On the cusp of the 2008 presidential election, then-candidate Barack Obama memorably told a crowd at Missouri University that “we are five days from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” This notion that the incoming administration intended to burn down the old, flawed America, so that a social justice utopia could rise from its ashes, was greeted with ecstatic cheers from the crowd and from Progressives everywhere.
Obama’s promise took two presidential terms to gather momentum; former President Trump temporarily stalled its course. But under new President Joe Biden, that fundamental transformation is cascading to fruition so rapidly that one is reminded of a Hemingway character’s reply about how he went bankrupt: “Gradually, then suddenly.”
Indeed, “fundamental transformation” no longer sufficiently describes the accelerating chaos in our country: economy-killing pandemic lockdowns; the collapse of law and order; unprecedented racial tensions; Big Tech control of the flow of information; spiking inflation and the threat of food shortages; a tsunami of illegal border crossings; a media-driven COVID panic dividing the country; the new racism of Critical Race Theory; rising Antisemitism (always a reliable bellwether of barbarism metastasizing in a society); “cancel culture” assaults on freedom of speech; and more. Obama’s promise of “fundamental transformation” could more rightly be considered “civilizational collapse.”
If you think that sounds like hyperbole, re-read that partial list of our current crises. But what underlies those crises is the culmination of a concerted war of attrition on the three basic pillars that keep a society grounded and stable: love of God, love of country, and love of family. Faith, nation, family.
This year’s White House Prayer Breakfast featured a proclamation from President Biden in which, for the first time since the tradition was instituted in 1952, the word “God” was not uttered. This registered barely a blip in the news media, but it symbolized an unsettling, dramatic shift from the priorities and worldview of the previous administration. By contrast, former President Trump’s 2017 proclamation mentioned God five times; in 2018, five times; in 2019, seven times; and his 2020 proclamation mentioned God eleven times.
This August, the organization of chaplains at Harvard, a university founded by Puritans to train clergy for the new commonwealth, elected its newest president – an atheist who authored a book called Good Without God. He proclaimed in a New York Times interview, “We don’t look to a god for answers. We are each other’s answers.”
In a recent article, pastor and political scientist Ryan Burge shared research highlighting what he said “may be the biggest cultural shift in our lifetimes”: the exodus of Generation Z (those born in 1996 and later) out of religion. Nearly half (44.4%) identify as atheist, agnostic, or belonging to no religion in particular. That makes them the least religious generation in U.S. history.
These are only the most recent examples confirming that the secular left has gradually and fundamentally transformed America from a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values into one in which the diminishing number of devout Christians are openly demonized by the cultural elites as our “domestic Taliban.”
The word “religion” comes from the Latin ligare, “to bind” or “tie together.” Faith in God is the force that binds a community, a society, a nation, a civilization together. When we dissolve that bond – in other words, when we believe that we, and not God, are “each other’s answers” –society will disintegrate too, into meaninglessness and fear, lawlessness and chaos, and an empty sexual libertinism masquerading as personal freedom. When a culture rejects the humility and sense of greater purpose that faith sows in us, and degenerates into hedonism and aimlessness, its end is near. Ancient Rome is the obvious example, and now we must ask ourselves, “Are we Rome?”
Patriotism in America has become increasingly unfashionable as a cultural value in recent decades, thanks to the radical left’s relentless educational indoctrination; at the rate it’s fading, it may quite literally vanish with the next generation. A year ago, Gallup released its annual pride poll, revealing that the number of Americans who identified as “extremely/very proud” of our country had fallen to an all-time low, while the “only a little proud/not at all proud” faction had swelled nearly ten percent since the previous year. A 2019 poll by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy found that 75 percent of respondents age 65 and older considered patriotism “very important” in their daily lives, but only 21 percent of those under age 30 felt the same way. “I don’t really buy into the concept of patriotism,” said one 25-year-old respondent. “I think it is often just thinly-veiled racism and over-zealous nationalism.” That is a common refrain among today’s college students, who will go on to populate positions of power and influence around the country for which they feel no pride or loyalty.
