The Scriptwriters of Alien Abductions: Dare We Name Them? (Part Two)

As well as information on David Jacobs’ research, I’ve lately found on Netflix a documentary about Stan Romanek. This rather Walter Mitty-ish middle-aged American claims to have been abducted by aliens several times since childhood. The only evidence he has to support his outlandish story is highly advanced physics equations burned into his memory about navigating space-time, videos of ghostly intruders into his house, corroborative testimony to abduction events, medical examinations of strange scarring that turn up no probable cause, and a photo of his “alien daughter” which was viewed by dozens of people before it disappeared from his camera as they all looked on. What a prankster, this guy!

Stan never had any asteroidal chips inserted into him; but his unearthly hosts did leave peculiar marks on his body from time to time, it seems, and also took a keen interest in breeding hybrid humans from him (hence the daughter). I can’t for the life of me, and with the best of wills to bear out Romanek, think why they should do this. What do you do with a half-human whose immense almond eyes and pixie stature give it away as something bizarrely different—something beyond a mutation? You can’t very well seed the human population with such leprechauns and expect to take anyone but a college professor by surprise. Why not, if you’re an alien traveler, just put in an appearance yourself, like Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original version, made before our race began to degenerate precipitously by interbreeding with computers)?

Be that as it may, Romanek’s easy recitation of equations which perhaps a dozen people on earth understand—and among whom he most definitely cannot be numbered—inclines me to believe at least some of his story. Then, too, there’s his recent arrest for possessing child porn on his personal computer. Turns out that the NSA is fast developing an m.o. for uploading forbidden porn onto targeted computers and then sending agents to take the owners out of circulation. Most effective—for who would want to plead the case of a creep or a pedophile? If there are NSA fingerprints on any part of this man’s story, then the eagerness to shut him up virtually proves that he has something embarrassingly true to say.

And back to the implanted chips: who would have access to asteroid fragments? Aliens, I suppose… and also anyone who could pilfer some of the harvest of NASA’s exploratory flights.

Who manufactured the circumstances behind the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? Who once drafted plans to stage a bloody attack on Miami as a pretext to invade Cuba? Whose response to petitions for the whole truth about 9/11 is to ridicule and defame the petitioners? Who switched our astronauts to a private radio frequency whenever they started to remark the presence of inexplicable phenomena on and around the Moon? Who has so mastered Soviet technique of dezinformatsiya that unimpeachable testimony about UFO activity is hopelessly compromised by sensationalist folderol (such as endless sloppy TV documentaries)?

Who would profit from having a convenient “panic” button to push or a source of popular hysteria to rev up as an occasion to declare martial law? Who could pump victims with hallucinogens (perhaps only those with certain blood types) and then parade robots or dwarves in costumes before them?

Who demands to know your income, requires you to have insurance, would like to mandate your having yearly flu shots, exacts a whole battery of inoculations of your children before they may attend mandatory schooling, aspires to confiscate your firearms “for your own good”, monitors your drinking water so that it’s as salubrious as the crystal effluvient of Flint (Michigan) taps, and increasingly governs the news you see on the Net and over TV and radio?

Gee… I just don’t know who that might be. Do you?

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Columbus and Hitler: Nothing in Common

I have read bloggers and editorialists complaining for years about our children being taught that the New World was an Eden invaded by white racist males… and I always took it with a grain of salt.  Maybe that happens in the schools of Chicago and Oakland and Seattle—surely not here in my back yard!

I was wrong.  My eighteen-year-old freshmen are fully persuaded that Columbus was a slaver and genocidist who anticipated Adolf Hitler.  I wonder if I might dare to point out a few disparities off the cuff?

Columbus didn’t play the demagogue, stirring the masses up against a defenseless minority in their midst.  He traveled a very long way at great personal risk and blundered into a situation whose parameters he was wholly incapable of measuring beforehand (or even, for the most part, after the fact).

