Allies Paint me surprised by this Soldiering Some Red Hot Gospel there!

Hey at least she is laughing about it, I hope. (I still hold that most horses are just waiting to f*ck with you)

By the way that horse belongs to the British Life Guards Regiment. Who have been around now for over 300 years in the British Army!

Gear & Stuff Grumpy's hall of Shame Paint me surprised by this War You have to be kidding, right!?!

Vortex Optics XM157 Overview: The Next Generation Squad Weapon-Fire Control (NGSW-FC) by MITCHELL GRAF

Vortex Optics XM157 on rifle with rocks

Last year the Army awarded Vortex Optics the contract for the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Fire Control program to include the design and production of the XM157. The contract for the NGSW-FC includes a provision to build up to 250,000 XM157s during the next decade at a starting price of around $2.7 billion. While Vortex is obligated to meet the initial Army demand, they plan to sell to civilians as soon as they are contractually able to.

So what is the XM157 or the NGSW-FC? Well, the FC is the fire-control or XM157 optic system that will be used for the next-generation squad weapon. From the ground up, the XM157 is a 1-8x30mm optic that features Vortex’s revolutionary “Active Reticle®” technology. At its heart, it works just like a standard low-powered variable optic or LPVO, but encompassed in the housing is the fire-control system that sets this optic apart from everything else available today.

The XM157 is what many call a “smart scope” due to its integration of a digital display overlay, laser range finder, ballistics calculator, atmospheric sensors, compass, visible and infrared aiming lasers, and Intra-Soldier Wireless. However, the XM157 still works in a zero power state due to its core utilization of a standard 1-8x FFP optic with an etched reticle. This provides an analog image with a digital overlay for calculated holds.

Vortex Optics XM157

This new optic will allow soldiers to quickly and accurately engage targets at a distance. While this new optic works great at 1X like other LPVO’s for close-quarters engagements, it is going to revolutionize how targets are engaged past a few hundred yards. With the press of a button, the XM157 will range a target and immediately display the appropriate hold in the reticle dependent upon the saved ballistics profile and the current atmospheric conditions. Simply aim at the target, and press a button either on the remote pressure pad or on the side of the scope itself.

Hands-on with the XM157

I was given the opportunity to get hands-on with the XM157 and it was quite impressive. After pressing the ranging button, it took less than a second to overlay the calculated drop in the display of the scope. I could range the furthest objects visible from where I was positioned hundreds of yards away even with the rain coming down.

The XM157 is factory set to display the wind holds for a 90-degree 10MPH crosswind on either side of the center aiming point. These overlayed points will account for any cant of the rifle from shooting at an angle as well. Twisting the rifle around while looking through the optic I was able to watch the displayed holds rotate around to give me a true impact location for rounds that would be fired.

Vortex Optics XM157 reticle
*Not an actual picture through the scope. The screenshot is taken from the Garand Thumb overview video

The etched reticle provides useful information while not overcrowding the field of view. The glass clarity also looked great with edge-to-edge clarity. However, I was not allowed to take any pictures of my own, so you will just have to imagine it for yourself.

Another awesome feature is that the XM157 utilizes an Active Reticle® that is not dictated by fixed points on an etched reticle. Because it uses a display, the XM157 can overlay any desired information. As time goes on, and technology changes, newer software will be able to be downloaded to keep the XM157 up to date with the newest evolving threats.

Vortex incorporates two different enablers into the XM157, one of which had the rangefinder attached. They mentioned the ability to use a camera that could pair with the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System. This would allow the XM157 to link to helmet-mounted systems to allow the user to see through the scope without actually peering through the optic. Pairing with devices such as the IVAS would allow soldiers to shoot from behind cover while sticking their weapons around the corner and seeing through the optic via the wireless heads-up display.

Currently, this optic will still work with traditional PVS-24/30-night vision clip-on systems, but Vortex hinted at the ability to add a thermal overlay or other types of sensors to the XM157 to give more functionality at night.

While weight was not disclosed, the XM157 with the range finder removed felt slightly lighter than a Trijicon VCOG 1-6 with a Larue Tactical QD mount. It also felt slightly lighter with the range finder mounted than a RAPTAR sitting on top of a NightForce 1-8 in a Badger Ordnance mount.

