So, I just watched this movie (based on a comic book) that’s all about The Great Game, that paradigm of self-actualization through world domination promoted by fantasy author Voxxx Day. In this movie, a gamma-type guy uses 1940s screwball comedy cartoons as a template for expressing godlike powers of romance and mischief-making, thus overcoming a criminal alpha guy and winning the blonde siren away from him.
This movie is so full of mythopoetic masculinism, it’s like a whirlwind lesson in Game from Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Bugs Bunny, Pepe LePew, Dionysus, Eric Weber, Don Giovanni, and Charlie Sheen. In other words, it has all of the essential elements of Gaming. Some Masters of Game would charge you hundreds of dollars for the lessons you can get from this movie.
There are a couple of scenes before his transformation where manipulative females take advantage of him, as well as scenes afterwards where he uses his newfound powers to manipulate male authority figures. There is the requisite wingman and a faithful dog. There’s even the mask from a god-alpha which the gamma “tries on” until his inner transformation is effected, at which point the mask is discarded.
Oh yeah, here he is, the iconic Alpha Hound Dog:
It doesn’t get any better than that, if you want to be a 1970s lounge lizard sleazeball with comic book superpowers. That pretty much sums up my opinion of “Game.”
Now then, I don’t mean to denigrate the self-help industry, the men’s movement, or the Hamster Theory of female motivation. I think they all have their place. It’s just that I think that place is somewhere in the talking segments of a cheap 1980s frat-boy comedy.
The psychoanalytic aspect of the discussions is kind of interesting, if you insert citations to B.F. Skinner, Edward Bernays, and Larry Flynt. The feminist complaint against it is disingenuous, and therefore entertaining to read about. The evolutionary psychology aspect is a pathetic post hoc rationalization, like everything else in evo-psych; but it is also entertaining to watch fake science pile up fake evidence.
The worst part about Gamesters is the ambience of their anonymous gatherings, which closely resemble 12-step groups for sex addicts. Yeah, I suppose it’s good for them to help each other out, but rubbing shoulders with them is kind of creepy, and the slime just doesn’t wash off with the first try. I think that with a little more flamboyance, they could at least make a clever screwball comedy.
Their Rat Pack house, “Project Hollywood”, sinks into its creepy overgrown adolescent filth.
On page 406, Mystery’s mother says his problems are caused by his low self-esteem. Strauss reflects: “Only a mother could reduce a person’s entire ambition and raison d’etre to the one basic insecurity fuelling it all.”
Using the internet, they create a fetishistic, acronym-heavy jargon.
… a set of behavior modifications that draws in equal measure from 1970’s hypno-psychology and Dungeons and Dragons …
But he does come to perceive one curious thing about the P.U.A.’s: They seem far more interested in spending time with fellow P.U.A.’s, amassing, refining and discussing the game, than actually getting to know women. Call them S.L.B.’s (scared little boys).
The jargon … terms were taken by Mystery from the film Top Gun, in an apparently unconscious tribute to that film’s fervid atmosphere of homoerotic competition. … This is a kind of group masturbation, the real goal of psychosexual release coming when the man is once more safely removed from the company of women.
One student tells Strauss that he loves to learn a new routine because it is like acquiring “a new spell” in Dungeons and Dragons, “that I can’t wait to use”.
The “game” appeals to the mindset that supposes everything can be reduced to a technology, a program to follow. “Think of tonight as a video game,” Mystery instructs his students before taking them out sarging. And so it attracts the kind of men who are super-analytical but interpersonally hobbled. As Strauss wryly notes of the eventual population of the dream Los Angeles seduction house: “The point was women; the result was men. Instead of models in bikinis lounging by the Project Hollywood pool all day, we had pimply teenagers, bespectacled businessmen, tubby students, lonely millionaires, struggling actors, frustrated taxi drivers, and computer programmers – lots of computer programmers.” The sell is that, with the special techniques they learn from Mystery and other gurus, the ubergeeky can often give a convincing simulation of being a regular human being, even if, like one sarger in this book, they are in fact near-sociopaths.
And so most of The Game, ostensibly a narrative of daredevil sexuality, is actually shrouded in a depressing odour of stale male sweat.
Game, as it currently exists, is a qualitative subject rather than a quantitative one. That qualitative narrative bumps up uncomfortably against the hard data available, so the latter is either minimized or dismissed outright. . . .
