Monday, December 19, 2016

Proverbs 8 Extended Ode to the Life of Wisdom

The 8th chapter of Proverbs presents the life of Wisdom in a positive sense, and in two manners. The "life of Wisdom" is taken to mean the life one leads when one seeks and cherishes wisdom. Also, "Wisdom" is again personified and the life of Wisdom is presented as the historical contributions of wise thought to the world, beginning with God's creation of the Universe.

The opening of the chapter states the Wisdom is calling, raising her voice, "on the heights besides the way" and " in the paths" man might take (8:2-3). This is important because Solomon personifies Wisdom as someone who is available, a willing companion to all and not a closed-off frequenter only of the elites.

Almost the entire chapter is a speech delivered by Wisdom to man, telling men, first all the wonders that come with Wisdom -- pure truth, instruction worth more than gold and silver and jewels, and knowledge and discretion (8:4-12).

Then there is a description of the personality of Wisdom -- She fears the Lord and can teach men how to be like her. She turns people from pride and arrogance, and she herself hates "perverted speech." (8:13).

The historical "life of Wisdom" begins in the 15th verse, when Wisdom mentions that she determines which kings reign, which rulers offer just decrees, which princes rule, and who flourishes with riches, honor, wealth and prosperity (15-19).

Starting at the 22nd verse the biography of Wisdom goes back even further, to creation, and here is where things become intriguing. Up until now, Wisdom has been associated with all the things one expects to link to wisdom -- career success, a peaceful flourishing, good relationships, morality, etc. -- but now Wisdom is positioned as an instrument of creation and creativity.

For ten verses, Wisdom states that she was there when God created the whole world, including the mountains, skies, fountains of the deep, and foundations of the earth. The act of creating is imbued with Wisdom itself -- beauty, too, and the miracle of creation come with Wisdom.

What does this mean to a man who seeks to leave homosexuality? A great deal, actually. For this passage in Proverbs 8 reminds us that acts of creation, including the sex of procreation, come from Wisdom. Wise choices allow us to direct sexual energy toward those behaviors that bring life and new creativity--male-female union, and the siring of new souls.

The unspoken admonition in this passage is that without Wisdom, no acts can be creative. Hence, homosexuality, which does not create, is both uncreative and anti-creative, or destructive. It is urge without Wisdom.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Proverbs 7 The Fable of the Faithless Woman

In Proverbs 7, Solomon embarks on an extended fable of a young man being sexually enticed by a "loose woman," who stands as a counter-symbol against "Wisdom."

In this chapter the Bible continues the personification of Wisdom as a woman, though this time, it is specified as a "sister": "Say to wisdom, you are my sister, and call insight your intimate friend; to preserve you from the loose woman, from the adventuress with her smooth words" (7:4-5).

Often we have a habit in everyday speech of associating sexual experience with "knowledge" or even "wisdom," such as when we say someone has a lot of carnal knowledge or someone's got "wisdom beyond their years" because they started having sex at a young age.

Here, however, wisdom is cast as antithetical to sexual adventure. Yet the loose woman, lacking as she is in wisdom, does not present herself as unwise, as in transparently naive or stupid. Rather, she is wily and falsely wise, or disordered in her use of knowledge. Solomon says that he looked through the lattice of window to see "a young man without sense, passing along the street near the corner, taking the road to her house, in the twilight, in the evening, in the time of night and darkness" (7:7-9).

With this framework, we are set up to read the young man as someone who is largely to blame for his sexual ruin, because he is violating many of the ideas that have preceded in Proverbs 1-6. He has not the sense to understand that he cannot trust himself in vulnerable contexts. It is the fool who thinks he can wander close to a lusty woman's home when it is dark outside. The temptation is too grave.

Yet much of the sexual fall results from the loose woman's own carefully selected words. She misrepresents herself consciously because she is "dressed as a harlot, wily of heart" (7:10). After grabbing the boy and kissing him, she states, "I had to offer sacrifices and today I have paid my vows, so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly" (7:14-15). Why this line about the loose woman claiming that she has partaken dutifully in her vows and rites?

It would seem that Solomon includes the line about the loose woman's ruse of holiness because he wants the vulnerable to understand that seducers often misrepresent themselves as pious, thereby taking their victims off guard. The woman appeals to the young man's love of sensual pleasures and fineries, as she mentions her perfume and the Egyptian linen of her bed. Also, she mentions that her husband is away on business, having taken a bag of money with him.

The man cannot resist her talk and her ruses, so "all at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught." (7:22-23).

For the ex-gay Christian the fable resonates even without the heterosexual dynamic of the older woman seducing a young, innocent man. The underlying problem of sexual vulnerability is that those with the intent to despoil others sexually have usually had a great deal of practice and often embark with a careful strategy. Only arrogance can lead someone to believe that they can stand alone, dancing with sin, without getting dirty.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Proverbs 6: To Strive in Work and Love

In Proverbs 6, there is a sudden emphasis on "slacking," or doing things with a noticeable lack of effort. This arrives first in some verses in which Solomon warns people about getting into financial vows they know they cannot fulfill. If you jump into a deal and now find yourself on the hook for something you can't pay, Solomon's advice is to "go humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor."

While these opening verses would seem to be merely about managing one's finances shrewdly, Solomon inserts a line telling the reader "don't give sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids; escape like a gazelle from a hunter, like a bird from a fowler's trap."

The problem with disadvantageous deals stems, arguably, from people lacking the initiative and drive to explore all options and engage in the necessary due diligence prior to signing an agreement. The admonition about not sleeping then affords a transition from the discussion of poor financial deals to other problems that arise from lack of energy: laziness, malice, and then the seven things the Lord hates: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers. Some of these issues seem not to be directly connected to laziness, but they are in one sense. It is often a desire to get easy rewards without making the necessary sacrifices, which lead to these forms of vice.

The malicious man "winking his eyes, signaling with his feet," seems to want to cut corners and get deals through improper corruption. But the link to the rest of the chapter is that hard work, if done earnestly, will allow someone to prosper without cheating. And often the due diligence necessary to reap the fruits of hard work is itself more work we like to avoid: balancing one's checkbooks, doing research on what the better deal is, haggling, bargaining, etc.

Many of the other vices are also indirectly connected to idleness, which is the twin evil of laziness. There is always work to do, but when we loiter and malinger, we end up replacing necessary work time with idle time, and in idle time we drift into gossip, plotting, and even, as the chapter closes, adultery.

Keep busy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Proverbs 5: The Secret Fountain v. the Polluted Stream

Proverbs 5 is labeled, in some translations, a warning against immoral women. But one can read the proverb allegorically, as contrasting the private delight of a chaste marriage with the shame and despair of sexual faithlessness.

