Editor’s note: The Age of Trump is characterized by extreme polarization of the American populace, increasing violence and growing accusations of “fascism,” “white supremacism” and even “Nazism” – especially directed at the president himself, many even comparing him with Hitler. Tens of millions of everyday Americans are thought of as “racist,” “bigoted,” “woman-hating,” “homophobic” and “anti-immigrant,” not to mention (in Hillary Clinton’s words) “deplorable” and “irredeemable.”
Yet, as David Kupelian reveals below in the opening chapter of his latest book, “The Snapping of the American Mind,” America’s extreme polarization started well before Trump. In fact, the nation has been reeling under a full-scale revolutionary attack for many years, leading to the extreme level of anger and division currently gripping the country. And he reveals the true nature of this division, which at core is neither political nor even ideological.
As part of my well-rounded childhood, I read “Superman” comic books.
That’s right. Also “Superboy,” “Batman and Robin,” “Aquaman,” “The Flash,” “Green Arrow,” “Green Lantern” and others – but my favorite was Superman. And one of the most memorable characters in those adventures was a guy named Bizarro.
Created when Superman was exposed to a “duplicate ray,” Bizarro was essentially a defective clone of the “man of steel.” Ugly, surly and speaking broken English like Tonto in “The Lone Ranger” (“Me hate Superman! Him bad!”), Bizarro’s defining characteristic was his total rebellion against everything normal, everything sensible, everything Superman stood for. Indeed, he took pride in being the exact opposite of Superman in every way.
Thus, Bizarro eventually relocated to Bizarro World, a cube-shaped planet called Htrae (“Earth” backward). Life on Htrae followed “Bizarro logic” – meaning it was wrong to act in a right or normal way – and a legal system based on the “Bizarro Code,” which decreed it “a crime to do anything well or to make anything perfect or beautiful.” For example, I remember reading, as a 9- or 10-year-old Superman fanatic, how on Bizarro World, when the street-sweeping truck came down the road, instead of sweeping up dirt and debris, the Bizarro street-sweeper would actually throw dust and dirt onto the streets to make them dirtier! In every area of life, Bizarro folk did the opposite of whatever was logical.
Got the picture?
Now, let’s look at today’s USA, which increasingly resembles a “Bizarro” version of traditional America – not just different, not just “transformed,” but morphed in so many ways into the opposite of what it was in previous generations.
First, for those who weren’t around during the 1950s, let me just say that the America of my youth, despite its many shortcomings, was basically confident, prosperous and overflowing with life, hope and unlimited opportunity. People were patriotic, and our culture was strong and essentially moral. America was the undisputed leader of the world – not just militarily and economically, but in terms of freedom and generosity. (To my liberal friends: Do me a favor and don’t tell me, “But the ’50s had racial segregation.” Yes, and today we dismember, poison, vacuum, crush the skulls of, chemically burn or decapitate 3,000 beautiful human babies every single day. So just drop it.)
Compared with the shining and vibrant nation it once was, today’s America has become a different country: deeply and angrily divided, unable to deal with crises foreign or domestic, the world’s greatest debtor nation with 50 million people on food stamps, rampant divorce and family breakdown, unprecedented sexual anarchy with 110 million with STDs, almost 60 million abusing alcohol and 70 million taking mood-altering drugs. On so many levels, America is becoming ever more “bizarro” – diametrically opposed to logic and common sense.
To really understand what’s happening, we need to transcend the usual left-right paradigm and dive deep into the heart of the matter.
Although America’s bizarro transformation has been in progress for decades, it burst into full bloom in the age of Obama.
Let’s take a quick trip back in time to the 2008 presidential election. While much of the public was electrified by the soaring rhetoric of a little-known freshman Illinois senator named Barack Obama, just out of view was his astonishingly disturbing background, replete with communists (Frank Marshall Davis), terrorists (William Ayers), criminals (Tony Rezko) and rabid, anti-American racists (Jeremiah Wright) – not to mention his Islamic education as a boy in Indonesia and his hard-core Marxist orientation in college. But somehow, mesmerized by the prospect of heralding the nation’s first black president, the establishment media couldn’t be bothered to investigate Obama’s qualifications to lead the free world. Just the opposite: He was the object of near-unanimous worship by the major media.
Now, for comparison, bring to mind the same media’s treatment of Sarah Palin, the junior half of the GOP ticket opposing Obama in ’08.