Propitiously, the GSS has a great question that, according to the Game narrative, gets right at a crucial distinction between alphas and betas: Alphas do not put the objects of their affection before themselves, while betas do.
The question asks the respondent if he agrees with the statement that he would rather suffer himself than have a woman he is in a relationship with suffer. Being openly willing to suffer for a lover is clearly the mark of a beta. If you’re engaged in pumping-and-dumping, the girl is in the process of suffering for your pleasure even as the GSS question is being considered. Your answer is obvious. . . .
Alphas are disproportionately non-white (especially black), non-religious, unmarried, liberal, Democratic, childless, bar-goers who have been with a lot of women–in short, the glue that holds Western Civilization together! The good news for the ladies is that demographic trends portend more alphas and fewer betas in the future. Tingle tingle!
Mohammed was the dominant alpha male in his society. Mohammed was the quintessential alpha male. His unlimited polygamy, his monopoly on the use of force to dominate others, his monopoly on divine revelation, his claim of special powers not given to others, such as superhuman eloquence (Sahih Bukhari 9,87,127), his claim of 20% of all the plunder stolen in raids … all expressed and reinforced his alpha-ness.
We see alpha male behavior throughout the animal kingdom, for instance, in a troop of baboons or a pride of lions. Everyone around the alpha male is subservient to him and exists only to satisfy his urges and to comply with his demands. Of course, the underlings in the group must constantly show the alpha male respect and ‘honor’, otherwise the alpha male will growl, bare his teeth and bite if necessary, even to the extent of killing to restore his honor. Political Islam works the same way. The Muslim response to disrespect towards Islam is one of the most visible signs of this alpha male instinct to defend ‘honor’ through violence.
The alpha male in Islam is under no obligation to give anything to or help the ‘other’ outside his immediate group-in any way, shape or form–but only to protect those within his group. The Golden Rule has no place in the animal kingdom, or in Islam. Violence is their mechanism of survival.
In Muslim society, the Muslim alpha male respects only another Muslim alpha male and only if he can demonstrate that he has everything under control; otherwise he will be despised. The non-Muslim is at the bottom of the hierarchy and is treated with the utmost contempt. Kafirs are dirty subhumans to a Muslim. The kafir is similar to an animal that has no right to graze the land or drink at the water-hole…an animal, whose only right is to be preyed upon for food. This is the meat of Islamic morals.
Jewish ethics are based on the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, but Mohammed brought a new theocracy based on the primacy of the alpha male. Allah substituted the Arabs for their Jewish cousins… not on the basis of ethics…but on the Arabs’ ability to act like alpha males.
The Ten Commandments were tossed out and were replaced by Mohammed’s ‘alpha-ness’. Islamic Sharia law is based on the alpha-ness of Mohammed. An action is ‘good’, not because God said so on a table of stone, but because Mohammed did so…from stabbing his verbal critics, to raping war captives, to genocide, to plundering unarmed caravans.
Mohammed dispensed with the Golden Rule and most of the Ten Commandments, since they were incompatible with his opportunistic ethics…the survival of the fittest…the supremacism of ‘the best of people’ (i.e. the Arabs), whom Mohammed conscripted to usurp the Israelites, Persians and Romans as the new alphas on the world stage.
Mohammed’s world is a theocratic dictatorship in which human behavior is motivated by the desire to dominate on the part of those who are allowed to, and fear on the part of those who are selected to be dominated…the dirty kafirs (‘najis kufar’ in Arabic).
Soul-searching is an alien concept in Mohammedan supremacism. In Mohammed’s society, there is no need for self-evaluation or self-criticism, apart from asking whether the alpha male is getting his rightful share and his due respect. There is no need for any Muslim to evaluate his behavior beyond this point. The dominance of the Islamic male is proof of Allah’s support for Islam, thus, the more domineering a Muslim is, the more Allah is seen to support him.
If a Muslim bows to the narcissism of Mohammed or to that of his Islamic head of state, he is ethical enough. Giving to ‘others’, without being forced to do so, is seen as a sign of weakness unfitting for the alpha male. What generally distinguishes the alpha male is his opportunism. Opportunism is the opposing principle to the Golden Rule. With no Golden Rule, Islam is intrinsically opportunistic. . . .
In the Islamic paradise, it is the most aggressive alpha males who receive the highest rewards. (cf. K. 9:111)
All in all, we require no message from an Arabian moon god to reveal alpha male behavior to us. Alpha behavior is well known in much of the animal kingdom, as well as in criminal enterprises … such as biker gangs … and in fascist politicians who impose their cult of personality on vulnerable populations.