Hitler vigorously encouraged the development of advanced weapons possessing unheard-of lethality, such as the V1 and V2 rockets and the ME 262 jet fighter.  It is possible that his team of scientists even succeeded in producing a small thermonuclear blast experimentally before the success of the Manhattan Project.  Columbus was attempting to pioneer a lucrative trade route.  He hadn’t the slightest notion of bacteriological warfare, of course; and to hold him personally responsible for spreading smallpox and other diseases unknown to the New World is as preposterous as blaming the sun for skin cancer.

Hitler’s imperialism started at home and worked outward.  His aggressions were fully planned and systematic.  Columbus—and indeed, the later conquistadors (who admittedly were no choir boys)–scarcely knew what part of the planet they were on.  Their numbers were few, their technology not so very superior to bows and arrows, their situation entirely cut off from the restraining cultural forces of Europe, their diet uneven, their health fever-ridden, their morale inclined to the paranoia of castaways.  Many of them behaved badly, perhaps most of them; but they weren’t being wined, dined, and sycophantically placated like the German chancellor.

For the record, too, the Aztecs and the Maya practiced human sacrifice on a vast scale, some of it indescribably brutal.  Hitler’s victims hadn’t been piling up the hearts of young virgins, ripped from childish ribs as they were still beating, for hundreds of years.  Frankly, a “civilization” that tolerates such things, and even considers them holy acts, richly deserves to go defunct.

We always get history wrong, though we may make a much more sincere effort to understand than one sees in American public schools today.  We weren’t there: we can’t know exactly how it was.  What bothers me more about the attitude of my freshmen than their wealth of misinformation is the ease with which they self-righteously condescend to their elders and to the past.  Where is their “life experience”?  Why do they so readily sit in judgment upon centuries of human struggle?  Why do they offer so few traces of humility?  Who has made them this way?

Of course, the answer is “we who are their parents”.  These children haven’t been well raised. The true deficit in their education—far greater than a diet of “fake news” (from which we all suffer)—is the mature adult’s reluctance to pass snap judgments on complex situations.  They will judge us harshly, too, I suppose—these smartphone whiz kids; and we, at least, will deserve it.

But what will their own children say of them for buying up solar panels that left a clear trail of cancer villages behind in Third World nations?  How will their own children judge them for creating and bequeathing a world so electronically artificial that its inhabitants forgot basic manners and couldn’t forge ordinary friendships?  What will those of the next generation who aren’t aborted say about this one for ignoring an Aztec-level slaughter of innocents—not to appease wrathful gods, but to indulge in carnal pleasures without incurring inconvenience?

You see, my dears, you also can be made to resemble Cortez and Pizarro.

The Top-Secret Vision of the Dark Elite (Part Two)

The quasi-political spin that concludes Steven Greer’s documentary Unacknowledged bothers me. I’ve seen this movie too often, where imperialist generals and mad scientists coalesce behind Dick Cheney to take over the world. Oh, I can believe—all too easily—that our government is behind the creepy livestock mutilations performed with laser technology that have filled back pages of local newspapers for decades now. The objective, supposedly, is to insinuate into the popular imagination the image of a pitiless extraterrestrial surgeon pulling critters apart as an entomologist might dismember a butterfly, thus bringing to a simmer the brew of a panic in preparation for a later boil-over. Abductions of humans by this weird race of dissectionists (claims one of Greer’s interviewees) have likewise been funded by some insolubly intricate disbursement of our tax dollars. I confess that I can visualize only too readily our unchecked civil servants acting like sociopathic adolescents in the chem lab. It’s what they do. I never did think that such activities fit the profile of an ET, who would surely have mastered the rudiments of anatomy before traveling across the galaxy and would also have developed less intrusive ways of analyzing a new world’s fauna.

I’d really, really like to know just what schemes are being nourished with my money by psychos in white coats. I’d like to know, too, just what slaughterhouse our rulers are leading us into; for it’s fairly obvious that we are being primed to take to the streets in race riots or food riots or panic over a nuclear attack or an EMP, since the engineers of the Phoenix Lights could indeed avert any of these threats if they wanted to rather than hastening them all along, as they’re doing now.

