Man in the Mirror

By: Brent Parrish


Well, it’s that time when we reflect on the past year and make “resolutions” for the next.

Admittedly, I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions. It just seems like a good way to set oneself up for disappointment should one fail to fulfill their resolution(s).

Of course, I do think having goals is vitally important. So, I’m thinking about my goals for this coming year. But I’m a bit stuck on the reflection part right now. I mean, if you don’t know where you’ve been, how can know where you’re going?

I typically try to avoid personal narratives. For one thing, my life is just not that interesting. Additionally, personal narratives often fail because they tend to degenerate into tedious exercises of prolonged navel gazing, replete with endless detailing that could make your average Joe turn to stone from sheer, interminable boredom.

What motivated me to write this article are some concerns I’m having about some of my own failings. A good friend of my used to always say, “It’s the man in the mirror.” The same friend used to also say, “Just remember, when you’re pointing your finger at someone else, a hundred fingers are pointing back at you.”

So true.

Naturally, I’ve also experienced some success as well. And I certainly don’t believe everything I do is wrong, nor do I believe the inverse. But there’s always room for improvement. For some reason I felt compelled to spell out in more detail why I believe in what I believe. And why I do what I do.

I’ve always been more of the creative-artistic type. When I was a teenager, and even into my early adult years, my greatest goal was to be a rock star. I played the keys and the guitar. And I was pretty good at it. But I bought into a dangerous bill of goods at the time—meaning: sex, drugs and rock & roll. And it damn near destroyed me. I’ve lost a number of friends to the “bill of goods.” Not too long ago a good friend of mine committed suicide. Oh, I know I’m not alone … that’s for damn sure. And let it be known that those days are far behind me.

Ironically, I have voted Republican all my life. I say “ironically” because most people associate sex, drugs and rock & roll with raging, radical liberals, at least in my experience. But, for me, the reason to vote Republican was simple: I believe in a strong defense. It was as simple as that.

I have always been grateful to be an American. I’ve always know I was lucky to be born in America. I had several members of my family who were veterans of the Second World War. Their experiences (or what they would share of their experience) left a profound impact on me.

I have studied the history of World War II since I was nine-years-old. Although I could never fully understand or comprehend the sacrifice and struggles that they endured during the war, I, at the very least, wanted to try and understand to the best of my ability. And I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice and toil. My respect and awe for their sacrifices knows no bounds. And the older I get, the more it moves me.

Furthermore, I always believed in the Founders’ vision of the importance of preserving individual liberty, and that the role of government should be limited. My unalienable rights are not negotiable. Period. And I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that. My “rights” are endowed by my Creator, not by puny man. But it sure is a wonderful thing that we do have a Bill of Rights that guarantees those unalienable rights. That’s just how I’ve always looked at it.

The first time I ever encountered a true leftist radical was when I first attended college in the 80s. One of my good friends had a roommate who was a full-fledged communist. He ate, slept and breathed Marxism (when he wasn’t smoking copious amounts of weed).

Well, I’ve always been a staunch anti-communist. And that was due mostly to the fact that I had studied in great depth the history of World War II. I was particularly fascinated and horrified with the Eastern Front—the war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

There is nothing in our military history—or any other nation’s military history, for that matter—that can even begin to compare to what happened on the Eastern Front. Millions were killed on both sides on a front that stretched some 1,800 miles. But the Russian people suffered the most. Astonishing. And astonishingly brutal. It is really beyond comprehension. It was during my study of the Eastern Front as a youngster that I first was introduced to the terms communism and fascism. I read about Stalin’s purges, the gulags, penal battalions, NKVD blocking units, and the like. And on the flipside, I read about Hitler’s merciless persecution of the Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, and so many others.

On more than one occasion, my Marxist “friend” and I would have heated debates. One time it got so bad that we damn near came to blows. I still remember him screaming, “Do you know how many types of communism there are?!” I simply replied, “I could care less … they all suck!” (Admittedly, we were using a little more colorful language than that.)

After our rather heated encounter, I just gave up arguing with him about it, as he did with me. Neither one of us were going to budge. That much was obvious. And I really didn’t think much more about it. I just wrote him off as a radical loon. At the time, Ronald Reagan was president. The flag was flying proud again. And I just couldn’t conceive the U.S.A. would ever devolve into unadulterated socialism.

Oh, how little I knew.

