by Emina Melonic
In Alan Parker’s 1982 film, “Pink Floyd—The Wall,” a young boy’s reality turns into a nightmare. It’s post-war England, and the boy—now in his teens and fatherless—sits in a classroom tuning out his bland math lesson and composing poems instead. The teacher—a pedagogical sadist—mocks the boy, and then proceeds to mete out some good, old-fashioned corporal punishment. The boy winces, and overwhelmed with anxiety begins to see his world as an unbearable nightmare of human oppression.
Suddenly, the school resembles a meat factory, and students are lined up, forced to go through a brick wall machine meant to transform them into something other than what they are. They march in unison like good little soldiers, forced to go up the steps through the brick machine.
We can see their individual faces, confused, yet practically catatonic, and as they emerge from the machine, tied to student desks, their faces have vanished. Instead, they are wearing full masks, the distorted shapes of which don’t resemble the human form but an inhuman creature, devoid of soul, eyes, and mouth. The holes meant to be eyes and mouth are undulating shapes that mimic unheard screams. They are oppressed under the rule of sociopathic control, moving (single-file) through the halls of the school, toward the unknown.
The words of Pink Floyd’s famous song, “Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two” are echoing throughout, sung by the children themselves: “We don’t need no education/We don’t need no thought control/No dark sarcasm in the classroom/Teachers leave them kids alone.” As David Gilmour’s passionate guitar solo follows, the moment of unmasking has arrived: the kids, in an act of classic defiance, take off their imposed and distorted false faces, and a rebellion ensues. The brick wall is destroyed.
The song, which is part of Pink Floyd’s 1979 album, “The Wall,” has become an anthem against collectivism and authoritarianism. Although it’s actually a commentary on the rigid, dehumanizing, and unimaginative education system in 1950s England, the song’s words and the film’s images are an apt analogy to what is currently happening to children across America.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis—with all of its inhuman consequences for children—education was already in a crisis of its own. While not true of all schools and certainly not of all teachers, too many students have been exposed to ideology like Critical Race Theory rather than real knowledge. They are “learning” under the tyranny of mediocrity, and are molded into followers who are to be part of the collectivist anti-American machine. Under the guise of empathy and care, excellence is considered to be a detriment to a child’s development. Schools are becoming the kind of indoctrination centers portrayed in “The Wall,” factories spewing out sameness and mediocrity.
Ideology in the age of COVID has reached a new level of absurdity with obsessive diktats that kids must wear masks in schools. Children are almost completely unaffected by COVID-19, but health “experts,” political officials, and education bureaucrats have long ago abandoned scientific data about the effects of COVID-19 on children. Science is just a word denoting an ideological push toward the dehumanization of children. The authoritarians, who come up with different “scientific” narratives daily, seem to think that they have the sovereignty to go against parents and make for them such personal decisions about their children’s lives.
For them, the biopolitical state is the one that ought to be “protecting” children against harm. The harm they seek to prevent, however, is defined by megalomaniacal and sadistic authoritarians. Recently, NIH director, Francis Collins said that children should wear masks at home around their vaccinated, unmasked parents: “Parents of unvaccinated kids should be thoughtful about this, and the recommendation is to wear masks there as well. I know that’s uncomfortable. I know it seems weird, but it is the best way to protect your kids.” Collins was forced to retract his statement, but no amount of so-called contextualization and clarification could hide Collins’ original “recommendation.”
Masks have long ceased to be (if they ever actually were) health aides and have become symbols of obedience to authority. As if thrown into some experiment designed by Stanley Milgram or Philip Zimbardo, we are expected to follow the ideological absurdity and be full participants in transforming ourselves into dutiful subjects of the biopolitical regime. The difference is that Milgram understood that he was conducting a psychological experiment, which did no actual harm to the electro-shocked participants, and unlike Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, which ended mere days after it started, we are caught in a chronologically indeterminate unreality.
The authoritarians have weaponized people against each other. Parents who follow the arbitrary and meaningless rules impose the same ideology on their children. In turn, the children will learn to live in fear, anxiety, and constant suspicion of others. A society based on fear is not a society of creation but of constant, inward annihilation. It is a hallmark of COVID-19 ideology and totalitarianism that the following masses are both masters and slaves.
Childhood can be stolen in any number of ways. A child can be verbally and physically abused, or become part of a large collective disaster, political unrest, or war. We should not be milquetoast in our assessment of the current situation: forcing children to wear masks or indoctrinating them into a whole new way of life that changes their innocent dispositions into subjects afraid of the psychological and tyrannical system is abuse.
The ultimate meaning of human relationships is to be found in a face-to-face encounter. It is in this existential and embodied sphere that we gaze into each other’s eyes, react to others’ smiles, laughter, and frustrations, and recognize that indeed we are human. Even more than a grown adult, the face of a child represents beauty, truth, goodness, imagination, and creativity. A child’s face is a call to morality and ethics. Past, present, and future is contained in those curious eyes and unburdened minds. A future based on the totalization of human life is no future at all but, rather, a deep, black hole of alienation and collectivism.
COVID-19 is a crisis. Let’s not make it worse by making it a shift to an age of darkness. To paraphrase the words in “Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two” we don’t need no indoctrination, we don’t need no collectivist control, and we sure as hell don’t need masks. Leave our kids alone!
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Emina Melonic is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Originally from Bosnia, a survivor of the Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, she immigrated to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in 2003. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her writings have appeared in National Review, The Imaginative Conservative, New English Review, The New Criterion, Law and Liberty, The University Bookman, Claremont Review of Books, The American Mind, and Splice Today. She lives near Buffalo, N.Y.
Photo “First Day of School” by Dan Gaken (CC BY-ND 2.0).