When They Come for Your Eyeglasses: Cultural Revolution in America

When They Come for Your Eyeglasses: Cultural Revolution in America

If you know anything about the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in Cambodia in the 1970s, you understand the reference in the title of this posting. People who wore eyeglasses were deemed to be bourgeois and therefore needed to be killed. So did anyone who had an education. Or spoke another language. Or owned a car. Or lived in a city. Or existed at all. A word that has stayed with me for decades, reading the words of one survivor, speaking of what became of all his family members in the killing fields of Cambodia, was the Khmer word slap.

Slap. Slap. Slap.

Dead. Dead. Dead.”

What happened in Cambodia, where estimates put the number of those murdered by the Khmer Rouge, or who died of starvation, disease, or exhaustion in the rural work camps to which they were exiled, at anywhere from 1 million to 3 million – no one really knows, though generally 2 million is the accepted number – is sadly not the exception to what happens when cultural revolutions reach their logical conclusion. No matter what their original motivations or justifications, they almost universally end in the wholesale slaughter of anyone not deemed sufficiently ideologically pure to those who wind up as the self-appointed leaders of the revolution.

Mobs of the French Revolution. Source unknown.

There were the tens of thousands who lost their heads to the Jacobins’ guillotines, or otherwise died, in the Reign of Terror – that one gets capitalized – of the French Revolution. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, which sound like pretty good things to aim for, turned into repression, imprisonment, and death for many, both those on the wrong side of the cultural and political divide and just ordinary innocents who got in the way of the murderous tide.

Dead in the streets during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Source unknown.

The Red Terror of the Bolshevik Revolution executed somewhere north of a quarter million people, but by the time the Russian Civil War had run its course the dead totaled at least 1.5 million, not counting the 3 million people who died of typhus just in the chaos of 1920 alone or the tens of millions who died in subsequent decades under the Soviets, into whom the Bolsheviks transformed.

And then there was Chairman Mao’s decade-long Cultural Revolution which wracked China from 1966 until 1976. Like all the other big social spasms there is no agreement on the number of dead and a million or two is considered a rounding error. But by China’s own official numbers, nearly 2 million people died and another 125 million people were persecuted or “struggled against” in brutal harassing, and often fatal, “struggle sessions” in which their cultural impurities were challenged by the Red Guards and their peers, colleagues, students, tenants, and even their own children. If all those who died as a result of the revolutionary insanity promulgated by Mao over the decades are included, estimates run as high as 80 million.

Cultural Revolution “Struggle Session,” 1966. From Flickr. Used under Fair Use.

While America’s incipient cultural revolution hasn’t yet taken a death toll approaching history’s worst, the numbers already are beginning to mount. When I first began writing this piece, just five weeks into the domestic unrest, more than 25 people – many black, whose lives ostensibly matter enough to have stirred the uprising – had been killed and an untold number injured in the demonstrations and associated violence sweeping the nation since the death of George Floyd on May 26. Through a holiday weekend and a couple of other days, and the toll continues to mount of the civilians killed in the “peaceful” protesting. On the receiving end of much of the violence, hundreds of police – nearly 300, some critically, in New York City alone during the early days of the unrest – and other law enforcement officers have been injured and at least one, in Oakland, Calif., killed.

Revolution American Style: Looters helping themselves to the politically correct garb at the Nike on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, in view of Rockefeller Center. Looters had already cleaned out Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square and numerous other stores and boutiques and businesses, big and small, throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens — four of the city’s five boroughs. Only Staten Island was spared.

And then there are the rising murder rates following calls, and actual actions, to defund or abolish the police: In New York, shootings are up 44% and murders up 23%, over last year. In Chicago, already an urban killing field, shootings are up 45% and murders up 34%. In the 24 hours from May 31 to June 1, the city experienced its most violent day in 60 years, with 18 murders. Philadelphia has seen a 57% increase in shootings and 24% increase in murders. In Milwaukee, homicides are up 95%. And in Los Angeles, in the first week of June alone, murders were up 250% from the previous week. Other serious crimes, such as assault, burglary, and arson, also are on the rise across the nation.