I should parse the previous sentence: here’s what I mean. Let’s assume that government activity such as whatever’s happening in Area 51 has indeed created technology capable of maneuvers that no professor of Physics at any public university would consider currently possible. We may even bypass the supporting claim that this technology has been parasitized from visiting aliens: let’s say that the “black budget” has financed anti-gravity vehicles by assembling a new generation of Werner von Brauns. We know that these vehicles exist, because hundreds of residents in Phoenix (just to name one locale) saw them on March 13, 1997. A nation that can author such futuristic physics cannot possibly have left its power grid unsecured out of mere oversight: one might as easily imagine a nuclear sub sinking because the last guy off the conning tower forgot to close the hatch. Likewise, whatever energy permits large craft to defy gravity and zoom away suddenly like a lightning bolt should more than suffice to crush ISIS and free up our grain for the dinner table rather than the gas tank. Yet our interests—yours and mine—are obviously not a high priority in the grand vision.

That being the case, I should like to know exactly what the vision is. Do they—our government, our Dark Elite—simply not care if we live or die, or is Step 8 of the Plan to remove most of us, deliberately and permanently?

This is a life-and-death question, both for us as individual American citizens and for what remains of our democratic republic. How does Dr. Greer advance our understanding at the climactic moment, however? What is he alleging of the Dark Elite, based on his vast experience of it? That Dick Cheney is really Darth Vader? That Hillary Clinton or Jimmy Kimmel could be the Theseus who guides us out of this lethal labyrinth? Does he think that alien captives were being held in the Twin Towers and had to be vaporized—or was 9/11 all about starting a war of diversion because Congress was about to undertake an investigation into UFO’s? And, Dr. Greer… am I reading you loud and clear on this one? You believe that China is an innocent bystander drawn into confrontation with us to lure our eye off the ball, and that the threat posed by Kim Jong Un is the latest act in a harmless sideshow?

There’s a lot in Greer’s presentation that needs to be seriously considered; but the hit-and-run montages of faces and events without any narrative comment, just when one hopes for a deeper explanation, is both confusing and disingenuous. You don’t fight disinformation with more disinformation. We desperately need undramatized, factual testimony in these matters. Dribbling subliminal, politicized messages into the brief will only make fair-minded people run the other way in the uncomfortable feeling that they are being played, yet again.

Honestly, aliens don’t worry me at all. It’s my government that keeps me awake at night. If we could crack that nut first, then maybe we could learn how to send telepathic poetry to M82 later on.

The Top-Secret Vision of the Dark Elite (Part One)

Dr. Steven Greer has made at least one documentary previous to Unacknowledged that I’ve viewed on Netflix. That’s how I knew that the man had suffered greatly—and suspiciously—for his probes into the UFO controversy. Having been warned off with varying degrees of subtlety for some time, he and his initial group of investigators were beset by a curious outbreak of cancer as contagious, apparently, as the flu, and a lot more deadly. (One recalls Aleksandr Litvinenko’s radioactive cup of tea administered by a couple of Putin’s goons.) Greer survived; his wife and many of his colleagues did not.

James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, had on one occasion in his chief-of-spies capacity manifested such an interest in tracking down the actors and the script behind America’s massive, off-budget, quasi-military R&D operations that he privately summoned Greer to brief him on the issues—privately and bizarrely, since Greer is a medical doctor who has immersed himself in “ufology” only as a concerned citizen. Woolsey was obviously convinced that more accredited sources were not giving him the true low-down. Later on, Greer was apparently told by a Clintonista of very high rank that Wild Bill would not risk prying into the Roswell/Area 51 files because his personal security—Secret Service and all—wouldn’t suffice to keep him alive beyond the first few weeks of snooping.