Much of current Islamic rage takes place at the inchoate, psychological level of alpha male narcissism. Alpha behaviors such as honor-killings and cartoon riots defend the ‘honor’, misogyny and supremacism that Muslim males have a vested interest in maintaining.
Human beings are not wolves. We’re not even pack hunters anymore. Modern society has no place for an alpha, a beta, or anything resembling a carnivorous predatory social structure. “Alpha” is just a positive-sounding synonym for “asshole,” and it is not an acceptable excuse for behaving like a cocksock, because the sad reality is, there is never an excuse for behaving like a cocksock. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were? If there were some social theory, psychological disorder, or gypsy curse you could use to excuse your off-putting behavior? It sure would. But there never has been, and there never will be. It was all a giant lie sold to you by Big Energy to trick you into a mild stimulant addiction, an untruth you received free with every three-pack of TapouT shirts.
I understand why it seems reasonable at first. What is an alpha male if not a beloved antihero, a Wolverine or Han Solo type? Did you agree with that statement? You shouldn’t have. It was a trick. See, the alpha mentality slipped through our cultural defenses on the back of an actual truth: Confidence and, yes, even cockiness is attractive.
Here’s the difference: An alpha male embraces the label because he secretly suspects that he might be a face full of dicks and he needs a way to spin that into a positive thing. A confident man would shun the very concept of labels because he knows that that’s the shit insecure people use to feel accepted. The very second you open your mouth to self-identify as “alpha,” you’re admitting that you’re too insecure to face life alone and on your own terms. You’re giving everybody who speaks to you a disclaimer: “I’m going to be a dick to you, and here’s why it’s OK and you still have to like me.” A truly confident man would never give enough of a shit to make that statement.
The Natural Alpha!
Israel Keyes. Izzy or Iz to friends and family. A man who took pride in his craftsmanship. A doting father of a little girl. Honorably discharged after serving in the army. A live-in boyfriend. A first-born son. Big brother to seven siblings. A little brother to one sister. A hard worker. A man raised and homeschooled in the secluded forest of north-east Washington, who left the woods to become a traveler, both throughout the country as well as internationally. Intelligent and observant. He stood 6’2, with a muscular frame from running marathons, biking, and working his job as a general contractor. He had dark, curly hair. A pleasant laugh and a friendly smile. He spoke with a soft voice and was shy around new people. He loved Rob Zombie and Quentin Tarantino films and though he preferred heavy metal rock music, he also loved Ace of Base. He was a small business owner who was reliable and communicative. A man with a good reputation, highly regarded by all who knew him. . . .
Israel Keyes. A “force of pure evil, acting at random,” according to the U.S. Attorney for Vermont, Tristam Coffin. He shivered with adrenaline when recounting his crimes. “He liked what he was doing. He talked about getting a rush out of it, the adrenaline, the excitement,” said FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden. . . .
From the time he is a child, Israel knows he is different than everyone around him. “He described that he had a fairly normal childhood and this was a proclivity that he always had, enjoying watching things suffer,” says Frank Russo. (6) “Everyone keeps looking for a push point where this guy went sideways, but in my view it seemed like he was born this way. At some point he realized he was different. He always thought other people were pretending to be nice to other people and then he realized at some point only he was pretending.” (7) Anchorage Police Officer Monique Doll says, “Israel Keyes didn’t kidnap and kill people because he was crazy. He didn’t kidnap and kill people because his deity told him to or because he had a bad childhood. Israel Keyes did this because he got an immense amount of enjoyment out of it, much like an addict gets an immense amount of enjoyment out of drugs. In a way, he was an addict, and he was addicted to the feeling that he got when he was doing this.” (8) . . .
Keyes is reluctant to speak in depth about his crimes to begin with, out of concern for how it would reflect on his family, in particularly his little girl. “He was very conscious of his daughter Googling him years from now and having to deal with the fallout from this. This is a guy who really cared about his family.” says Frank Russo. (7)
He tells investigators, “I’m not in this for the glory. I’m not trying to be on the t.v.” (93) When pressed for more details, he tells them, “I’m not a person who’s gonna be bullied. And I’m not – at this point, I don’t care. There’s not anything they can threaten me with, or say to me, or take away from me, or give to me – except for what I want – that’s gonna make me do what they want.” (93)
Manson was thirty-five years of age, and had no college education. He was an extroverted, persuasive individual who served as absolute ruler of the group marriage commune. What he sanctioned was approved by the rest of the group, but what he disapproved was forbidden.