I have heard people complain about how heavy this system looks, but when configured to match similar systems, it is very comparable, while being more effective. Incorporating a ballistics calculator into the display instead of a reading via a Wilcox RAPTAR mounted somewhere on the rifle is much quicker and seamless while simultaneously saving weight.

Embedded below is a great overview of the system and some first impressions from Mike actually shooting the system:

The future is now, and while the XM157 is mostly an assembly of existing technologies, the incorporation and implementation of all of these varying components make for an effective and lethal package. While I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot with this optic, I had the chance to get hands-on, and ranging targets was effortless. Vortex Optics is making some big waves with the XM157 and for good reason. Just like the ACOG revolutionized quick-effective engagement distances past a few hundred yards, the NGSW-FC is extending that distance even further while providing accurate holds for anything within the effective range of the NGSW platform.


———————————————————————————-    As reported in “The 10-year contract… covers the production and delivery of up to 250,000 XM157 Next Generation Squad Weapons-Fire Control systems. The NGSW-FC will be the common sight for the Army’s new NGSW-Rifle, set to replace the M4 Carbine in front line service, and the NGSW-Automatic Rifle, the intended replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

The contract minimum is set at $20 million, with a fantastic $2.7 billion maximum mentioned if all options are taken, pointing to a unit price for each NGSW-FC optic as being in the neighborhood of ****$10,800****.

However, it should be noted that, going past the sights themselves, the contract includes supporting accessories, contractor support, spare parts, repairs, and engineering efforts, likely pointing to a significantly lower per-unit cost than the basic math would imply.” 

Grumpy – Now I am all for giving our Grunts stuff that will help them win the next firefight. But would’nt an Airstrike or a TOT from Arty be cheaper!?!  TALK about rapeing and pillaging the American Tax Payer by the Military Industrial Complex!!!!!!!!!!!

All About Guns Anti Civil Rights ideas & "Friends" Born again Cynic! Interesting stuff Paint me surprised by this Some Scary thoughts You have to be kidding, right!?!

Disarm the IRS, De-Militarize the Bureaucracy, and Dismantle the Standin

John Whitehead

“There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army.”—Thomas Jefferson, 1789

What does it say about the state of our freedoms that there are now more pencil-pushing, bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with weapons than U.S. Marines?

Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the IRS, Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities.

Add in the Biden Administration’s plans to swell the ranks of the IRS by 87,000 new employees (some of whom will be authorized to use deadly force) and grow the nation’s police forces by 100,000 more cops, and you’ve got a nation in the throes of martial law.

We’re being frog-marched into tyranny at the end of a loaded gun.

Make that hundreds of thousands of loaded guns.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of federal agents armed with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorized to make arrests, and trained in military tactics has nearly tripled over the past several decades.

As Adam Andrzejewski writes for Forbes, “the federal government has become one never-ending gun show.”

While Americans have to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to own a gun, federal agencies have been placing orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow point bullets and military gear.

For example, the IRS has stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition in recent years, including 621 shotguns, 539 long-barrel rifles and 15 submachine guns.

The Veterans Administration purchased 11 million rounds of ammunition (equivalent to 2,800 rounds for each of their officers), along with camouflage uniforms, riot helmets and shields, specialized image enhancement devices and tactical lighting.

The Department of Health and Human Services acquired 4 million rounds of ammunition, in addition to 1,300 guns, including five submachine guns and 189 automatic firearms for its Office of Inspector General.

According to an in-depth report on “The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies,” the Social Security Administration secured 800,000 rounds of ammunition for their special agents, as well as armor and guns.

The Environmental Protection Agency owns 600 guns. The Smithsonian now employs 620-armed “special agents.”

Even agencies such as Amtrak and NASA have their own SWAT teams.

Ask yourselves: why are government agencies being turned into military outposts?

What’s with the buildup of SWAT teams within non-security-related federal agencies? Even the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department have their own SWAT teams. Most of those officers are under the command of either the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice.