Essentially a very normal American with strongly held Judeo-Christian values, Sarah Palin had grown up bold and outspoken enough to challenge local political corruption, get herself elected mayor, and later become a popular governor of Alaska.
But once she was tapped by Sen. John McCain to become the Republican vice presidential candidate, an extraordinary phenomenon started to unfold: While studiously ignoring Obama’s obviously subversive background, the media instead sent hordes of journalists to Wasilla, Alaska, dumpster-diving for dirt on Palin – investigating who paid for the tanning bed she had installed in the governor’s mansion (she did), and whether she is actually the mother of her youngest son, Trig (she is).
The story took on even more bizarre proportions once Election Day arrived and the Republicans lost. One would think the attacks would have ended, especially after Palin resigned the governorship in mid-2009 (in the face of nonstop harassment) and no longer wielded any official power.
Instead, the hatred grew. Consider the following 2011 Twitter comments made about Palin:
“Join us in praying to God that Sarah Palin contracts cancer and dies.”
“My hatred for Sarah Palin continues to grow. I think this woman should be assassinated.”
“I hope Sarah Palin dies a slow and painful death.”
“I hope she dies gnashing her teeth.”
“Sarah Palin is the single most dangerous threat to the future of the human race. Thick venomous cretin she is. Someone bloody shoot her.”
Mind you, these are only five out of dozens of similar Twitter messages, all equally horrendous, calling for an agonizing death for the former governor and VP candidate. They came after a deranged young man named Jared Loughner tried to assassinate Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in downtown Tucson – and many people, for some incomprehensible reason, blamed Sarah Palin.
This is not political. Politics cannot account for such dark, otherworldly expressions as “I hope she dies gnashing her teeth,” and death threats against the Palins’ children.
For years, the left and the major media continued the vilification, with both the Washington Post and New York Times in 2011 begging readers to join in a new witch hunt to find something – anything – incriminating or embarrassing in 24,000 newly released Palin e-mails. Again, they found nothing.
What explains such bizarrely extreme hatred – reprised in late 2013 when MSNBC host Martin Bashir angrily ranted, on the air, that justice would be well served if someone would defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth?
Shortly after the ’08 election, I took a passing stab at this question in my book, “How Evil Works”:
Haven’t you ever wondered why, when someone on the public stage radiates noble character, common sense and natural grace – like Ronald Reagan did, or more recently Sarah Palin – he or she is regarded by the “big media” with an inexplicable revulsion? Hatred is almost too soft a word. It’s because Reagan and Palin manifest the very qualities of character that the jaded media elite lost long ago, and since being thus reminded of their lost innocence is painful and unwelcome, they feel compelled to attack the “reminder.”
Later, “Robin of Berkeley” – literary pseudonym for a licensed therapist in Berkeley, California – wrote a perceptive column reaching the same conclusion: “Leftists loathe Palin because she has retained something that was stripped from them years ago: a wholesomeness, a purity of heart. People on the left despise Palin because she shines a bright light on their shame and unworthiness, which they try desperately to deny.”
This phenomenon obviously extends far beyond Sarah Palin. Indeed, what we are looking at here is actually the defining phenomenon of modern American life. It capsulizes the underlying reason today’s secular-left news media, government, school system, and popular culture mysteriously tend to side with the subversive and perverse, and to demonize traditional Judeo-Christian values – even, as “Robin of Berkeley” put it, to be offended by “wholesomeness” and “purity of heart.”
Consider the case of 13-year-old Taryn Hathaway of Salinas, California, who, according to news reports, was told by a teacher at her middle school that her drawing of the American flag with the words “God Bless America” inscribed on it was “offensive.” How, one wonders, is this possible or even conceivable? What is there about a child’s lovely drawing of an American flag, with that reverent three-word phrase added, that could be considered even remotely offensive? What exactly is disturbing about a little girl’s innocent expression of love for God and country?
Or how do we explain the high-profile Lisa Miller custody case? After childhood abuse led her into a dysfunctional life of addictions and homosexuality, eventually Lisa found the Christian faith, freedom from her former bondage, and real hope. She left behind the lesbian lifestyle in which she had lived as “spouse” to another woman in a same-sex civil union. And she dedicated her life to raising her little daughter, Isabella, conceived through artificial insemination and born during her brief homosexual cohabitation. Only one problem: The judge demanded that Lisa allow her former lesbian partner to have unsupervised visits with little Isabella, which according to multiple experts and eyewitness testimony, were so traumatizing to the child that Lisa discontinued allowing the visitations. In response, another judge ruled that Lisa Miller must give up her daughter entirely – her own legal and biological daughter – to her former lesbian lover, who had no biological connection to the child. As a result of such legal perversity, Lisa “kidnapped” her own daughter and left the country, rendering her a fugitive and sending a pastor who helped her to prison.