As the violence continues to mount it’s impossible to stay current with the numbers, but the ones cited give an indication of where things are headed. In the past weekend alone, gunfire claimed the lives of at least six children around the country: An 8-year-old girl, sitting in her mom’s car, in Atlanta. An 11-year-old boy, grandson of the founder of the DC chapter of the Guardian Angels, in Washington, D.C. A 7-year-old girl playing outside her grandma’s house and a 14-year-old boy in a crowd watching fireworks, both in separate incidents in Chicago. A 6-year-old boy in San Francisco. An 8-year-old boy in Hoover, Ala. All were just doing ordinary things when criminals running amok killed them.

Think it can’t happen here? Think again.

If you’re paying any attention at all, and haven’t been taken in by the apologist blather of the liberal media, you’ve been watching the wanton destruction of whole swaths of numerous American cities. You’ve seen the looting, arson, and defacement of both public and private property. You’ve seen the takeover and occupation of key parts of cities like Seattle, Washington, and New York. You’ve seen innocent people being beaten, dragged from vehicles, threatened with death, and killed. And you’ve seen the mindless toppling and destruction of numerous statues and monuments, all at the hands of the mob.

Chinese Red Guards raise their fists in ideological purity in 1966. Universal History Archive, UIG via Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

Looking at the range of historic figures attacked by mobs all across the land, one must assume that the mob leaders and their sycophantic followers are true morons who know nothing about history, nor about the underpinnings of the country, nor even about the abolitionist movement and the emancipation of slaves. Nor does their ignorance seem to matter to them. Suddenly every historic figure ranging from George Washington to Christopher Columbus, from Teddy Roosevelt to Thomas Jefferson, from Andrew Jackson to Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator himself, has been targeted for erasure from the national record, without sanction of any democratic process.

Demonstrators in New York City. Pexels. Used with permission.

This is a hallmark of cultural revolution, wherever it occurs, wiping out history and declaring a new Year Zero, the starting point of the revolution. It is disturbing to watch the inflamed furor of the crowds in the streets of America and their drive to destroy all remnants of history, in essence declaring a new Year Zero, and then to compare it with the inflamed furor of the crowds of Mao’s Cultural Revolution or the boy-soldiers of the Cambodian terror, or that of any of the many social spasms that have torn apart other countries and societies. This should give pause to anyone with even the vaguest appreciation for history or fear of the dark places where cultural revolutions lead.

Young girl in 1967 China holds up a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. Ulstein Bild via Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.






Young boy in 2020 Washington records it all on his cell phone. Photo by Gayatri Malhotra. Used under Fair Use.



















Following the Cultural Revolution’s mandate to “destroy the Four Olds,” man smashes an old statue in 1967. Ullstein Bild via Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.
U.S. Park Police survey the damage and secure the scene after protestors unsuccessfully attempted to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson. the seventh president of the country, near the White House. Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

The Origins of the Chaos

There is no mistaking the strongly leftist, anti-American nature of the rhetoric and actions of the mob. Or how it has used the same tactics of other cultural revolutions — intimidation, public shaming, and violence – to force compliance with its demands or the expungement and cancellation of anyone who resists coming into line.

Comparisons have been drawn between what is happening now and the revolutionary wave that swept the country a half-century ago. As riots, mob violence, bombings, and assassinations – as well as peaceful demonstrations – swept the country then, the same intolerance in evidence today was in evidence then.

The denizens of the People’s Republic of CHAZ/CHOP/Whatever mill about in front of the abandoned East Precinct of the Seattle Police. Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

I won’t pretend that there weren’t leftist and anti-American professors in my undergraduate time during the cultural upheaval that ran through America in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But it seems in the intervening decades their presence has become pervasive on campuses across the country, exerting a powerful influence on generations of students. In a country where freedom of expression is enshrined in the first amendment to its Constitution, we’ve arrived at a stage on many of our college campuses where any divergence from political correctness and the accepted party line is repressed, blocked, decried, and only the orthodoxy of the left is tolerated.

Red Guards, better dressed, more neatly kempt, and better behaved than the Seattle occupiers, march in Waxi in 1967. Bettmann/Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

The revered liberal U.S. senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, already in that earlier era of unrest saw the anti-American underpinnings of the movement.

