Invasion of the Freedom-Snatchers

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This Halloween may be far scarier than the ones you remember from your childhood. The fright will not come in the conventional form of scary movies, haunted houses, and ghost tales; it will not even come in the form of the deadly “it’s not the flu” COVID-19 virus. This year — as in recent years — the fright factor will come from an invasion of the freedom-snatchers.

Freedom-snatchers are the monsters who want to control what you say, watch, read, do, and think. In their worldview, theirs is the only acceptable perspective — all other views, opinions, and people must be erased, canceled, eliminated. The freedom-snatchers will invade children’s homes via the media, school boards, and social networks. They will look like normal people, but clues will help you identify them: masked (sometimes double-masked) faces, an obsession with pronouns, the total absence of a sense of humor.

Seemingly benignly, the freedom-snatchers dictate which Halloween costumes can be worn while trick-or-treating or engaging in Halloween merrymaking. Lists of inappropriate costumes grow each year — no hoboes, convicts, gore, religious attire, or cultural attire (e.g., no geishas, sombreros, Indian headdresses even if you are Native American). Even companies that have kowtowed to politically correct activists, such as Disney, have come under fire from the freedom-snatchers for providing the Maui costume, which depicts a Hawaiian god from the animated film Moana.

In their worldview, theirs is the only acceptable perspective — all other views, opinions, and people must be erased, canceled, eliminated.


This control over costumes may seem harmless, but freedom-snatchers aren’t happy with just saying which costumes shouldn’t be worn now — they’d like to travel back in time to control past choices. Since they aren’t capable of this, they decide that the next best thing is to use the internet to ensure that no one goes unpunished for what they wore years ago; for instance, three professors at the University of Alabama, two of whom apologized, are being suspended for costumes that included “racially insensitive” themes — costumes that they wore seven years ago. The ghosts of Halloweens past are alive and well on the internet.

But Halloween is just one day. Initially, a Celtic holiday called the festival of Samhain (pronounced “So-ween”) that was then adopted by Christians as All Hallows’ Eve by the 5th century and which has now been converted to a commercial success; perhaps we can try to avoid offense on this day to ensure everyone has a good time? Freedom-snatchers, unfortunately, don’t disappear after October 31 — they haunt us all year round. They wish, for example, to determine which books children can read. This year six Dr. Seuss books have been discontinued as a result of freedom-snatcher activities. Two years ago, Canada took a “progressive” step by purging school libraries of books that include such terms as “Eskimo” and “Native American,” or images of bare-chested Native American males (because “drawing shirtless Aboriginal people is a misrepresentation and justifies eliminating a children’s book from the shelves,” even though indigenous people were often bare-chested). Suzy Kies, an “indigenous knowledge keeper” working for Conseil Scolaire Catholique Providence, which is the separate French language school board for southwestern Ontario, overseeing 30 schools with about 10,000 pupils, decided that these offensive 5,000 books should be removed from the library shelves; some of them were burned and then used as fertilizer. Kies further argues that non-Indigenous authors cannot write about Indigenous people without collaboration, although even Indigenous authors can be targeted for providing less than flattering tales of the Native Canadians. Justin Trudeau did not condemn the book burning and said that non-Indigenous people should not “tell Indigenous people how they should feel or act to advance reconciliation” — which illustrates that he has fallen prey to the freedom-snatchers. Fortunately, COVID-19 restrictions prevented further planned burnings and ironically, Suzy Kies has resigned from the Indigenous commission of the Liberal Party because of doubts about her own ancestry. Perhaps she was just wearing a Native costume, but the freedom-snatcher identity underneath the façade is real.

Children’s choices in schools and at home are being shaped by freedom-snatchers. What happens when they choose their own costumes? Interestingly, when children are allowed to pick their own costumes, they often go with sex-specific characters: often little boys want to be strong superheroes such as Batman while little girls want to be princesses. Parents, especially those who have come under the freedom-snatcher spells, and other adults may try to deter children from these choices; however, as children have so little freedom, is it right to take this small and innocuous freedom from them?

Over a decade of indoctrination (from 3 years to 18 years of age) — starting with nursery school prizes for the best study of composting, next proceeding to the banning of tales from European perspectives, then moving on to teaching that history is only seen through a race-theory lens — has led students to believe that people should be punished for the “wrong” Halloween costumes and silenced for “hate” speech.

Freedom-snatchers aren’t happy with just saying which costumes shouldn’t be worn now — they’d like to travel back in time to control past choices.


Why does any of this matter? After all, isn’t this child’s play? It matters because history has shown us that the deadliest revolutions have exploited children. The Hitler Youth, which was started after Hitler banned the Cub Scouts, raised an army that was willing to fight his war, turn in their parents, and help fill the trains to death camps. The USSR used children to report on parents and neighbors who might be against the revolution; when adults were already disillusioned with the USSR’s form of communism, children were still being indoctrinated in the schools and helped the movement hobble along for years longer while people were being snatched on the streets and murdered. Those who bemoan how divided US politics have become might recall that in Mao’s Cultural Revolution children played a key role in destroying lives. They publicly outed and shamed professors, parents, and neighbors who weren’t zealous enough (it wasn’t even those who weren’t communists), torturing, killing, and even cannibalizing their comrades.

