years of human history, the end result of millennia of growth, migration, and philosophy. The beliefs, practices, and traditions of your ancestors made you who you are, even if you reject those beliefs now. I believe that everyone has a right to be proud of their heritage, no matter which culture or nation you are a part of. Yet today we are witnessing a concerted effort to erase the heritage of Western Civilization. Whereas every other ethnic group is encouraged to be proud of their heritage, western Christians are taught to be ashamed instead. We are continually reminded that white people have no culture, as if Bach, Rembrandt, and Shakespeare never existed. We are told that we must all bear responsibility for America’s original sins of slavery and racism, yet they say we cannot claim credit for ending slavery, fighting against tyranny, or inventing all the products that make 21st century life so easy. Mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post simultaneously tell us that white people will inevitably be replaced in America, and that replacement theory is a white-nationalist conspiracy theory.

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Western heritage is also being erased in popular culture. Traditionally white characters in movies, whether based on real people or not, are often cast with non-white actors. Whenever this happens it is lauded as progressive. Achilles, Margaret of Anjou, and Alexander Hamilton are appropriated for other cultures. At the same time, if a traditionally minority character is portrayed by a white actor, media condemns it as racist, colonialist, and evil. The same effect happens in comic books as well. The latest Spider-Man is a Hispanic boy, while the new Iron Man is a Muslim girl. None of this is to say that I have anything against non-white characters or actors. What I reject is the implicit idea that white culture is not worth preserving.

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Not even sports are immune from these attacks. For decades, both the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball as well as the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League have played a rendition of “God Bless America” as recorded by Kate Smith in the 1930s. This tradition has been kept for decades without issue, until last month when social justice warriors with too much time on their hands discovered recordings of Smith singing supposedly racist songs over seventy years ago. The media pounced and the teams dutifully complied, promising not to play her rendition of the patriotic song ever again. The Flyers even tore down a statue of Smith they had erected at their arena. One wonders if the next step is to dig up her body and put her on trial for racism.

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The same thing is happening to the statues of Confederate heroes throughout the American south. Despite losing the Civil War, southerners remained proud of their heritage and their stand against what they saw as tyranny. They built monuments to the men who made that stand, fighting and dying for their homelands. Today, however, the south is increasingly full of people who are not related to veterans of the Confederacy. These “new southerners” have no attachment to those men or their stories. They simply see these monuments as celebrating racism and slavery, so they tear them down. Former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley, a Republican, decided to take the confederate flag down from the grounds of the state house in Columbia after pressure from social justice warriors was amplified by the media. With all due respect to Ms. Haley, whose birth name incidentally was Nimrata Randhawa, I believe that she lacked a complete understanding of the issue. Though born in South Carolina, her parents had only recently immigrated from India. Her heritage, therefore, was not that of the South Carolina of the Revolution, the Nullification Crisis, or the Civil War, but of a nation half a world away. She had no skin in the game, and so her choice to bow to media pressure and remove a symbol of her state’s history was all too easy. Her views on the flag and the statues were those of an outsider to that culture, yet since they elected her governor the decision was hers in the end. It only takes one weak generation for monuments and memories to be destroyed forever.

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There is a perverse idea in modern discourse that suggests that immigrants and their children are the real Americans while the descendants of America’s Founding Fathers are not. Anything older than the 1960s is derided as racist and therefore not worth preserving, while the contributions of “new Americans” are lauded and promoted. Every city in America has some sort of monument to Martin Luther King Jr, while Columbus Day is being erased from the calendar. New Holocaust museums are opening, commemorating the victims of an event that happened in Europe two generations ago, while museums dedicated to the heroes of the Revolution are closing their doors. The descendants of immigrants who arrived within the last century are redefining what it means to be “American”.

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It is disconcerting to see the same mainstream media and academia who condemned the Taliban for destroying Buddhist statues in Afghanistan twenty years ago cheer the destruction of Confederate monuments in America. In the eyes of our media some cultures are worth preserving while others are not. There is no objective heuristic for deciding which cultures are permitted to be memorialized, save for “White man bad / People of Color good”. If we must erase Robert E. Lee from history for being a slaveowner and a rebel, then what of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? They too owned slaves, and they too rebelled against their legitimate government. If you travel to Mongolia you will find numerous statues of Genghis Khan, a man who killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, as he ravaged and pillaged his way across Asia and toward Europe. Nobody expects modern Mongolians to be ashamed of this heritage, rather, they are proud of the achievements of their ancestors. And why shouldn’t they be? Genghis Khan and his family permanently carved their names into the annals of history.

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A few years ago, I was taking a class on ancient Rome at university. Day one began with a butch blue-haired professor telling the class that she hated the Romans and all they stood for, because they were evil, racist, sexist, murderers. I transferred out that very afternoon, choosing instead a class on Shakespeare by a professor whose love for the subject matter was obvious. It is fine to condemn the evil actions of historical figures, but it is the wild abandon with which western culture is uniquely attacked that I find vexing. In modern discourse, white people are held uniquely responsible for the evil of their ancestors in a way no other ethnic or racial group is. Every time a Dylan Roof murders black people, Jews, or Muslims, mainstream media says that all white people must take responsibility. Yet whenever an Omar Mateen, Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, or Osama bin Laden commits mass murder of white people or Christians, we are warned not to make the same associations. In fact, after the recent terrorist attacks against churches in Sri Lanka by Muslim radicals, several western cities added extra guards, not for churches, but for mosques! The implicit lesson here is that massacring Christians or white people is acceptable.