Why does the Department of Agriculture need .40 caliber semiautomatic submachine guns and hollow point bullets? For that matter, why do its agents need ballistic vests and body armor?

For that matter, why do IRS agents need AR-15 rifles?

Why do local police need armored personnel carriers with gun ports, compact submachine guns with 30-round magazines, precision battlefield sniper rifles, and military-grade assault-style rifles and carbines?

Why is the federal government distributing obscene amounts of military equipment, weapons and ammunition to police departments around the country?

Why is the military partnering with local police to conduct training drills around the country? And what exactly are they training for? The public has been disallowed from obtaining any information about the purpose of these realistic urban training drills, other than that they might be loud and to not be alarmed.

We should be alarmed.

As James Madison warned, “We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”

Unfortunately, we’re long past the first experiment on our freedoms, and merely taking alarm over this build-up of military might will no longer suffice.

Nothing about this de facto army of bureaucratic, administrative, non-military, paper-pushing, non-traditional law enforcement agencies is necessary for national security.

Moreover, while these weaponized, militarized, civilian forces which are armed with military-style guns, ammunition and equipment; trained in military tactics; and authorized to make arrests and use deadly force—may look and act like the military, they are not the military.

Rather, they are foot soldiers of the police state’s standing army, and they are growing in number at an alarming rate.

This standing army—a.k.a. a national police force—vested with the power to completely disregard the Constitution and rule by force is exactly what America’s founders feared, and its danger cannot be overstated or ignored.

This is exactly what martial law looks like—when a government disregards constitutional freedoms and imposes its will through military force, only this is martial law without any government body having to declare it: Battlefield tactics. Militarized police. Riot and camouflage gear. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Drones. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Concussion grenades. Intimidation tactics. Brute force. Laws conveniently discarded when it suits the government’s purpose.

The militarization of America’s police forces in recent decades, which has gone hand in hand with the militarization of America’s bureaucratic agencies, has merely sped up the timeline by which the nation is transformed into an authoritarian regime.

Now we find ourselves struggling to retain some semblance of freedom in the face of administrative, police and law enforcement agencies that look and act like the military with little to no regard for the Fourth Amendment, laws such as the NDAA that allow the military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, and military drills that acclimate the American people to the sight of armored tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, and combat aircraft patrolling overhead.

This quasi-state of martial law has been helped along by government policies and court rulings that have made it easier for the police to shoot unarmed citizens, for law enforcement agencies to seize cash and other valuable private property under the guise of asset forfeiture, for military weapons and tactics to be deployed on American soil, for government agencies to carry out round-the-clock surveillance, for legislatures to render otherwise lawful activities as extremist if they appear to be anti-government, for profit-driven private prisons to lock up greater numbers of Americans, for homes to be raided and searched under the pretext of national security, for American citizens to be labeled terrorists and stripped of their rights merely on the say-so of a government bureaucrat, and for pre-crime tactics to be adopted nationwide that strip Americans of the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty and creates a suspect society in which we are all guilty until proven otherwise.

Don’t delude yourself into believing that this thinly-veiled exercise in martial law is anything other than an attempt to bulldoze what remains of the Constitution and reinforce the iron-fisted rule of the police state.

This is no longer about partisan politics or civil unrest or even authoritarian impulses.

This is a turning point.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we are sliding fast down a slippery slope to a Constitution-free America.

If we are to have any hope of salvaging what’s left of our battered freedoms, we’d do well to start by disarming the IRS and the rest of the federal and state bureaucratic agencies, de-militarizing domestic police forces, and dismantling the police state’s standing army.


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at

Paint me surprised by this


Born again Cynic! Paint me surprised by this Soldiering Stupid Hit The Green Machine You have to be kidding, right!?!

Army aviators, ready to leave the military, are told they owe 3 more years instead The Army reinterpreted part of their contracts after a legal review, derailing the futures of hundreds of officers who thought their contracts were up. By Melissa Chan

A CH-47 Chinook flight engineer during a training session over Cyprus in 2020.

A CH-47 Chinook flight engineer during a training session over Cyprus in 2020.Maj. Robert Fellingham / 12th Combat Aviation Brigade / U.S. Army, file

Hundreds of Army aviation officers who were set to leave the military are being held to another three years of service after they say the branch quietly reinterpreted part of their contract amid retention and recruitment issues.