The proverb begins with an extended warning against an archetype, a woman who seduces men but ruins them. It is interesting to note that the first part of her that is vilified is actually her mouth: "the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood" (5:3).

This proverb might be best suited for a man who is struggling with the temptations of lusty noncommittal women. But for the man struggling against homosexuality it is not difficult to transfer the "loose woman" into an allegory for the gay community as a whole. With its slogans and sex-ridden poetry and hyper-sensual gatherings, the gay community does entice people with ideas that look sweet and smooth as oil.

But then see what the proverb states will follow if one is drawn by the smell of honey. The proverb states, "her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol." (5:5-6).

Later the text tells us that she will end up stealing one's cherished titles and distributing them aimlessly to others: "do not go near the door of her house; lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless; lest strangers take the fill of your strength and your labors go to the house of an alien" (5:9-11).

I had to read the verses above a few times to figure out what the proverb is saying about the "loose woman." Is she actually a thief who only plots to take your hard work and let others share in it? Is this a portrait of cuckolding?

The next line gives some clarity: "at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, 'How I hated discipline!'" (5:12-13).

There is a sense that the lack of boundaries between the man and the loose woman deprives him of necessary boundaries not only in sex but also in other parts of his life. If he is willing to make love to a woman whom he hasn't exchanged vows with, then why should anybody honor any deals or contracts made with him?

Sex, when unmoored from its safe context of chastity, ends up unraveling everything in a person's life. Work, home, friendships, worship, and even one's civic identity all become muddied, confused, and poisoned. Water serves as a useful metaphor in the proverb as the chapter contrasts drinking "from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well" with "springs" "scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets." (5:15-18).

The most refreshing water, the chapter tells us, comes from the private fountain -- "the wife of your youth, a lovely hind, a graceful doe." The imagery of pollution here is tied intricately into the imagery of public/private boundaries being obscured. The joy and happiness come with the clear, pure waters of one's own fountain rather than the filthy water running through the streets.

Water is like one's spirit, and lovemaking is like a pouring of spirit just like a pouring of water from a jar. One problem with the temptations of gay life is the public identity of gayness, which dictates that you must "come out" and when you have relations, you are not only communing with one person but with the whole political meaning of the person's gayness. You make love not only to one person but to the whole community. Your lover begins by being reduced to a fungible and vague category -- "I am for you because you are gay and I am a man and gay" rather than "I am for you because I am your private fountain and our love is what God designed." There is no way to replicate the privacy and personal closeness of the male-female bond in a world so overdetermined by political identity. Hence the "water" of gay sexuality is like the water running dirty through the streets.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Proverbs 4: Fatherhood and the Two Ways

The fourth chapter of Proverbs picks up with the structure of a father's advice to sons, inflected with "discipline" as the last chapter before it. In this chapter Solomon begins by addressing his own sons, beseeching them to hold the instructions close just as he listened to King David's advice in his own youth.

This chapter is relatively short and breaks quickly into a contrast, a juxtaposition of two paths. On one path, the one to be avoided, travel the evil ones. The path of the wicked is both dark and sleepless, a place where wine is laced with violence and people cannot rest peacefully. The way of the righteous, by contrast, is lit by the light of dawn.

The imagery of paths reminds me that it matters where we place ourselves. Even when we are simply in transit between two places, we need to avoid passing, even transiently, through places that bring us anxiety, stress, or doom. The resonance with the man struggling to overcome a sexually degenerate past seems to dovetail with this fable of the two paths. How many times do men set out to leave the gay lifestyle, and then fall back into it, even though they wanted more than anything else not to? I suspect that often such a man does not schedule a visit to a gay club ahead of time, but rather arrives at Friday night, perhaps sleepless, and finds himself with nothing to do and a vague restlessness. He gets up, throws on jeans and a black t-shirt, and then decides to drive around. He passes the gay club and tells himself he will just get a quick drink.

And then he goes in, and he falls, and he feels the crushing pain of lost years of chastity.

Paths are not merely physical but also in an abstract sense, our routine. In particular, the symbolize the way we bridge different parts of our day. Yes, during business hours you will be busy and untempted, most likely, and perhaps you can arrange to work out with a friend from church each night in the evening. But unfortunately there will be hours in between when nobody but God can keep you safe from drifting into danger zones.

The key is to link Proverbs 4 with Proverbs 3. During all the hours when you cannot count on others to keep you busy and accounted for, do not be fooled to think you can manage yourself for those hours on your own. Only Jesus can get you from place to place. When you are between appointments, or having down time, pray. This is why, I assume, some religions call for prayer several times a day, so there might be no idle time at all during which the slacking hours leave a person open to Satan's tricks.

I keep busy with my daily devotional. Now I have come to get good at talking to Jesus whenever there is nobody to talk to, and praying whenever there is nothing to do. When I find myself mulling and stressing, ruing over things I've done wrong and imagining worst-case scenarios, I remind myself that such is a sinful path. It is sinful to worry because one is traveling a path far from God. God can be trusted, he must be trusted. To worry and rue is to question the sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Proverbs 3--Discipline and Creativity v. Fear and Loathing

As I journey through the chapters of proverbs, I am struck by how often the father-son relationship is invoked. Solomon seems to take very seriously his role as a father, and his father's role as his father as well. Yet the specific historical details of King David's family do not figure in the proverbs. The words of wisdom speak in general rules applicable to anybody reading them.

In the third chapter, "loyalty and faithfulness" now enter as important companions to wisdom (3:3)--both are to be worn like a tie around one's neck, and written on one's heart as if etched on a tablet.

From this mention of loyalty and faithfulness comes a new tone here. Somewhat surprisingly, loyalty to God means the inverse for one's faith in one's self. Here the struggler determined to overcome a homosexual past is probably most called to the Book of Proverbs. The memories of one's time in the gay world will always be, unfortunately, mixed together. There will be times of kindness, friendship, and even something approaching love--certainly some pleasure--mixed in with the darkness of the falling away from God, the loneliness, the unstable relationships, the health problems, and the constant sadness.

I find myself struggling now to die fully to the past, because there is still a part of me longing for the positive things I had in the gay lifestyle, but the Lord has set events before me that have made it clear: I cannot have the pleasure (even the mental or verbal pleasure of thinking or talking about it), the camaraderie with fellow travelers, or the thrill of doing something forbidden, without falling away from God.

I cannot trust myself. Certainly I cannot trust the friends I made when I was in the gay lifestyle, because their natural motive will be either to punish me for leaving them, or to draw me back into their circle. The third chapter of Proverbs states, "Don't consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body, and strengthening for your bones" (3:7-8).

I feel that these lines are written so perfectly for a man in the struggle I face. Part of surviving the gay world is the memory of all those moments when I sensed that I was shrewd and cunning, able to compartmentalize and engage in secret pleasures while playing all the people around me so that I would avoid falling into the ruin that I already saw consuming so many of my gay colleagues. I thought I was smart because I knew how to use condoms, how to avoid getting HIV, how to have flings without getting caught up with stalkers or tiresome relationships. I thought I had it all figured it out.

