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My Kafka Nightmare

National Review editor Charles Cooke recently wrote an engaging piece. “Our Illiberal Moment” argues that Americans are losing the virtues that are necessary to sustain a democratic republic. Those virtues are humility, tolerance and forbearance, and the modern totalitarian left has no regard for them 

There’s a blind spot in Cooke’s analysis, however. Cooke recounts the 2018 attack on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, when a mob formed and attempted to disregard due process and the presumption of innocence. Cooke: “Sometime soon, the hideous standards that were crafted and reinforced by those attempting to bring down Kavanaugh will be used against someone with no power, money, name recognition, or institutional backing.”

Sometime soon? In fact those “hideous standards” were already  deployed against someone without power, money, name recognition or institutional standards.

That person was me. 

Now I’m writing a book about my experience, and launching a GoFundMe to support myself while I do it. 

I was drawn into the Kavanaugh fiasco, due mostly to the work of opposition researchers and a compliant media. In my experience I had become like Josef K. in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, a man who is accused of a crime but isn’t told who, what,where or how the crime was committed. The novel’s opening sentence haunted me: “Somebody must have slandered Josef K, for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested.”  

In October 2018, as my name was still on the cable show sand in the papers, critic John M. Ellis wrote a perceptive essay on Kafka. The great Czech author, observed Ellis, “saw something that the Enlightenment philosophers didn’t: that even after they have persuaded everyone to be guided by reason, human nature will not have changed. Those people who are now supposedly on a better path will still be essentially as they were before. The irrational side of their nature will not have gone away: it will just find another way of expressing itself. It will co-opt reason and employ it in the service of the same drives, ambitions, and even foolishness that were there all along.”

In short, without law, virtues and due process, people become like wolves. 

I don’t think even today people know how deep or dark the hit on me was. There were extortionate phone calls, indefatigable press mobs, declarations by supposedly responsible people braying that guilt or innocence didn't matter, only feelings did, and some truly weird episodes. The “hideous standards” that Cooke warns about in his National Review piece, the Kafkaesque nightmare that might come for the normal person, already came for one.

Now it’s time to tell the real story.

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Mark Judge
Washington D.C., DC

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