What would possess a judge to rip a daughter away from her own loving, biological, Christian mother and give the child totally over to a former lesbian partner?
As a working journalist, I can testify that such examples as these are a daily occurrence in today’s bizarro America. Let’s look at a big one.
A new kind of extremist
In the early months of Barack Obama’s first term, the Department of Homeland Security produced a report warning about the threat of homegrown, radicalized, militant and potentially violent extremists. And who exactly were these scary people? If you were pro-life, your car had an NRA bumper sticker, you were concerned about illegal immigration or government debt, or especially if you were a returning military veteran – just home after having defended America with your very life – you were potentially a dangerous “extremist” and threat to the country, according to the Obama administration.
Here’s how retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North responded, in a column headlined, “I am an extremist”:
According to the U.S. government, I am an extremist.
I am a Christian and meet regularly with other Christians to study God’s word. My faith convinces me the prophecies in the Holy Bible are true. I believe in the sanctity of human life, oppose abortion and want to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
I am a veteran with skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. I own several firearms, frequently shoot them, buy ammunition and consider efforts to infringe on my Second Amendment rights to be wrong and unconstitutional.
I fervently support the sovereignty of the United States, am deeply concerned about our economy, increasingly higher taxes, illegal immigration, soaring unemployment and actions by our government that will bury my children beneath a mountain of debt.
Apparently, all this makes me a “right-wing extremist.” At least that’s what it says in the April 7, 2009, “assessment” issued by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.
Fast-forward a couple of years. After one of several debt-ceiling melodramas in Washington, D.C., during which the tea party demonstrated the most sanity of any of the main players, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd – in a column headlined “Washington Chain Saw Massacre” – characterized tea partiers as “cannibals,” “zombies” and “vampires.” She wrote:
They were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims, Boehner and President Obama. They were like the metallic beasts in “Alien” flashing mouths of teeth inside other mouths of teeth, bursting out of Boehner’s stomach every time he came to a bouquet of microphones.
Let’s be crystal clear as to who is being talked about. “Tea-party members” is just a contemporary label for people who in previous generations would have been described as normal patriotic Americans.
Normal people – regular, fair-minded, live-and-let-live, law-abiding citizens with traditional values: work hard, save your money, play by the rules, help other people, don’t spend more than you have. These are the people being labeled “cannibals,” “vampires” and “terrorists.”
On cable news, pundit after pundit could be heard parroting the day’s talking points, likening tea-party folk to terrorists.
- MSNBC’s Steven Rattner: “It’s a form of economic terrorism. These Tea Party guys are like strapped with dynamite, standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour, and saying, ‘You do it my way or we’ll blow you up.’”
- Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson: “They strapped explosives to the Capitol.”
- MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “The GOP has become the Wahhabis of American government, willing to risk bringing down the whole country in the service of their anti-tax ideology.”
Ironically, as former CBS newsman Bernie Goldberg observed during an “O’Reilly Factor” broadcast, “These are people who don’t call real terrorists ‘terrorists.’”
Of course, before tea partiers were maligned as “terrorists,” “zombies,” “cannibals” and “vampires,” they were “racists.” And before that – even before the name “tea party” came into vogue – the same normal American people were maligned as “right-wing extremists” by the likes of the Obama Department of Homeland Security.
Is the picture becoming clearer?
There is a growing and highly influential segment of our society that regards normal, “Ozzie and Harriet,” traditional-minded Americans as evil.
The picture of ‘normal’
The early years of the Obama presidency witnessed many tea-party events colorfully evoking classic Americana, with patriots dressing up as George Washington or Thomas Paine, moms with their kids holding homemade “God bless America” signs, people praying together, a grandmother thoughtfully picking up litter after a rally so the city’s maintenance crew wouldn’t have too much to do, and so on. The Americans attending these events frequently reminded me of characters out of a patriotic Norman Rockwell painting.
You remember Norman Rockwell: He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for painting “vivid and affectionate portraits of our country” – like the man standing up at a town hall meeting to exercise his freedom of speech or the family saying grace before a meal or the crowd pledging allegiance to the flag.