Unacknowledged is packed with declassified documents that support Greer’s outlandish (or should I say “otherworldly”?) claims in surprisingly graphic detail. A few insiders with high security clearances also share enough of their experiences on camera that a coherent picture emerges… or perhaps two-thirds coherent. The assertion is resonant and sustained that extraterrestrial visitors to Planet Earth are a reality, and also that some imponderably covert branch of our government has been reverse-engineering alien technology for its own undisclosed ends. One would like to suppose that these ends would be defensive, and that the extreme secrecy enveloping them would also be related to our nation’s preservation… but here’s where the picture grows hazy. The documentary floated several motives for the obsessive, sometimes ruthless suppression of information about UFO’s by “men in black”. One is that an elite band of corporatist megalomaniacs wants to deprive the world of unlimited, virtually free energy resources so that fossil fuels may still be marketed at whopping costs. Another applies the same kind of conspiratorial thinking to the arms industry. Yet another would have these neo-illuminati planning to stage an alien invasion with reverse-engineered craft so that the planet might be persuaded to create a single vast alliance—with the U.S. its leader, and the insiders leading the leaders.

Where there are too many motives, there’s no motive at all—and it’s desperately important that we figure out precisely who in our employ is lying to us, and why. I’ll explain next time.

Sayonara, Glenn Beck (Part Two)

I will think of a dozen utterances from the mike of Glenn Beck that really irritated me after I have posted these pieces; and, too, I will probably feel guilty about having given the man so little credit for his principled positions, such as his daring to resist the Trump Train on behalf of Ted Cruz. But the people you once thought trustworthy are the ones you least trust after a rupture, for the old habit of trust lurks a while and must be broken.

My point of no return arrived when Confederate monuments started being defaced. Beck has never so much put me in mind of the old saw, “With friends like you… who needs enemies?” We must keep those monuments, he argued, because they remind us of the Nazi stormtroopers in our own history—and Confederates, to Beck, were all hood-wearing, torch-waving KKK members. They allowed his uncle of some remove to starve in one of their concentration camps, so let no one suppose that he hates the South any less than the next man. (This might have been a great-great uncle, or more probably a great-great-great uncle: someone, in short, that even Beck’s grandfather likely wouldn’t remember had the man survived; and the cause behind the starvation, O Mighty Historian of the Fruited Plain, was that Union ships had blockaded all Southern ports and laid waste to the South’s most fertile farmland… yet the Beckster very nearly teared up when remembering hungry old, old uncle-to-the-third-power Chester or Phineas.)

I had noticed Beck’s tone to grow very short on earlier occasions when he would angrily chew some comment about viewers who write in to disparage Abraham Lincoln. Our Black Belt in American History wants nothing to do with the observation that Lincoln didn’t bother to emancipate slaves in Northern states where he might instantly have done so, or that Lincoln had printing presses destroyed and publishers imprisoned if his war effort were openly criticized, or that Lincoln had plans to pack the freedmen off to Panama lest they interbreed with American white folk. No counter-evidence, no reasoned and patient rebuttal: just a highly “pissed off” look (to use one of our luminary’s favorite descriptors) and a hasty transition to the next subject. Thank you for explaining your position, O Wise Mediator and Uniter of the Masses!

The “pissy” attitude was even more noticeable last week (my absolutely terminal moment of viewing) when Beck erupted in a by-the-way remark that became the shout, “Slavery was the cause of the Civil War [the italics a defiant nod at recalcitrant Tweeters and texters]—if you have any doubt, just read the Confederate Constitution!” Okay… so I read the Confederate Constitution. What leaps off the page is the authors’ effort to underscore at numerous points the states’ jurisdiction over matters not explicitly delegated to the central government. The emphasis—understandably—borders on fixation. As for slavery… the Confederate version of our founding document appears to eradicate instances in the original that were worded with sufficient vagueness to include indentured servants. The slaves referred to are definitely of the African variety. And… that’s about it. Did I miss something? Is this perhaps a bowdlerized version, Glenn, that Confederate apologists smuggled into the archive through the nefarious machinations of the KKK KGB?

In any case, the entire gesture in the direction of the Confederate Constitution is so patently irrelevant to the context in which Beck cites it that the maneuver suggests mental derangement. The farmboys who slipped on a gray uniform and grabbed a rifle neither read that document nor had any influence upon its drafting. The immense majority of them—over 95 percent—owned no slaves personally; and to defend the institution of slavery would, in their case, have been to extend the life of a system that deprived them of employment opportunities and created for them a gross disadvantage in the marketplace. Now, did their fighting on behalf of a Southern doctrine that included the preservation of slavery favor the institution’s survival? Obviously. That was the tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of young men lost arms, legs, eyesight, or life itself—good, long decades of life—to defend the principle of self-determination while it sat, contradictorily, on the rotten foundation of enforced servitude.