But there is no wisdom in me apart from God, and God's wise words have stated that I should not be in any paths that lead to sodomy. This may mean, now, that I have to cut off all communication with friends I made in the gay world--not because I do not love them, not because I don't want them to be saved, but because I am not wise enough or strong enough to deal with them directly, without stumbling. Proverbs states, "do no loathe God's discipline, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in." (3:11-12).

It was sacrilege each time, in the gay world, I indulged the fantasies of the gay leather community. In that world, "daddies" search for sons and sons search for "daddies." As a tan-skinned Puerto Rican it was expected that I would be a submissive; the entire underground culture circumscribed to me the role of the subordinate seeking "discipline" from a white father figure. There is no way to engage in anything of the sort without dishonoring God, who Proverbs tell us is the one who disciplines us with wisdom, holiness, and divine love, not sin and sodomy and perversion.

"Happy is a man who finds wisdom," says Proverbs 3, as wisdom is compared to jewels, riches, honor, and pleasant ways. Wisdom flows from the creator of all things, since Proverbs 3 tells us "The Lord founded the earth by wisdom and established the heavens by understanding. By His knowledge the watery depths broke open and the clouds dripped with dew" (3:19-20).

The man trapped in gay living yearns to overcome the lines above, to replace creation and creativity based on the divine model of male and female becoming one flesh, with another model based on worldly concepts misconstrued as "wise" and a rejection of God's plan for an overconfident alternative put forward by men. Creation is a divine act, one that Proverbs would depict as tied together with wisdom. Wise ways are fruitful, not sterile or destructive.

Then Proverbs 3 paints a happy picture of the man who lives by wisdom, a man who "will go safely," "will not be afraid" upon lying down, and will have pleasant sleep without fear, for "the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare." (3:23-26).

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Proverbs 2: Delight v. Danger

Chapter 2 of Proverbs continues with the theme of Wisdom. I cannot help but notice the greater presence of hope and joy in this chapter. In 2:6, Solomon says, "the LORD gives wisdom," continuing to say that God is a "shield," "may guard" paths of justice, and will protect those loyal to Him.

Solomon states that after God has blessed someone, it "will enter your mind and knowledge will delight your heart" (2:10). The theme of delight seems to bless this chapter with a particular emphasis on feeling of liberation from the the things one feels in the absence of wisdom.

"Discretion" also figures now as a companion to wisdom, indicating that with discretion one finds protection from various threats: "those who abandon the right paths to walk in the ways of darkness ... and celebrate perversion" (2:11-12).

For where I am right now, I have to balance this call for discretion with the need to seek help from others to resist temptation. What worries me is that too much discretion gives someone with my particular struggles the tendency to hide and dissemble--conduct that can be deadly for someone who hopes to be delivered from the darkness of homosexuality. The answer to this concern of mine comes at the end for the chapter when Solomon says, "follow the way of good people, and keep to the paths of the righteous" (2:20-21). This reminds me that it is good to share struggles with people you know you can trust, rather than struggling in silence and hoping that secrecy will somehow protect you from falling away from God.

The proverb presents various examples of people to avoid: perverts, the devious, "forbidden woman" (2:16), "a stranger with her flattering talk" (2:16) who seems to abandon friends and forget the covenant of her God, only to see her house sink down to to death. The proverb stands as a solid reminder that many stumbling blocks that might trip up a man seeking righteousness are human threats: conduct, behaviors, habits, that one might misinterpret as normal when one surrounds oneself with them.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Welcome to a Series of Posts: Atonement through Proverbs

I came to a trusted spiritual adviser earlier this week to confess a grave sin, and to beg for mercy. It was not a physical sin, but one of thoughts and speech. He is a very devoted Christian, not a little older than I am. He was instrumental in accomplishing the Lord's grace for me and delivering me out of the troublesome work I did in California.

My identity as one who escaped the darkness of homosexuality has become public and even high-profile. On the last day of class this semester, my students gathered together Christmas cards thanking me for being a good teacher. From time to time I receive emails from people praising me and gratitude for my witness.

This public identity forces me to observe a high standard for truth and integrity. When I turned to my spiritual adviser, I was at the nadir of a horrible ten days of melancholy. I had to admit something that I could not bear to hold inside any longer: After so many years of marriage to a woman and freedom from the thoughts of sodomy, I was struggling again. Though I had done nothing in the flesh, my thoughts were being "darkened," as it is described in Romans 1, and I found myself increasingly drawn to thoughts of going back to homosexuality. I kept remembering the foul odors and humiliation of the restrooms in the 1980s, the racist gay sex trade and underground dungeons of the 1990s, as well as the lurid websites that set in during the early years of the Internet.

In my sinful pride I had thought that "pride" would never be my downfall. Yet it was largely pride that had caused my fall into despair. Having escaped the doldrums of Los Angeles, having emerged from an extended war with Big Gay unscathed, and having found new success with the premiere of the play Sunlight, I had assumed that I was untouchable. All the struggles were behind me, and I wasn't even feeling homosexual urges or any nostalgia any more--or so I thought.

In the run-up to the premiere of Sunlight, I had the misfortune of being betrayed by a young gay actor who took an advance salary to play the role of "Bobby," basically me, in the drama in London. He quit two days before the show saying he didn't feel "safe" or "protected" being in the play, citing the homophobia of its likely audience. Since many tickets had already been sold by the producer, I was forced to play myself as a young man during those years when I spiraled into confusion, promiscuity, and sodomy. I had only one day to memorize all the lines (thank goodness I wrote them, so it wasn't that hard) and rehearse.

I was happy with my performance, but found that it was not good to be thrust back into one's earlier, dark years. This reminded me why I had hired an actor in the first place. Having to remember and revive the images of the 1980s and 1990s, when I was desperate to be loved by a father figure and scarred by the racial violence of Buffalo's blue-collar suburbs, I flew back to the United States feeling as though I was in a time warp.

I was back there, back inside the mind of a young Puerto Rican man dependent on older white homosexuals to survive. I wandered into conversations with people still in the gay world, still steeped in the taboo-breaking fantasies and vulgar thrills. The aftermath of Trump's election had placed both sexual hysteria and racism back at the front of the media's shrill reportage. My personal situation interacted unhealthily with what everyone else was talking about. I found myself in conversations with people who found excitement in breaking the politically correct taboos that Trump had ostensibly torn down. Even gay whites who had not voted for Trump suddenly felt liberated to speak in perfect frankness about their stereotypical fantasies.

