President Trump hasn't even taken the oath of office yet, and our leftist adversaries are already hard at work redefining the history he thinks he's written. Thanks to constant hammering by media liars, it's become received wisdom that Mr. Trump won because of racist, sexist appeals to Angry White (ignorant Neanderthal) men, despite the objective fact that Mr. Trump received a higher proportion of black, Hispanic, and even white female votes than "Mr. Clean" Mitt Romney.
In years to come, no doubt history books will portray the Trump Era with black borders, as one San Francisco teachers union is already preparing at (indirect) taxpayer expense. Perhaps they can add it to the late Howard Zinn's infamously dishonest People's History of the United States, which even the left admits is riddled with falsehoods while still using it widely.
Yet, as insidious as the outrageous bias of our educational institutions is, there are effective ways to combat it. Winston Churchill's is the classiest:
History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.
Which he did, and sure enough, it was - Sir Winston is regularly rated the greatest Briton of all time, certainly the last conservative to be so honored.
When that's not an option, it's still relatively straightforward to confront the bias of foaming lefty teachers and professors. Not all students can see through it, but a fair number do, and some have even founded lifelong careers by doing combat with them.
No, overt bias in academe is not the primary cultural problem we have as conservatives. Your humble correspondent has just encountered a gold-plated example of the real problem.
We turn now to Ken Follett, author of such celebrated historical potboilers as The Pillars of the Earth and many, many others. Mr. Follett has great skill in evoking a given historical era - the Middle Ages, say, or Edwardian times - by telling the story of fictional but plausible people living through it. Think Downton Abbey in prose at Harry Potter length and you've got the idea.
The politics of the time is not Mr. Follett's key motif, though naturally whatever was happening in history affects his characters as they endure and participate in it. Yet by his graphic rendition of realistic human beings, their hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, inner thoughts, loves, hates, etc., the reader comes away with an apparently better understanding of that particular time in history.
What really did motivate peasants to build cathedrals? Why were the elites of the Gilded Age so incapable of seeing the vast societal changes that were about to sweep them away? How were so many ordinary, decent people seduced by Fascism and, later, unable to resist the evils of Communism? Mr. Follett's books will give you an answer, and you'll be smarter for it.
Or so you think, as you are meant to. In actual fact, the worlds Mr. Follett's characters live in are slanted heavily to the left. They don't notice, and neither do you unless you're paying attention, but the end result is profound.
Mr. Follett's most recent work is the "Century Trilogy," a series of three heavyweight doorstops that follow the intertwined lives of an international group of families - Russian, American, German, British, Welsh - through the trials and tribulations of the 20th century. The saga begins in 1910, and ends in 1989 with a brief epilogue we'll mention later.
It contains all the usual suspects and vignettes you'd expect: the low-class maid who has an affair with an Earl, bears his child, and maneuvers this opportunity into a remarkable life; the Russian immigrant who becomes an American gangster then Hollywood studio magnate; no shortage of families of Senators, Members of Parliament, German politicians of various sorts, and Russian mid-level leaders both before and after the revolution.
Given even the most minimal knowledge of the times, you'd expect a wide array of villains, and for a while you aren't disappointed. The Russian aristocracy is portrayed as just as brutal and corrupt as you've heard; the Communists are too, though only in passing.
The British aristocrats act entitled of course but overall are not really bad chaps; the working classes are the heroes who routinely lift themselves up to the heights once the boot is removed from their backs. Strangely, those who don't barely put in an appearance; the retired coal miner of 1910, by the end of the series, has an array of descendants including two MPs, a baroness, a world-famous rock star and TV personality, a Hollywood actress and Shakespearean diva - need I go on? The Earl shares the same descendants by virtue of his dalliance with the housemaid, but he doesn't acknowledge them until his deathbed; his acknowledged heirs are ignored save one rotter who redeems himself by dying heroically in combat against the Nazis.
