In 1873 Hans Christian Anderson wrote a children’s story called, The Emperor Has No Clothes. The story is about a vain emperor who loved wearing the latest style of clothes. The emperor had a different coat for every hour of the day and spent countless hours in his dressing room putting on his clothes and analyzing his wardrobe. One day, two curious “swindlers” visited the emperor’s town. The swindlers claimed to be weavers and bragged how they could construct and weave the most magnificent of clothes. The swindlers made a bold claim that not only were their colors uncommonly the best, but that clothes made of their particular cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid. Strange as their claim was, word of these “weavers” reached the emperor. The emperor was intrigued by their claim and felt that these weavers could produce the ideal outfit for him all the while allowing him to determine which of his ministers was not worthy of their position.
The emperor paid a large sum of money to the swindlers to start at once. The swindlers set up looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. As the story goes, “All the finest silk and purest old thread which they demanded went into their travel bags, while they worked the empty looms well into the night.”
The emperor asked a trusted minister to check on the progress. The swindlers, pretending to be weaving the material, greeted the minister when he arrived and said, “Don’t hesitate a moment to tell us what you think.” The minister was embarrassed and did not want anyone to suspect he was not worthy of his post, or stupid. “It’s beautiful.” was his reply. The emperor asked another trusted advisor to check on the progress. That advisor looked at the empty looms and said to himself, “Well I know that I am not stupid, so I must be unfit for my position. I can’t let anyone know.” He reported that the material was coming along splendidly.
When the emperor then viewed his new clothes, with all of his noblemen present, the swindlers pretended to hold up the finished product. The emperor did not see anything but pretended he did because all of the noblemen said they saw it, and he did not want them to think that he was not fit for his position. The noblemen suggested the emperor wear his new clothes to the procession later that day. With all in attendance, everyone was afraid to be the only one to admit they could not see the clothes.
The swindlers then “dressed” the emperor in his new outfit and the entourage went off to the procession. At the procession, the townspeople, all aware of the special quality of the material, pretended the emperor was dressed magnificently until a child said, “He has no clothes!” The crowd started to repeat what had been said and finally cried out as one, “He has no clothes on.”
The story, The Emperor Has No Clothes On, portrays how a crafty con job can make people say bizarre things they know are not true. Ironically, by not wanting to appear like idiots, the sly swindlers really made the emperor and his ministers look like idiots.
Just like the emperor’s story, the government is trying to have us acknowledge and admit bizarre things in an attempt to “swindle” us in stupidity. And not wanting to be looked at by others as a buffoon, people reluctantly buy into this trap.
In October, the State Department tweeted about “International Pronouns Day” saying, “Today on international pronouns day we share why many people list pronouns on their emails and social media profiles.” Now, your intuitive critical thinker would respond to this statement by saying, “What does this mean?” “Does using a certain pronoun magically change who you are?” “Who made this a day?” “What is the psychology behind this message?”
To be in the position of the critical thinker is one thing. The key move is to be brave enough to call out the con much like when the child bluntly said, “He has no clothes.”
Those on the far-left side of the political spectrum have made bold claims in recent years, including: slavery was the primary reason for America’s founding; innocent, unarmed blacks are being shot down by police in great numbers; because of systemic racism, people of color have little chance of escaping poverty; and, because of sexism, women face limited opportunities in the workplace.
These claims have grown in popularity and from them flow popular catchphrases embedded in “wokeism.” The problem arises as the four assertions listed above are easily debunked: see here, here, here, and here.
America was not founded for the purpose of slavery, statistics show police are not targeting blacks, and as prominent black author Taleeb Starkes articulates systemic racism does not exist. Therefore, given these claims are false, then the emotionally crafted messages that promote the bogus claims need not govern one’s thought process. But the problem is these messages very much govern one’s social interaction. Today, social justice activism has an uncanny ability to attract a cult-like following. Being surrounded by the mind-numbing slogans of wokeness and identity politics pouring out of the media, government, corporations, and in universities, people are being pressured to say ridiculous things that they know are foolish.