There was another experience that left a profound impact on me regarding socialism and communism. In my 20s, during the early 90s, I had a roommate from the Baltic state of Latvia who had spent two years in a Soviet prison, i.e. gulag. He had eyes that could burn holes straight through you. I had never seen eyes like his before, or since. He claimed he had been arrested, along with some other Latvian nationalists, by Soviet authorities for placing the Latvian national flag on a Soviet government building in Riga, Latvia. He was missing the tip of his right index finger—his trigger finger. He claimed the Soviet guards had placed his finger in a steel door jamb and slammed a steel door on it, severing the tip of his finger. Well, I knew from my studies that this was a common method of Soviet torture. Many such examples have been documented from the KGB’s notorious Lubyanka prison located on Lubyanka Square in Moscow.

Additionally, he claimed he was given numerous injections of an unknown variety during his incarceration. During the time I lived with him, he lost all of his hair. And I mean all of it—the hair on his head, eyebrows, beard, arms, chest, legs, pubic—all of it! This condition is known as Alopecia. Now, I have no idea whether the injections were the actual cause of his total hair loss. But it was quite stunning to see your roommate experience total hair loss, and in a rather short period of time. We couldn’t help but wonder if what he had been injected with in prison messed up his immune system, resulting in his total hair loss.

At that time, we would have many Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians new to the U.S. come to visit us at our apartment. We even had some Russians visit as well. They were a tight-knit bunch. And they were a hardy, tough lot as well. They had faced many hardships. I was quite humbled by it all. (By the way, don’t ever try to out drink a Russian. You’ve been warned.)

My roommate told me an amazing story once. He said, when Reagan became president, little old ladies in Riga (the capitol city), Latvia, shed tears. I was incredulous. I asked him, “Why?” He seemed surprised by my incredulity. He replied, “Because [American] flag fly again!”

See, many Americans forget that America represents freedom (or at least it did) to many around the world—”a shining city on a hill,” so to speak. Our freedom is something that they could only dream of. It represented hope to them … that at least in some part of the world there exists something akin to freedom.

During the spring and summer months, we would travel to southern Michigan where many Russians, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, and others, would camp and party the weekend away. On one trip, I had two Latvian males and one female who had just arrived in the States in my truck. They wanted to stop at a “Super Target” store to pick up some supplies.

When we reached the door of the Super Target, they all split off in their own directions like bats out of hell—each one running off in their own direction. What I was hoping would be a brief stop turned into an hour-long excursion. They were astonished at the abundance and variety of products and goods. I finally found one of them, the Latvian woman. She was intently reading every label on every product with a look of sheer astonishment. I just didn’t have the heart to interrupt her. So I went off to see if I could find the others. Finally, I managed to round them all up, except for one. I finally found the last guy. I told him we needed to get going. But he just ignored me, saying “Yes, okay, okay.” Then he would disappear off to another aisle.

But I’m glad I had that hour with them at Target. It gave me a new appreciation for the things we so often take for granted. Many of my friends from the Baltics and Russia did not want to return to their respective homelands, despite the fact that had left behind family and friends. They desperately wanted to stay here in the United States. A number of them have since become naturalized citizens.

During that time, I had returned to college as an adult to study journalism. I was required to take 18 credit hours of a foreign language for my degree. I chose German, since their alphabet is similar to the English alphabet. My first German instructor was from the former East Germany. It was during this time that the Berlin Wall came down. We were all amazed. We never thought such a thing would occur in our lifetimes. In an effort to improve my German, I was attempting to read German magazines that endlessly covered the Wiedervereinigung des Deutschlands (Reunification of Germany). It was quite an event.

My first German instructor from East Germany was quite reserved, and quite formal as well.  She had a peculiar sadness about her. It was not easy to get her to open up about her own experiences. But I’ve always had somewhat of a knack for getting people to open up a bit.

After class one day, I approached her. I wanted to know more about her life in East Germany. All East German students were required to learn Russian. She told how when she was a young student in East Germany they were all constantly made to feel incredibly guilty and ashamed about the German role in the Second World War, despite the fact none of the children had anything to do with it. But the Soviets were always good at laying on a guilt trip. (Never mind their own sordid past.)