The shift has sparked an uproar among the more than 600 affected active-duty commissioned officers, including some who say their plans to start families, launch businesses and begin their civilian lives have been suddenly derailed.

“We are now completely in limbo,” said a captain who had scheduled his wedding around thinking he would be leaving the military this spring.

That captain and three other active-duty aviation officers who spoke to NBC News spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

As part of a program known as BRADSO, cadets commissioning from the U.S. Military Academy or Army Cadet Command from 2008 and 2020 were able to request a branch of their choice, including aviation, by agreeing to serve an additional three years on active duty.

For years, the Army allowed some aviation officers to serve those three years concurrently, and not consecutively, along with their roughly contracted seven or eight years of service.

In a phone call with reporters Thursday, Army officials admitted “errors” in the system, which they noticed a few months ago, led to the discrepancy.

“We are fixing those errors, and we are in communication with the unit leadership and impacted officers,” said Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, deputy chief of staff of G-1, which is in charge of policy and personnel.

“Our overall goal to correct this issue is to provide predictability and stability for our soldiers while maintaining readiness across our force,” Stitt added.

In letters the Army sent this month to the affected aviators as well as to members of Congress, which were obtained by NBC News, it said it “realized” after conducting a “legal review of this policy” that the three-year BRADSO requirement has to be served separately.

“This is not a new policy, but we are correcting oversights in recordkeeping that led some officers with an applied BRADSO to separate from the U.S. Army before they were eligible,” the letter said.

Thursday’s media roundtable came after more than 140 aviation officers banded together to demand answers after learning one by one that they were being denied discharges due to outstanding BRADSO obligations beginning last fall.

More than 60 of them signed a letter to Congress outlining how they had been misled by the Army for years about the exact length of their service contract.

“It has been this unanimous uprising of emotions and frustrations,” said another Army aviation captain, who is newly married and wanted to begin having children.

He called the reversal of a precedent an “injustice” to an already burnt-out department still regularly deployed despite the end of the longest war in American history.

“Yeah, the war on Afghanistan ended. There’s still a high demand for Army aviation,” he said, while en route to another deployment. “We have units still in constant training or deployment rotations. They’re failing to recognize the human aspect.”

The newlywed said it has been difficult for him and his wife to accept a three-year delay in starting a family.

“That was the big kick in the gonads,” he said. “We wanted to start having kids, and we no longer can. It’s a stressor we didn’t plan to deal with.”

Documents obtained by NBC News show officers were given conflicting information about their service obligations.

Manly Stuff Paint me surprised by this

Rage Against The Machine

Hey I don’t know about you. But sometimes you just get so tired of all this shit out there! Grumpy

Paint me surprised by this Some Sick Puppies! This great Nation & Its People

Frankly I am very impressed!

Paint me surprised by this Some Red Hot Gospel there! Some Scary thoughts

Paint me surprised by this!

When a 28-year-old person identifying as transgender shot up a Tennessee school in March, killing three children and three adults, the usual grim afterlife of tragedy was underlined by an odd note: One by one, media outlets rushed to apologize for “misgendering” the shooter, who, they explained, had been born female but had recently begun identifying as male.

How to make sense of such a statement? And what to do when a newspaper headline tells you about a “trans woman left sobbing in JFK Airport after TSA agent hit her testicles”? Appealing to reason hardly helps, as J.K. Rowling and others learned the hard way when trying to ask simple questions such as how one might define sex if not according to the chromosomes rooted in literally every cell of our bodies. Instead, anyone wishing to find his way through the thicket of American public discourse these days should start by embracing one simple and terrifying idea: The barbarians are at the gates.

I mean this almost literally. Everywhere you turn these days, pagans are afoot, busily hacking away at the Christian and Jewish foundations of American life and replacing them with a cosmology that would have been absolutely coherent to followers of, say, Voltumna, the Etruscan earth god, or to those who worshipped the Celt tribal protector Toutatis.