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Heritage is important. Before the embers were even cold at Notre-Dame Cathedral, modern secular architects were already salivating at the chance to redesign the building in a modern way They are so excited at the prospect of erasing another piece of western history and replacing it with something brutal, modern, and multicultural. The glories of multiculturalism and the phrase “diversity is our strength” are pushed relentlessly by schools, journalists, and politicians. This propaganda, however, merely masks the ongoing destruction of western culture. Diversity is not a strength, as anyone who has read Robert Putnam or Charles Murray will understand. Diversity stifles trust and cooperation within a group, because everyone has a different history and perspective. The word “nation” comes from the Latin word natio, which means “birth”. The essence of a nation is a group of people who share a common language, common history, common faith, common tradition, and a common worldview. People of different backgrounds can cooperate on a limited basis, and there is no reason for them not to be friendly with each other, but they have no basis for forming a community. It takes generations of people growing up in the same environment, sharing the same beliefs, and having the same experiences to form a nation. The first century of the United States saw the formation of a nation based upon mostly English heritage. In its second century, Italians, Germans, and Irish slowly assimilated, creating a slightly different nation. Over the last generation, however, diverse peoples from across the globe have come to America while retaining their own diverse heritages. America today is not a nation, but a country that encompasses many different nations, each with its own heritage, beliefs, and ways of life.

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Last summer, my family and I stopped in San Antonio and visited the Alamo. Nearly two centuries after the battle, it remains as a monument to the memory of the men who fought to defend Texas against General Santa Anna and the Mexican Army. They died to a man, but they were not forgotten – the battle cry afterward was literally “Remember the Alamo”. I wondered at the time if the current leadership of San Antonio would identify more with Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Stephen Austin, and the others who made Texas, or if their historical loyalty would instead be to men like Santa Anna, who fought to retain Texas as part of an independent Mexico. To these leaders, who are mostly Hispanics who came here over the past few generations, the Alamo is a monument to the wrong side.

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This is what happens when populations are displaced. The new citizens don’t have the same connections to the heritage of the places they now inhabit. The Taliban of Afghanistan, for example, were entirely unsentimental about the Buddhist statues. In the eyes of those young radicals, the statues were simply profane idols that must be destroyed. Right-wing news sites recently uncovered tweets by Minnesota’s Somali representative Ihlan Omar in defense of the Somali warlords who killed American soldiers in Mogadishu twenty-five years ago. They wrote about being shocked by such rhetoric, which puzzled me. Why should we be surprised that she would side with her people? It was her people who killed our people, and her people celebrate that as a triumph. Setting foot on American soil did not make Ms. Omar as American as a son of the American Revolution any more than putting your hamster in an aquarium made it a fish. If “new Americans” such as Ms. Omar have no loyalty to the Americans of 1993, then why should we expect them to have any loyalty to the Americans of 1776?

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George Orwell wrote extensively about the use of language to control thought. One of the themes of his novel 1984 was that whoever controlled the past also controlled the future. By erasing or rewriting history, Big Brother was able to constrain the way people thought of their own place in history. Schoolchildren today are being taught that America is an evil, racist nation that was built upon nothing more than slavery and imperialism. They are being taught that there is nothing redeeming about white culture, that men like Bach, Rembrandt, and Shakespeare are meaningless dead white men. It only takes one weak link in a marathon to drop the baton, and it only takes one generation to erase a heritage. We see it being done before our eyes. Our ancestors knew better, thought. On a hill in Greece, near the ancient battlefield of Thermopylae, there is a stone plaque with an inscription written on it. The plaque is a modern recreation, but the words of the inscription were those recorded by Greek historian Herodotus more than two thousand years ago: “Oh stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians that here we lie, obedient to their laws.” The three hundred Spartans who defended Thermopylae against the invading Persians died to a man, just like those at the Alamo. Yet also like the Alamo, they deserve to be remembered, especially by their own people.

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104 years ago today, a Canadian army doctor named Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae watched a friend die in the trenches of World War I. The next day he composed the now-famous poem that captured his thoughts at the time:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

McCrae himself would die in those same trenches three years later.

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Why do we wear poppies on Memorial Day? Why do we put flowers on the gravestones of our ancestors? Why do we carve inscriptions into stone? It is because humans are a forgetful race – I have trouble remembering where I parked after an afternoon of shopping. But there are things that must not be forgotten. Our ancestors struggled and fought to create the world we now enjoy, and they deserve to be remembered. The heritage of Western Civilization is some of the greatest music, art, architecture, philosophy, and literature that the world has ever seen, and it deserves to be remembered! Even the mistakes and wrongs of our past should be remembered as a warning for our future. Every person, no matter their culture or nation, should be proud of their heritage. If you are American Indian, then remember your ancestors and their traditions. If you are Chinese, then be proud of your people’s long history of greatness. If you are Vietnamese, then take pride in the fact that your people fought mighty America to a standstill. If you are Texan, then honor the memory of the men who fought and died at the Alamo. If your family has lived in South Carolina for ten generations, then wave the Palmetto Flag and honor your rebellious fathers.

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On November 11, 1778, my sixth-great-grandmother Elizabeth Campbell Dickson was murdered by Mohawk Indians during the Revolutionary War. The attack on her village was ostensibly revenge for attacks on Indian villages that were aligned with the British Crown, but that did not matter to her and her neighbors. She had been born in New England to a Scots-Irish family, while her husband had left Ireland as a teenager to start a new life in the New World. He and her older sons were fighting with the militia when the massacre occurred, and surely bore the guilt for being away for the rest of their lives. Today there stands a monument to Mrs. Dickson and the other victims of the Cherry Valley Massacre. Her descendants wanted to make sure that her name and her story would never be forgotten.

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No matter who you are, your heritage matters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This goes especially for the sons and daughters of Western Civilization, who are watching their history being erased in front of their eyes. Hold on to it. Learn the history of your people and of your family and discover your place in the great story of mankind. Be proud of your fathers for who they were. Do not condemn their names to oblivion by erasing their memory from the earth.