Norman Rockwell painted the country most Americans have long loved and revered.
But did you know there are influential people who hate Norman Rockwell paintings?
One of the more vocal is Blake Gopnik, the Washington Post’s chief art critic for a decade, and now a contributor to Newsweek and the Daily Beast. Gopnik has written about how much he is “offended” by and even “hated [Rockwell’s] art”: “I can’t stand the view of America that he presents, which I feel insults a huge number of us non-mainstream folks.”
“Non-mainstream”? What exactly does that signify? Or maybe a better question is, if Gopnik hates Norman Rockwell’s vision of America, what vision does he love?
Here’s a possible clue. Gopnik came to the defense of a taxpayer-funded exhibit at Washington’s National Portrait Gallery by homosexual artist David Wojnarowicz of a film featuring a crucifix with ants crawling on Jesus’ body.
The Wojnarowicz exhibit also featured male sex organs, naked brothers kissing, men in chains and other offensive stuff the Washington Post’s chief art critic defended. But he hated Norman Rockwell’s work because of the image of America his art portrays – which many “mainstream” Americans would probably describe as love, affection and respect for their country. The ants-crawling-on-Jesus video is so incredibly creepy that it makes “mainstream” people want to run screaming from the room. But apparently to some, art that is sacrilegious and nausea-inducing is somehow laudable.
What we’re looking at is nothing less than a spiritual polarization of Americans – a divided population fighting on behalf of warring values.
Author Dinesh D’Souza describes the phenomenon this way:
Contrary to what we frequently read and hear, the great American divide is not a clash between conservatives who advocate liberty versus progressives who oppose liberty. Rather, the two sides each affirm a certain type of liberty.
One side, for example, cherishes economic liberty while the other champions liberty in the sexual and social domain. Nor is it a clash between patriots and anti-patriots. Both sides love America, but they love a different type of America. One side loves the America of Columbus and the Fourth of July, of innovation and work and the “animal spirit” of capitalism, of the Boy Scouts and parochial schools, of traditional families and flag-saluting veterans. The other side loves the America of tolerance and social entitlements, of income and wealth redistribution, of slave-revolts and the civil rights movement, of Indian rights and women’s rights, of sexual liberation and abortion, of gay rights and gay marriage.
How did we get to this point?
On one level, it’s simple to understand: All of us are shaped by other people – first parents and family, later friends, school, college and work, as well as culture, which today is wildly immoral and corrupting. When we go to school, our common sense and innocence are under attack. The government education system (which we prefer to call “public school”) is, just like most of our colleges, dominated by the political and cultural left. For example, a central feature of modern university life, something leveraged across every area – from curriculum to campus culture – is the mainstreaming and forced acceptance and celebration of sexual perversion and debauchery, glorified as though it were enlightened and liberating. And all for only $60,000 a year!
Unfortunately, once we’ve had our innocence and integrity ripped off and have mysteriously oozed into a darker, more conflicted version of our former self, now when somebody comes along who simply radiates the wholesome qualities we left behind, we feel uncomfortable in his or her presence. In fact, we feel positively threatened, as though there’s something malevolent about that person. At the same time, we are attracted to, and feel comfortable around, people who (like us) have been seduced to the “dark side.”
Barack Obama is no exception. He has a serious case of this syndrome, sympathizing and identifying with subversive characters while being mysteriously repelled by genuine virtue. Seen at public events with leftists radicals, LGBT groups, or pro-abortion outfits like Planned Parenthood, Obama’s smile is broad and animated; he obviously feels comfortable and at home there. Yet he displays a palpable aversion to all that is emblematic of the success of Western Judeo-Christian civilization.
Thus, no sooner was Obama sworn in as president than he immediately got rid of the long-cherished White House bust of Winston Churchill, his aides finally admitting the act after initially denouncing the claim as “100 percent false.” Far worse, from the start of his presidency, Obama manifested a mystifying coldness and incomprehension in the presence of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. That attitude shockingly escalated during Obama’s second term into an all-out effort to defeat the Jewish state’s prime minister, complete with Obama’s campaign team setting up shop in Tel Aviv to try to turn the election against the sitting leader of a trusted American ally.
