Love of Power Wins – Now the Yezhovschina Can Begin

The Secret Police in Orwell’s dystopian society were employed by the Ministry of Love. In that ironic designation we find the genuine meaning of the insistent refrain that “love” triumphed when the US Supreme Court consummated the long campaign to bring the most intimate human institution fully under the state’s control.

Those presently celebrating the state’s “affirmation” of same-sex relationships are intoxicated by the knowledge that they are the “who” rather than the “whom” in Lenin’s famous formula (which defines the essential political question as “who does what to whom”). Like countless others they have been beguiled into believing that “liberation” is achieved by identifying with the exercise of state power, rather than being protected against it.

The Stonewall Riot occurred because a minority rebelled against the routine abuses committed by police who used the leverage provided by liquor licenses to justify harassment of people who privately engaged consensual behavior. The movement that coalesced after Stonewall loudly proclaimed the desire to be left alone, even as it was co-opted by the institutionalized “civil rights” movement, which seeks to abolish freedom of association.

That movement is now pursuing that objective with unprecedented vigor.

As the New York Times reports, “gay rights leaders have turned their sights to what they see as the next big battle: obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in employment, housing, commerce and other arenas” – a crusade that will mean constricting the exercise of religious liberty and other elements of property rights.

In 1993, the ACLU supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which the group recently invoked in a successful defense of the religious liberties of a Sikh serviceman.  That case was decided shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on same-sex marriage, which made it clear that the who/whom polarity had shifted. The ACLU is now demanding modification of the RFRA to allow the federal government to punish businessmen, clergymen, and other people whose exercise of religious freedom is deemed “discriminatory” by the state-licensed custodians of correct sentiments, at least some of whom aren’t content with the piecemeal approach.

Within hours of the Obergefell ruling, New York Times contributor Mark Oppenheimer used a Time magazine op-ed column to demand enactment of a measure that would “abolish, or greatly diminish” the tax-exempt status “for organizations that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.” Invoking the standard collectivist fallacy that the State subsidizes anyone it doesn’t dispossess outright, Oppenheimer groused that conservative churches are among the “rich organizations [that] horde plentiful assets in the midst of poverty.”

Only those organizations offering “an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good” should be exempt, decrees Commissar Oppenheimer, who like his comrades is serenely confident that the present who/whom alignment can be made permanent.

To him and those of his persuasion, the services of an abortion clinic would likely be regarded as “indispensable and noncontroversial,” and thus worthy of an exemption. Those provided by a crisis pregnancy center offering material aid and moral encouragement to women choosing to give birth would be neither, and thus subject to being pillaged by the IRS — and, most likely, regulated out of existence. Similar outcomes would be imposed on contending activist groups deployed on opposing sides of every culture war fault line.

The power to tax is the power to destroy, and withdrawing the exemption would effectively extinguish religious liberty by replacing it with a revocable state-issued license.  The ultimate objective is not co-existence with conservative or traditionalist religious believers, but their subjugation – in the name of “love,” naturally. “Hate” is already being defined as disagreement with “settled public policy,” and it would have no legitimate place in public discourse – or refuge in private life, once privacy had been effectively abolished.

One small but telling illustration of how this will work was provided by a celebratory house editorial published by Regime-centric publication called the Patriot-News.

State-recognized homosexual unions “are now the law of the land,” observed the paper’s editorial collective, announcing that henceforth “we will not publish “op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage … any more than we would publish those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic.” An addendum to the online version of that editorial advised readers that “complaining about our moderation policy or comments being deleted” was a violation of the paper’s new “community rules.”

Every publication has an unqualified right to establish and enforce its own rules of rhetorical comity. We shouldn’t be surprised if – or when– the same Progressives who are seeking modifications to the RFRA and an end to tax exemption for non-Progressive religious groups would likewise seek to fashion an exception to the First Amendment for media outlets that publish opinions of the kind the Patriot-News will no longer carry. This would require a comprehensive national inventory of political and cultural opinions – and as something other than luck would have it, the Obama administration is contemplating an initiative of that kind.

