Roger’s Rules

Breaking News! National Endowment for the Arts Renamed National Endowment for Propaganda. Stay Tuned. "This is Only the Beginning."

Andrew Breitbart is a national hero. Not only was he the impresario who brought the exposure of ACORN by filmmaker James O’Keefe and actress Hannah Giles to public attention, but he has just followed it up with a blistering exposé of how the White House has endeavored to use the National Endowment for the Arts as a propaganda arm for its left-wing agenda on health care, the environment, education, and “community renewal.”

Today, Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com posts the transcript of an August 10 conference call between Yosi Sergant, then director of communication at the NEA, Buffy Wicks, from the deliciously named Office of Public Engagement at the White House, and a score of artists and activists.

It is an amazing document, breathtaking and alarming by turns. I knew that the Obama administration was moving fast to socialize the United States. I had no idea that its efforts at enforcing conformity through propaganda had reached such an advanced stage.

Here are a few snippets from that conference, stitched together to bring out the gist of various points (though I have not tidied up the diction).

Mike Skolnick, a filmmaker who now serves as “political director” for Russell Simmons, the vegan proselytizer and hip-hop entrepreneur, started the ball rolling. “I have been asked,” he said:

… by folks in the White House and folks in the NEA [to follow up on] the role that we artists and thinkers and tastemakers and marketers and visionaries played during the campaign for the president and also during the his first 200 some odd days of his presidency. … I’m hoping that through this group … we can … get involved in things that we’re passionate about as we did during the campaign … to support some of the president’s initiatives … and push the president and push his administration.

Why was Mr. Skolnick asked by “folks in the White House” to help get artists to “support the president’s initiatives” and “push his administration”?

What is going on here?

Then we have Buffy Wicks — former Obama campaign activist, now White House enabler:

We won and that’s exciting and now we have to take all that energy and make it really meaningful. I’m in the White House now and what I’ve learned is that … change doesn’t come easy, but now that I’m actually in the White House and working towards furthering this agenda, this very aggressive agenda, I’m really realizing that
… we’re going to need your help, and we’re going to come at you with some specific asks here.

We wanted folks to connect with local nonprofit organizations in their community. We wanted them to connect with local city council members or local elected officials. We wanted them to connect with federal agencies, with labor unions, progressive groups, face groups, women’s groups, you name it.

Well, were I called upon to “name it,” I’d say it was a blatant misuse of executive power for the purposes of political indoctrination and partisan propaganda.

Then we have Yosi Sergant, the NEA official whom we first thought had been fired when the media got wind of the effort to transform the NEA into an arm of the White House PR office — but whom, we subsequently learned, was merely “reassigned.”

Yosi Sargent and President Obama

Yosi Sargant and President Obama

“Welcome to your government,” Mr. Sergant began:

We fought for a chance to be at the table and not only at the table but we’re setting the table. And now [we’re setting] the official rule of the National Endowment for the Arts, as director of communication and say, we here at the NEA are extremely proud to participate in the president’s United We Serve initiative.

This is a chance to partner with the White House. … This is just the beginning. … We are just now leaning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What this looks like legally, we’re still trying to figure out the laws of putting government web sites on Facebook and the use of Twitter.

“This is just the beginning.” Who could doubt it? Reading through this transcript, I was struck by two things. One was the aroma of self-intoxication. These bureaucrats and artists and activists are utterly besotted by the contemplation of their own virtue. They know what’s good for the country, and what’s good for you, and they’re willing to devote themselves ceaselessly to making it happen.

The second thing that strikes one about this transcript is the aura of menace that floats just behind the talk of passion, pushing the president’s agenda, connecting with “labor unions, progressive groups,” etc., etc. As Yosi Sergant’s pep talk suggests, these people regard legal obstacles not as boundaries to be observed but as impediments to be overcome by “tactics,” a word that frequently appears in the transcript.

There is a German word for what we are witnessing at the NEA and elsewhere in the Obama administration’s effort to push its agenda. It is Gleichschaltung. It means two things: first, bringing all aspects of life into conformity with a given political line. And second, as a prerequisite for realizing that goal, the obliteration or at least marginalization of all opposition.