“To a degree that no one could have anticipated even three or four years ago, the educated elite of the American middle class have come to detest their society, and their detestation is rapidly diffusing to youth in general,” Moynihan wrote in a series of memos to President Richard Nixon in 1969 and 1970. “The effects of this profound movement of opinion will be with us for generations.“

Seattle burns. The acronym “ACAB” can be seen at many scenes of violence around the country and (so clever) it stands for “All Cops Are Bastards.” I wonder what acronym would express the essence of arsonists? Photo by joshwho.net. Used under Fair Use.

Moynihan saw the growth of nihilism arising out of the educated and upper classes, imposing their ideological purity on the society, and once more we see it now in the allegedly educated and upper classes on the frontlines of ongoing attacks on the nation’s historical monuments and other cultural icons.

“Nihilist movements typically have led to political regimes of the most oppressive and reactionary qualities,” Moynihan wrote. “I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

Phnom Penh burns in 1975. Residents flee the city as the Khmer Rouge move in to occupy it and terrorize, exile, and murder the population. Photo by Claude Juvenal, AFP via Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

Moynihan made one other prescient observation: “It would be difficult to overestimate the degree to which young well-educated blacks detest white America.”

Given the roles played by Antifa and Black Lives Matter in agitating the current unrest, and given the far-left roots and agendas of both groups in pushing for social upheaval, we need not be surprised by the anti-American nature of much of what we’ve witnessed in this country since the death of George Floyd. Over recent decades we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Antifa and other anarchist and far-left groups disrupt international financial meetings, like the G-8, but we’ve been less used to seeing them at other times and places. Since May 26 they have become a commonplace on American streets as Antifa and Antifa-backed activists employ the brown-shirt techniques of fascism in their purported quest to oppose what they call fascism, which encompasses both democratically elected government and capitalism.

Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov (1869–1947), Vandalism of the Revolutionaries, a scene in one of the rooms of the Winter Palace in December 1918 [sic; 1917], 1918. Gouache and watercolor over pencil. Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov Paintings, Hoover Institution Archives. Used under Fair Use.
Taking a higher profile in the current unrest is Black Lives Matter, a loose amalgam of individuals and groups operating under a roughly common theme which claims to put black lives foremost. But it doesn’t take much scratching below the surface to see the violent and leftist tendencies within the movement when BLM actions have included calling for the killing of police (which we have to assume includes both white and black and also other lives), supports defunding the police since the group claims the police don’t keep us safe, and it has nothing to say on the topic of black-on-black violence, the biggest source of snuffing out black lives. One is free to see what BLM thinks right on its web site, though keep in mind that it speaks for just one element of the BLM movement. Meanwhile, funding pours into both Antifa and BLM from a panoply of Democratic, liberal, and radical donors, not the least of which is George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, and a raft of mainstream foundations and corporations.

Where’s the police when you need them?”

Panty raid on 16th St. Man in pink bra and panties attacks D.C. Delegate Eleanore Holmes Norton and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in District’s BHAZ. Image from Twitter video. Used under Fair Use.

That’s an actual quote caught on camera – you can’t make this stuff up – of Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate to the House, probably thinking no one would hear it. Amid all the “defund the police” hoopla, that was what Holmes Norton muttered when a protester in the police-free “Black House Autonomous Zone” (BHAZ), a man dressed in a pink bra and panties, ran up to whack her and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell as they walked down 16th Street Northwest in the nation’s capital. The pair’s private security detail quickly hauled the man off. After all, who needs police when you have your own security?

I have a broader question, though. Where is anyone protecting the rights of ordinary citizens as their homes, businesses, and very lives have been threatened and in many cases destroyed by violence and looting over the past six weeks? Given that the first duty of elected officials is to look after the safety and well-being of the citizens who put them in office, this is not a frivolous question. While some mayors and governors have done their duty in seeking to control the looting, arson, and vandalism, others, with apparent impunity, have been deliberately derelict in their duty.

Perhaps the most egregious example of dereliction is Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington State’s inept Gov. Jay Inslee. When ostensible protestors took over several blocks of the central part of her city, forcing police to abandon the East Precinct station and submitting residents and business owners to harassment and obstruction, Durkan — undoubtedly thinking she was being cute — lamely told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that CHAZ (short for Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, which later morphed into Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP) could turn into “a summer of love.” Meanwhile, after pretending he didn’t know anything about the occupation in his state’s largest city, Inslee showed his utter ignorance by calling the occupation “largely peaceful” and “fundamentally American.” It took the murder of two black teenage boys, the wounding of others, and a litany of assaults, rapes, robberies, and acts of destruction of property to finally prompt the so-called powers that be to clear the area.