Breaking taboos can usually be as enticing as throwing repression to the wind. But I fell into an emotional tunnel for a little over a week, feeling as though my struggle might be far longer and harder than I ever could have imagined. I was back in the "gay underworld," after so many years, and now with a wife and children who must know nothing about the thoughts in my head. Part of me found the memories irresistible and even fantasized about quitting my current life, going back, and living the life of an underground prowler once more.

Part of me wanted to minister to people around me, all thrown to and fro by the racial and sexual passions unleashed by the Trump election.

The gravest blow I felt, however, was to pray and feel that Jesus no longer wanted to hear my prayers. My lips had spoken foul words, and my heart had fallen prey to sinful thoughts once more. It seemed I could not get God to answer my prayers.

So I went to my adviser and offered to give him all the cards I'd received from my students. "These are all honoring a man who does not exist," I said. "They think I am someone who conquered sin, and I haven't. This is all a lie."

But my adviser was firm and unyielding. He told me that this was the spiritual battlefield, that I was confronting the devil face to face now, and I must ask God for forgiveness and move forward with my career. Surrendering to these disturbing thoughts would be the truly evil thing to do.

His kind words reminded me that there are many men who want so badly to get out of homosexuality, and my life serves as a potential example to them. If I were to succumb to this sadness and give up, then go back into it in the flesh, I might not only doom myself but many others.

My adviser suggested that I spend each night contemplating on one chapter of the book of proverbs. So here I will engage in this. I will keep a diary online so that others who face similar struggles can pray for me, lest I slide, and also so that I can pray for them, even without knowing their names, lest they do.

Proverbs 1

This proverb must be dear to anyone whose job is to teach and advise others. Most of it is about "learning what wisdom and discipline are" (1:2). Both wisdom and discipline matter, and the proverb develops a sense of what each means.

This chapter acts as an introduction to all the proverbs in a sense. The wise man, we hear, will "listen and increase his learning" (1:7). Maybe it was not entirely wrong for me to open my ears to the thoughts of men still trapped in the racial inequality of the homosexual world, for it is proper that I should know what awaits all of us in the traps that Satan sets for us. The higher purpose, of course, must be to find parables and riddles that I can grow wise enough to understand, in order to avoid the traps and live a life of discipline.

I feel affirmed in my cause and the public positions I've taken in 1:8, when Solomon says to listen to both the father's and mother's lessons. My public stance against homosexuality is based, first and foremost, on the essential importance of having a mother and father--and here Solomon backs me up. The problem, perhaps, is that I have been too prideful in my argumentation, believing foolishly that I was above the dangers of lapsing into the actual lusts that drive homosexuals to suggest motherless or fatherless families.

"My son," Solomon says, "if sinners entice you, don't be persuaded." (1:10). This was the line that I failed to follow in my youth. To be truthful, when I was a boy and a young man, I was a handsome Latino. In the gay world, all I had was my beauty and eagerness to make older men with money feel good. The racist remarks that would come about during such interludes were part of the charm of the situation, and I thought that I could get the coddling and attention without feeding prejudice and injustice. Here I was wrong.

"Such are the paths," says Solomon, "of all who make profit dishonestly; it takes the lives of those who receive it." (1:19)

Wisdom appears personified as a woman, almost sounding like the appearance of Philosophy in the writings of Boethius. She threatens to mock those who keep ignoring her counsel and choosing to do foolish things. Yet her closing words are a consolation to those who feel the darkness I am just now emerging from: "For the turning away of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will live securely and be free from the fear of danger." (1:33)

To listen is to change--this is the ending note of the proverb.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

TRUMP: SAY NO TO JANET NAPOLITANO AND TIMOTHY WHITE ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT STUDENTS!

Dear President-Elect Trump,
R. O. Lopez

I was one of about 130 scholars who supported you in a letter issued in September 2016; see http://amgreatness.com/2016/09/28/writes-scholars-for-trump/. At the time everyone said we were crazy to support you publicly, but I saw the potential in you and knew you were going to be a fantastic president. I am in your camp. And I have something to share with you.

By now you should be in receipt of this letter signed by Janet Napolitano and Timothy White, representing the 10 University of California campuses and the 23 California State University campuses. 

https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/sites/default/files/UC-CSU-CCC-DACA-Letter-11-29-16.pdf

The California letter is asking that you renew the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) order, which you would inherit from President Obama. The letter urges you to violate one of your central campaign vows and move to ensure that people who are not legally in the country will study at California campuses without fear of law enforcement, and with plentiful financial support from the state. Please do not go along with these sentimental pleas. Enforce our laws for the good of everyone, and take the enablers of lawlessness and corruption on college campuses to task.

The ethnic diversity on California campuses does not create little paradises like Cordova, but rather huge plantations where white liberals exploit minorities en masse. Keeping illegal immigrants in colleges under the false hope of being able to better themselves without rectifying their residency is cruel. It deludes and frustrates such people; moreover, it compels everyone to deny the real problems caused by stateless migrants' being in a place where they are powerless rather than in their home countries where they have strong cultural, linguistic, and ethnic ties. 

Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Armenia, and the Philippines are not uncivilized jungles with no prospects. These are nations that have functional governments and centuries of civilization. People can go back and find a better life there, adding their talents where they are badly needed. It benefits nobody for them to belong to a de facto serf class in the United States, fearing deportation and having to go along with the pressures placed on them by people who have excessive bargaining power over them.

Regarding California's campus culture, I speak with extensive and painful firsthand experience. I was a professor for eight years at California State University-Northridge, under both Chancellors Charles Reed and Timothy White; in fact I earned tenure there. I served under President Dianne Harrison and Provost Yi Li. 

In their letter Janet Napolitano and Timothy White profess to care about the students who add to their diverse, inclusive campus climate, and who would have to leave the university in the event that Obama's DACA is rescinded. 

Rather than accept Napolitano and White's claims at face value, you should look skeptically at their likely motives. In all likelihood these people care nothing about illegal immigrants be they Latino or of any other ethnicity. They want the steady flow of cash into their coffers. 

If they cared about these students affected by DACA, they would be giving them instruction that could help them in their specific situation. Indeed, the education they offer students is horrendous. I know because I was in the College of Humanities at Northridge. Under the direction of radical lesbian feminist Elizabeth Say the campus dismantled essential educational programs such as Classics and replaced them with ideologically driven departments like Queer Studies. 

California State University kicked out InterVarsity, a Christian fellowship, but is proud to display a permanent wall mural in Jerome Richfield Hall glorifying abortion, turning the US flag upside down, and demonizing the Border Patrol with the caricature of a fanged white agent clubbing a helpless Latino man. While one colleague in English upbraided me for listing a scholarly presentation I made at a Baptist church on my resume, the campus counted endless perversions as legitimate academic activities worthy of public support: among many others, a "concert" by a "queer icon" named "Bitch," the Vagina Monologues, the musical "Urinetown," a speech by aging homosexual Star Trek actor George Takei, a workshop led by literal whores, and an event to talk about trans LGBTQ Latino migrants

Needless to say, these supposedly scholarly events do nothing to prepare students who are not in the country legally and face a rigorous, difficult future full of weighty decisions and daunting challenges. If anything, the frivolous promiscuity probably instills habits in such students that will make them even less able to get out of the hardships of their undocumented status.