Our national symbols have been targeted openly in recent years by subversive activists, most notably when Marxist revolutionary and quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a surge of “taking a knee” protests against the national anthem played at sporting events. The left-leaning media piled on by spreading the false narrative that the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” are racist, aggravating racial resentment and disseminating the impression that the anthem doesn’t speak for all Americans.
The Stars and Stripes, too, has drawn leftist fire for purportedly not representing “historically marginalized” Americans – only “white supremacists” (i.e., patriots of all colors). The New York Times posted an Independence Day op-ed last year, which called the American flag alienating and divisive. That same month, Grammy-winning singer Macy Gray penned an op-ed for MarketWatch in which she claimed that the flag “no longer represents democracy and freedom.” She declared that it is time to “reset” the flag with a new design that would be more inclusive – by which she meant it should be based not our shared qualities and values as Americans, but on diversity of skin color: “What if the stars were the colors of ALL of us — your skin tone and mine — like the melanin scale?”
More recently, a Portland-area teacher and former president of her local education association made the news last month by declaring she was “terrified” by the presence of the Stars and Stripes at her school board meetings. She refuses to fly the American flag in her own classroom because “it stands for violence and menace and intolerance.” This too is a common refrain among many educators who see themselves more as activists.
These are examples that our once-firm belief in American exceptionalism has been eroded by decades of cultural indoctrination, and replaced by a civilizational guilt and a conviction among our youth that America is exceptional only in the degree of its history of racism, oppression, and exploitation. As a result, on university campuses and in town squares all across the country, monuments to our history and achievements, to our founders and former heroes, are being torn down by woke mobs or removed pre-emptively by timid authorities.
Leftist activists are also attempting to rewrite American history and create a new founding narrative, going so far as to reset our establishment from 1776 to 1619, the year African slaves supposedly were first brought to our shores. The intention of this “1619 Project” is to reframe America’s origins as grounded not in liberty but in slavery. Despite being widely debunked by historians, this anti-American lie swiftly became part of a curriculum taught in more than 4,500 schools nationwide.
But the most crucial pillar in terms of fundamentally transforming our nation, and the one that has drawn the most intense and sustained political and cultural assault, is the nuclear family – the ideal of the “cis-normative,” two-parent home into which the next generation is born and raised.
It is “the abolition of the family,” as Karl Marx explicitly put it, that is central to the success of the communist agenda. As the most fundamental bond of humanity, it is the most resistant bulwark against totalitarian state control and a collectivist mindset. It is the environment in which we are first civilized and molded, ideally, into productive citizens who value our individualism but embrace our role in the larger society. As Edmund Burke wrote in 1790, the family “is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind.” The all-powerful state to which communists demand allegiance is not a link in that chain, and thus the family is an obstacle that must be dismantled. This is not a conspiracy theory; it is explicitly stated in communist and feminist theory.
The influential Marxist feminist Alexandra Kollontai wrote in 1920 that “all that is old and outdated and derives from the cursed epoch of servitude and domination, of landed proprietors and capitalists, should be swept aside together with the exploiting class itself and the other enemies of the proletariat and the poor.” One of those “old, outdated” capitalist institutions was the family, which according to Marx kept women bound in servitude to abusive husbands and burdensome children.
But in the new Bolshevik Russia, the “circumstances that held the family together no longer exist,” Kollontai crowed. “The family is ceasing to be necessary either to its members or to the nation as a whole. The old family structure is now merely a hindrance” (emphasis in original). Kollontai promised that Marxist collectivism would come to the rescue of harried mothers and neglected children: “the workers’ state will come to replace the family, society will gradually take upon itself all the tasks that before the revolution fell to the individual parents… The responsibility for the child is passing from the family to the collective.”
This Marxist imperative – to decouple children from their parents and absorb them into the collective – directly echoes a statement from contemporary Progressive Melissa Harris-Perry, an MSNBC host who, as I noted in a previous post on this site, declared in a 2013 network promo, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
Of course, most American parents aren’t going to willingly abandon that “private idea” that their kids belong to them, so the left has shrewdly targeted the children instead, primarily in public schools and higher education, where our impressionable youth are captive audiences to leftist propaganda.