Loyd Pettegrew noted that being woke is simply a manifestation of adolescent consciousness and wannabe activism. Even liberal comedian Bill Mahr compared wokeism and the cancel culture that ensues to Stalinism.
These woke catchphrases are constructed in a manner in which they appear to decry social ills. Some of the popular mottos include: “inclusion,” “equity,” “stop hate,” “it takes a village.” Here, the elites have created a cottage industry on the single-phrase summation - one line that encapsulates an issue that is easily digested by the masses. Such woke slogans are even stamped all over NBA and NFL arenas. On the surface, these phrases seem reasonable but given the false narrative of their claims and how they are forcibly pushed on people, we can witness a disturbing similarity to socialism. Thomas Aquinas articulated that we don’t choose evil because of its depravity, we choose evil because of an apparent good. Therefore, a person who wants to rid the world of social problems may have good intentions, but evil can easily hijack one’s intentions for a nefarious end. Here, emotionally crafted messages are used to cleverly persuade people to promote socialist (i.e. demonic) ideals. These messages are then shoved on us in a coordinated ideological way all the while we are expected to awkwardly cheer on these slogans without any critical reasoning.
Interestingly, we can get some insight into this woke phenomenon by looking at the old Soviet Union. Vaclav Havel was a Soviet dissident that lived in Czechoslovakia. Havel was a prominent political activist who saw through the Soviet propaganda campaign. At the time, the Soviet Union was a totalitarian society in which the state invoked total control of the messaging sent out to one’s social outlet. Havel wrote an essay in 1979 called, The Power of the Powerless. Havel’s essay remains relevant in today’s woke and covid crazed propagandizing throughout the culture. Haval begins by talking about a grocery store in Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia. The grocer put up a sign at his store that says, “workers of the world unite.” This is a standard Communist phrase. But rather than mindlessly cheering on this expressive word-salad, Havel asks a series of questions, “What does this man who put the sign up actually trying to say?” Is he calling upon all the workers of the world to unite? Also, what are they uniting around? What is the shared agenda that the workers all have? In his analysis, Havel says, the man putting up this slogan has nothing to do with answering these pressing questions. He is not trying to communicate with workers. He is not even trying to express his real opinions on this matter. Here, we have a deeper question - what is the psychological motive of putting up the “workers of the world unite” slogan? Havel reveals that the worker who put up this sign is signaling his allegiance to the Soviet state. He is being a conformist. Rather than analyzing what he is told, he merely goes along with what he is told. Furthermore, he wants to make it clear that he yields to the state’s approved messages because he knows that there are consequences if he does not. Here, the state is exercising (through the private sector, and ordinary workers) a tightly controlled messaging campaign to be followed under strict compliance. Sadly, this worker is forced to be an obedient servant of the state’s system of control and surveillance.
Havel then makes an intriguing suggestion. Let’s say the grocer put up the following sign: “I am a coward. I am afraid. I don’t want to go against the state and that is why I’m signaling my obedience to the state.” Havel indicates this message would, in fact, be a true statement of the psychology of this grocer. Havel admits that the grocer would never put up a sign demonstrating his cowardness. Why? Because the grocer is a human being. He has dignity. He doesn’t want to seem like he is a spineless sheep that is cowering in fear. Therefore, the point of putting up the meaningless sign “workers of the world unite” is essentially to camouflage your fear and obedience to tyranny behind ideological cover. Instead of showcasing that you're a coward you attempt to show that you are a subscriber to a noble ideology on the outside all the while knowing it is a con on the inside. This ploy is rooted in Karl Marx’s vision to bring together the workers of the world to revolt against capitalism. Therefore, Marx merely uses the workers to destroy the capitalist system he loathes.