The decay of California's curriculum is systemwide. I served on the College Personnel Committee recently and had to oversee twenty files of professors seeking retention or promotion. The College assigned to me the task of reviewing applicants from the departments of Chicano Studies, Central American Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies. The vast majority of academics in the College of Humanities were not doing humanities work; they were engaging in highly politicized activism that lacked any of the erudition or objectivity of true scholarship. It was painful to read so much ineptitude and to know that this represented the sum total of instruction available to students. Frankly, a student who is in the country illegally would be better off being repatriated to Guatemala and spending four years on learning about Latin America, to decide whether or not to immigrate back lawfully, rather than stagnating in California through four years of such bias and lackluster scholarship.

The professors throughout the system reward people who share their extremist political views. 
Timothy White has failed to protect scholarly integrity. Even worse, under his watch, academic freedom has eroded. I was placed under investigation for over 600 days for anti-gay "discrimination" because I took students to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The conference was about family bonds in classical literature and in contemporary America, but there was no content focused on homosexuality. The claim was that a gay student had a nervous breakdown when he saw an irrelevant pamphlet somewhere, with one line on it about people who choose to leave the gay lifestyle and live celibate lives. This was one of several preposterous "investigations" I endured by the Equity and Diversity office. 

Why was I targeted and excluded so much? Usually the most obvious explanation is the correct one. I was serving under Dean Elizabeth Say, a feminist who acts as point-person for the Clinton Global Initiative on campus. Under her I was the only outspoken and highly visible Republican professor.

Constituents of Dana Rohrabacher wrote to the Congressman complaining about the persecution of conservatives like me after reading an article in the Daily Caller about it. See http://dailycaller.com/2015/11/09/taxpayer-funded-diversity-bureaucrats-hound-professor-compare-reagan-library-to-kkk-camp/

From what I can gather, Rep. Rohrabacher wrote directly to Timothy White about the obvious violation of my academic freedom and the clear political bias in the witch hunt over the Reagan Library. Chancellor Timothy White doubled down on the Title IX investigation, which was the subject of many negative press stories. After Timothy White's indifferent response to Dana Rohrabacher's letter, the Northridge bureaucrats were emboldened and grew even more aggressive. Within several months, the provost called me into his office and threatened to hand down a punishment over the Reagan Library case if I continued to write about racial discrimination against Latinos and viewpoint bias on campus.

By May and June 2016, I was having to be escorted by campus police because of concerns about obsessive emails sent about me by Rudy Acuña, a Chicano Studies professor who implied that I was a CIA agent sent to provoke people on campus. Rudy Acuña, the octogenarian Chicano who authored Occupied America, also stated that I was a worthless person whom nobody would mourn, in the event that I should die. After a great deal of prayer and reflection, I resigned the position, abandoning tenure in favor of a job out of state. See here:

http://redalertpolitics.com/2016/06/08/conservative-bisexual-latino-professor-forced-quit-hellish-teaching-experience/

As a Latino and Christian I feel for people who are faced with the daunting task of migrating and/or separating from their families for a time. Nonetheless, I have migrated many times across difficult distances. When changes around you force you to move and start over in a new place, you do it. In my thirties I packed all my belongings, including cheap furniture I bought at yard sales and Ikea, and drove 2,549 miles for a job to support my family better. My wife and I had to live over 1,000 miles away from each other for four years, because the job market was so poor in California and we could only save up money by working in full-time jobs in separate cities. Only people who have never faced such real struggle could view "migration" and "temporary separation of families" with such mysterious horror that they think brown-skinned Central Americans cannot handle these basic survival tasks that people have done for thousands of years.

DACA students do not benefit from attending either the UCs or the CSUs. They end up falling into debt for a degree that will not rectify their residency status and therefore will not allow them to find gainful employment. The only people who benefit are the administrators who like having overcrowded campuses and lots of money flowing into the system.

As I am sure you can imagine, both the UC and CSU systems are rife with people who despise everything you and your supporters stand for and openly reject objectivity to disparage Christians, conservatives, and Republicans any chance they get. There is rampant anti-Latino discrimination that goes unaddressed within these systems, but this comes in the form of giving Latino students an inferior education and in persecuting Latino faculty who dare to have an independent mind and a different political view from the stereotypical left.

It would be beyond foolish to indulge their requests for a continuation of DACA. If anything, you should make it clear right away that if the UC and CSU systems conspire to violate federal immigration law they should be deemed ineligible for tax-exempt status or any federal support.

Yours truly,

Robert Oscar Lopez, PhD

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TrumpLand: It's Not a Culture War, It's an Anti-Propaganda War

Our Urgent Tasks in a Post-Trump Anti-Propaganda War
Robert Oscar Lopez

The election of Donald J. Trump will prove to be far more significant than any of us Trump Train riders might have even dreamed. What looked like a desperate attempt to stave off complete and permanent domination by the American left has actually revealed truths that bear a lot of promise: [1] A large swath of the country is firmly with conservatives on social principles if not on fiscal matters, [2] the libertarian-conservative intelligentsia that demonstrated so much weakness and ineffectiveness for decades is not a valid reflection of conservatism in the population at large, and [3] conservative strategies can work if people are energetic, willing to take risks, and smart.

Perhaps the most important revelation of November 8, 2016, however, was that all of the right wing’s focus on political activism has been overkill. Republicans own America’s political structure; the GOP controls the House, the Senate, and almost 70% of state legislatures and governorships. These gains developed over time, even during the supposed peak liberalism of the early Obama years. So all of our consternation about the threat of a vanishing Republican Party was wasted worry.

If we never needed to spend so much time worrying about politics, why do so many of us on the conservative side still feel like we are immersed in a war with the left? The answer is simple: for all the domination of politics by conservatives, there is a corollary counter-domination of culture by liberals, and for most right-wing people, there is a deep awareness that the cultural exile experienced by conservatives matters and warrants some anxiety.

Trump’s win is important not because it is the final reward for the valiant battles we fought, but rather, because Trump will be the most important weapon in the battles awaiting us in the frontier of culture. This is not the time to rest—the iron is hot right now, so this is the time to strike. If given time unchallenged, the liberal forces arrayed against us will do what they have done in the past, scheming and manipulating and plotting so that when we mobilize, it will be too late again. Our great mistake over the past decades was to summarize these battles as a “Culture War,” when in fact we were not fighting a culture—the left has no culture, only propaganda.

