In 1951, a psychologist named Solomon Asch performed a conformity test to study how willing people are to go along with the crowd, even when they know the crowd is wrong.
Students were told they were part of a “vision test.” Prof. Asch put one naive participant in a room with seven confederates who were in league with the professor. The confederates had agreed in advance how to answer the question in the vision test. The participants were asked to compare the length of lines, in which it was obvious that there was only one correct answer. But the seven confederates would insist on incorrect answers, and in some cases 75 percent of the naive participants would agree to go along with the crowd in giving an incorrect answer even though they knew it was wrong.
To be “Asch negative,” you need to be the type of person willing to go against the crowd, often at the cost of being publicly embarrassed. You must be strong enough in your convictions that you will not be influenced by peer pressure.
In short, you would have to be the type of person not to abandon the Savior in His moment of public humiliation or to abandon Joseph Smith when most people in society hated him.
Most people reading this are saying to themselves that they would never bow to peer pressure, but you may want to consider the story of Peter denying the Savior three times. The reality is that we all are more likely to influenced by peer pressure than we think.
The French philosopher Rene Girard has considered this issue in depth and written extensively on the unfortunate historical tendency of people to engage in witch hunts. Girard sees the Atonement of Christ example of a classic witch hunt in which the leadership of a society used Jesus as a scapegoat for all of their problems. The Pharisees succeeded in stirring up the crowd against Jesus, even though there is no evidence he did anything wrong.
Girard’s point is that this happens in societies all of the time. For a variety of reasons, leaders afraid of losing power often try to find scapegoats to blame for societal ills. Most readers can see how this applied historically to the Jews, who have blamed for societal problems in Spain, Russia, Germany, Eastern Europe and just about everywhere else they lived in the diaspora.
Girard, if he were alive today, would not be surprised by the rise of cancel culture, which he described throughout history. Social media has made cancel culture one of the most prominent features of modern life.
Have you noticed how easy it is to say or write the wrong thing these days? Telling a harmless joke in 2002, a joke that was completely acceptable that that time, can turn out to be a nightmare in 2021 if the right “woke” people decide to turn on you. The list of scapegoats today has turned very, very long. If you are white and write or say something others don’t like you must be a white supremacist (even if you are not). Or if you don’t say things exactly the right way you are obviously homophobic or transphobic or sexist or racist.
The saddest and perhaps the most ironic thing about our time is that the woke are turning on each other to ensure ideological purity. They are constantly calling each other names in an attempt to cancel potential rivals and assert authority and power. But of course this has happened in every leftist revolution since the Jacobins. Leftists always fight with each other endlessly, as any student will know regarding the history of the Russian revolution, the Maoist revolutions in China and, worst of all, the Cambodian killing fields. The problem is that leftists never stop to think that the revolution they are promoting is extremely likely to end in their death, as well as the deaths of most of their friends and family. (In today’s world, that “death” may mean you are simply canceled from your job and shunned by certain groups).
The other scapegoats of 2021 and 2022 will of course be the people who choose not to take the COVID jabs. Check out this unhinged rant by the a Hitler-like politician in Australia to get a taste of what is coming.
It is important to understand that the Australian military is literally detaining people in concentration camps right now. Meanwhile, New Zealand, Austria and Germany and several other European countries are implementing a completely segregated system where unvaxxed people are barred from participating in society.
There are, unfortunately, hundreds of examples out there these days of crazy, power-hungry politicians trying to whip up public ire against the new scapegoat, the Unvaccinated. I am sure you have seen examples in your own life, and I hope you recognize what this is all about.
There are important steps well-meaning people can take right now. The first step is to internalize the idea that if you are vaccinated, and if the vaccines really do work, you should have no fear of the unvaccinated. If the vaccines do not work as promised, it is not the fault of the unvaccinated, it is the fault of a process that brought vaccines to the market before they were ready. By the way, if you hate Trump you can rightly blame the former president for rushing these vaccines. So, there are plenty of other people to blame besides the unvaccinated, and if you find yourself being angry at the unvaccinated around you, you are being manipulated, just like the Pharisees manipulated the crowd around the Savior.
It turns out that during a witch hunt there are at least four categories of people. The people driving the witch hunt are usually a small group, perhaps less than 1 percent of the population. Then, there is a larger group of people who can be manipulated into becoming the foot soldiers of the witch hunt. Then there is the always silent majority who do not speak out for one reason or another. And then there is a group of people, the fourth group, who recognize that the witch hunt is taking place and try to get the rest of the population to wake up and not take part in the scapegoating process.
When it comes to the evil cancel culture revolution and the evil scapegoating of the unvaxxed, people need to decide where they fall. Most readers are probably in the silent majority and hopefully not in the first two groups who are actively trying to scapegoat others. So, my question to you is: when will you speak out against the obvious evil around you? When will you understand that the true victims are the people being abused, detained, doxxed and segregated based on completely irrational fears?
We are at a tipping point right now. Much of the developed world is descending into an authoritarian hell where good people are being oppressed. Independent groups are pointing out that democratic regimes are quickly becoming authoritarian. But it is not too late. Millions of people are protesting against the mandates and the lockdowns. There is still a chance the good guys can win or at the very least there is still a chance we can avoid descending into a witch hunt culture.
If you imagine yourself in Jerusalem circa 33 A.D., where would you stand? Would you speak out against the crucifixion of the innocent man, even if it cost you your job or your popularity or even your life? If you believe you would have supported the Savior then, now is the time to speak out in favor of other innocents, the millions of people being harassed, detained and potentially killed by today’s witch hunt culture. This is the time to decide.