Horace Lorenzo Anderson Sr., left, father of 19-year-old who was killed in Seattle’s CHOP zone, speaking with Fox News’s Sean Hannity. Andre Taylor, right, is a community activist and founder of Not This Time. Image by Fox News. Used under Fair Use.

Adding indecency to incompetence and malfeasance, neither Durkan, nor anyone else in her administration, bothered to inform the father of the first 19-year-old victim that his son had been killed, much less express remorse, and the man wasn’t even allowed to see his son’s body for days. This all came out in a poignant interview with the father on Sean Hannity’s nighttime TV show on Fox News, an interview well worth watching if you care to see the depths of depravity to which your elected officials can sink in the pursuit of political expediency.

Unlike in countries like Cambodia or China, the power of the purse can be a powerful inducement to action in this country, and one only hopes that the lawsuits filed by aggrieved citizens bankrupt the city of Seattle and the state of Washington, as well as other jurisdictions where officials failed to act to protect their citizens. And the examples are legion, from Minneapolis to New York, from Chicago to Los Angeles, from Portland to Washington, and many other places.

A statue of Christopher Columbus winds up destroyed and under water in Richmond. Image by Parker Michels-Boyce, AFP via Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

On a national scale, one wonders what has become of the supposed scions of law and order in the House and Senate. Not unexpectedly, the Dems have wrapped themselves in the cloak of the cultural revolution, but with a few exceptions it’s been worse than silence coming from the Republican side of the aisle. Some Republicans have even bowed to the coercion of the mob, with such supposed conservative stalwarts as John Cornyn of Texas sponsoring a bill to make Juneteenth — a day few in the country had even heard of before this year — a national holiday, with two other alleged conservative senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and James Langford of Oklahoma, taking things one step further and adding an amendment to Cornyn’s bill that would have abolished Columbus Day. The latter two tried to obfuscate the reason for their amendment by expressing fiscal concerns, something that doesn’t otherwise seem to trouble Congress as it repeatedly runs up record deficits. Given backlash against their proposal, Johnson and Langford subsequently withdrew it, but not until their spineless complicity had been exposed. And yet another Republican senator, Mike Braun of Indiana, introduced a bill to limit the qualified immunity of police, something the mob has called for, although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a number of occasions that qualified police immunity is a necessity. In response, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson suggested that perhaps Braun should give up his immunity as a member of Congress. So far he hasn’t done so.

The mob turns out to see heads roll in the French Revolution. Source unknown.

At times sounding like a lone voice calling for order, President Trump has decried the violence since it began, carrying that message over the weeks of the disorder and making it a focus of his Independence Day address at Mount Rushmore Friday night. Utilizing the power of executive orders Trump blocked the further destruction of federal statues and monuments and has at least slowed, if not stopped, the renaming of military installations around the country. But even he has been stymied in getting local officials to put a stop to the violence and lawlessness afflicting their cities and states. While threatening to implement the Insurrection Act of 1807 and send federal troops to establish order in beleaguered cities, he has held back from actually doing so, ostensibly because those local and state officials didn’t ask for the help. But that is little comfort to the victims of the violence and I, for one, would have preferred to see more action and less talking about it.

Cultural Revolution posters in Beijing, February 1967. Look similar to what has appeared on American streets in 2020? Jean Vincent, AFP via Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

It’s fairly transparent how the forces aligned against Trump have used the violence and disorder to further marshal opposition to him. As one after another of their schemes to overturn the results of the 2016 election has failed, this — combined with their attempts to keep the economy shut down — might be their last best hope to block Trump’s reelection in November. If enough Americans, they think, buy into the theory that Trump either failed to stop or actually encouraged the violence, or buy into the baseless accusation that he is a racist, or are discouraged enough to just stay home, they might have a chance. Their candidate by default, Joe Biden, has largely remained in his Wilmington basement as the furor swirled above ground level. If you have any illusions what a vote for him might entail, just consider how the most radical elements of the Democratic Party now hold sway over the party, and do a little simple arithmetic to see what chits they hold for parlaying Biden into position as putative nominee. It’s unlikely Biden would be able to govern for long given the visible advanced stage of his mental decline, so the person he picks as his running mate — whom he already has said will be a black woman, in true identity-politics style — is likely to be the party’s real choice. How radical will she be? Given the radicalism of forces within the party who will hold the real power and pull the strings, it almost doesn’t matter.

