The Scarlet ‘E’

Asking Americans to label one another “extremists” is the most ruinous thing that the woke oligarchy’s malevolent morons are doing to our country. They mean to criminalize insufficient deference to themselves. But a bit of courage is all it takes to expose their demand’s transparent absurdity. 

Guidance comes from what happened in Denmark under Nazi occupation, 1940-1943. The Nazis, having demanded that Danish Jews be forced to wear a yellow star in public, so goes the story, were startled to find that Danish King Christian X put on the star. His subjects having done the same, and everyone having designated himself a Jew, there were no Jews. Only Danes. The Nazis had no way of discriminating against anyone. 

The story is factually false. But its telling points to the deeper fact that saved Denmark’s Jews and serves as guidance to us today: The Nazis never made the demand because they had reason to believe that, had they done so, the Danes would have done something like what the story says. It would have deprived them of leverage as well as given them another black eye. The Danish people—king, parliament, and commoners refused to curry favor with the evil ones. The Danes knew each other, and stuck by one another. In so doing, they ostracized the Nazis. 

In today’s America, every fount of power and privilege—from the FBI and the armed forces to our employers and Facebook—asks us anonymously to place the label “extremist,” a scarlet “E” of infamy, on whomever we choose to hurt, for whatever reason. They ask us to commit this most cowardly and self-serving of acts so they may use that “E” as a premise for “investigations” and classifications that amount to punishments. It also serves them by sowing suspicions and fostering enmities among Americans, leaving themselves as sources of fear and of precarious safety. 

Machiavelli (Discourses Book I, chapters 7 and 8) was not the first to recognize that while open judicial proceedings against evildoers are essential to the maintenance of republics, nothing destroys republics more surely than placing anonymous accusations into the hands of rulers who, inevitably, turn them to their own account. 

Today’s America, unlike Denmark in 1940, is a largely anonymous society. Americans no longer know each other well enough, or have enough personal attachment to one another, to vouch for  each other. Too easily, we fall prey to anonymous accusations. 

But if we recognize what our oligarchy’s malevolent morons are trying to do to us by calling for anonymous accusations of extremism, we can turn the tables on them by using that very anonymity for a collective, anonymous, act of faith in one another—and against them. 

They want us to add each others’ names to their lists? OK. Let us send in the names of all of them who harass us. Just as important, let us order millions of bumper stickers for our cars and mailboxes, each with the scarlet letter “E,” and proudly declare ourselves “Extremists” according to the oligarchy’s definition: people skeptical of their claims, and proud of our country. 

We have already learned that all of us—with the exception of our rulers—are racists, sexists, etc. That is a valuable lesson because it means, effectively, these accusations are substantively empty. Recognizing, declaring, and defanging the accusation of “extremism” is equally in our power.


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About Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla was a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He was professor of international relations at Boston University and the author of several books including To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).

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