During a conversation with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Mr. Obama disclosed that the administration “is keen to introduce tough new laws which will force the KKK and other extreme right-wing groups to disclose the identity of their members,” Riley told the Daily Mail of London.

“One of the things we need to do is for the national government to give resources and expose these hate groups,” Riley elaborated. “We need a national council on these hate groups. The President is talking about that.”

“In America we worship the First Amendment and anybody can say anything they want,” Riley told the paper, a statement anticipating the familiar, self-nullifying use of the conjunction “but.” “But” – there it is!  – “we need to shine the spotlight on them [racists and other extremists, presumably], so at least we know where they are among the public. Neighbors should be able to know that the person living next to them is an absolute bigot.”

Perhaps the administration – which is already seeking to fine-tune to social, economic, and ethnic composition of residential neighborhoods – envisions a comprehensive census of political attitudes, as well. One approach might be to scrutinize social media for postings containing favorable quotes from dissenting opinions in the Obergefell ruling.

Writing in The Daily Beast, LBGT activist Jay Michaelson describes the dissenting opinions in Obergefell, especially that of Antonin Scalia, as “`stochastic terrorism,’ the broadcasting of a message so incendiary as to inspire some `lone wolf’ to violence – if not actual violence, then precisely the kinds of anti-democratic, anti-American defiance we have already seen among some politicians.”

John Roberts, who is obviously no stranger to judicial sophistry, produced a modulated and temperate dissection of the majority’s “act of will.” Scalia, predictably, was gloriously intemperate in assailing the majority’s social re-engineering. Michaelson, who didn’t rebuke the Left for its splenetic reaction to the Hobby Lobby and Citizens United rulings, indicted Roberts and Scalia as accessories before the fact to incipient (albeit unpredictable) acts of domestic terrorism: “It seems inevitable that rhetoric like this will stir the next Confederate flag-waving zealot to an act of, if not domestic terrorism, at least outrageous revolt. How could it be otherwise?”

The only way to forestall such “inevitable” revolt would be to identify and neutralize what were called “socially dangerous persons” under the Soviet Union’s Fundamental Principles of Penal Legislation. Article 58 of the penal code, observes the authoritative Black Book of Communism, dealt with “any activity that, without directly aiming to overthrow or weaken the Soviet regime, was in itself `an attack on the political or economic achievements of the revolutionary proletariat.’ The law thus not only punished intentional transgressions but also proscribed possible or unintentional acts.”

In defining “socially dangerous persons” the Soviet regime used “extremely elastic categories” that permitted pre-emptive incarceration “even in the absence of guilt.” This is because that the Soviet rulers were pleased to call “the law” specified that imprisonment, exile, or execution could be employed as means of “social protection” against “anyone classified as a danger to society, either for a specific crime that has been committed or when, even if exonerated of a particular crime, the person is still reckoned to pose a threat to society.”In 1935, a figure who became known as “Stalin’s Poison Dwarf” contributed another refinement to the architecture of state terror. Nikolai Yezhov, an intimate associate of Stalin, wrote a pseudo-academic paper contending that anyform of political opposition should be treated as incipient terrorism – a position that differs little, in principle, from that of the above-cited Jay Michaelson. Yezhov had long aspired to become head of the Soviet secret police, and he ascended to that role following the assassination of Stalin’s rival Sergei Kirov, an act of terrorism orchestrated by Stalin himself. This inaugurated a short but bloody period of purges and persecution known as the Yezhovschina – the “Era of Yezhov.” The Poison Dwarf began by denouncing his predecessor as head of the KNVD, Genrikh Yagoda, for his inadequate zeal in identifying and eliminating enemies of the regime. Yezhov’s appetite for bloodshed and oppression grew in crescendo until he, too, was denounced, tortured into multiple confessions, and executed.

Yezhov’s fate offered a stark demonstration of the unyielding reality of the “who/whom” dichotomy, which is best expressed in the words of the Book of Proverbs: “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and the stone will come back on whoever starts it rolling” (26:27, ISV). Whatever one’s views of traditional marriage, the ancient wisdom contained in that passage is unassailable – and should be remembered by those who are presently enraptured by the prospect of exercising state power in the name of “love.”