By Michael Lesher – Originally at OffGuardian – Published Sep 4, 2020 FRN
I’ve been an angry man since the age of sixteen. That was when I read Lloyd deMause’s newly-published The History of Childhood, an inquest into the realities of growing up that minced no words about society’s ingrained habit of victimizing children to serve the implacable ends of adults.
As I absorbed deMause’s relentless account of the cruelty inflicted on children in the world’s most “advanced” civilizations, I swore an angry oath to myself that I would never acquiesce in the deliberate harm of little kids, no matter how respectable their abusers might claim to be.
So I’m not going to pull any punches about the systematic child abuse being orchestrated, as I write, by a phalanx of America’s most “respectable” politicians, pundits and self-styled educators.
Child abuse? Yes, that’s what I said: and I’m talking about the concerted campaign to keep the United States school system shuttered in honor of the Great God Corona – a cynical bid to smother the free instincts in a whole generation of children before they’re even old enough to know how deeply they’ve been violated.
As if that weren’t ugly enough, the propagandists who want to take away our kids’ education are using emotional blackmail to do it, terrorizing 74 million American children with the slander that they’re as poisonous as Rappaccini’s daughter – that the moment they cross the threshold of a school building they will have condemned their teachers, and probably their parents, to an early and painful death.
Child abuse? That’s almost too mild a name for it.
What is it going to take, I wonder, to make the proverbial Man in the Street as angry as I am about this? If I could, I’d try to shout into his face some measure of his inconsistency. Have you been gnashing your teeth over the alleged crimes of Jeffrey Epstein, Mr. Street? What do you say to a crew of governors-turned-dictators who hold millions of American children captive in their own homes, polluting their minds with fear porn?
Does it bother you when the minions of President Donald Trump throw helpless children into the arms of traffickers south of the border as a matter of “immigration policy”? How do you feel, then, about a “health” policy that deprives all our children of a normal education?
You’ve heard tell of irresponsible organizations tainting social media with “misinformation,” haven’t you? Do you mind the idea of your own kids being manipulated 24/7 through a computer screen by the same folks who planted microphones in a home “security” system and have already handed over your private information to political gangsters like Cambridge Analytica?
Or maybe you’re upset with Israeli soldiers who hide stun grenades where they can hurt unsuspecting youngsters in a West Bank village? If so, Mr. Street, what about people who hang the calumny of being walking death-traps like a sword of Damocles above the heads of millions of American pre-teens?
Are you angry yet?
Mainstream pundits, of course, assure us that all of this is really a saintly effort to protect the young.
“This is exactly what we’ve been warning about,” a smug Megan Ranney, described as “the director for the Center for Digital Health at Brown University,” told the press about a recent rise in COVID19 “cases” among schoolchildren. (Ah, why can’t Americans just forget about educating their kids and let the “experts” do their thinking for them?)
“Coronavirus cases are already surfacing in K-12 schools that have reopened,” screeched NBC News – again citing “experts” – but “the federal government is not tracking these outbreaks, and some states are not publicly reporting them.”
And as if that didn’t prove we’re all eye-deep in the Black Death, a Florida judge blocked the reopening of his state’s public schools by claiming that the decision properly belonged to – you guessed it – “health experts” and not its elected representatives; meanwhile, the Orwellian gloating of a teachers’ union president about the judge’s twin attacks on education and democracy (“This is a great day for public schools”) was topped only by a young middle-school teacher who stood on a Tampa sidewalk with a poster blaring, “I CAN’T TEACH FROM THE GRAVE.”
But there are some cracks in the walls of the propaganda.
The article containing Dr. Ranney’s pontifications, for instance, dealt exclusively with the rise in COVID19 “cases”; after all, that’s the only way to make an ominous story out of the spread of a dime-a-dozen flu virus among people who are seldom if ever harmed by it.
The article mentioned only one child as experiencing any serious consequences at all – and it turned out (though the article didn’t say so) that he died of a seizure, that there’s no evidence his death had anything to do with COVID19, and that in any case he was apparently infected in church, not at school.