If you think the above paragraph is a little bit overblown, consider the numbers. In 1990, scholars from Trinity College set out to learn just how many of their fellow Americans practiced some form of pagan religion. The numbers were unsurprisingly small: about 8,000, or enough to pack your average Journey reunion concert. But the researchers asked again in 2008, and this time, 340,000 Americans said yes to paganism. A decade later, the Pew survey posed the same question, and, if it is to believed, there are now about 1.5 million Americans professing an array of pagan persuasions, from Wicca to the Viking lore, making paganism one of the nation’s fastest-growing persuasions. So fast-growing, in fact, that my colleague Maggie Phillips recently reported in Tablet magazine about the thriving, and officially recognized, pagan faith groups within the U.S. Army. “What’s important now,” one of its leaders, Sergeant Drake Sholar, told Phillips, “is showing religious respect and understanding across the board as Norse Pagans, or Heathens, return to a distinguishable religious practice.”

Amen, selah. But as we respect and understand those who profess paganism outright and sincerely, we should worry about those—many more of them—who go by other names and profess different affinities yet whose worldview is consistently, coherently, and crushingly pagan. There are millions more heathens who would shudder to be called such, yet who offer a vision of a perfectly pagan American future. It behooves us, then, to reckon with the paganism in our midst.

And that, it turns out, is not an easy task, mainly because “pagan” is somewhat of a loaded term. If you have an appetite for good origin stories, you might as well place the birth of the notion with St. Augustine in the fifth century C.E. Pressed to explain to his readers why Rome had been sacked by the Visigoths so shortly after embracing Christianity, Augustine wrote his famous treatise, The City of God. Its full title? De civitate Dei contra paganos, or The City of God Against the Pagans. The latter, he opined elsewhere, had delivered unto mankind nothing but a “hissing cauldron of lusts” that have so spoiled our souls and driven us so far from God that the downfall was imminent. The moral stain of Augustine’s description stuck, and it often colors both our historical vision and the observation that “pagan” describes a dizzying array of peoples and beliefs—from the Slavic tribes who believed that the sky god Perun had beget all other deities that control nature to the Germanic peoples and their complex mythology of giants, dwarves, elves, and dragons, familiar to us from Wagner’s operas.

Leaving permutations and particularities to the pedants, though, it’s quite possible to observe paganism as one sweeping vista and find common themes and threads that haunt us still. Let us begin: Just what do pagans believe?


The answer, while wonderfully complex, may be distilled to the following principle: Nothing is true, everything is permitted. These were the last words, allegedly, of Hasan i-Sabbah—the ninth-century Arab warlord whose group, the Hash’shashin, gave us the English word “assassins.” And his dictum perfectly captures the soul of paganism, illuminated by the idea that no fixed system of belief or set of solid convictions ought to constrain us as we stumble our way through life.

To the pagans, change is the only real constant. Just consider the heathens of old: Believing, as they did, in the radical duality of body and spirit, they enjoyed watching their gods breathe the latter into a wide array of incarnations. To please himself or trick his followers, a god could become a swan or a stone, manifest himself as a river or adopt whatever shape suited his schemes. Ovid, the greatest of Pagan poets, captured this logic perfectly when he began his Metamorphoses with a simple declaration of his intentions: In nova fert animus mutates dicere formas corpora, or, “I am about to speak of forms changing into new entities.” This was not understood as fickle behavior by the gods’ cheerful followers. To the contrary. With no dogma to uphold, the sole job of deities was simply to be themselves. And the more solipsistic a deity chose to be, the better. Nothing, after all, radiates inimitable individuality more than marching to the beat of your own drum and no other.

If that’s your understanding of the gods, or whatever you’d like to call the hidden forces that arrange the known universe, how should you behave? Again, lacking a prescribed credo passed down from generation to generation, pagans began answering this question by casting off the tyranny of fixity. The gods are precarious and ever-changing? Let us follow their example! We should sanctify each sharp transformation in our behaviors and beliefs not as collective madness but as a sign of the wisdom of growth.

Still, change alone does not a belief system make, and pagans, despite differences galore, unite by providing similar answers to three seminal questions: what to do about strangers, how to think about nature, and how to please the gods.