Speaking of Nazi Germany, here things begin to seem ever so slightly strange. Obviously the Nazis are evil and are portrayed as such, but somehow, we don't really meet many. Yes, the Jews are rounded up somewhere offstage; a minor character who's lucky enough to be sent to England in time loses her parents who were stuck in Germany.
Far more vivid literary treatment is given to the inhuman abuse of a deeply sympathetic and innocent German homosexual. Did Hitler abuse homosexuals? Certainly he did, as well as just about every other sort of person within his reach; he also had loads of them wear his uniform.
How can you set a story heavily in the Nazi era and barely mention the Holocaust? Only one evil Gestapo agent makes a significant appearance, and he does get what's coming to him, but we never see anything about him as a person. He's just a cardboard cutout in jackboots, so we can unreservedly applaud when he's incinerated.
Yet there are heroes even in Nazi Germany: Communist spies. And this is where Mr. Follett's - bias? worldview? true objectives? - really begin to shine through.
One can understand and even sympathize with the desire of Russian peasants and workers to overthrow their evil overlords, and barbarities always take place when you hold a revolution. Ten years on, why are innocents still being brutally murdered? One of the characters has his concerns, but that doesn't prevent him from taking his place in the Kremlin and enjoying the comfortable life of a Red Army general.
Again, the gulag is largely offstage; a minor character is sent there and rescued some years later in a state of poor repair, but he becomes an internationally celebrated (albeit anonymous) protest author. Mr. Follett's complaints about Communism could almost be restricted to a desire for prison reform.
East Germany has harsher treatment, but here too, there are no real villains. The one Stasi agent who fights a running battle with the central family through the last entire book, is eventually revealed as a sad and tragic figure motivated by unrequited love for their daughter.
We can disagree with his courting methods but we're meant to sympathize with him, not condemn him for his injustice which is mostly rather picayune. In the real world, the Stasi had a foul reputation even among the Communist-bloc countries who were used to generic evil.
So throughout the 20th century - a century which included such monsters as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Al Capone, Charles Manson, and Jim Jones - Mr. Follett cannot find even one real, genuine, black-hearted villain?
Oh, but he can.
The American central family is that of a senator from upstate New York - Democrat, naturally, but that's fair enough since 1910 was the Progressive Era. His son works for, and worships, Woodrow Wilson; to hear Mr. Follett tell it, the worst disaster of a disastrous century was the death of President Wilson before dragging America into the League of Nations.
What of his running for re-election on a platform of "He kept us out of war" then joining the First World War? Merely a necessary step on the road to end all wars.
Indeed, until the final book of the trilogy, you might be excused for not even realizing Republicans exist. President Wilson is a hero; Calvin Coolidge doesn't exist, nor was Teddy Roosevelt so much as mentioned even though he was so impactful as to be enshrined on Mr. Rushmore. Of course Franklin Roosevelt is a pillar of goodness and strength.
Bizarrely, Dwight Eisenhower doesn't manage to rate a name-drop even as a main character parachutes into France on D-Day! Speaking of historically great conservatives, Winston Churchill himself barely squeaks in - in the context of the First World War, where he's castigated for fluffing the Dardanelles invasion at Gallipoli. He hardly appears at all in the Second.
It's in the final book, covering the Cold War, that this supposedly realistic history takes a heavy turn for the absurd. If President Wilson is heroic, John F. Kennedy is godlike, even while impregnating a virginal intern who's a main supporting character and a bunch more that aren't. He abandons his harem by death, though it's made crystal clear he would have abandoned them all eventually anyway - yet somehow his sterling self is not so much as besmirched! The aforementioned ex-virgin even maintains a shrine to St. Jack for nearly the remainder of her spinsterly life as a senior bureaucrat, having survived the abortion he courteously sent a henchman to (illegally) procure.
At least JFK's handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis is portrayed more as accident than design, rather than as the inspired brilliance usually found in modern textbooks. That's about the only historically-accurate bright spot, because another major theme of the 1960s was the Civil Rights era.
As you'd expect, a young black descendant of a senatorial dalliance emerges as a leader and main character, participating as a Freedom Rider and being brutally assaulted and beaten by... well, by whom? White racists, white men, white bigots, and every other perjorative that can be attached to the color white, with one notable exception.