Furthermore, not one of the articles I’ve sampled even tried to present evidence of teachers contracting COVID19 from their students – an issue that ought to be central, given so many teachers’ vehement opposition to doing their jobs.
But you know the drill: the Right Thinkers have already reached their conclusions; inconvenient facts must be airbrushed.
And oh boy, there are plenty of inconvenient facts.
The coronavirus coup is already crippling a nation even as its jaws open for our kids. According to a continuing special project of the US Census Bureau:
almost a third of people in some states have little or no confidence they can pay August’s rent or mortgage […] Jobs have been furloughed, businesses closed, hours reduced and salaries cut […] 35% of adults [are] still expecting a loss of employment income in the coming month for themselves or someone in their household.”
And what about the children? By mid-August, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting that more than a quarter of all young adults in the United States had contemplated suicide during the “pandemic.”
A West Los Angeles child and adolescent psychiatrist has publicly testified to a “rapid and substantial increase” since March in cases of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, bedwetting, self-harming, violence, panic attacks and related symptoms of emotional illness among the children he treats.
Let’s be clear about this: none of these horrors resulted from a respiratory virus. They were and are the products of unilateral “executive orders,” issued without the approval of any legislature and without public debate, by state governors who for over five months have claimed quasi-dictatorial powers on the strength of an “emergency” that never existed and certainly doesn’t exist today.
Our bleak reality, in a word, is the price we are paying for a sustained attack on the fundamental components of constitutional democracy. And the chief weapon in that campaign has been panic – panic deployed against civil liberties (illegal house arrests became “public safety” measures), then against the arts (singing was suddenly deadly, theater audiences became Petri dishes for infection), and now against the most vulnerable target of all: our children.
Sadly, some of the young themselves seem to have been hypnotized by the fear offensive.
As the University of North Carolina moved to hobble its undergraduate programs barely a week into the fall semester, the editorial board of its student newspaper attacked administrators, not for denying them their right to normal college classes, but for not crippling their education even sooner.
“Reports of parties throughout the weekend come as no surprise,” wrote the scandalized student editors. “[I]it was the University’s responsibility to disincentivize such gatherings by reconsidering its plans to operate in-person earlier on.”
I pity the young people who could write those words; freedom, as Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor predicted, is a burden to them; they can’t seem to throw it away fast enough.
And just look what paltry “security” they’re getting in exchange!
Out of over 19,000 undergraduates at UNC, a grand total of twenty-odd new cases of COVID19 have allegedly been discovered on campus. That’s right – 20 out of 19,000; and given the age of those students, the chance of any serious consequence is about as remote as the danger of being struck by lightning.
Yet this is enough for the student editors to abandon the most precious thing their university ought to be giving them – the education free people deserve – and to pray aloud that their elders will take away even more of their liberty, so as to “disincentivize” any semblance of normal student life. It is a gloomy augury.
Bear in mind that even those lockdown-lovers who are willing to allow that, yes, maybe, sooner or later students ought to be permitted to resume what they call “in-person schooling” – that ominous phrase is cropping up everywhere, alongside the even more ominous “new normal” – don’t intend to let the kids get away unscathed.
Students will be muzzled, will be subjected to repeated temperature checks, will not be allowed to congregate or to whisper to one another, will be kept rigidly apart in the classrooms, and will not even be able to observe the facial expressions of their friends or acquaintances.
Never mind that there isn’t the slightest medical justification for any of this. (We’ve known at least since March that healthy people are more likely to be harmed than helped by wearing masks.) The Right Thinkers are determined to keep us in fear, and our children are not to be exceptions to this rule, whether at home or in a schoolroom.
But even that kind of torture isn’t enough to please Michael Mulgrew, president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers. He’s threatening to impose regular virus testing on students and staff at all New York City schools, plus special school building “entry and exit procedures” and a surveillance regime involving mandatory quarantine for anyone who has tested positive in the previous 24 hours.
Otherwise, “the union is prepared to go to court and/or go on strike if we need to.”
And what about state law that prohibits such strikes? “Union receiving penalties, I go to jail, all of that,” says Mr. Mulgrew. “We’ll do it if we have to.” If only the teachers’ union had ever shown as much courage in actually teaching our children as in blackmailing them!