None of that even comes close to justifying the assertion that the war was fought on behalf of slavery, or that those who fought for the Southern side were proto-Nazis.

I don’t like Glenn Beck’s characterization of my ancestors. I’ve had to try to explain their position, as I heard it from my grandmother (and not from the ghost of Great-Great-Great Uncle Jebediah), throughout my adulthood to a society that increasingly considers my race, sex, and lineage sufficient reason to run me down on the streets. I have in fact been told in confidence on one occasion that I was eliminated from the applicants for a position because of my demographic profile. I’m not a laureated historian, or a multi-millionaire who has been able to buy up rare artifacts for “The Vault”; but I’ve read enough first-hand accounts of boys who wore the gray, like Tom Watkins’ Co. Aytch, that I know their motives from their own testimony. They were lauded as patriots as they went marching to what they presumed would be a month of hiking and camping… and then they were thrown into a fiery furnace—whipped, branded, or shot if they attempted to slip away after the year for which they had enlisted. And not a word about slaves ever appears in most of these testimonials, unless in a protest against the release from active duty of anyone who happened to own twenty or more slaves.

Yet beyond my extreme dislike of Beck’s riding roughshod over historical fact in order to indulge his ill-tempered impatience is a genuine astonishment at the ill temper. There appears to be something profoundly out of alignment in the psyche of Glenn Beck. His vitriolic hatred of certain groups that he has designated as free and clear of any restraint required by Christian scruples is a constant wonder to me. As if so much advertised and highly promoted reconciliation and sympathy had taxed his nature to the breaking point, he unleashes his rancor in specified “safe zones” the way he and his Blaze crew boast of burning hundreds of rounds on the target range. Apparently, if you invest something exceeding a critical mass of effort in publicly loving humanity far and wide, you have to compensate by keeping a bright red bull’s eye hidden away into which you can pump shotgun shells.

My ancestors are that bull’s eye for Glenn Beck. I wish him joy at his sniping. If I had a bronze of Stonewall Jackson, I’d send it to him for duty on an indoor, underground firing range. After all, I owe him something for years of occasionally informative programming.

Sayonara, Glenn Beck (Part One)

A few people are just plain wicked. Even fewer are genuine saints. The rest of us live in the vast middle space. It’s not permitted to such a one as I to judge the spiritual worth of other human beings, nor is it what I intend to play at in these paragraphs. But there comes a time when you have to make adjustments in the people whose essential skills you trust to make fair, stable, wide-angled estimates of worldly affairs. Glenn Beck is no longer on my list of such people.

I’ve tuned into Beck off and on for years. I liked many of his guests. Where else do you get to hear commentators as keen as Michelle Malkin and Ben Shapiro, or men as honest as Louie Gohmert and Burgess Owens? Yet I vividly recall being shaken by the treatment Debra Medina received on Beck’s radio show when she was challenging Rick Perry for governor of Texas. The year escapes me—perhaps 2008; but the interview ended when either Beck or his point man, Pat Gray, blindsided Medina with a question about one of her staffers being a “truther”. Like Medina, I had never heard a definition of this ragged, patched-up word. Struggling after clarity as her final seconds ticked away, Debra offered an entirely reasonable generalization to the effect that everything our government does at any level should be subject to public scrutiny. Her line of communication once severed, Beck and Co. went on the attack. They immediately began an indignant, derisive, and contemptuous assault upon all such people as dare to believe that George Bush and Dick Cheney would have planned the slaughter of 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Medina was now one of these… and her candidacy tanked irretrievably.