I could go on and on and on about the disturbing experiences and travails of the people I have known who lived under communist oppression. I’ve known quite a few, and still do. And it only solidified my lifelong belief that communism was evil. The individual means nothing under a communistic regime, only the “revolutionary struggle” matters. People be damned. They simply exist to serve the state. Period. And they are expendable—always for the “greater good,” of course.

It was around this time Bill Clinton was elected president. And I started to notice an uptick in vicious political rhetoric. As a matter of fact, I noticed that everything was seemingly becoming politicized at the time. And anybody who did not subscribe to the liberal worldview was painted as “extremist” and “reactionary.” Those two words are Marxian red flags to me. I found that greatly troubling. And when Hillary, et al., started shilling for socialized healthcare, I really became concerned as to what direction the Clinton regime was leading America.

During the same time, I recall meeting my mother for lunch one day. I asked how she was doing. She said, “I’m sick of politics. So I decided to buy a fashion magazine. I just wanted to read something nonpolitical. But halfway through the first article, it started focusing on Hillary Clinton.”  It was as if politics was interjecting itself into every facet of American life—culturally, socially and economically.

More Marxian red flags.

And then came the George W. Bush presidency. And I hope I don’t have to rehash for the reader all the tumult and political upheavals those years wrought. If I thought the Clinton years brought about a new and disconcerting level of political viciousness, the wheels seemed to come off the cart during the Bush years. The liberal press seemed to have a field day with all the constant Bush-bashing. And when the recount fiasco happened prior to Bush’s second term, my nerves were starting to become frazzled by it all. Something was very wrong, in my opinion.

By Bush’s second term, the vitriol and invective being hurled by the left was starting to reach such a crescendo that I could no longer bear it. The leftwingers were painting everyone who leaned even slightly to the right as the worst sorts of people who had ever lived on the face of the planet earth. It was ridiculous, and disturbing.

I couldn’t help but think of my grandparents, who both survived the Great Depression and the Second World War. They became Republicans under the heavy-handed reign of FDR. The feds would actually show up at their door to inspect their property to see if they were growing anything that should not be, according to the federal government. And, at that time, the feds would inspect items in their own home, asking questions like, “Where did you get that piece of furniture? Did you inherit it? Who did you inherit it from?”

That was the last straw for my Granddad.

Yet, according to the radical left, my dearly departed grandparents would be considered  “terrorists,” “suicide bombers,” “American Taliban,” “extremists,” “reactionaries,” “hostage takers,” ad nauseum. Well, it was off the backs of hardworking people like my grandparents and parents that the federal government obtains its revenue, yet they are vilified and demonized by the left.

Unfortunately, I felt I had no outlet to express my frustration and disgust. I wrote letters to the editor. I wrote my representatives. I wrote lots of letters. Rarely did I ever receive any kind of response. Once again, my anger started to grow into an almost militant fervor. I was fed up. This was the land of the free? What the hell went wrong?

The final straw for me came one night while listening to the vile rantings of a one Keith Olbermann when he was still with MSNBC. I wrote a terse and sternly worded—but not disrespectful, mind you—in response to one of Olbermann’s despicable rants against our military, and all conservatives in general, at his blog that was hosted at the MSNBC website.  When I submitted my comment, I received a message stating all comments are first reviewed before being posted. Of course, my comment was never posted.

Huh. Imagine that.

Now I was on the warpath.

But now I had a new tool available to me that I hadn’t existed before—namely, the internet and social media. This gave me the opportunity to engage directly with liberals and so-called “progressives.” Before the internet, I was relegated to “letters to the editor” and phone calls to my reps—which often times left me feeling like, “Oh, what’s the use!”

But even then, despite my outrage by all the invective spewing forth from the liberal media, I still tried to engage in measured and civil debate. But rarely was I shown the same courtesy by my liberal “friends.” Instead, I was usually confronted with simple ad hominem.

That’s when the gloves came off.

I’ll admit it. I can be pretty rough around the edges at times. I’m more comfortable hanging out at the jobsite telling dirty jokes and “lies” with the guys than I am in the boardroom. Although I have been in both worlds—meaning, white collar and blue collar world. But give me the “salt of the earth” types any day.  I love a person who is not afraid to stand up for themselves, and will hand it right back, if need be.

I have a salty mouth than can peel paint off the walls; I have a double-edged tongue that can slice some to pieces. I’ve made more than one person cry with my words alone. I’m not particularly proud of that, by the way. But, it is what it is. As for me? You can call me whatever you want. Trust me, I’ll sleep just fine.

