How to Deprogram Us

A new buzzword on social media, cable news, and among leftist activists is “deprogramming.”

Along with terms like “reprogramming,” “de-Baathification,” and “deplatforming,” deprogramming refers to cleansing the incorrect mentalities of former Trump Administration officials—and even those who voted for Trump.

Note that deprogramming does not refer to elites who peddled the “Russian collusion” hoax for years, despite the abject absence of evidence.

Not long ago, two Washington Post columnists offered some solutions to the Trumpist threat. One, Max Boot, wished to ban Fox News and other conservative stations from cable subscriptions.

The other, Eugene Robinson, suggested that there was a need to focus on mostly “white” Republicans to “deprogram” their thoughts.

Pro forma “diversity training” has already been upgraded to include coming clean about “white supremacy” and “unearned privilege.”

Graduates are supposed to emerge washed of their sins of entitlement. Only when thus vaccinated, can they become fully certified that they no longer pose a threat to the Other.

Still, how might a proper stepped-up deprogramming system deal with any diehard Trump refuseniks? Why not borrow the current Chinese “social credit system”?

Non-participating dead-ender Trumpers might lose so many social awareness points that they would be disqualified from staying at their beloved Holiday Inns or banned from Olive Garden restaurants.

Milder rejectionists could wear red MAGA cone hats. During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, such dunce cones proved useful in identifying and shaming the right wrong people.

Television, social media, and Hollywood could do their part. Viewers might be first required to participate in two-minutes of hate shouting, aimed at enemies on the screen: Donald and Melania, or perhaps former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Social reward points would only be awarded when one’s screams met the required decibel levels on the appropriate app.

“Improving” the news could also be accelerated as part of the general deprogramming effort—a process that is already well underway.

Networks and platforms would have to use approved terminology. For example, the Biden vaccination will lead to the Biden economic recovery from the Trump quarantine and Trump recession, and finally end the Trump virus.

If between 2017 and 2020, a Russian Putin supporter was supposedly lurking under every American bed, today the enemy of the people has been properly redefined by the media as the omnipresent “white supremacist” bogeyman.

Biden’s new defense secretary, retired General Lloyd Austin, told the Senate that the Pentagon would “keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”   

Will Austin soon hold up as proof a McCarthyite list of “known” white supremacists supposedly lurking “within our own ranks”?

Such internal enemies apparently did not refer to radical Islamists, such as the Fort Hood mass-murdering Army Major Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 people, or the racist, black nationalist Micah Johnson, a U.S. Army reservist, who shot 12 Dallas police officers, killing five after a Black Lives Matter protest.

Retired General Stanley McChrystal warns that the Trump movement reminds him of the al-Qaeda terrorists who once flocked to a similar “powerful leader”—presumably Osama bin Laden.

Indeed, our retired military, once critical of the use of the military as domestic police, had no objection to deploying nearly 30,000 soldiers on Inauguration Day in the capital—all on the lookout for nests of Trump insurrectionists.

So Pentagon budgets perhaps should readapt to this reality. What good are missiles and jets when NRA members with MAGA hats roam freely in our midst?

To help McChrystal and Austin, we could enlist former CIA director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, and former DNI director James Clapper to form a Deprogramming Task Force to root out the “enemies within.”

Public spirited administration appointees—working closely with Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Hollywood, and New York media elites—might issue lists of all social media users indulging in “hate speech” and “big lies.”

For any of the recalcitrants, who still visit the wrong sites or view incorrect videos, they could be “contact traced.” GPS chips could be inserted under their skins so that the public could be warned when infectious Trumpsters neared.

Progressive volunteers from the corporate communication worlds—Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and the CEOs of Comcast and WarnerMedia—could staff a Federal Corporate Content Communications Commission.

This new FCCCC could ensure that all corporations establish acceptable speech codes and offer proper percentages of progressive content. The commission could cite those who fail to broadcast critical race theory messaging and level fines that could be redistributed to Antifa, BLM, and other “idea” creators.

This needed deprogramming of the American mind would not take all that much more work or money.

In just the last few weeks, we have proven that we already are halfway there.


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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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