Personally, I have no doubt that we haven’t been told the full truth about the collapse of the World Trade Towers (and particularly about the accordion-plunge of the squat WTT 7). That doesn’t amount to my accusing the Bush Administration of mass murder—a supposition grotesque to the point of clinical paranoia. It means I want the full truth. Why do people like Debra Medina and me deserve to be designated “truthers” the way a playground bully might designate a child with asthma a “gasper”? Especially when Beck devotes so much of his airtime to ferreting out forgotten or suppressed historical details and constructs his professional persona so meticulously around honoring neglected artifacts, dancing around the new girl with his buddies at recess and chanting “truther” doesn’t suit the dignity of the desired image.

The “dignity deficit” has been a recurrent problem with me. Talk-show hosts, to be sure, enjoy a license to engage in buffoonery… but not so much a host who lays special claim to being a devout Christian and the one reliable adult in the room. Inappropriate are the endless permutations of the word “butt”, the eighth-grade flights of sarcasm, and the occasional too-intimate details of the host’s personal life. Even the musical overture (lately discarded) to the televised version of Beck’s show on The Blaze morphed from a tasteful collage of real-life sequences to a very odd comic strip featuring heads of major historical figures yapping out the lyrics like PAC Man eating up dots. Was the subliminal message here that Beck considers himself history’s puppeteer, able to pair any two politicians (and there were some bizarre pairings) and make them mouth his little ditty of togetherness?

Ah, yes… the “togetherness” thing. Beck the Preacher will alternately grow choked up in his appeals for unity and resonant in a prophetic lather as he scolds, “Wake up, America!” For a week or two, he wants to greet illegally entering children with teddy bears and soccer balls along our border; then it’s back to warning gullible stiffs like me that the economy can’t make it to Christmas. (I’m grateful for the warning, and I believe the economy may very well “accordion” like the Trade Towers: but you can’t stay on high alert for a decade running.) If we are at rest, we should snap to attention: if we have our finger on the trigger, we should chill out. We are to stop fighting with each other over such meaningless trivia as the propriety of the gay lifestyle and rising for the Anthem at NFL games… but those of us who feel uncomfortable with the ostentation of public prayer must nonetheless sit through the itemization of the host’s prayer life and even through a benediction concluding his nightly newsroom discussion-group. I pray, too—in my closet, as Jesus recommends. Perhaps these televised prayers, with Beck himself the hub around which the wheel spins, are supposed to make us bond… and since such unifying endeavors require a stage and an audience, the Good Shepherd can’t afford to be bashful.

Does Glenn, in his defense (if this could be a mitigation rather than an exacerbation), honestly believe himself to be a prophet touched by the One True God? His audio and video archives brim with oft-retrieved pronouncements he has made about the new millennium. Ever quick to remind the world that his prediction of a caliphate-seeking uprising in the Middle East was scoffed at by mainstream news media, he seems convinced that nobody else anywhere was sounding the alarm. At the same time, a convenient amnesia appears to settle over such forecasts as the one about Putin’s imminent takeover of Poland (imminent in… 2014). Personally, I have never sought—in Beck or anyone else—a prophet or a speaker-in-tongues: I seek someone who will tell the whole truth about events in the news (you know… a “truther”!) and perhaps provide some mature moral context to frightening trends. In this latter regard, where is the prophet, I wonder, when Beck marvels over the nanobot-ridden “transhuman” extolled by his friend Ray Kurzweil, then anguishes out loud over possible unfortunate consequences of the new robot-man? My own inner Jeremiah is lapping Beck’s every day on this track!

It’s almost as though that which we traditionalists have identified as clearly right or wrong needs to be reconsidered, in Beck’s eyes, as dividing the nation—and that which most of us would as soon allow to lapse into the background scenery needs to be center-staged. Why does a man who insists on praying over a panel discussing the day’s news express little interest in defending traditional marriage? Why were the details of Barack Obama’s thoroughly misty past not worth exploring, yet the world must stand up and take notice that a twenty-year-old line from the mouth or the pen of Newt Gingrich proves him to be a General Franco in waiting?