For some perverse reason, prisoner Manson has become something of a folk hero to some young people. He actually receives fan letters every day from people who oddly identify with him, or feel the convicted murderer is somehow “misunderstood.” . . . Manson himself has boasted of being responsible for more than 35 murders.
Within months of the Tate-LaBianca arrests, Manson was embraced by underground newspapers of the 1960s counterculture from which the Family had emerged. . . . Manson has been a presence in fashion, graphics, music, and movies, as well as on television and the stage. In an afterword composed for the 1994 edition of the non-fiction Helter Skelter, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi quoted a BBC employee’s assertion that a “neo-Manson cult” existing then in Europe was represented by, among other things, approximately 70 rock bands playing songs by Manson and “songs in support of him.”
The murders perpetrated by members of Charles Manson’s “Family” were inspired in part by Manson’s prediction of Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war he believed would arise from tension over racial relations between blacks and whites. . . . In its final form, which was reached by mid-February 1969, the scenario had Manson as not only the war’s ultimate beneficiary but its musical cause. . . . In this holocaust, the members of the enlarged Family would have little to fear; they would wait out the war in a secret city that was underneath Death Valley that they would reach through a hole in the ground. As the only actual remaining whites upon the race war’s true conclusion, they would emerge from underground to rule the now-satisfied blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running the world. . . .
The Sultan of Brunei recently announced the implementation of Sharia law in his tiny South Asian nation:
“Theory states that Allah’s law is cruel and unfair,” said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, “but Allah himself has said that his law is indeed fair.”
Under Sharia law, the following is considered criminal behavior, punishable by fines, jail, amputation of limbs, public flogging or death by stoning: absence from Friday prayer services; becoming pregnant out of wedlock; wearing indecent clothing, and for women, refusal to wear a hijab; employing a non-Muslim baby sitter; the use of the word “Allah” by Christians and the discussion of faith by any non-Muslims; publicly eating or drinking during Ramadan; theft; homosexuality; and adultery. . . .
So, why now?
“Who knows?” says Reza Aslan, religious scholar and author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” “This is obviously not coming from a place of religious devotion, since the Sultan himself is in violation of every single rule of Sharia law you could possibly imagine.”
Indeed, the Sultan and his equally decadent brother, Prince Jefri, were dubbed “constant companions in hedonism” in 2011 by Vanity Fair. He lives in a palace with 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, five swimming pools, a mosque, a banquet hall that holds 5,000 people and a 110-car garage. When he turned 50, the Sultan built a stadium, invited Michael Jackson to perform in it and paid him $17 million for three concerts.
Jefri, 59, maintains a separate pleasure palace and once owned a 152-foot yacht called Tits; he named its tenders Nipple 1 and Nipple 2, and could never understand why others often found that juvenile and crass. Here and abroad, the brothers are infamous for their sex parties and their harems composed mainly of underage girls. . . .
In one way, the brothers adhere to Islamic law: As prescribed, each has several wives and families. But everything else they do is in defiance of the Koran and the law they’ve just imposed.
“It’s a radical double standard,” says Jillian Lauren, who wrote about her life as a member of Jefri’s harem in her memoir, “Some Girls.” “They have more money than anyone else. I know that they both have been married and divorced multiple times. It’s really hypocritical.”
. . .
In the palace, none of the girls was ever exposed to news about Brunei, and the media there is state-run.
According to a 2013 report issued by the independent watchdog organization Freedom House, journalists face up to three years in jail for “reporting ‘false and malicious’ news.”
Any criticism of the Sultan or the royal family is also criminal, and the government retains the right to shut down any media outlet they like. As for the Web, only 60 percent of the population has access, and it’s both restricted and monitored.“On the international market, they can do whatever they want,” says Aslan. “Maybe the Sultan has had some great spiritual awakening — but I doubt it, because he’d do what the Koran says and give away all his money.”
Perhaps the prime motivator for the Sultan’s decree is control: maintaining power, privilege and personal excess at the expense of his country, without his countrymen’s knowledge. Tellingly, he called Islam a “firewall” against globalization — despite the all-too-worldly life he leads.