For all of the left’s control of national conversation and entertainment, the left has failed to produce, in 60 years, any sort of compelling values, inspiring way of life, or holistic belief system that could make sense of human experience or instill happiness. The left has given us critiques of the past, vague notions of tolerance and equality, plus a neurotic need for authority figures to punish dissenters under the McCarthyite banners of “bigots,” “haters,” and “un-American fundamentalists.”

We are not culture warriors, we are anti-propaganda warriors. The culture that conservatives hold dear, based on American self-reliance, tradition, strength, and Judeo-Christian beliefs, is strong and well; it is simply buried under layers of the left’s fluffy platitudes and perversions. We need only brush away the propaganda and the culture will thrive again.

Money, Infrastructure, Time

So let’s get to it. How do we combat the left’s enormous propaganda? As someone who was in the trenches during the motherlode of all cultural flashpoints—the debate over same-sex “marriage” and parenting—I have to conclude that there were enormous mistakes made by the conservative movement, which must be addressed. Here are the key problems: (1) We sought to argue with the left in the hopes of winning with better arguments, (2) we trusted our cause to an exclusive clique of leaders better designed to look good to the left than to reflect conservative people truthfully, and (3) we neglected the practical matters of organizing our money, infrastructure, and time.

If we were really fighting a left-wing ideology, perhaps we could invest our hopes in the tenet advanced in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, namely “things which are true and things which are just are by nature stronger” (Book I, l.21). This assumption on conservatives’ part was wildly off the mark (pace Aristotle), for the left never gained its advantageous ground by having better arguments about anything. The left merely took control of the institutions, meeting spaces, money, and personnel who would be able to give them an exclusive platform.

From our misguided belief that the truth could speak for itself and victory would come from mounting better arguments came the folly of investing all our hopes in a tiny cabal of well-groomed and telegenic spokespeople. The same faces appeared again and again, shared millions of times on Facebook on Twitter. I can think of one spokesman for traditional marriage who delivered endless lectures at university campuses and elsewhere; he has been sent to over a dozen countries, in which traditional marriage lost every single time. With book contracts and flawlessly promoted appearances on TV talk shows, he was the embodiment of the right wing’s Peter Principle: keep investing in pretty faces who lose with style, and keep everyone else off the radar because they’re “risky.”

We have got to shift gears and completely re-envision our struggle and what we are doing. This means trusting that we have the truth already so we do not waste copious time repeating the same arguments to ourselves, hoping that some undecided people will overhear and come to our side. This means having a strong offense and a strong defense: With the post-Trump government decidedly within our sphere of influence, we must cut off the supply chain of money, time, and infrastructure that has enabled the left’s propaganda machine, and we have to move quickly to assemble our own arsenal. Going forward, we must be clear that there’s no point arguing with the left on the left’s turf. This is a war of resources, not a war of ideas.

Here are our priorities in order of importance:

Churches

When we were fighting against gay marriage, we made a huge tactical error in thinking we had to fight in the courts and media first, trusting that the churches would be safe. I fell for this delusion as well. As I pointed out in a recent conference in London (“The New Normal”), I followed many others’ leads and minimized the churches’ influence on my position, for fear of being tied in people’s minds to “old church ladies telling people what to do.” After half a decade of this, I’ve realized that “old church ladies” are the most important group to get on our side, and we have to have their confidence first. Why? Unlike everybody else, they show up and bring food. On their often unacknowledged labor rested most of the breakthrough moments I saw in the fight against leftist propaganda, not only in the United States but also in France and the United Kingdom.

It is alluring but fanciful to dream of winning over secular feminists and prestigious men in suits, but these would-be partners are notoriously slippery. I tried, for instance to open up a dialogue with innumerable liberal feminists in hopes we could build a coalition. Queer feminists Yasmin Nair, Claire Potter, Cathy Brennan, Sheena Malhotra, and others all reacted to my attempts to engage them in authentic conversation with paranoid recoil, feeling the need to repudiate or even viciously attack me in public lest their liberal allies think they were really in league with me. Other liberal feminists such as Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy and Laura Kipnis were hot & cold interlocutors, willing at times to share thoughts but then prone to close doors on key positions such as defense of life and/or the opposition to sodomy.

From time to time, there would be gay men who looked willing to engage in real discussion. I brought queer theorist Tim Dean to my campus to deliver a speech on Tom Jones in 2013. I agreed to speak on a panel hosted by playwright Tony Abbatemarco after a performance of Forever House. I even exchanged some messages with Frank Ligtvoet, a gay adoptive father, and hired a gay actor to play the lead in the premier of the play I co-wrote with Michelle Shocked, Sunlight. All these attempts ended up leaving me drained and exhausted, because in the end, such crossover discussants always wanted a veto to block discussion of the central issues they considered non-starters. I call this phenomenon “lefty creep.”

Highly esteemed conservative straight men can be nearly as frustrating. If they have sinecures or some kind of emeritus status in the movement, most likely they only want new advocates to emerge if they have personally mentored them. The effect of this is that the movement remains small, incestuous, and dull.

The beauty of church-focused social movements is that they offer a quick route to the grassroots and rely on long-established networks of trust and familiarity. Churches are a good offense against propaganda because of the physical resources alone: for instance, the multitude of multipurpose rooms, reading rooms, furniture, and props that spend much of the American workweek unused. Additionally, churches are a badly needed defensive theater, because the left has spent large amounts of money on promoting a false theology favorable to their pet causes like same-sex marriage. If churches at the local level block people with false theological grounding from taking over pastorates, this will protect the whole conservative movement as anti-propagandists fight on other fronts, such as…

Academia

As an academic of two decades, I will state a painful truth: there is no engaging with academia. The universities long ago passed a point of no return and are unsalvageable. Conservatives who have sought to “influence” or “reclaim” parts of academia by mentoring like-minded youths to enter doctoral programs are really just running around in circles. Such tepid attempts at a counter-intelligentsia require too much pre-tenure deception (“hiding” one’s conservative beliefs) and lead, at best, to a tenured sinecure that all but guarantees the protégé will remain cowardly and toothless, or else be converted to liberalism.

On the front of campus life, the task for conservatives is to seize the day with Trump in office, and cut off the pipeline of money into universities. By now it is clear that besides teaching students nothing of value and encouraging embarrassing “protest” displays of ignorance and petulance, universities are extorting trillions of dollars from the country by making their degrees necessary for people to get jobs and then practicing price-gouging. The only reason the entire apparatus looks sustainable is because the federal government funds colleges through 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on endowments, backing of student loans, and direct grants.

The most important mission is to use our affinities with Congress and Trump to push laws that would (1) strip eligibility for federal funding based on basic criteria like financial responsibility or protection of academic freedom, and (2) disempower accreditation agencies that discourage start-up degree programs and protect the corrupt academic establishment. Remember—the war on academia’s propaganda is not a question of defending any particular idea or of protecting value-neutral concepts like “free speech” or “balance of viewpoints.” This is merely a question of shutting down the channels of support that are propping up an academia that we know we cannot change and which is a blight on the culture.