As the new Know Nothings of 2020 toss Columbus into the harbor and seek to fundamentally transform the country (a phrase used by his former boss and recently picked up by Biden, never mind that it contradicts what he told his rich donors a year ago, that’s just standard operating procedure for him), the future of the country hangs in the balance. What the demonstrators and looters and their supporters can’t accomplish in the streets, the party’s true power brokers — I’ve called them the new plantation masters — hope to leverage into electoral victory in November. Voters might take a hint from the sadly overturned statue of Junipero Serra, below, and stop before they take the country over a cliff from which recovery might well be impossible.

Remember, when they come for your eyeglasses, it will be too late.

Statue of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra seems to beg for its life as it lies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Source unknown, freerepublic.com. Used under Fair Use.

Featured image: Skulls and bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge. Source: History.com. Used under Fair Use.

6 Replies to “When They Come for Your Eyeglasses: Cultural Revolution in America”

  1. Thank you, Skip. Good question. I’ve been wondering the same thing myself (and that’s a term, silent majority, we haven’t seen in awhile). Surely the majority of Americans can’t support the mayhem we’ve witnessed over recent weeks. Can they?

  2. Very poignant article Frank – once again !! The left has no understanding (or worse, don’t care) of what made America great. The BS of them pulling down statues when they have no clue who the people are, or what they did, points at the utter failure of the American schooling system where American history is not taught in any appropriate way. Instead, seems like they get fed the “mental dribble” of far-left teachers who only have an agenda to foist on the malleable brains in front of them. Until this is fixed, we are looking at losing our country down the road. BTW, I just hid my eyeglasses.

    1. Gary, You can hope that hiding your eyeglasses might save you from the mob, but I’m afraid it won’t help. The mob will judge you on things you can do nothing about — your race, your sex, your age. That is the essence of identity politics, however they are practiced.

      The failure of our so-called educational system is manifest, and I’m afraid I don’t see it getting any better, only worse. I’ve long felt I wouldn’t put a dog in a public school in this country (and most private ones, too), much less a child. We’re now reaping the results of decades of indoctrination of our youth. It’s bad enough that they don’t know even basic stuff, but what’s worse is that they have incorporated some very bad ideas and take them to be truth.

      I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but looking around I don’t see much to be hopeful about. I increasingly feel like I’m living in a big insane asylum. One wonders, how can any sane person believe some of what is being spouted and done, and the only answer is that sanity and logic no longer matter to a very large segment of the population. It is a kind of collective insanity, which is one mark of a cultural revolution. Keep those eyeglasses hidden, but when they come to beat down your door don’t expect anyone to protect you, because they won’t.

        1. Thank you, Shane, for the very interesting read. It echoes so many of my own thoughts on so-called “education,” ever since high school (which also was a private one, not public) in the 1960s where I became a rebel and realized the goal of school education was to produce, not thoughtful individuals, but good and reliable commuters and consumers. I owe much of my thinking to Alfred North Whitehead and his seminal work, “The Aims of Education,” which I read on my own during that time, and certainly not at the direction of any of my pedagogues.

          What is even scarier than what Gatto says is that his experience as a teacher was in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and that piece appeared 17 years ago. If things were that bad then, they’ve become fiercely more poisonous since. And we’re seeing the results of the indoctrination of whole generations of young people out on the streets, tearing down history and a culture they have neither knowledge of nor respect for.

          While I wouldn’t put a dog in a public school, nor most private schools, too, millions of children and young adults are being run through this deadly and destructive system. And as Gatto says, the very definition of “child” now encompasses what used to be considered adults in earlier times, further infantilizing the entire society, and we see the results of that all around us.

          I truly fear for the future not only of this country, but many others that have gone down the same path. We might just be a bit further down that path than most with little countervailing force to reverse the process.

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