Children are perfect victims of freedom-snatchers; they are easily frightened, and because they have little freedom or power to begin with, they can be scared into action without noticing the erosion of freedom — especially as they gain power. Freedom-snatchers are using this power. Children frightened about global warming are even reporting nonrecycling parents to their teachers.

But this Halloween, you can snatch freedom back, simply by allowing young people (and those young at heart) to choose their costumes without fear.


  1. Chris Porter

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the article, which articulates a valuable and insightful critique of certain tendencies in academic, the media and elsewhere.

    I do though have a question about the following claim;

    “The USSR used children to report on parents and neighbors who might be against the revolution”

    Do you have a reference/link to a source that supports this? I’m very interested in this period of early Soviet history, and can’t recall reading or hearing about such practices in the period during or immediately after the 1917 revolution, only in later years. I guess you could have been referring to a later time, but the thrust of the paragraph doesn’t suggest so.

    Thanks for your time, and for writing the article.

    All the best, chris.

  2. Chris Porter

    Thank you Elizabeth for taking the time to reply and for providing links/references to the two sources. I suppose the rationale behind my question was not so much directly focused on the question of the exploitation of children by oppressive regimes, but (in response to the article’s invocation of ‘revolution’) was more about a tendency to uncritically conflate the 1917 Revolution with the horrors that came later with Stalinism. I don’t necessarily wish to accuse you or your article of this, as I can see from your terminology (use of ‘USSR’, and mention of disillusionment with that ‘form’ of communism) that you do appreciate there was a degeneration of, shall we say, revolutionary promise that took place under Stalinism.

    What I feel that particular ‘warning from history’ paragraph unfortunately does do, through its references to “the deadliest revolutions” and of parents suspected of being “against the revolution”, is to (presumably inadvertently) maintain a widely held fiction that there is a straight ideological line from the revolution to the crimes of Stalinism. This fiction obscures the historical truth that the murderous repression of Stalinism was primarily aimed at silencing and ‘disappearing’ the left opposition to his regime, to erase those socialists – including a generation of Bolsheviks who had led and fought for the revolution – whose continued presence threatened to reveal just how far Stalinism had betrayed and denigrated those revolutionary principles.

    A desire to obscure such an inconvenient historical truth was, and still is, a position that is shared by both Stalinists (including their modern-day descendants on what passes as ‘the left’) and right wing, anti-socialist historians, both of whom have an ideological interest in maintaining the fiction that Stalinism and the 1917 Revolution were one and the same phenomenon. This historical falsification of course brings with it an uncritical assumption that Stalinism’s repressions must have been directed purely against those who were against the ‘revolution’ and ‘socialism’.

    I apologise for going off on this tangent from the main arguments of your article, and hope you appreciate the spirit (of reclaiming historical truth) in which my initial question and this long-winded follow-up are intended. For what it’s worth, while those two sources do point towards attempts to ideologically ‘indoctrinate’ children and youth in post-revolutionary Russia, they don’t contain any details of children informing on parents in the revolutionary period itself, and tend instead to use examples from the Stalinist era and beyond (i.e., the famous Pavlik story/myth, from the early 1930s). In general, the ‘Soviet Cult of Childhood’ blog contains some questionable interpretations that betray such ideological positions as those touched upon above, though as a student blog it does a good job of pulling together some useful sources.

    The Teitelbaum article, as well as providing some interesting insights into the generational dynamics around (and state/party interventions into) parental authority in the Soviet Union, contains (on p.57) the line “There were numerous instances of Soviet children informing against their parents, and these clashes sometimes ended tragically”, followed immediately by “An illustration of this is found in Babel’s famous book Red Cavalry…”. It goes on to summarise the short story “A Letter”, which recounts a tragic episode of sons and fathers fighting on opposite sides in the civil war, in which the father (fighting with the White Armies) had brutally murdered his son (who was fighting with the Red Army). This is told via a letter sent to the boy’s mother from a different son (he also tells how another, older, brother subsequently tracked down their father and killed him). Certainly, this tale reflects the horrors of the civil war and the tragic impacts on children’s relationships with their parents, but it doesn’t provide evidence of ‘the revolution’ exploiting children in the way suggested.

    I’m quite prepared to believe that incidences of the 1917 Revolution using children to inform on their parents may have happened, but I still haven’t seen any specific evidence of this, only – thus far at least – uncritical conflation of the ‘revolution’ with the later oppression of the Stalinist bureaucracy. I think it would have been more accurate for the article to refer instead to the repressive atmosphere/structures under Stalinism (and the other regimes you mention) rather than the misleading ‘revolutionary’ context, and this might also have facilitated an interesting political evaluation of the identity-politics obsessed pseudo-left that are pushing the reactionary ‘cancel culture’ which your article critiques.

    Thank you again for the article and for your time.

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