Havel’s point is that what this grocer is actually doing is collaborating in a lie to supposedly “keep the peace” (much like Pontius Pilot). Everyone in Czechoslovakia knows the “workers unite” slogan is a scam, but the point of the whole exercise is to condition the masses into social conformity. In fact, Havel indicates that the regime becomes stronger if they put out phrases that no one believes in but are forced to cowardly nod in approval lest they become a tattered gnat under the regime. Here, we come to a crucial point - when people don’t believe in the slogans of the government but nevertheless acknowledge and repeat them shows us that the government has immense power because they can make you say something even if it makes absolutely no sense. Making people say that 2+2=5 or that a biological man is a woman actually takes away their human dignity as it ruptures use of their God-given intellect and will. Similarly, making a person say the emperor’s clothes are superb knowing he isn’t wearing any clothes acts as a way to degrade that person. Here, we see a sad picture in which socialism and communism not only control what you think but humiliate you along the way.
Haval’s question at the end is how do we combat this nonsense? Haval’s point is there is only one solution - we have to refuse to be a part of the lie. Even if in small ways you are a naysayer in which you refuse to go along with bizarre pronouns or won’t submit to the reigning ideology then it becomes increasingly obvious that the emperor has no clothes. At this point the regime will ratchet up its pressure. Look at what is happening to parents who refuse to go along with the critical race theory curriculum at schools. The regime branded them as “domestic terrorists” and unleashed the FBI on them. Yes, when the peasants refuse to go along with the regime’s warped agenda, it gets a bit dicey for the peasants, but as Communist dissidents like Haval show us, ultimately the regime cracks and dies when their messages are exposed.
At the end of his essay, Haval insinuates that only those who have developed the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude can combat the state controlled messaging racket.
The critical thinker is not easily duped by this. But, besides being a critical thinker one must have developed the virtue of fortitude. The wise and courageous man calls bluff on these vague emotionally laced slogans of the state. Here, we come into the intersection of the faith for one who is embedded in the Catholic faith will be challenged to develop the virtues. It is a brute fact that the saints never cowardly bowed down when faced with tyrannical nonsense. When the notoriously wicked barbarian leader Atilla the Hun came to Rome intending to ransack the churches, Pope Leo the Great met him at the city gates and thunderously announced his violence isn't welcome into the eternal city. Shocked by the pope’s courage and saintly demeanor, Atilla the Hun and his army retreated across the countryside.
Sadly, such fortitude of Leo the Great is absent today. Ignorant and soft Americans are being egged into the Marxist trap to divide people into the camp of oppressor versus oppressed in which the country may not escape intact. Why is it that so many people cave and succumb to being pushovers to the expressive word salads of the culture? Fear, lack of critical thinking, too concerned with what others think - all of these check the box. Most importantly though is a lack of interest in organized religion. By taking a pass on the religious vantage point, one squanders the spiritual insight that help him navigate through the ploys of the world. As exorcists confirm, all the attributes that rupture evil tactics comes from those who take their faith seriously. Scripture instructs us to “test all things,” “to be sober and vigilant." In this setting, we need not sheepishly nod in approval of the marketing slogans of the world but rather be on a constant lookout to their meaning and source. Why do we need to be on our guard? Because as St. Peter announces “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Holding closely to the faith one can attain wisdom so he can identify the cunning demonic “swindlers” encircling our world today. Exposing the lie abruptly stops the con artist in his tracks.
Archbishop Jose Gomez declared that this fervent political correctness movement has morphed into a pseudo-religion that is anti-Christian. As he goes on to say, "We recognize that often what is being canceled and corrected are perspectives rooted in Christian beliefs—about human life and the human person, about marriage, the family, and more.”
Let today's situation be a call to awaken slumbering souls. Rather than viewing the Church as a social justice organization let us see her for what she is - the bride of Christ and Pillar of Truth on earth, infused with the supernatural power to make us saints and to halt evil ways. When we are firmly situated in the truth of the faith we’ll have enough wisdom and courage to say “the emperor has no clothes.”