Sayyid’s conversations revolve around the three fundamental forces in his world, which are women, money, and garbage. Often these things are closely connected. In the beginning, it was Sayyid’s father’s unquenchable passion for women that led to his son becoming a zabal. Sayyid’s father worked as a watchman on the outskirts of Cairo, where he embarked on a rapid series of marriages and divorces. All told, he went through nine wives, or ten if you count the Christian woman he married briefly before Sayyid’s mother. Nobody seems to know how many children he fathered, but it was too many to support, and he died when Sayyid was six. As a boy, Sayyid never attended a single day of school, and by the age of eleven he was working full time as an assistant to zabaleen.
Despite this difficult childhood, Sayyid speaks fondly of his parents. And in his ancestral village in Upper Egypt residents remember his father in almost mythical terms. They say that at heart he was a true Arab, a Bedouin, a man of the Sahara; and thus he was fated to restlessness. The villagers also make it clear that they don’t count the Christian wife.
. . .
Sometimes he mentioned the possibility of divorce, which has little stigma for male Muslims in Egypt. One of Sayyid’s older brothers had recently divorced for the second time and now was searching for a third wife. “You keep one for a while and then you change,” the brother had told me, when we met at the sebou. “It’s like changing a tire on a car.”
. . .
In Sayyid’s extended family, most women wear the niqab, but the reason seems to be more cultural than strictly religious. It’s a point of pride and possession for the men—Sayyid says that his wife wears it because she’s beautiful, and if she shows her face in the street she’ll be coveted by strangers and harassed. And other traditions serve to control women in more explicit ways. One evening, Sayyid and I were watching my twin daughters play in the garden, and he asked casually if I planned to have them circumcised. I looked at the girls—they were all of three years old—and said no, this wasn’t something we intended to do. The majority of Egyptian women have undergone the surgery, which opponents describe as genital mutilation. Since 2008, it’s been illegal, but many people continue to have it performed on daughters, usually when they’re between the ages of nine and twelve. In Egypt, Islamists are the biggest supporters of the procedure, which, among other effects, makes intercourse less pleasurable for a woman. But in fact this tradition is not mentioned in the Koran, and Muslims in most parts of the world don’t practice it. Originally, it was a tribal custom native to many parts of Africa.
I asked Sayyid if he planned to have the surgery performed on his daughter, and he nodded. “Otherwise, women are crazy for dakar,” he said, using a word that means “male.” “They’ll be running around outside the house, chasing men.”
For traditionally minded Egyptians, this is a common view: desire should be limited to males, who do what they can to heighten it. All those sex drugs in the garbage of Zamalek aren’t an anomaly—in Egypt, I’ve had a number of casual conversations in which the topic turns to sex, and a man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pill, to show that he’s prepared.
. . .
Finally, a neighbor in Ard al-Liwa organized a traditional reconciliation session involving members of Sayyid’s and Wahiba’s families. At the session, the neighbor gave Sayyid a piece of advice. “If your wife asks for a penny,” he said, “give her two.”
“Why should I give her two pennies?” Sayyid asked.
“Because the man with three pennies is standing outside your house.”
Afterward, Sayyid was optimistic. When I asked how his sister and Wahiba had got along at the meeting, Sayyid seemed surprised by the question. “They weren’t there,” he said. “Women aren’t allowed at a reconciliation.” He explained that it’s impossible to control them in such a situation. “They have long tongues, and they insult people,” he said. “There would be a fight.”
. . .
He explained that by law Wahiba needed her husband’s permission to work, because the papers described her as a housewife. “In Islamic Sharia, the woman is like an egg,” he said. “Let’s say you have ten eggs. Where would you put them? Would you just leave them lying around? No, you’d put them in the proper place, in the refrigerator. Women belong at home. They can go out of the house with their husband’s permission, but that’s it.”
. . .
I had always liked talking with Sayyid, because of his eye for detail in Zamalek, but I noticed that he rarely said anything specific about his wife. She was crazy, he often told me, and her mind was a lock—a phrase that describes ignorance and stubbornness. But sometimes I wondered if she was almost as mysterious to him as she was to me. In his description, the woman was completely blank, as faceless as a figure in a shroud. And all the skill that Sayyid showed in Zamalek—his insight and flexibility, his ability to interact and negotiate with so many different people—seemed to evaporate when he was dealing with his wife. She was, quite simply, terrifying. And from the male perspective this seemed true of Egyptian women in general, whether they were starting fights, or chasing dakar, or intimidating Azhar judges.