George Wallace and Bull Connor put in appearances as minor villains. They deserve every bit of this, yet, oddly, despite being elected politicians, they are strangely without party. The one Jim Crow-era group who is never named as abusing blacks is "white Democrats" - even though, to a man, that's exactly what they were.
No, the true villain of the century isn't the political party that endorsed and supported Jim Crow - namely, the Democrats. It's not the political party that escalated the war in Vietnam into the quagmire it became - namely, the Democrats.
Nor is the hero of the piece the President that ended up withdrawing and losing the Vietnam War, as you might suppose - because he's Richard Nixon. The Paris Peace Accords don't rate a mention.
Watergate does, and that's understandable. In a strange way, Mr. Follett accidentally provides some historically accurate context by showing that the conspiracy against Nixon was very real. Leftists embedded in the government and journalism worked tirelessly to take him down just as he'd feared. Of course, Follett portrays this as the righteous triumph of justice against a lying, cheating demagogue, overlooking the fact that St. Jack was every bit as bad if not worse.
What of Nixon's actions that even leftist academics and fictional future Vulcans praise, like going to China? Mr. Follett mentions this from the perspective of how inconvenient and discomfiting it was for the Russians!
That's right - for Mr. Follett, the Communist era was just a sadly misguided but understandable side road through history. Sure, free speech was mercilessly squashed, but all the while, farsighted reformers were working to reform the system and better the lives of the peasants.
Indeed, one main character, a high-ranking Russian apparatchik, is presented entirely sympathetically even while he crushes people's lives and sends them to the gulag, because it's for the greater good, don't you see? Those poor banished frozen souls were hardliners who wanted to stop reform and deserved what they got. There are no more moral absolutes in Mr. Follett's world than there were in Communist Russia.
Thus, neither Hitler nor Stalin nor Fascism nor Communism win Mr. Follett's nod as True Villains of the 20th Century. Who does, then? Who could possibly be so foul, so soulless, so irredeemably deplorable as to out-evil those mass-million-murderers?
Ronald Reagan, that's who.
And here is where Mr. Follett shows his true master of the art of propaganda: unlike President Wilson, President Kennedy, President Nixon, Josef Stalin, and even Adolf Hitler, the Gipper doesn't appear onstage. He's only ever standing to the side, referred to by others, with absolutely no discussion of the issues surrounding his election or his administration. Yet he's the only 100% wicked character devoid of any virtue whatsoever.
Just what did Mr. Reagan do to put himself in that blackest of black pits, in this seductively persuasive alternative world created by Mr. Follett?
He supported the Contras in Nicaragua, who fought against the Sandinistas who are portrayed as honorable freedom fighters. In actuality the Sandinistas were murderous Communists, who only somewhat reformed after Mr. Reagan left office.
He didn't further the cause of civil rights, we're told - despite Reaganism leading to more prosperity for black Americans than they've had before or since.
Most slanderously of all, the Reagan administration - led by Mr. Reagan offstage, though again without his specific appearance - specifically and intentionally used terrorism in the Middle East. One entirely fictitious scene is rendered in loving detail, in which a Reagan official goes to Lebanon to oversee the assassination of a (innocent, naturally) Muslim cleric. He's blown up with a car bomb planted by independent contractors that also takes out - stand by for cliche - an entire crowd of emburkhaed women and children. Even the Republican is shaken, though unlike Communists, Nazis, and gangsters of all stripes, in Follett's world regret isn't enough to redeem someone so evil as a Republican.
Speaking of this Republican character - the only one in the entire century, apparently - he is unique in other ways too. While literally every other character is having wild, passionate sex with an awe-inspiring array of human gods and goddesses, this one sad individual has to make do with happy endings from a cheap masseuse. When he finally does acquire an attractive mate, she's foreign and clearly a gold digger merely doing a job no American would do.
