I was inspired to write this by Blonde in the Belly of the Beast’s red pill journey video. I even thought of doing a video, except that I choose to remain anonymous/incognito to the best of my ability, and somehow I don’t think I’d be as visually appealing as she is. ;) As to why I am writing this? To show that people who are aware, and open to new information, can change and – in parallel – to highlight that Jews are not all in lockstep with Leftists, especially in the Left’s intent on replacing Western Civilization.
THE EARLY YEARS
As I said in my introduction (see the link NITZAKHON, above), I was born in the Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts. My parents were both far-left Leftists. Late in life and retired in Florida they both voted for Nader (thanks!) rather than Gore in 2000. Strongly influenced by my parents – understandably – as well as their friends and colleagues in that lunatic-liberal state, I assumed everyone thought the way they did; I certainly did. I simply had no exposure to anything else.
Side note: We were very secular Jews. Yes, we’d do Passover and Chanukah, but aside from Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur, we never set foot in a Synagogue until I turned 12 – as I led up to my
Bar Mitzvah. All of a sudden we attended services every Shabbat morning in a catch-up attempt. They also didn’t push me to attend Hebrew/religious school on weekends, acquiescing to my desire to not go – something I regret deeply now, and I am insistent that my children attend. I am also attempting to learn Hebrew, much more difficult at my age, and get better acquainted with our traditions and such (which I’ll discuss in Part 2).
Probably the first exposure to politics and the Left-Right divide that I consciously remember was a girl in our synagogue, about my age, to whom I was quite attracted. As I neared my Bar Mitzvah and its rite-of-passage into adulthood in the Jewish community, I made a comment that I found her quite attractive and asked advice from my parents on how I might approach her. Oh, no, they’re Republicans! which was hissed out as if this was the worst possible thing in the world to be. I got the hint and abandoned any thought of engaging in “the pursuit”. As I write this and reflect back at my life and people who came into and out of my parents’ circle of friends, I can see several families who got dropped because of their politics; e.g., the S’s, the P’s, both wonderful families but gone from our lives – of course there was a pretext, a rationalization, but looking back it seems crystal clear: the people pushed away from our lives were on the Right. Just as several cousins on my mother’s side, all Jews and all uber-liberals, have likewise utterly blocked me because I’m to the right of Stalin. Only now do I understand: for the Left, party loyalty trumps (pun intended) everything else.
I did all the politically correct things. Trick-or-Treating, I collected coins for UNICEF. I attended the march in New York in 1982 against nuclear weapons – my first visit to “The Big Apple” and, alas, not my last. (Aside: on my last visit there, with my wife and sister-in-law, I thought to myself “If owned this place and Hell, I’d rent this place out, and live in Hell” after a line from the movie Chronicles of Riddick.) But even back then there were cracks in my commitment to the Left. In high school a person wrote an op-ed piece in the school newspaper about how utterly evil nuclear power was. I had to reply, writing a response that was for nuclear power; my half-sister had given me a book about nuclear power a few years earlier with a remarkable amount of detail and information. Additionally, my mother – for some reason – subscribed me to the short-lived Fusion Magazine (published by the LaRouche Movement – go figure!) which extensively praised nuclear energy. So I was well-armed with information to counter the irrational fears of the original piece. On this score I was not part of The Collective in being anti-nuclear energy even as my parents and their friends were enthusiastic members of The Clamshell Alliance. Though I certainly didn’t consciously recognize it, I somehow understood that to have lights and all the conveniences that electricity brings, you need to generate it reliably – something “green energy” does not do even today.
ON TO COLLEGE
One of the largest changes in my life as I went to college was going full atheist (joke: one should never go full atheist). I had, in late high school, stopped attending synagogue regularly. First, as a budding science type, I had seen G-d diminished in His role in the universe, at least as far as the workings and origins of it. Second, I’d realized that I was attending services for the food and the social aspects, not because of any feelings in my heart towards G-d and, thus, did not feel it was ethical to take part. And like many atheists I was obnoxious about it too: poking fun at believers. (Note: I eventually mellowed off of that, even becoming critical of my then-fellow atheists and their apparent need to criticize believers and their “sky god”.)
But on the flip side of things, already showing illiberal thoughts similar to being for nuclear power, I was an enormous space enthusiast in college and still am today (ecstatic over Trump’s pro-space vision), I was a member of the L-5 Society for years, and wrote many pro-space articles for school newspapers and submitted more to local papers. I did not see money spent on NASA et al as “thrown away” but rather an investment in the future of homo sapiens; even then, I wanted America – specifically America – to be the leader in this. This, too, was contrary to the Leftist anti-American Zeitgeist, even if I didn’t think of myself as anything but a good liberal.
I wept openly after the showing, in the school chapel so all could see it, of the TV drama The Day After. I immediately wrote a strong letter to then-President Reagan about nuclear weapons pleading with him to disarm to “show our good faith” (which I suspect was the goal of making the movie: putting pressure on Reagan), and another one criticizing him after the bombing of Tripoli. Having multiple pen pals at the time, I proudly sent copies of the letter I had published in the local city rag condemning the attack to every one of them. To my surprise, one responded with a 180 degree opposite reaction to that which I’d expected: praising the attack and condemning my letter. This, probably, was my very first exposure to someone who had a non-liberal perspective and I was horrified that anyone could think what that person did. It was a slap in the face – the idea that someone could not think this was awful.