I never knew why Wahiba became so angry. Sayyid blamed money, which seemed unlikely. A couple of his neighbors told me the real problem was that Sayyid spent too much time in Zamalek, cultivating his relationships, while Wahiba was stuck with three small kids in the ashwa’iyat. But it was impossible to know for certain, just as it was impossible to know why she suddenly dropped her cases. After all the lawyers and statements, and all the threatening messages, at the last moment Wahiba backed out. She decided not to file for divorce, and she quit her factory job, and Sayyid went home to Ard al-Liwa as if nothing had happened.
. . .
Still, they survived. The circle kept turning. The garbage vanished from the fire escape every morning. At night, Sayyid periodically stopped by my apartment to drink beer and chat. After he was gone, Leslie sometimes asked, “Is it really possible that they’re together again?” But he looked so much healthier and happier than he had during the winter. And he was back to taking tramadol on Thursday nights, which had to mean something.
George Jackson was 12 when he carried out his first mugging. At 15, he was locked up in juvenile detention, escaped, was arrested again after knifing a man, escaped again, was recaptured, received parole, and then, after one final arrest in 1961 for a gas-station stickup just before his 19th birthday, spent the rest of his life behind bars. There he thrived, because he was more ruthless, cruel, and violent than anyone his fellow inmates had ever seen. “And you want to know why he was what dumbass people call a prison leader?” one of them later reflected to Burrough. “‘Cause everyone else was shit-scared of him.”
Liberals ended up lionizing Jackson. In January 1970, during a brawl between white and black prisoners at Soledad penitentiary, a white guard intervened on the side of the whites via four well-placed rifle shots—“justifiable homicide,” the grand jury ruled. Jackson led the gang that avenged the three deaths by throwing a rookie guard off a third-floor railing. The lawyer defending Jackson from the gas chamber, Fay Stender, fell in love with him, as she had with an earlier client, Huey Newton. As part of her public-relations efforts, she arranged for a collection of Jackson’s prison letters to be published as Soledad Brother (excising some, however, like the missive in which he speculated about the possibility of poisoning Chicago’s water supply). Jean Genet was enlisted to write the preface. In between the book’s conception and its publication, Jackson’s brother Jonathan led an armed raid on a Marin County courthouse, taking hostages in a bid to negotiate George’s freedom and, in a shoot-out with police, blowing a judge’s face off with a shotgun allegedly provided by the recently fired UCLA professor Angela Davis. A sensation was born.
The New York Times Book Review assigned Soledad Brother to the Black Power radical Julius Lester. Lester—who, in a column syndicated the previous year in underground newspapers, had applauded a sniper who’d cut down “known enemies of the black community” from a rooftop in East St. Louis as the moral equivalent of the Vietcong—praised Jackson’s book because it would make whites nostalgic “for the good old days when all they had to think about was Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown.” (The newspaper of record appreciatively subtitled the essay “Black rage to live.”) Christopher Lehmann-Haupt’s review in the daily Times was hardly less appreciative. The Book Review subsequently ran an interview with Jackson by Jessica Mitford, and later named Soledad Brother one of their notable books of the year. The New York Times Magazine profiled Jackson; the columnist Anthony Lewis praised him. After Jackson was cut down while attempting to take over a cell block (“The dragon has come!” he roared), 2,000 people attended his funeral. “During the services,” Burrough notes, “the Weather Underground detonated bombs in protest,” and San Quentin officials steeled themselves for what they feared would be an armed invasion.
The fawning coverage of Jackson in the Times continued, and Soledad Brother began appearing in anthologies. Autre temps, autre moeurs.
. . .
Consider the reaction of Soledad Brother’s editor, Gregory Armstrong, upon meeting George Jackson: “Everything about him is flashing and shining and glistening and his body seems to ripple like a cat’s. As he moves forward to take my hand, I literally feel myself being pulled into the vortex of his energy. There is no way I can look away. He gives me a radiant smile of sheer sensual delight, the kind of smile you save for someone you really love.” Stender’s largely female public-relations cadres, according to an observer quoted by Burrough, “each picked their favorite Soledad brother and were kind of ooh-ing and ah-ing over them,” as if with John, Paul, George, and Ringo five years earlier. “This was the revolution, baby,” recalled one lawyer to the underground, Elizabeth Fink—who was honorably self-critical in interviews with Burrough—“and they were the fighters.”