First, the question of difference. What to do with those who are not like us? Easy enough, argued the pagans: Observe any group of humans, no matter how small, and you’ll see it striving to differentiate itself from the group next door. The nomadic Bedouins expressed this idea neatly in an idiom: me and my brothers against our cousins, us and our cousins against our neighbors. Tell children at summer camp that a color war’s afoot, and pretty soon Team Red is likely to develop healthy disdain for Team Blue. Rather than seek to transcend this basic instinct, the pagans sanctified it: It wasn’t for nothing that the Slavs, for example, named their top god Perun, an Indo-European word meaning to strike and splinter, and portrayed him as swinging a mighty axe and engaging in ongoing battles with his fellow divines.

The same spirit, alas, is alive and well among our newest pagans: For them, tribal warfare isn’t just a way of life—it’s a system of divination, with power and privilege waxing and waning to reveal who is pure and worthy and who evil and benighted.

Consider, for example, intersectionality, the academic doctrine that is as close as contemporary paganism gets to a formalized gospel. Its ideas, like most of academia’s excretions these days, aren’t worth studying in any real depth, but the key concept is simple. We each have several components to our identity—sometimes referred to, in the flowery language of assistant professors, as “vectors of oppression and privilege”—and their interplay determines the discrimination we suffer or the violence we may be tempted to wield against others. This means that each introspection is nothing more than an invitation to a fight with those who have more power, real or imagined, than you.

This is what gave Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s grotesquely inept mayor, the temerity to avoid blaming her recent defeat on, say, the fact that she had called on her city to defund the police, then watched crime soar—with more than 800 murders in 2021 alone, the highest rate in nearly 30 years—and then begged the federal government to help her out of the predictable mess she created. No, she had been defeated for being “a black woman.” For a pagan, tribal identity isn’t the beginning of the conversation; it’s the end, an affiliation beyond which lies nothing but battle for dominance.

Still, merely affirming their own and rejecting others and spending their days trying to decipher who belongs to which group is hardly the sort of theological engine that can power faith for long. Next, then, the pagans turn their lonely eyes toward nature, asking themselves how to understand the creations in their midst. Here, too, a relatively straight forward answer presents itself immediately: If the boundaries between the human world, the natural world, and the divine world aren’t clearly defined—if Zeus, say, can transform himself into a beautiful white bull so that he may rape Princess Europa—then nature should be revered as the repository of divine revelation and rebirth. The Roman historian Tacitus, for example, tells us that the ancient Germanic tribes often worshipped in groves rather than temples. It’s easy to figure out why: Observe the oak in winter, and it stands, barren and leafless, a pillar of death. Visit it some weeks later, when spring is in full bloom, and you see it flourish again. The oak, like the gods, is change embodied, and therefore deserving of worship.

Scan the modern pagan cosmology, and you’ll see much that would have made those ancient Germanic cultists nod in recognition. Consider the eco-protestor who, last year, stormed the court just before Roger Federer’s last career tennis match and set his own arms on fire to protest climate change. Or the Brit who, shortly thereafter, poured human feces on a statue to call attention to environmental causes. Or the lunatics from Just Stop Oil, a radical environmentalist group, who slung soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Just like the Scandinavian pagans who offered precious gifts to appease the Askafroa, the spirit of the Ash Tree, a vengeful entity that demanded sacrifice lest it wreak havoc, many of today’s green activists seem much more intent on appeasing an angry god than solving a scientific conundrum. And the scientists themselves aren’t helping much either: In 2018, for example, one prominent Columbia University climate scientist took to Scientific American to write that she refuses to debate…climate science. “Once you put established facts about the world up for argument, you’ve already lost,” she wrote, capturing the opposite, more or less, of the scientific method, which is little more than a constant and unfettered argument about established facts, new evidence, and the possible correlations or contradictions therein.

But if pagans have always found the questions of how to treat others and how to live in nature relatively uncomplicated, the third question—that of how to please the gods—is infinitely more shaded. What do the gods want? Study pagan mythologies and you’ll emerge none the wiser, in part because the gods, like their human worshippers, seem to consist of little more than appetites and caprices. But while they may not be understood, they have to be appeased—and this left classical pagans with a question of a more practical order, namely what might they possess that the all-powerful deities could possibly want.

