In a recent CNN interview, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for ‘formal deprogramming’ of what she terms as the ‘MAGA cult.’ Formal? Did she mean government-sponsored deprogramming?
This is not the first time the left is calling for deprogramming of the right.
In 2021, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., proposed using taxpayer funds to deprogram white supremacists, a code name for conservatives and MAGA Republicans.
The list of others calling for deprogramming also includes Katie Couric, former CBS News and NBC ‘Today’ host, who told Bill Maher in 2021: ‘And the question is, how are we going to really almost deprogram these people who have signed up for the cult of Trump.’
Why such a call for deprogramming?
After the thorough demonization of Donald Trump, the left has been totally dismayed that his supporters still stand behind him with unwavering conviction.
The only option left for the left is to demonize all conservatives and MAGA Republicans as extremists, as white supremacists, or as threats to ‘our democracy’ —in other words, enemies of the state.
Still vivid in everyone’s minds are the inflammatory words from President Joe Biden’s speech in Philadelphia in September 2022, condemning Republicans with words like ‘extremists’ and ‘threatens the very republic’ with the satanic dark bloody red background behind him as he spoke, flanked by two Marines.
A year later, as the 2024 election draws closer, Newsweek reported this week that the FBI has ‘quietly created a new category of extremists that it seeks to track and counter: Donald Trump’s army of MAGA followers.’
The left means serious business. This is how the ‘enemies of the state’ should be dealt with: deprogram and suppression. And this is exactly what happened in China, the country controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) where I spent the first 26 years of my life.
I want to take you back to Mao’s China in the late 50s before I was born and before the Chinese Cultural Revolution. At that time there was a lesser-known political campaign led by Mao, called the Anti-Rightist campaign.
In 1957, Mao launched a political campaign beautifully sold as the campaign to ‘Let One Hundred Flowers Bloom and One Hundred Schools Contend’ to encourage everyone to criticize and make suggestions to the Chinese Communist Party. Convinced by the CCP’s sincerity, many naïve people—especially intellectuals—started to speak their mind by making suggestions. Suggestions included things like other political parties being allowed to share power (the PRC was created on the alliances of multi-political parties), allow free speech, and reduce the number of non-stop political campaigns…
The campaign quickly turned into an Anti-Rightists campaign. Anyone who voiced unwelcome suggestions was labeled a ‘rightist,’ including those who had been quiet throughout the process because silence was defiance according to the CCP logic.
What was in common among those rightists? They expressed ‘incorrect’ ideas and opinions. Hauntingly similar to Biden’s words in this century, that his opponents’ views were ‘extremism’ and ‘threaten [sic] the very [people’s] republic.’
Soon quotas were given out to each workplace, to find and identify rightists in their midst. Many people were tagged with the rightist label so that the CCP’s quota could be satisfied.
Overnight, people found themselves labeled as enemies of the state. Off they were sent to Thought Reform Camps, the Chinese version of the Soviet Gulags to be ‘deprogrammed’ through hard labor. Untold numbers of these rightists perished in those Gulags. The CCP’s own statistics indicate that more than 500,000 people were deemed as rightists. But many historians believe it is more than a million. In Beijing University alone, 589 students and 110 faculty were deemed as rightists. Seven of them were executed.
We later learned from some of the survivors on how the Thought Reform, or ‘formal deprogramming’ in Clinton’s words, was carried out in those camps. In addition to backbreaking hard labor and starvation, these rightists had to endure political study and struggle sessions every night where they were to study Mao and Marxist works and carry out ‘criticism and self-criticism.’ Criticism was to condemn others and self-criticism was to condemn oneself. The goal was to thoroughly deprogram/reform/remold one’s mind by removing all the old and incorrect thoughts and replacing them with the correct Marxist and Maoist thoughts.
It is ironic that ‘deprogramming’ really means ‘programming,’ both in CCP’s China and here in America. It really means to program the mind of individuals with a new ideology that is anti-tradition and anti-religion.
Where does ‘programming’ take place? It takes place in the mind-shaping institutions like schools and universities for the young, and mass media for the rest. The Chinese rightists were those who received their education before the CCP took over China. In their mind were the traditional values.
In America, the MAGA ‘extremists’ are those who have survived government schools, Marxist-run universities, and corporate media. They escaped the ‘programming,’ and therefore they need to be ‘re-programmed’ according to the regime’s agenda.
In a February 9, 2021 article on Axios.com, author Kyle Daly addressed the question on ‘How to deprogram America’s extremists.’ He was told by experts that ‘It will take an all-out national effort to dismantle the radicalization pipeline that has planted conspiracy theories in the heads of millions of Americans…’
Daly described some key measures as:
• Keeping extremists out of key institutions (which sounds like a purge to me).
• Providing help for those who have embraced dangerous ideologies (which sounds like a ‘rescue mission,’ using the CCP’s terminology).
• A crackdown on the online presence of unwanted ideas including those in social media.
• A ‘Marshall Plan against domestic extremism’; And sure enough, today the FBI has a plan to deal with the ‘MAGA extremists.’
• Private and public-private partnership programs — including both federal and state government—to create anti-extremism programs including a national hotline…
The left does admit that it is difficult to ‘deprogram’ the ‘MAGA Extremists.’ In a 2021 Vanity Fair article with the headline, ‘So Many Great, Educated, Functional People Were Brainwashed’: Can Trump’s Cult of Followers Be Deprogrammed?’ the author interviewed Steven Hassan, a former Moonie cult member and author of ‘The Cult of Trump.’ One of Hassan’s suggestions is a friends and family deprogramming approach with how-to instructions on how gain or regain their trust in order to start the ‘persuasion.’ By comparison, CCP also used the family-friend approach by pressuring them to cut ties with the rightists.
Interestingly, Hassan says that he had the most success in deprograming Trump supporters by sharing examples with them of Chinese Communist Party brainwashing. Llittle did he know that he himself turns out to be the product of Mao-style brainwashing!
Now, back to China. Many of the surviving rightists revealed that the ‘deprogramming’ ordeal helped them to see the true, evil nature of communism and the CCP. Keep in mind that these rightists were the products of the old educational system before the CCP took over China in 1949.
Fast forward to 1966, the beginning of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. There were hardly any rightists left by that time. Seventeen years (1949-1966) of indoctrination by government schools and universities had created the ‘correctly programmed’ new leftist generations. They were Mao’s Red Guards who carried out the Chinese Cultural Revolution that destroyed China, and in the process, themselves.
The Cultural Revolution in America is, after all, a war over the minds of the American people. The question is, what program will win: traditional American values enshrined in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence or progressive values rooted in cultural Marxism and communism.