Spies Among Us?

In January of this year FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphim leaked a document originating out the Richmond, Virginia field office that attempted to draw connections between “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists” and “Radical Traditional Catholics” i.e. those Catholics who attend the traditional Latin mass. The public blowback over the report’s existence was intense, as Catholics were not only incensed (and confused) at being equated with domestic terrorists but also because the “intelligence” report relied on the thoroughly discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a source for what constituted a “hate group.” Seraphim himself pointed out that, “We got briefings that the SPLC was not legitimate when I was at Quantico,” and thus the report was rescinded by the FBI shortly after.

While the FBI went into damage control and "quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document” many Catholics and online commentators legitimately wondered if there were similar memos out there that had not been leaked. Furthermore, was it just the memo that was rescinded or was the program, plan, or intention that created the memo in the first place also rescinded or rethought? Well, we now know the answer is no.

The chair of the Committee on the Judiciary oversight of the FBI Jim Jordan and committee member Mike Johnson sent a total of two letters to FBI Director Christopher Wray for further clarification on this issue. What they got back was an 18-page report, which stated that the FBI may have been engaging in a “Type 5 Assessment” and that the earlier rescinded report had relied “on information derived from at least one undercover employee” which the FBI was attempting develop into “new avenues for tripwire and source development.” In this case, a “Type 5 Assessment” means that the agents do not have to reveal their real identities and are even “allowed to deny that they are affiliated with law enforcement.” A “tripwire” is an out of the ordinary action or communication that would lead someone in the intel community to believe that a terrorist act is being planned or about to be enacted. Thus, what appears to have been taking place is that FBI agents had reached out to an employee at a church (in this case an SSPX chapel in the Richmond area) and tried to court them into becoming an informant for the FBI.

This of course resulted in further public outrage as Richmond’s bishop Barry Knestout released a statement saying that, “If evidence of extremism exists, it should be rooted out...but a preference for traditional forms of worship and holding closely to the Church's teachings on marriage, family, human sexuality, and the dignity of the human person does not equate with extremism.” Later Sen. Josh Hawley questioned AG Merrick Garland about whether the FBI was “cultivating sources and spies in Latin Mass parishes and other Catholic parishes around the country?” Garland simply replied that they were not and that he was going to launch an investigation into the matter.

Thus for the time being this issue, and the concern (bordering on anger) it has engendered among Latin mass Catholics (or all other Christians for that matter) remains unaddressed. After all, whatever is done to sort out this issue will rely on the Agency’s credibility, which is pretty low to a lot of Americans right now. Just ask Mark Houck who was nabbed by the FBI during the day while the Ruth Sent Us vandals run free by night. Moreover, if the FBI has indeed dropped the SPLC as a source to define hate groups, then what other benchmark are they using to judge their intended targets. Who is making that call? Joe Biden? Merrick Garland? The head of the FBI? Individual agents? Again, given how federal law enforcement agencies have recently spent their time going after soft and politically-expedient targets, Catholics and everyone else who might find themselves in this administration’s sights should remain wary of the rights and freedoms.

Uber Mensch are Now Made in China

One of the channels I follow on YouTube is Black Pigeon Speaks (or his second channel Felix Rex). Run by an American expat living in Japan, but who has travelled all over Southeast Asia, his channel is a mix of commentary on culture, music, and politics. What I like about the channel is how he often cites news sources or academic works that come out of the Orient, ones which many a Western mind may find strange and even what could properly be called “xenophobic.” In other words, his commentary is a great place to be humbled by the fact that there are billions of people on the other side of the globe who think very differently on ideas that most of us take for granted.

In a recent video, he begins by talking about the touchy subject of IQ and how on average it has been declining in the West because of the rather sardonic fact that “advances in medicine and nutrition mean that people with low IQ’s can have more children survive into adulthood.” This has resulted in some scientists pushing for more research in what is termed “repo genetics” which deals with manipulating and thereby improving the genetic makeup of humans, and in particular human embryos.

In 2015 it was reported that Chinese scientists succeeded in genetically modifying human embryos in an attempt to eliminate the “the fatal blood disorder thalassaemia.” However, the reason you probably didn’t hear anything about this was because no scientific journal would publish the results on ethical grounds and researchers around the world have called for China to “rein in” its “Wild West” genetic engineering programs. In fact, in 2018 a Chinese scientist named He Jiankue (who was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 200 most influential people of 2019) was arrested and jailed for three years for allegedly creating the world’s first gene-edited babies, a set of identical twins that were supposedly brought to term. The Chinese government is keeping all of the information, as well as the babies under close and secret scrutiny.

Nevertheless, despite the outrage in China and around the world over this incident, it seems that now that the “deed has been done” so to speak, the reluctance to engage in this sort of eugenics has diminished in the U.S. as a bioethics panel has given the “yellow light” to human embryo editing in certain circumstances. Furthermore, China’s outrage over Jiankue’s experiment seems to have subsided enough by 2020 when they initiateda genetic program to develop high IQ individuals and so-called “super soldiers” who will not experience pain or fear. Thus it appears that the future of humanity, which has been the stuff of science fiction, is now upon us.

I was in college when “Dolly” the sheep became the first animal to be cloned and then later I watched the drive to map the human genome which was completed in 2003. During all that time there was a robust conversation about using science to help humanity thrive by eradicating “devastating inherited diseases” and turning our acquired genetic knowledge into a vanity project that would lead to “designer babies” that the rich and powerful can buy “with built-in genetic advantages.” At the time there was still enough of a Christian worldview left in the West that still saw human beings as something unique. Even if the culture as a whole didn’t use the language of being made in God’s image, deep down there was still a sense that there was something wrong about creating humans in our own image. Now it would seem that those days are gone.

China, whose deeply-rooted culture has a very different opinion on the value of any one individual human life, is now fully committed to developing their own Uber Mensch and the world now seems ready to be follow along. Granted there is place to for legitimate and ethical research in genetics such as the pioneering work done on Down Syndrome by Venerable Jérôme Lejeune. Nonetheless, as the Black Pigeon video says once we go down this road there is no “getting the genetic genie back into the bottle” and there will always be the risk of future discoveries being used for nefarious or diabolical purposes. After all, if you can use genetics to make stronger and smarter people, you can also use it to create Under Mensch i.e. weaker and dumber people who, unlike the so-called “low IQ” people of today who are still free to chose and thrive, would be engineered for subservience.

We would run the risk of becoming a world like the one in the 1997 movie Gattica with “Valids” who are afforded all the power, prestige, and privilege in life and the “Invalids” whose lives are pre-determined to do all the menial and servile work. Obviously, that kind of a reality is still science-fiction but the world our descendants will end up with in the future will be determined by the choices and actions we take today. From that perspective, having a sense of humility and piety are human characteristics that we should always strive to hold onto and never “edit” out of us.

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