I’m old enough to remember Netscape Navigator, the first “web browser.” It was absolute magic when you could simply dial up AOL, then use Navigator to bypass all of the AOL content completely and go onto “the web” which was the wild west.

We kids discovered “catfishing” ourselves. One kid, named Paul, actually had an “online relationship” with an old divorced man by pretending to be a thirty something woman. There was no “cyber sex” involved, because Paul said it would be too obvious. Clearly a universal human urge because even the Simpsons did it, in the era of newspaper classified ads and letters mailed via the post office, and I assume as a parody/homage to a film.

For me it was sneaking in to “liberal” chatrooms and pretending to be an oppressed young man wanting to free myself from the shackles of conservative Christianity. I learned very quickly that, while yes, I did feel a bit stifled in my Christian school and church, and even my parents had some concerns about “cult-like” aspects of the culture, the outside world didn’t seem any more “free” and in fact, kind of lame.

Once I spent weeks in an “liberal” like chat room telling hilariously tall tales about my upbringing and current situation, at about 15 or so. I found very quickly that the “atheists” and “liberals” would believe absolutely anything negative you made up about Christianity and conservatism.

So I told them that we took guns to church, and all the kids were in a “militia” and that we used pictures of the Pope for target practice. They absolutely believed this without question and expressed deep concern for me, calling this a “cult” and “abuse.”

I figured out very quickly that Catholicism, or say, Episcopalianism, was considered “normal” but anything even remotely conservative was “far right.” The Pope-as-target-practice thing I somehow picked up because there were plenty of liberal Catholics who believed that all conservative Protestants were really just thin front groups for the Ku Klux Klan.

Catholic were “ok” as long as they were immigrants from the early 1900’s. Catholicism was only ok if it could be leveraged to be a “victim” of the real enemy, the Real Enemy, being the founding people of the United States, both north and south. It used to be that being a German immigrant from the 1800’s was ok – but then before World War II even German-Americans showed far too much sympathy for certain, er, “non-Communist political movements” in Europe, so they went into the “enemy” team along with the rest of us.

What was ironic was that, in reality, “racism” was absolutely forbidden in the real Protestant culture I grew up in, or at least, open racism, although there was not the sort of idol-worship of black people back then. The “liberals” in the chat room were constantly trying to get me to “expose” the “racism” in the “right-wing Christian” culture, but frankly I was so conditioned to believe “racism” was wrong I couldn’t even bring myself to fake it, although the liberals told me that as soon as I was older, my pastor would “initiate” me into the “racism” and “white supremacism” that was clearly the entire point of white Protestant Christianity.

I found the Pope thing really interesting, because in reality, everyone in our church loved Pope John Paul II, because he was the leader of the world-wide “pro-life” movement and he helped take down Communism in Poland. I don’t remember anything negative said about Catholics as people, although we were taught some theological differences between Catholicism and us.

So I was able to easily entertain these “liberals” with tales of our “militia” practising for the Day of the Rope where we would finally “Take Back America” from the Jews, Papists, and liberals. As far as I can tell, due to the questions they asked me, they were absolutely serious and convinced that the ‘conservative’ churches down the street were hotbeds of radical right-wing sentiments.

In reality, one of the men from our church, Gene, was an retired Navy guy, and his two kids, at four and six, weren’t old enough to do all the fun stuff he liked to do. So one day he was given the pulpit at church, bemoaned how the boys these days were being “feminimized” – this would have been the late 80’s – and even the Boy Scouts let in girls “these days” – which was apparently not entirely accurate, but I had spent a summer in the local Cub Scouts which was, in fact, mixed and had as many girls as boys, because it was apparently just whichever neighborhood kids they could round up. It was utterly boring, as all we did was indoor crafts.

So Gene was starting a new group. This would teach the young boys true Christian masculinity, and would include not just Bible instruction, sports, and “fieldcraft” but even “drill” which would whip us young boys into shape as American Christian men.

Oh, and lots and lots of pushups.