At these moments, Beck reminds me of the eponymous character in Gide’s Immoraliste (and our lion of historical research, I’ve no doubt, would mock me mercilessly for citing a Frenchman). Surrounded by wealthy, stuffy landowners who see poaching as a threat to the survival of civilization, the new arrival in their aristocratic midst blunders upon some malefactors one night and… and discovers that skulking around with them is one of life’s great pleasures. Glenn Beck seems to like to slip over to the other side just when you think he’s holding down your flank; and before you know it, he’s giving you a sermon on the evils of choosing sides. Tricky, that.

Is a Five-Year-Old’s Tantrum Protected by Free Speech?

I’m getting a little tired of hearing about free speech this week from people who can barely talk. If a pre-schooler crawls up to the American flag and wipes his nose on it, you sit him down in time-out. If an adult does it, you call him a champion of free speech.

Glenn Beck seems to think that reverence for a flag is akin to goose-stepping nationalism—a position not devoid of merit, but very odd in a man who also styles Confederate secession a pure and simple act of treason. (The fine art of “becking” could be a subject for another day: you achieve it by savaging convictions or figures associated with your ideology yet unattractive to you for purely personal reasons, thereby showing your broad-mindedness to the far political polarity.) I’m not going to say that athletes who take a knee as the flag is raised are vile traitors. After all, I myself have refused to mouth the Pledge of Allegiance ever since I discovered that defrocked Baptist minister and rabid socialist Francis Bellamy composed it in 1892 to program school children into believing that individual states had no rights. Yet I still stand for the Pledge. I do so because I realize that others around me don’t know what I know, and that their act is thus intended to show devotion to constitutional government rather than rejection of self-determination. In the same way, I would be appropriately quiet if a group of Jews or Muslims among whom I might find myself were to engage in a quick prayer that made little sense to me. It’s a question of manners. Why go out of your way to make others feel awkward?

Exhibitionists do precisely this: it is their definitive characteristic. They don’t care if you notice them with admiration or contempt, as long as you notice them. They need to occupy center-stage.

And here’s why I cannot accept “knee-taking” as anything more than the attention-grabbing gesture of an obnoxious brat. Expressions without any verbalization—without actual speech or even the few words of a placard or bumper-sticker—rely heavily upon context to be interpreted. I might wish to fly the Confederate battle flag in my front yard to advertise my support of the Tenth Amendment… but, no, that would be a terrible idea, because so many KKK types have decided to commandeer the flag as a condensed advertisement of their claim to be superior humans by virtue of their DNA. Did you know that the word “swastika” is used in Sanskrit Vedic texts to convey a certain meditative posture? Yet neither you nor I would hoist a swastika to ask the household not to disturb us during our meditation time.

The American flag, at this point in our history, represents to the vast majority of us the idea that we remain united in our support of certain humane values, whatever our specific differences. In this context, refusing to rise for the anthem, turning one’s back on a flag-raising, fixing one’s hat firmly aloft while stuffing one’s hands in one’s pockets, and other such displays would be interpreted by 99.9 percent of the native adult population as overt contempt for those core values. The contemptuous should not be stoned or driven from the crowd. (One of our core values is that no one may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.) Their message, though, is clear: they’re giving the bird to the notion of a transcending endorsement of principle, declaring instead that some specific circumstance or other has exploded the principle’s credibility. They’re “saying” as much in semaphore, though they may say something else in speech or print after the fact. I can’t torch an emblem in public and then claim later that I wanted to show my warmth of feeling for what the emblem represents. Nobody would interpret my behavior that way, and I would be a) insane if I truly expected otherwise, or b) a slippery hypocrite if I argued otherwise.

Childish brats, I suppose, don’t fully qualify either for insanity or hypocrisy. And since five-year-olds can’t write, you can hardly expect them to pen an op-ed; or since their vocabulary consists of about five hundred words, you can hardly expect them to go public about legal or social dysfunction and enunciate a plan to address it. Even so, a child who was truly upset about an environmental condition would throw a fit intended to highlight the condition rather than himself. He wouldn’t wait for a very public, very solemn moment and then roll on the ground screaming.

What we have here is a crisis of boys raised without fathers. They passed their juvenile years acting out so that some adult might notice them and impose limits upon their lives… which never happened. Now, apparently, they’re going to spend the next two decades of their biological manhood playing the same game.