In a recent profile in Los Angeles Magazine, for example, United Teachers of Los Angeles president Cecily Myart-Cruz minced no words about her work as a social justice activist in the field of education. Asked about the disturbing degree of pandemic-related learning loss students have suffered thanks in part to her union’s insistence on keeping L.A.’s schools locked down for over a year, Myart-Cruz defiantly replied,
“There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”
This shocking statement from the head of the largest affiliate of the main teachers union in the nation’s second-largest school district couldn’t be a more straightforward declaration of the aim of Progressive educators: not to pass down to our youth the incredible cultural and intellectual legacy of our civilization or develop their critical thinking skills or even prepare them for the working world, but to liberate them from their parents’ outdated, bourgeois attitudes and deprogram them; to mold and mobilize them into social justice warriors long before they even enter college. “I see teaching as a revolutionary act,” Myart-Cruz proudly confessed.
In addition to the blatant brainwashing in the classroom, an even more insidious strategy of the indoctrination of children is to inculcate a sexual consciousness and a gender confusion in kids as young as kindergartners. The intent is to weaponize upcoming generations against the “cis-normative” status quo. It is to drive a wedge between children and their biological parents and undermine the stability of the traditional family unit.
Some K-12 schools, for example, are promoting graphic sex indoctrination without the consent of parents or the option to opt out, as in this mandatory “porn literacy” workshop for juniors at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, or this program teaching first-graders at the elite Dalton school in New York about touching their genitals. “Kids have no less than five classes on gender identity — this is pure indoctrination,” one mother complained of the sexually explicit, age-inappropriate material taught at Dalton.
In Illinois, legislators passed a bill in May requiring K-12 public schools that offer sex education to align their curriculum with the National Sex Education Standards (NSES). These standards state that between grades K-2 children should learn to “define gender, gender identity, and gender role stereotypes.” Between grades 3-5, children should learn to “distinguish between sex assigned at birth and gender identity,” “define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, gender expansive, and gender identity,” and “explain that gender expression and gender identity exist along a spectrum.”
PBS recently aired a children’s show, produced in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, called Let’s Learn, featuring a man in drag going by the alias “Little Miss Hot Mess,” singing, dancing, and reading his book about drag queens to an intended audience of three to eight-year-olds. Little Miss Hot Mess is one of the founding members of Drag Queen Story Hour in public libraries across the country, in which garishly-costumed men posing as grotesque parodies of women normalize gender confusion and groom unsuspecting children while their naïve, woke moms stand by feeling virtuous.
Breitbart News recently listed over a dozen more current entertainment programs and characters sexually indoctrinating children who are not emotionally or intellectually equipped to process it. Blue’s Clues, for example, a formerly innocuous educational show aimed at pre-schoolers and featuring animal characters, now pushes drag queens, pansexuality, polyamory, and transgenderism.
Teens and even pre-teens wrestling with hormone-driven emotional issues are falling prey to what Irreversible Damage author Abigail Shrier calls in her book’s subtitle, “the transgender craze seducing our daughters.” A whole industry now exists to culturally reinforce the idea that medically transitioning to the opposite sex is the answer to their (mostly temporary) gender dysphoria, regardless of parental consent. The medical and psychological trauma being inflicted on such children has barely begun to make its impact known, but that hasn’t deterred the radical left from pushing this gender madness full steam ahead. Meanwhile, swelling numbers of young people have fallen into a cultish obsession with a seemingly infinite rainbow of gender identities to choose from, some of which even have their own “flag” for representation.
The leftist mainstream media, predictably, supports this urgent agenda to expose children to disturbing sexual extremes. In a Washington Post article titled, “Yes, kink belongs at Pride. And I want my kids to see it,” freelance writer Lauren Rowello declared her support for the presence of “kinksters” – practitioners of sexual fetishes – in “Pride” parades. Her hope was to expose children as young as toddlers to “the scope and vitality of queer life.” She added, “We don’t talk to our children enough about pursuing sex to fulfill carnal needs that delight and captivate us in the moment.”
The end result of this agenda for our children will not be liberation from the capitalist family structure Marx called “slavery”; instead, our youth will be slaves of a different sort – to an empty, inauthentic, confused sexuality. They will be alienated orphans in a spiritually barren, collectivist landscape.