But I have discovered that this doesn’t always go over well with some folks on my side of the political spectrum. And I can understand the sentiment … to a point. From time to time I’ve had some well-known conservative people start following me on Twitter, for example, then quickly unfollow me. Now, I can’t say what their reasons are for doing so. But I would suspect it has something to do with my approach toward dealing with certain distasteful individuals. But, in my defense, I only attack those who attack me. But I digress.

This issue is not altogether unfamiliar to me. I have a very off-the-wall sense of humor. I always have. I love humor. I love to laugh. And I’m known for my extremely dry and sarcastic wit among people who know me.

Of course, I’ve discovered this doesn’t always translate well over the internet. Humor can be a real hit or miss sort of thing. And I won’t deny that I’ve been out of line a time or two or three, etc. But I am willing to admit when I’m wrong; and have done so on more than one occasion. Of course, some people have no sense of humor and take themselves way too damn seriously. That’s just a fact. And I really don’t have much patience for those types, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they’re on.

Years ago I started a file of some of the most vile and hateful comments directed at me by liberals, and the like. It’s pretty lengthy now (lol). When I encounter a particularly nasty sort, I’ll simply refer to my file of hate and use their own words against them. Naturally, such vitriol can, at times, stun some of those on my side of the aisle.

And this where I have to return to the theme of this article: the man in the mirror. One of Saul Alinsky’s Power Tactics states that “a good strategy is one your people like.” That’s pretty sound advice, if you ask me, regardless of my disdain for Saul Alinsky. If what I’m doing is harming the cause, so to speak, then I’m obviously not helping and need to rethink my strategy, or find a different pursuit altogether. And don’t think I haven’t thought about throwing in the towel a few times.

For so many years I had so much pent up rage toward the radical left and their over-the-top, hyperbolic rhetoric directed at anyone who does not subscribe to their collectivist worldview that I thoroughly enjoyed trolling the leftist trolls. It was pure sport … give ’em a taste of their own medicine, I said. Besides, it sure beat watching television.

But, I must admit, I’ve learned a few things since my “trolling days.” The radical left uses some rather sophisticated tactics to move things toward their predetermined outcomes—for example, the Delphi Technique. In order to combat these sort of “group dynamics,” one must employ what I call “political jiu-jitsu.”

When I studied the martial art of jiu-jitsu years ago (I’m not an expert, by the way), the concept of “always calm” was constantly reinforced. In a real right, if you’re too angry, too panicked, or too scared, you might just start swinging wildly, or forget everything you’ve learned. And let’s face it, it’s hard to control the overwhelming emotions and fear one experiences in a real fight. The same concept applies to a political fight, in my opinion.

Trained group facilitators, i.e. change agents, trained in the art of Hegelian dialectics, and the like, seek out the hotheads and “knee-jerk reactionaries.” They just love it when you fall into their trap of tit-for-tat—which ends up going nowhere. And they’re also quite adept at making one look like an unreasonable buffoon when one reacts with simple rage.

A more sophisticated counter-strategy is needed to defuse their ploys. And it requires some study and research in order to combat the type of psyops being employed by the change agents against the unsuspecting “masses.” The best way to defend against those engaging in psychological warfare is to expose their process and strategy. I would go so far as to say it is the only way to defeat it.

With that being said, I’m still not beyond engaging in some very strong language from time to time. I doubt I’ll ever change. God knows I’ve tried. Perhaps it is a character defect. I’ll have to leave that judgement to others, and my God.

This is how I look at it: I believe the radical left has declared war on America. They absolutely seem to hate everything this nation stands for. Now, I’m not going to sit here and try and defend everything this nation has done. I don’t have the authority or the wisdom to pull off such a feat. But to hate everything about America? Come on!

One thing I’ve learned about the radical left is that they don’t wish to engage in civil debate or dialogue. Why? Because to do so is to humanize their enemy. Instead, the radical left wishes to demonize all those who disagree with them. That’s straight from the Alinsky playbook, by the way, ladies and gentlemen. And let’s get specific here. When I say radical left, I’m talking about socialists and communists, i.e Marxists. We can beat around the bush all day. But one must define the enemy before one can defeat them.