What this actually meant, in practice, was way, way cooler and way, way more fun than what Gene was telling the parents that Sunday morning. Because the next week, armed with fifty or so dollars from our parents, Gene took us to the local Army Surplus store and kitted us out in genuine Army “fatigues” complete with awesome leather boots and a bad ass knife.

We then were shipped over in a van to the back yard of the church and taught “drill.” Each of us were given the rank of “private” with the exception of Mike, who was 16, mostly too old to be one of us, but not old enough to be in the “officer corp” with Gene, and another father, “the Major,” so Mike got to be “seargent.”

We were taught how to stand at attention, yelled at in a very bowlderized version of the famous boot camp scene from Full Metal Jacket, how to salute, and then marched around while singing songs like, “the sergeant’s hair is yellow and curls, all he thinks about is them girls.”

Then we were driven south in the back of a box truck lent by one of the men from the church and camped out for a long weekend in a state park. The officers would then go do “evasion” and attack our camp with bottle rockets while yelling “incoming” and we all played a complicated version of “capture the flag.” Later on we got to play an early version of paintball.

It was, on the whole, the greatest fun I ever had as a kid until I discovered the joy of girls from a girl named Joy at Christian summer camp, which led to an “intervention” because rumors spread around the kids, as these things do, that Joy and I had “gone all the way” and she was likely pregnant. We were 13, and obviously we didn’t. But we still managed to do a lot of “self-education” that summer. I finally understood the oft-mocked phrase, “how can it be wrong when it feels so right?” I guess the indoctrination hadn’t really stuck because I didn’t feel guilty at all, I felt great and looked forward to seeing her again.

They say that when a Catholic loses their faith, they become atheists, but when a Protestant loses their faith, they become a “Deist.” That formulation makes sense to me. In some ways I guess I’m even a pagan but I’ve never been able to confuse going to the Renaissance fair with “political activism.”

But it was that experience in the AOL chatrooms that permanently inoculated me from modern “liberalism” or whatever you want to call it. Despite their extremely inflated self-image as “rational” in reality these “liberals” are prepared to believe any nonsense about their neighbors, up to and including believing that white teenage church boys who enjoy shooting and camping and marching are part of a “militia culture” coming to get them.

The main thing, though, is that these “liberals” are absolutely convinced that all those conservatives are obsessed with them, when the reality is precisely the opposite: they are obsessed with us. For us, the “worldly” people were simply dismissed as evil at worst and laughable at best.

If you’ve read Occidental Dissent in the last few months, it may seem like H. L. Mencken and the “Scopes Monkey Trial” is where this comes from. The rubes “believe the Bible” and “reject Darwin’s theory of evolution.” But it’s the liberals – “liberal creationists” – that don’t believe in evolution, or at least, that evolution stops at the neck.

Therefore, all human races and ethnicities are exactly the same cognitively – all brains are “equal.” Apparently, “Liberal God” decided that all races are exactly “equal” in the brains department and evolution had no effect on cognition at all.

But you know what, maybe, just maybe, the liberals are on to something.

Maybe having an actual man, who was an active duty member of the US armed forces, starting a club for boys and teaching them the military disciplines, a love for nature, how to work as a team, how to hunt, fish, and build things in nature, and even “play army” is, in fact, “fascism” reproducing itself.

Even me, a soft-handed urbanite office prole with hipster tastes in music and culture and closer to Bernie Sanders on the economy than Hillary Clinton, is apparently part of the “far-right” and even flirting with “fascism” because I don’t really believe that Jews are God’s Magical People and that the Lost Tribes of Israel are not an actual historical people from Palestine, and that it doesn’t make me “racist” to prefer hanging out with white people, like myself.

Paul said that “faith is the belief in things unseen” but the other meaning of the term “faith” is “loyalty.” It’s that kind of “faith” that really disturbs them, loyalty to us, not them.

Certainly when my boy is old enough, I am going to send him to something similar, and I’m going to hope that whichever old vet runs the club, he will instill in my kid even more “toxic masculinity” and “right-wing ideals of blood and soil” than I got – because I got only a very weak version of it. But it was still strong enough to keep me from every identifying with whatever it is these people expect us to these days.