God’s Own Alphas
[Flaim]: I’ve done a lot of school in the past, I know kids. Unfortunately, there are some kids looking for care and love because they haven’t got any at home and maybe they find for themselves a priest that could be tempted.
[interviewer]: So, you actually mean that most of the time it’s because of the kid’s fault?
[Flaim]: Yes, most of the time.
A seemingly endless list of rules—both written and unwritten—grew and multiplied. Men were to wear jackets and ties and close-cropped hair. Women were to wear skirts that covered the knee. Trisha LaCroix, who attended Hyles-Anderson College, says that she was disowned by her parents—First Baptist members both—in part for daring to wear pants. Rock music was out, of course, as was any music with a syncopated beat. “Even Southern gospel music was sick and sinful and of the devil,” says Busby.
The Bible was to be interpreted literally and by Hyles alone. According to his reading, men ruled absolutely. “The belief was that women needed to be in complete and total submission to their husbands and to male leadership,” says a former member who requested that she not be named. (She left the church in 2010 after her husband, a prominent member of the congregation, was caught having sexual relationships with underage girls.)
If a man did “stumble”—having an affair, say, or visiting prostitutes or abusing children—the question wasn’t how he could have but rather what the woman, or the child, did to drive him to such sin, some former church members say. “They have a system where abusers and pedophiles can flourish, because you can’t challenge the men,” opines one. “You have to submit 100 percent of the time, and whenever anything goes wrong in a marriage, it’s because the woman didn’t do enough.”
Hyles, meanwhile, exerted extreme control over every aspect of his flock’s lives—control that members say they welcomed because they believed it was divinely inspired. “I used to joke that people would not rearrange their living room furniture without help from Brother Hyles,” says Jerry Kaifetz, a former teacher at First Baptist’s Pastors’ School who left the church around 1990.
The true believers of the ultrafundamentalist Independent Baptist movement were accustomed to Schaap’s style. If he wasn’t scolding his flock for not living up to God’s demands (tithing, volunteering, “soul winning”), he was delivering R-rated sermons that, for example, likened the Lord’s Supper to having sex with Jesus Christ. “He would just repeatedly talk about sex and repeatedly talk about women, how they were dressed and body parts . . . in graphic detail,” recalls Tom Brennan, who attended the church for six years and is now an Independent Baptist pastor at Maplewood Bible Baptist Church in Chicago.
Unfortunately, it went well beyond talk. Last September, Schaap, 54, a married father of two, pleaded guilty to taking a 16-year-old girl he was counseling at First Baptist across state lines to have sex. Denied bond, he awaits sentencing in the Porter County Jail; the minimum term is ten years.
But Schaap is not simply one of those rogue evangelists who thunders against the evils of forbidden sex while indulging in it himself. According to dozens of current and former church members, religion experts, and historians interviewed by Chicago—plus a review of thousands of pages of court documents—he is part of what some call a deeply embedded culture of misogyny and sexual and physical abuse at one of the nation’s largest churches. Multiple websites tracking the First Baptist Church of Hammond have identified more than a dozen men with ties to the church—many of whom graduated from its college, Hyles-Anderson, or its annual Pastors’ Schools—who fanned out around the country, preaching at their own churches and racking up a string of arrests and civil lawsuits, including physical abuse of minors, sexual molestation, and rape.
It is a culture, past and present members say, enabled by cover-ups and cultlike control. For example, after Schaap’s conviction, many church members blamed his victim as a temptress. “We were taught to not question and to take the ‘man of God’s’ [Schaap’s] word over everything,” says Julie Silvestrone Busby, a former First Baptist member who now hosts a Christian radio show in Iowa. She left the church after alleging that Schaap behaved inappropriately during marriage counseling sessions in 2004 through 2009.
Bacha bāzī (Persian: بچه بازی, literally “playing with boys”; from بچه bacha, “child”, and بازی bāzī, “game”) is a slang term in Afghanistan for a wide variety of activities that involve pedophilia. The perpetrator is commonly called Bacha Baz (meaning “pedophile” in Persian). It may include to some extent child pornography, sexual slavery and child prostitution in which prepubescent and adolescent boys are sold to wealthy or powerful men for entertainment and sexual activities. Bacha bazi has existed throughout history, and is currently reported in various parts of Afghanistan. Force and coercion are a common component of this abuse, and security officials state they are unable to end it because many of the men involved in bacha bazi-related activities are powerful and well-armed warlords including former Northern Alliance commanders.