This is why I’ve been steadily losing my patience with some folks on my side of the political spectrum. Some of them just don’t seem to understand the nature of what it is they’re dealing with. The socialists and communists wish to turn this nation inside-out and upside down (see Antonio Gramsci). Now, tell me, are you going to be polite and gracious to individuals who actively are working night and day to threaten your very freedom and liberty? If you don’t care about yourself, how about your children? And their children?

Evans’ law of inadequate paranoia: “No matter how bad you think something is, when you look into it, it’s always worse.”

M. Stanton Evans

I’ve noticed something very disturbing in my own research regarding socialism and communism, and its influence in America. First, it goes way back in our historymuch farther than I had originally thought. Secondly, most staunch anti-communists are literally savaged by the liberal press, and by our “institutes of higher learning.”

I’m sorry, I cannot and will not “play nice” with people who are waging a virtual war on our nation to bring about some so-called “fundamental transformation” that appears to be torn straight out of the Communist Manifesto.

“If a group of honest men were to play poker, at which their lives were the stakes, with a group of known crooks determined to snuff out those lives, and were to concede to the crooks the privilege of cheating at every turn, while the honest men bound themselves by ethical standards and the rules of the game, the stupidity of the action would be beyond all understanding”

Robert Welch

There’s an important distinction that needs to be made, in my opinion, regarding the leftwing of the political spectrum. There is a difference between a liberal and a leftist radical, as defined by Saul Alinksy. Alinksy hated liberals because he thought they were “too honest.” Alinksy was all about power. That’s all that mattered to himgaining power, by any means necessary.

As misguided as some of us on the right may believe liberals to be, I do believe many of them truly want to do good. We just disagree on how to go about doing good, or even how we define “good.” I know that may surprise some to see me write such a thing. But the fact of the matter is I do know a few liberals that I consider friends.

For example, I have a good friend who describes his political views as “liberal.” But I know, at the end of the day, if he found me lying in the proverbial ditch, he would do everything he could to help me, and vice versa. I also know, at the end of day, he would not betray this nation. Our common interests in music and woodworking are why became good friends. And we’ve both decided to agree to disagree when it comes to politics. But the leftist radical would put me in the ditch and say, “Good riddance!” Now, that’s a big difference.

And this is where I’ve become completely fed up with the whole left-right paradigm. For isn’t it really just another Marxian division devised to sow the seeds of dissension where there really wasn’t any? To split us all straight down the middle, and then decry that we are a “nation divided”? Because, in reality, the leftist radicals who are sowing so much discord, crises and chaos (permanent revolution) in America usurp both the right and left, playing one off against the other for their own dialectical and diabolical purposes.

Consider the words of a card-carrying communist, who later became a vocal anti-communist, the late Dr. Bella V. Dodd:

In the days that have gone since we enunciated these statements so confidently I have had many occasions to see that this cataloging of people as either “right” or “left” has led to more confusion in American life than perhaps any other false concept. It sounds so simple and so right. By using this schematic device one puts the communists on the left and then one regards them as advanced liberals – after which it is easy to regard them as the enzyme necessary for progress. Communists usurp the position of the left, but when one examines them in the light of what they really stand for, one sees them as the rankest kind of reactionaries and communism as the most reactionary backward leap in the long history of social movements. It is one which seeks to obliterate in one revolutionary wave two thousand years of man’s progress.

Bella Dodd, School of Darkness

Bruce Lee taught that everybody has their own fighting style, whether they realize it or not. A six-foot-four, 240-pound man, in fantastic physical condition, is going to have a much different approach toward fighting than an out-of-shape, elderly male. It is what it is. But both can still fight, albeit with different styles, if they so determine. The same principle applies to a political fight, in my mind. I know what works for me. But I may not know what works for you. Of course, the question is, does our fighting styles actually benefit the cause of freedom and liberty, or hurt it? That is the question. And it’s a question I struggle with every day. I am not beyond reproach. That’s for sure.

But if you’re a person who wishes to destroy this country, and everything it was founded upon, in the hope that from destruction and revolution will come sort of Utopia that magically arises from the ashes … rest assured, I am your sworn enemy. And there will be no civil debate.


About Brent Parrish

Author, blogger, editor, researcher, graphic artist, software engineer, carpenter, woodworker, guitar shredder and a strict constitutionalist. Member of the Watcher's Council and the Qatar Awareness Campaign. I believe in individual rights, limited government, fiscal responsibility and a strong defense. ONE WORD: FREEDOM!
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