Gold, silver, and other dear things were frequently the answer, but rarely exclusively: Being the creators of the natural world, after all, the gods could hardly care that much about things that they can easily forge themselves, ex nihilo, by virtue of their divine will. And so the pagans scanned the horizon for something truly precious and exquisite, something whose sacrifice would be an unmistakable sign of devotion. And, across time and across cultures, they alighted on exactly the same thing: kids.

At once the embodiment of innocence and the object of our deepest and most sincere emotions, children, the most vulnerable of mortals, were the ultimate offering to the gods—proof that the pagan believer was so certain in his belief that he would offer up his own offspring to show the gods the strength of his faith, appeasing them and avoiding potential punishment. So prevalent among the heathens of antiquity was the practice of child sacrifice that the Torah issued a strongly worded prohibition against it, in Leviticus 18:21: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek.”

Child sacrifice, alas, is alive and well in America these days, too. We may not, like the Vikings, toss our young into wells as offerings to the heavens, but turn over every rock in our craggy contemporary political landscape and you’ll find some pagan policy offering up the well-being of children to the gods of virtue. In March 2020, to choose one stinging example, Sweden bucked the global trend and responded to Covid-19 by keeping schools open. The results of this experiment were available shortly thereafter: Zero dead kids, almost zero kids sick, and very little, if any, risk to teachers. By January 2021, a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed that Covid rates in schools that had reopened were 37 percent lower than the rates in the same communities at large. The Biden administration largely ignored this evidence; it took some liberal cities such as New York a full 18 months to reopen their schools.

The results: dramatic upticks in juvenile mental-health crises, sharp declines in basic academic proficiency and just about every other metric of human misery visited on our children. A rational society, to say nothing about one guided by traditional values, would have curbed this suffering long before it blossomed so terribly; the pagans instead composed a fanciful narrative of what constitutes righteous behavior and then forced it on their children, whose pain was then explained away as a necessary evil if one wanted the forces of science to vanquish the darkness and cleanse the soul. When Anthony Fauci said, “I am the science,” he couldn’t have sounded more like the mighty Perun had he worn a cape and a crown.

Maybe you’re a kinder person than I, one more inclined than I am to give fellow human beings the benefit of the doubt. Pandemics are stressful times, and even the most well-meaning public health officials may be forgiven their missteps when the entire world is crackling. No sooner had the wrath of Covid subsided, though, than our pagan witch doctors jumped in with another way to sacrifice the well-being of the young on the altar of ideological convictions. According to a recent Reuters report, for example, 15,172 Americans ages six to 17 were diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2017; by 2021, that number nearly tripled. How to explain this stratospheric rise? Have doctors gotten better at detecting this particular medical condition? Has the science simply improved?

A 2018 study by Lisa Littman, assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Brown, addressed this very question. Teens, Dr. Littman concluded after studying 256 subjects, were highly susceptible to what she called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” When spending time, particularly online, with groups of people who favorably discussed the idea of being transgender, teens were much more likely to become gender dysphoric, a phenomenon Dr. Littman described as “peer contagion.”

The paper was accepted by PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but after transgender activists protested, the article was removed, and a Brown dean explained that censorship had been necessary because Dr. Littman’s findings “invalidate the perspectives” of the transgender community. Meanwhile, the Reuters report also confirmed that the past four years have seen a doubling of the rates of both hormone therapy and puberty blockers prescribed to teens. This uptick, coupled with school policies that now actively seek to exclude parents from conversations about their child’s gender identity, has led lawmakers in 27 states to draft 100 bills to halt so-called gender-reaffirming care.

Meanwhile, the intellectual-industrial complex continues to push its pagan convictions. The University of Pennsylvania recently announced an anonymous $2 million gift that would allow it to hire Alok Vaid-Menon, a self-identified “non-binary transfeminine person,” as a scholar in residence. Vaid-Menon is the author of Beyond the Gender Binary, a children’s book encouraging young readers to understand that “man” and “woman” are but two of an infinity of gender-related options.