The war on the family targets parents too, of course. Over the last half-century, the Marxist excesses of feminism have unmoored women from their traditional roles in the institutions of marriage and the family, institutions that actually protect their best interests. The Sexual Revolution, which aimed to liberate women to indulge their sexuality as casually as any womanizing man, only served to devalue them. Instead of liberating women, modern feminism has left them less fulfilled than they were 50 years ago.
The radical left has, since at least the 1980s, focused on “deconstructing” the imaginary patriarchal power structure, in particular undermining traditional masculinity, which has been deemed the “toxic” source of every evil from so-called “rape culture” to the capitalist exploitation of the environment.
Why is it so important to undermine masculinity? Simply put, masculinity is the warrior spirit of the family unit. If you deconstruct men’s masculine nature by disparaging their aggressive, competitive, high-achieving drive as “toxic,” and by denying biology and claiming instead that the hard-wired differences between men and women are culturally constructed, then that warrior spirit can be neutered, the community can replace the family, and the state will become our parental authority.
Not one single aspect of this anti-family social engineering has been good for society. As Mary Eberstadt, Senior Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute, has written:
No-fault divorce, out-of-wedlock births, paid surrogacy, absolutism about erotic freedom, disdain for traditional moral codes: The very policies and practices that chip away at the family and drive the subsequent flight to identity politics are those that liberals and progressives embrace.
Then there are related family-unfriendly social realities that they also deem benign. Pornography, which once upon a time some feminists objected to, is now the stuff of their full-throated enthusiasm. Prostitution has been re-defined as the more anodyne “sex work.” And, of course, abortion is—in the unnervingly theological modifier applied to it by Hillary Clinton and many others on the left—“sacrosanct.”
In summary, the radical left has undertaken a largely successful, decades-long campaign to marginalize the Christian faithful, demonize patriots as white supremacists, denigrate marriage and motherhood, delegitimize traditional masculinity, blur gender distinctions, and indoctrinate younger generations into a worldview at odds with the capitalist, Judeo-Christian value system of their parents and grandparents. The result is our current civilizational collapse.
What can be done?
In recent years conservatives have watched old Europe’s civilizational death spiral from afar, as if the same decay could never reach our shores. But here we are.
Can our collapse be averted, or better yet, reversed? Yes, but it will take a serious political, cultural, and spiritual will to turn the ocean liner of our decadent culture around, to revive the fading core values of faith, family, and patriotism, and reclaim the drive that made our country and Western civilization the freest and most prosperous in human history.
Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, for example, whom the Western media vilify because he puts family and nation first rather than submit his country’s autonomy to the globalist elites of the European Union, Hungary has enacted pro-family policies that have resulted in an encouraging demographic spike of marriages (a 40-year high) and children (a 20-year high). Other Western countries, where the birth rate has sunk below population replacement levels (including America, where the birth rate has been declining every year, hitting a record low during the pandemic of 2020), must follow suit as quickly as possible.
Culturally speaking, America and the West must recognize and acknowledge that the Marxist left is waging a subversive campaign to separate children from the authority and moral worldview of their parents and grandparents. We must act now to protect the innocence and humanity of our children, or lose their hearts and minds to the manipulation of woke activism. That means, to start with, a complete overhaul of our disastrous educational system.
Finally, on the spiritual level, churches and synagogues across the Western world must reject the woke factions that have infiltrated and politicized them, and that have diluted our theologies into a prosperity gospel of self-actualization, worldly fulfillment, and social justice activism. It is crucial that we revive a more traditional faith that, to paraphrase Harvard’s atheist chaplain, looks to God for answers, not to each other.
Mark Tapson is a writer, screenwriter, culture critic, and political commentator. The Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, he has written nearly a thousand articles about the intersection of culture and politics for FrontPage Magazine, Breitbart News, PJ Media, National Review, The New Criterion, and elsewhere. Among the numerous films Mark has worked on are The Path to 9/11 and the award-winning documentary Jihad in America: The Grand Deception. He is currently adapting two books for the big screen. Mark is also the author of a forthcoming book on the war on masculinity from Templeton Press.