As an alternative to what exists, we can fight for a regulatory landscape that encourages more trade certificates, associate’s degrees, and master’s degree, while de-emphasizing doctorates and bachelor’s degrees. Also, to any extent possible, we should push the Trump administration to work on phasing out the practice of tenure.

Broadway and Hollywood

The pompous speech delivered by Brendan Victor Dixon, a star of Hamilton, to a theater-going Mike Pence, punctuated an insight that we’ve suspected a long time. Broadway, like Hollywood, is essentially abusive. These heavily institutionalized cultural institutions aren’t even producing good performances anymore. We really don’t need them, and they hate us.

One thing I learned from writing the play Sunlight with Michelle Shocked and premiering it in London on November 11, 2016, was that there’s no big secret to putting on a play. If you have a good script and a couple of people willing to give you a space, even with minimal funding you can put on a good show and captive the audience for a while. Storytelling through acting is something different from purely musical performances, and this distinction is important to note. Christians have made a lot of inroads into the music industry by promoting Christian singers and songwriters, but songs have a very limited economy of narration. You need acting and performed narrative to make a lasting impact on people.

Until now, unfortunately, Christians trying to break into narrative have focused on producing movies like God’s Not Dead for distribution. Films are capital-intensive and often depend on distributors and financiers over whom the creators will have fading influence once the process has started. Plays are directly engaging with the audience and can be easily corrected or tweaked. Also, as stated earlier, conservatives have a great advantage in this arena, because so many churches have spaces that can be used for performances.

The time is now to mount a rival metropolitan area to Hollywood and Broadway. This is the perfect time because both Hollywood and Broadway are overpriced and stale; there are so many people who are restless with their neoliberal preaching, vulgarity, and lack of imagination. Perhaps conservatives could funnel resources into a metro area like Dallas-Fort Worth, which has a large number of sympathetic institutions, or else a medium-sized city such as Jackson, Mississippi, where one could transform a tight geographic area into a site of renaissance. Once you develop and perfect performances they can graduate from stage to cinema.

Right now, with Trump in office, there is a real possibility that we can shut down the funding of biased and corrupt institutions like the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities. With alternative funding we could build up a base of talent, write new stories, and present them as competitors in the marketplace of culture.

Trump won against all odds and let us know that what looks impossible isn’t always beyond our reach. But we cannot lose this rare opportunity—we must strike while the iron is hot and build a foundation on which to construct both our offense and defense against the left’s propaganda. There’s nothing stopping us but our own hesitation.



Robert Oscar Lopez can be followed at English Manif, Twitter, or CogWatch.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Smug, Gloating, Patronizing Listicle to Help Progressives

Robert Oscar Lopez

My quest to get back to my Army weight was interrupted on a brisk Sunday night, when the health club TVs broadcast CNN’s chatty report of a crowded gathering of progressives in Los Angeles.

“No more whining!” cries a lefty Californian organizer, insisting that there has to be a real progressive movement as strong and original in its thinking as the Trump/Tea Party movement – which made me laugh; the Tea Party movement was more Cruz. LA liberals aren’t particularly good about small details with respect to conservatives, a group representing zero people they deal with on a daily basis.

It would be easy for me—a Trump supporter who liked Cruz but spotted the Donald’s winning combination early on—to pull up a lawn chair and a bucket of popcorn and watch clueless Che wannabes flail and make fools of themselves. Los Angeles, after all, was a place I left like a refugee, having experienced both Clintonista racketeering and incredible lefty racism there, so I was within my rights to gloat somewhat.

But that’s too easy. None of the 136 “scholars and writers for Trump,” among whom I am counted, could go for the easy route. I like to say that we rogue pro-Trump intellectuals (the deplorable hacks) will go down in history as even cooler than the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.

Also, my wife belongs to the Green Party. I co-authored both a recent book (Jephthah’s Children) and a recent play (Sunlight) with progressive women—Brittany Klein, a self-disclosed Obama voter who went Trump this year, and Michelle Shocked, a Sanders supporter, respectively. Therefore, for the sake of these classy ladies, I owe an advice column for progressives like the people assembled at the Los Angeles confab.

If I can do it, you can too

I was once a thirtysomething grad student angry about the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. There are parallels between the rush to invade Iraq and the rush to legalize same-sex marriage, worth considering. I opposed Bush but what replaced him? During eight years of Obama, the “other side” was much worse. I kept my spirits up and contributed to a new movement that eventually crystallized into Donald J. Trump.

Progressives who feel beleaguered should strive to replicate what happened on the conservative side of the dial, because it feels great. The night Trump won, I felt as though sixteen years of discouragement suddenly lifted and my perseverance paid off. As someone who tasted this triumph, I am happy to share my top six pointers with aspiring progressives.

1.     Dump LGBT

The LGBT movement is to the left what neocons are to the right. For too long, warmongering Republicans kept conservatives captive to their agenda by drawing on the stereotype that supporting them was in our DNA. “I bomb, therefore I am,” was supposed to be a non-negotiable credo of the right. And if we didn’t support foreign expansionism, we hated soldiers or we hated America.

The LGBT movement is similar on the left. The focus on gay and lesbian liberation, then trans equality (whatever that means), has destroyed the left’s ability to focus on the plight of the common man. A tiny fraction of the world population, based in the West, redefines family and dismantles religious chastity for billions of people who depend on traditional kinship, strong gender identity, and sexual restraint to survive in a world where they cannot rely on states to feed them. Does that sound like the left at its best? Of course not. It’s imperialism.

Even domestically, the LGBT agenda has stolen the focus from women’s rights, true civil rights, and especially class—the thing that the left never talks about anymore. To push LGBT agendas, the left must be constantly at war with religion and common sense, policing language to root out “judgment” and stamp out hate (an impossible dream). They must tell girls to be comfortable disrobing in front of trans women with penises in locker rooms, and assure everyone that millions of children will be fine without a mom and dad. The latter clashes with the realities of what children coming out of gay homes actually say, and even the highest profile examples of gay parents like Rosie O’Donnell, Elton John, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.

To imagine a left not smothered in rainbow flags might be difficult right now—but it was once harder to imagine a right-wing movement not itching to jump into war in the Middle East.

2.     Celebrate Manhood

Hillary Clinton’s sex did matter—but it’s complicated. Female trailblazers who go on to break the highest glass ceiling tend to do well as tough rightish gals like Maggie Thatcher, Golda Meir, or Indira Gandhi. People flock to the Elizabeth, Victoria, or Catherine who protects her nation with the ferocity of a Mama Grizzly (pace Sarah Palin). Liberal women who foreground the nurturing, all-forgiving, and bleeding-heart stereotype of womanhood seem likely to flop as leaders even if they can be marvelous wives, mothers, and neighbors. This was Hillary’s dilemma: she wanted to be the first woman president by mirroring soft veneers associated with women.