MY FIRST TIME
No, not that – get your mind out of the gutter. The first time I uttered the phrase That’s weird… quoting from my essay The Leftist Sense of Self (bolding and links in original):
I was living in the Midwest when my police officer neighbor remarked that I should get a gun for self-defense. Having been raised, all my life, to believe that civilian gun ownership was wrong, it shocked me to my core that – of all people – a cop was telling me this.
Unlike most Leftists – and have no doubt that I still was one – I didn’t dismiss this as a flier data point stated by a knuckledraggingslopedforeheadredneck, but rather it made me think those great two words that often stand at the threshold of a new insight: That’s weird…
I started to pay more attention to the ads being put forth by the gun control lobby; data that, hitherto for, I had accepted at face value because they matched what I already thought (i.e., confirmation bias). I wrote to the NRA and what was then Handgun Control Inc. I would follow up with requests for more information on specific topics; e.g., I’d get something from one side, so I’d write the other side for their data on the same topic. I wrote to the researchers whose works were being cited to ask follow-up questions based on their works (most responded!). And I’d cross-check, compare, and lo and behold, I realized something very fundamental – something that, of course, the Rightward side already knows: In virtually every instance, the NRA was far more accurate and complete in its picture.
One egregious example was this famous ad by gun controllers (multiple versions exist). Utterly convincing on its gut-reaction face, upon considered reflection I realized it did not normalize for the population size. Just that fact alone made me suspicious; years later I heard the phrase “Local instability means global instability” as related to my career – the same holds true for propaganda: once a side is shown to be not just biased (after all, every side puts forth information sympathetic to its argument!), but outright deceptive, all credibility falls away. I, like most people, have a strong aversion to being intentionally lied to.
As a result of this revelation, not only did I switch from being a ban-them-all gun controller, but it was one of the defining moments in my move away from the Left and towards the Right.
THE LIBERTARIAN PERIOD
As I attended grad school after a year in Detroit I found myself taking the Libertarian quiz – one which, I will opine, is “gamed” to make one join the party. But, I did. Pro-gun, I was still pro-choice, pro-UN, pro-affirmative action, pro-drug legalization, pro, well, pro pretty much everything liberal. I found myself voting, in 1992, for Clinton – well, against Bush I. In 1996 I was disenchanted with Clinton for multiple reasons, but couldn’t bring myself to vote for Dole; I voted Libertarian, the one and only time I ever did so in a Presidential election. I was still an atheist but had, as I mentioned above, mellowed quite a bit.
But it was a few years into being in the working world when I really started noticing a number of things, and shifting noticeably Rightward; three examples:
Pro-choice / pro-life: Rarely does a bumper sticker provide me anything more than a guffaw; one, however, shook me. At the post office one day I saw If it’s not a child, you’re not pregnant. That got me thinking, big time, and while still an atheist I realized that the only difference between a fetus versus a baby was one of perception by the mother. Mulling that bumper sticker over endlessly, I realized with a shock that it was only that same difference in perception, i.e., human versus not human, that permitted the Nazis to push so many into the death camps. That was the defining moment in my transition to being pro-life.
Affirmative Action: While in graduate school I had encountered many non-white students. Most of the ones I met were, in fact, from overseas and some were as dark, if not darker, than their American cousins; some Indians, too, were dark-dark, far more so than many mixed-blood American blacks. Yet these people were not only kicking-ass grade-wise, they were doing prime research, getting great jobs, and didn’t once complain about raaaaaacism. I compared / contrasted these people with the “affirmative action specials” that I was meeting in the workplace. Many were indoctrinated from the moment of their birth that things were so stacked against them they shouldn’t even try. Probably the key moment in my shift to opposing affirmative action was when, through work, I tutored black children in the community. A few were genuinely interested in studying, but most – including one 400-pounder super-sized queen – were only killing time. I understand not everyone is a super-genius, but hard work and perseverance can conquer much… and the majority in that crowd lacked even those traits.
Somewhere around that time I read an article discussing the Hmong in Wisconsin: An Asian man arrived with the shirt on his back; a decade or so later he was very successful with a luxury car in his driveway. He was accosted by a black passer-by who said “You’ve been here ten years and have all this?” to which the Asian said “You’ve been here your whole life, how come you don’t?” That was another defining moment in understanding that it was the American black culture, not racism, that held them back.
(NB: Are there still racists? Sadly. There are also people who still think Elvis is alive or that aliens built the pyramids.)
Taxes: For years I had a belief that government should help the downtrodden with a “hand up” – something I no longer believe is government’s role – but each paycheck I looked at the gross vs. net and really wondered if all that charity was worth it given the lack of results. Unlike my teenage letter to President Reagan (I wrote to him more than any other President) criticizing his tax cuts, I became a fan of them, especially understanding the Laffer Curve. I also became aware of Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams and their questioning of welfare and government charity, and quotes like that of James Madison – the prime “father” of the Constitution – about governmental charity:
“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
I also came to realize that the majority of my tax money was a Vote Pump for Democrats to take money from the 49% to give to the 51% for their vote even as they used plunder to brag about how generous they were (with other peoples' money).
A COMMON FACTOR
What did all these shifts have in common? Specific and memorable defining moments where I was presented with new information that was dissonant with information I had and beliefs I held, causing me to step back and say some version of That’s weird… and then investigate with an open mind.
To be continued…