And so I’m angry.
I’m angry when people who call themselves educators turn into advocates of child abuse.
I’m angry about politicians who claim to care about working people and then, by closing schools, force those same working people to choose between their children and their jobs.
I’m angry at dishonest news media that can watch a 5-year-old child break down in tears in front of a computer screen and call his emotional torture “distance learning.”
And I’m angry, above all, at a cynical intellectual culture that sees nothing wrong with using children as hostages in a campaign to turn my country into a police state.
Abusing children in the hope of gaining political ground would be reprehensible in any case. But the lockdown-lovers can’t even claim the defense of well-meaning fanaticism. The idea that we can permanently “contain” COVID19 by putting much of the population, children included, under house arrest is no longer even remotely credible.
Professor Johan Giesecke, a medical advisor to the Swedish government, posed the obvious question a month ago: suppose strict lockdowns really do slow the spread of COVID19 infections, he asked.
But then, what next? No democratic society can remain in lockdown for many months or years. Their economies cannot withstand it, and the public won’t allow it.”
So there it is, folks. We are shredding the Bill of Rights, trashing our economy, destroying our working class, censoring the arts, undermining the educational system, turning our society into a fever swamp of paranoid repression, and betraying our children – and all for what?
The only answer the Right Thinkers can give us is the answer of all totalitarians: that we are too foolish to make our own decisions, that we need “experts” to construct the sort of society the Right Thinkers believe we ought to inhabit but aren’t sensible enough to build for ourselves.
Ultimately, that is the message that stares every one of us in the face when we see a child sitting at home in front of a computer screen when he or she ought to be at school. This is the democracy-destroyers’ most ambitious ploy. If they can train a whole generation of children to live almost entirely through the artificial and isolating medium of cybernetics, they can look forward to a future in which manipulating the population will be easier than ever.
Political life revolves around cooperation and discourse; what sort of political opposition can you expect from people who have never even learned to form groups?
Intellectual maturity requires surprise, confrontation, provocation – such experiences come from the unexpected give and take of real social life, not from computerized media where a child finds only what he looks for.
In other words, “distance learning” for children is just about perfectly designed to produce mentally and socially stunted adults – the kind of adults the Right Thinkers prefer to deal with.
But remember, that isn’t all it will produce. While our children are being shorn of the instincts of free human beings, the master manipulators on the other side of their computer screens will be carefully scrutinizing them, noting every weakness, every foible, every fear to be exploited in the future.
By the time the kids are old enough to begin to live on their own, it will be too late; they’ll be helpless against the elites who control all the pathways of the only sort of life they have ever known.
“Possibly the heartless treatment of children,” wrote deMause in the foreword to his grim history of childhood, “was and is only one aspect of the basic aggressiveness and cruelty of human nature…Children…were the victims of forces over which they had no control, and they were abused…by way of expressing conscious or more commonly unconscious motives of their elders…”
This time around, whether its motives are conscious or not, the purpose of the abuse aimed at our children is perfectly clear. If the propagandists have their way, society is to be reshaped forever; freedom as we have known it is to be sharply curtailed; democracy, an obsolete hindrance to the plans of Silicon Valley billionaires, must be abolished, or at least drastically redefined.
And our children are to be the guinea pigs in this grand social experiment.
Will they get away with it? I certainly hope not – but successful resistance will depend upon a lot of people calling this species of child abuse by its proper name, seizing every opportunity to rise up against it with the anger and contempt it deserves.
The stakes are terribly high. If you imagine that the Right Thinkers are just out to delay the opening of public schools a few weeks this year – if you still don’t grasp that their goal is nothing less than to snatch away your children’s last chance at a normal life – well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Michael Lesher is an author, poet and lawyer whose legal work is mostly dedicated to issues connected with domestic abuse and child sexual abuse. His latest nonfiction book is Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities (McFarland & Co., 2014); his first collection of poetry, Surfaces, was published by The High Window in 2019. A memoir of his discovery of Orthodox Judaism as an adult – Turning Back: The Personal Journey of a “Born-Again” Jew – will be published in September 2020 by Lincoln Square Books.