Following the Bizarro Code
Although an increasingly toxic culture has negatively impacted Americans for decades, this society’s degeneration has undeniably accelerated during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Incredibly, Obama has made an annual habit of releasing onto America’s streets tens of thousands of criminal illegal aliens – people who entered this nation illegally, then were convicted in U.S. courts of serious crimes, like murder, rape and assault – but who, rather than being deported or incarcerated, have been released back into America’s communities! The specific crime breakdown for the 30,000 such criminal illegals released in 2014 wasn’t publicly disclosed, but the Washington Times reported that “among the 36,000 released in 2013 were 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions and 16,070 convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Remember my description of the comic-book Bizarro World, where the Bizarro street sweeper would actually throw dirt and debris back onto the streets to make them dirtier, rather than cleaning them up?
Isn’t the Obama administration’s annual release of at least 30,000 illegal-alien convicted criminals back onto America’s streets, rather than endeavoring to clean up our neighborhoods’ violent crime problem, even more bizarre? Personally, I’d prefer the dirt.
Recall likewise the Bizarro Code, which banned doing “anything well” or making something “perfect or beautiful.” I still vividly remember, like most Americans who were around in 1981, the thrillingly perfect three-point landing of NASA’s original space shuttle Columbia as it touched down after its maiden voyage in outer space. It made everyone proud to be an American.
But in the age of Obama, with the space shuttle program mothballed, NASA has a new mission, to inspire a new kind of pride – the pride of Muslim nations for being so great at math and science.
Hard to believe, but here’s how NASA chief Charles Bolden explains it:
When I became the NASA administrator, [President Obama] charged me with three things. … One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.
Not bizarre enough for you? How about this?
There are now calls by environmentalists for punishment, even imprisonment, for “global-warming deniers” (now renamed “climate-change deniers,” a label that still works even if the temperature goes down). One professor actually called for the death penalty for such intolerable “denial,” but this increasingly totalitarian mindset has been encouraged by the likes of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who laments, “I wish there were a law you could punish [deniers] with,” and Al Gore, who agrees, “We need to put a price on denial in politics.”
Wow. But then, what do you expect from someone who insists we should spend $90 trillion to ban cars from every major city in the world?
Of course, the problem with Al Gore’s brilliant plan to eliminate the automobile’s fossil-fuel carbon footprint is that the gross world product for 2014 – that’s the combined gross national product of every country on the planet – was $77 trillion. So, Gore wants us to spend more money than the entire world earns annually to ban cars.
I don’t think “bizarro” comes even close to describing Mr. Gore.
(And remember, all you Democrat voters, this is the candidate who came within a hair’s breadth of the presidency in 2000, winning the popular vote against George W. Bush but losing the needed electoral majority.)
So goes the bizarre transformation of America in the age of Obama. Today we have summer camps for children whose parents want to encourage their little ones to change to the opposite gender. We allow Satanic “black masses,” featuring denunciations of Jesus Christ, spitting in holy water, and rituals that include urine, nudity and sex to be publicized and held in public in the American heartland. Four-year-olds who misbehave in preschool are now handcuffed and carted off to the police station. Oh, and speaking of handcuffs, good old family friendly Walmart and Target have taken to promoting and selling sadomasochistic sex toys to cash in on the “Fifty Shades of Grey” craze.
And, let us not forget same-sex “marriage.” It seems so familiar to us now, doesn’t it? So warmly accepted and celebrated – and since the Supreme Court’s decision, “the law of the land.” But take a deep breath and consider that just a few short years ago, the idea of two men, or two women, marrying each other was regarded almost universally as not merely bizarre, but insane. Yet today, dare express disapproval of same-sex marriage and you risk being branded a bigot, an extremist and a hater akin to a Ku Klux Klansman. Worse, for many Christian business owners, politely declining to actively participate in celebrating a homosexual wedding ceremony has exposed them to lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, huge fines, mandatory pro-LGBT “reeducation,” death threats and the loss of their businesses and homes.
In many ways, today’s America makes Bizarro World of the “Superman” saga seem both tame and sane by comparison.
Yes, I know it all sounds very bleak, prompting the question, Is there a way back?
Of course there’s a way back, and that’s what this book is ultimately all about. Exploring the problems we’ve gotten ourselves into is not an end in itself, but rather a necessary step in arriving at genuinely enlightened solutions, which become apparent only when we’ve understood in a profound way what on earth has really happened to our beloved country – and to us.
Thus, in the next chapter, we’ll explore exactly how and why America has so dramatically been morphing into a freakish version of its former self. But we will also discover, as we progress through that chapter and those that follow, that vital clues are coming into view, so that by the time we reach the end of our journey together, the way back – both for us as individuals and for our great nation – will be clear.