I am not ashamed to say that I was drawn to Donald J. Trump because he is manly. He doesn’t apologize, he speaks bluntly, he fights, he knows how to handle women (even two ex-wives and a current wife), and he exudes confidence. The reality is that people are drawn to leaders who exhibit these classically masculine attributes. Nothing is going to change the nature of humanity; we like firemen, soldiers, boxers, captains of industry, and a manly Jesus strong enough to carry a cross without curling up in a ball and crying.

During Obama’s presidency, the left sank into a mire of gender confusion, pushing Pajama Boy, male feminism, and hysterically anti-male conduct codes at schools. The endless campaigns against bullying and sexual harassment have seemingly criminalized masculinity. Leftists erred in thinking that the more men repulsed their attempts to feminize them, the more people needed to nag them about sexism and subject them to even more female-centric forms of institutional control: counseling, speech codes, classroom conduct, etiquette, etc.

Imagine a left that isn’t afraid of men. Whatever you picture will be far better than the progressivism of today.

3.     Stop trying to own racial issues

At California State University-Northridge for eight years, I learned the hard way that leftists are terrible at race. I was literally at a Hispanic-Serving Institution that elevated only the crudest Latinos while systematically excluding Latinos who had advanced credentials in important humanities fields like English.

Every racial group the left claims to champion is actually utterly opposed to most of what the left believes. African Americans are largely strict Protestants, Muslims are extremely conservative and religiously exclusionary, Asian Americans refute the leftist myth that upward mobility through hard work is impossible, and Latinos come from macho Catholic countries that enjoy cockfighting, jiggling showgirls in high heels, and a fattening non-vegetarian diet. While the left may be able to frighten these groups into voting for Democrats by telling them the Republicans want to kill them all, this is not a sustainable position on race. The left, driven by the dreams of yoga aficionados and tattooed girls with pink hair, is never able to lose their inner desire to change these minority groups into something more like themselves.

The left doesn’t know these groups because they only interact with them in fake, politically contrived circumstances. It is likely that leftists would start disliking them if they really got to the heart of people of color.

So liberals need to stop playing the race card. Talk about politics in other terms. Let those racial groups gather and set up leaders or spokespeople if they really want to, but lefties need to stop acting like they own people of color, since that’s the mindset that got Democrats into trouble before the Civil War!

4.     Talk about class again

Just look back to 2012, when Romney’s comment about the lower 47% of the country lost him a presidential election. Where have those days gone? Hillary Clinton trucked with Internet millionaires, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga, while the über-wealthy Donald Trump won the support of Roseanne Barr and actually addressed the needs of unemployed people in Niagara Falls and Appleton (both of which he won!)

The left could serve an important purpose if leftists took on class inequality in all its brutal reality. This means valuing people who don’t go to college or who don’t buy into the prestige system of the university hierarchy. This means diverting resources away from the wonky jobs that proliferate in the beltway (“analyst,” “consultant,” “media expert,” “publicist,” etc.) to people who make things. And no, this does not mean just funding more startups in Silicon Valley to encourage more cell phone apps or web browser accessories. It means teaching people how to replace brake pads, install pipes and electrical wiring, scrub floors, and cook lasagna … for a living, as a trade.

5.     Part ways with academia

The left’s near total domination of the university system was once an advantage. It allowed three generations of left-of-center academics to brainwash hundreds of millions of Americans. But it has all broken down now, and it’s backfiring. The universities have become the biggest swamp of all, driving massive social inequality, under-educating students, plundering parents and taxpayers for trillions. It is hard to picture a left that isn’t completely driven by paid intellectuals, but here it is useful to note that the Trump revolution happened away from the leafy quads.

“The revolution will not count for credit.” If the academy turns left, turn right. If the academy turns right, turn left. Whatever the professors do, true progressives need to veer in the opposite direction. Going forward, any time they hand over their movement to Harvard and Stanford experts, they are tainted by academia’s embarrassing problems, of which the greatest is the present-day academy’s hatred of free speech, intellectual diversity, and democracy.

6.     Shut up and listen

Those of us who rode the Trump train had become very good listeners by the time Trump emerged as a viable candidate. That’s because one commonality uniting us was our past experience having been ignored, silenced, and rendered invisible. We learned how to listen because we weren’t allowed to speak. I, for one, was actually on GLAAD’s blacklist of people forbidden to speak in a public venue at all. Years of being gagged taught us to use our ears. We realized that by listening, we could figure out where pockets of people sympathetic to us were hiding. We could read between the lines when CNN or some polling racket tried to tell us that our dreams were unattainable. We developed a savvy ability to deconstruct propaganda being thrown at us. And people didn’t really know who we were or what we were thinking, so we benefited from the element of surprise.

Listening is not a strong suit for the left. They have to shut up and listen because their way out of the wilderness has yet to be revealed to them. None of us can predict what the new-New Left will look like. Like Trump’s revolution, it will develop its contours against expectations, on a timetable we cannot schedule with certainty years before the fact. Hopeful leftists will have to live with the protective cover of silence for a while and be open to new lines of action they might have never dreamed of. Perhaps they will not be leftists in the end, but something else entirely.

Since I must now go to bed next to my beloved Green Party wife, I can say, I love the left enough to hope they will become something much better than Hillary Clinton.


Robert Oscar Lopez can be followed at CogWatch, EnglishManif, or Twitter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR THE 3rd ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S RIGHTS



On Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, in London, at the Emmanuel Centre, the International Children's Rights Institute will partner with Christian Concern for Our Nation and the Christian Legal Centre for its third annual conference. This year's theme is "The New Normal." The Eventbrite is set up right now for Nov. 12 here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-new-normal-tickets-26945911948

The additional schedule for Nov. 11 will soon be added. Included in these events is the world premiere of SUNLIGHT, a two-act play summarized this way:


SUNLIGHT, by Robert Oscar Lopez and Michelle Shocked, is a two-actor play chronicling the lives of an artist and a scholar, both drawn to the Gospel after early life struggles, striving to stay true to the line from Philippians 4:8 ("Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things"), while still seeking to be bold, truthful, and steadfast in their faith. Their respective struggles with political lobbies form the two spires of the play's plot. 

On Nov. 11, the focus will be more academic and will examine the Christian basis for resistance to the normalization of disturbing sexual ideas directed at children. Details for Friday are available here:

http://englishmanif.blogspot.com/2016/06/deadline-to-submit-paper-to-this.html

On Nov. 12, the focus will be more on political activism and practical plans for change. 

Get your tickets and spread the word!