But it’s not merely the hotly debated issues in the center of our cultural skirmishes that point to the pagan propensity for child sacrifice; it’s the pagan style of politics itself. A study published in 2022 and led by Columbia epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Gimbrone examined the longitudinal data collected by the Monitoring the Future project, which asks high-school students a wide array of questions about attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Dr. Gimbrone’s findings were alarming: Before 2012, there had been no differences between boys and girls, and none between self-identified conservatives and liberals, when it came to mental health. Then, depression scores began to soar for liberal girls and rise considerably for liberal boys. Conservative children registered a far less significant spike. Put crudely, the obsessive and relentless pagan emphasis on gender, ideology, and other divisions was literally driving kids crazy.

Writing about the roles schools played in destabilizing the mental well-being of children, NYU psychologist Jonathan Haidt and journalist Greg Lukianoff argued that our academic institutions were practicing “reverse CBT.” While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches its adherents to catch catastrophic thoughts before they turn into full-fledged panics, schools were now teaching children to see the world in black and white, perceive opposing viewpoints as harmful, and surrender to their worst fears.


What, then, are we to do when confronted with so much lunacy? Three urgent steps come to mind.

First, let us realize that all of the above-mentioned permutations are far from random. They’re not aberrations to be gawked at separately. They’re part of a cohesive belief system, paganism, that is gripping those who have rejected monotheistic ethics and mores. This recognition is particularly important because the pagans themselves vehemently deny it. They print stickers with slogans like “believe the science,” not realizing that they have just admitted, however tacitly, that theirs isn’t a logical and rational product of the Enlightenment but a religious system like any other, complete with its quirks and its zealotry. Only when it is understood as such can it be confronted; only if we deny the pagans the right to don a white lab coat or a tie and claim impartiality can we provide a sober accounting of their actions.

Second, we must understand that the good, old-fashioned faith traditions that the pagans so often reject as oppressive, patriarchal, racist, misogynistic, or any number of other trendy terms have seen it all before. Judaism has been facing down pagans for millennia now and answering each of their deathly dicta with sound, humanistic alternatives. Here’s a taste: We were all, the Bible tells us, created in God’s image, and even though God elected one people to preserve and protect his Torah, the arc of history bends toward togetherness. God’s house, Isaiah wisely reports, “shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” In other words, while people are different, and while their differences are meaningful and instrumental in shaping their unique experiences, they also form the bridge that could one day lead to a common house of prayer. The biblical story begins and ends with a universalist message; its meaty middle, the story of the chosen people and their travails, is a crucial reminder that cultivating our own tribal beliefs and rituals is, ultimately, an exercise in self-awareness without which we can never truly empathize with anyone anywhere. Know thyself so you may know others—as credos go, this one is unimprovable and so much more compassionate than the pagan call for perpetual warfare.

Which leads us to step three, the most urgent yet most difficult one: Save your children by shielding them from an ideology that perpetually seeks ways to harm them; root them instead in traditions that nurture them and give them dignity, hope, and a future. At the very least, this means refusing to enlist your children in political crusades, no matter how just they may appear. Resist hagiographical books about activists and rabble-rousers. Realize that taking your kids to a march or a demonstration doesn’t make them better citizens—as if civic duty can be learned by osmosis—but merely ladens them with the anxiety of ideology, a burden no child should ever have to bear. If you can, rescue them from pagan schools as well, or, at least, teach them that there are better options.

When pagans waving the banner of diversity, equity, and inclusion insist that we judge others by the color of their skin, not the content of their character, tell your children that the Hebrew prophets offered a much more transformational vision of racial justice, one that inspired everyone from Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King Jr. When pagans calling themselves environmentalists tell your children to worship the earth, introduce them to the Talmud for a superior attitude that is as mindful of production as it is of conservation. When pagans quarrel and cancel, teach your children the value of building real communities, and of the tried-and-true blueprints for real human happiness given to us by our faith traditions.

If we do that, we may very well discover that history, God bless, always repeats itself: The heathens ululate and then fold, subdued by the demonstrable advantages of better faith traditions. We’re long overdue for another cycle of pagan defeat; let’s do our best to bring it on soonest.

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