This underscores the insidious effect of the entire literary and cultural world being populated nearly exclusively by liberals. The "Century Trilogy" is not a tale of politics. It's basically a historical soap opera.
Conservatives, when they write, usually write high-minded and rational articles such as you find here at Scragged. The sort of person who reads such fare is, generally, also high-minded and rational even if they hold a different opinion.
Let's face it - normal people, to say nothing of low-information voters, will never, ever darken the doors of Scragged. Yet Mr. Follett reaches millions who come expecting to be entertained, and without any conscious realization, leave having taken on board his entire far-left worldview.
Without rational analysis, how is Follett's fiction any different than history as presented in school? It's actually far more vivid and memorable because it portrays (apparently) real people living somewhat realistic albeit idealized lives. Readers will remember mostly the appealing characters, yes, but they'll have picked up knowledge about history along the way - largely false knowledge, with neither the resources nor the desire to set the record straight.
Combined with the anti-conservative propaganda spewed from every public mouthpiece, it's no wonder that the meme of "Republicans are evil" has become all but received wisdom. What's shocking is not merely that Hillary Clinton lost, but that a Republican even cracked double digits.
The fact is, Mr. Follett is an excellent writer. His stories are gripping, fascinating, and interesting even when, like yours truly, the reader knows they're based on lies. It's striking to note that as the tale strayed further and further into the realm of leftist fantasy, the story grew weaker.
At the end, in full fulmination against Mr. Reagan, he basically just let the threads of his tale completely drop. We don't even get to find out what happened to most of the characters; the fall of the Berlin Wall is literally the end of the story. He should have called it the "8/10 of a Century Trilogy" given that he skipped the first and last decades.
Except, that is, for the epilogue. What was of such worth as to be the capstone of the entire century, the culmination of the lives of all of his characters? By now, you will not be surprised to hear that it features nobody but his black characters, all gathered 'round the television watching Barack Obama attain the Presidency.
The fall of Communism? Naah - that was dismissed as one of those things that was bound to happen when the reformers finally got a chance. Pope John Paul the Great had nothing to do with it. Ronald Reagan had less than nothing to do with it - his famous "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" speech was presented as merely a pretext for his evil Republican partisans to falsely give him credit. Margaret Thatcher had so little do do with it that she, like nearly every other conservative of the entire century, doesn't get so much as mentioned.
And Mr. Follett has one last surprise remaining: he's a Brit. If conservatives are the enemy, why doesn't he target the British Conservative party he's most familiar with? But no - he takes aim at the political party of an entirely different country. What does this say about the worldview of the global left?
What's the lesson here? It's simply this:
Politics is downstream of culture.
Mr. Follett's works are not works of politics or history, they're just entertainment. Yet people learn from them anyway.
When conservatives try to teach lessons, we generally try to teach them, with all the success of Ben Stein teaching economics in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Liberals do this too, particularly Bernie Sanders-style granola socialists, but there's another branch of liberalism that has mastery of the art of building their worldview into everything else that isn't inherently political.
Why are there next to no conservative comedians? Novelists? Actors? Hollywood directors? OK, maybe those industries are so exclusively occupied by liberals that it's impossible for conservatives to get their noses in, like the professoriate at most universities. Money always talks, however, so why are there no conservative movie producers? There's certainly plenty of conservative rich people.
Once upon a time conservatives did at least attempt to participate in the culture. Ayn Rand and George Orwell exposed liberalism and communism for the socialist tyrannies that they are, achieving world renown without the backing of megabucks. National Review was founded and carried on the back of William F. Buckley's father's vast fortune. Rupert Murdoch invested great sums into Fox News before it became profitable, - and, we note, in recent years it's become significantly less conservative.
The Koch brothers spend their billions on electing center-right politicians. Bully for them - why not instead buy a movie studio or a TV network?
Alas, most of us have no hope of doing any of this. But that doesn't mean we can't enter the cultural arena. Anyone can write a book, and thanks to Amazon, anyone can publish one too.
What's holding us back? As one of Mr. Follett's belovedly deified Democrats once said:
We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.