The Fox News pundits will love this article for once because they’ll think it’s only about attacking Barack Obama.
It can’t be helped.
Yesterday the Iranian Ayatollahs made it clear there’s no middle ground in negotiations between Iran and the United States-led coalition to reach a treaty denying Iran the ability to make an atomic bomb. Considering how impactful economic sanctions have been on Iran, this is on the face of it a curiously obstinate position for the Iranian rulers to take.
In a lot of old Westerns there’s an phrase attributed to chiefs regarding treaties the United States broke with Native tribes: “White man speak with forked tongue.”
Given the recent success of the Islamic State including this week’s taking of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, there’s a renewed debate generated by the left about the wisdom of the United States invading Iraq in 2003 and by the right about withdrawing all remaining U.S. troops in 2011.
A wide spectrum of political opinion ranging from Patrick Buchanan on the right, Brad Linaweaver from libertarian minarchist quarters, and filmmaker Paul Greengrass on the left have criticized not per se the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his rape-room sons from power. Saddam Hussein’s awful record of human-rights violations and economic banditry made him eminently worthy of being overthrown.
The primary criticism was instead not leaving the Ba’athist Party in power so U.S. forces could have withdrawn from a politically stable Iraq May 1, 2003 when President George W. Bush stood in front of a “Mission Accomplished” sign on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
A war lasting six weeks would have bled the United States — and the Iraqi people — far less than an occupation lasting eight years.
But that’s not my point here. As Paul Greengrass’s movie Green Zone portrays, the United States was making back-channel promises with the Ba’athist leadership that the U.S. would begin formal diplomatic negotiations with them if they assisted in deposing Saddam Hussein. If anyone deserves being criticized it’s not only President George W. Bush (for attacking a country that hadn’t attacked the U.S. first) but U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz breaking promises to Ba’athist leadership turning what could have been a brief war into a bloody and totally unnecessary eight-year occupation. The rise of the Islamic State is a direct result of that treachery.
Now we get to Iran and Obama.
Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi saw what happened to Saddam Hussein for refusing to reach a deal with the United States, and went the other way. Gaddafi openly allowed inspections so the United States couldn’t invade Libya on the pretext that he, also, was amassing weapons of mass destruction; renounced any ties to terrorist groups and paid reparations for the downing of Pan Am Flight 103; and dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s well enough that the George W. Bush administration took Libya off its list of terrorist states, opened an embassy with full diplomatic hoopla from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and even a phone call from President George W. Bush ending with Bush saying, “God bless you.”
The United States was still expanding its embassy in Tripoli during the first year of the Obama admninistration.
Then the Obama administration conspired with Gaddafi’s enemies allowing him to be deposed, dragged into the streets and killed by a mob on October 20, 2011. Neither Condoleezza Rice nor George W. Bush uttered a word of protest.
The lesson to any other foreign leader was clear: Cooperating with the United States would ultimately not make any difference. Whether you were a defiant Saddam Hussein or a compliant Muammar al-Gaddafi, you were still a dead man.
The United States speaks with a forked tongue.
Now is it any wonder that Iran doesn’t think it can negotiate a treaty with the United States and feels its only safety is in getting its own arsenal of atomic bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles?
upon the world
I tell my tales
though spoken for
In hellish scenes
through heaven’s spore
I wish the best
But fear the worst
Can dreams survive
This manic burst?
I get the get
I got the got
It’s not the nought.
Hello old friends
Good bye to foes
God only knows.
Music by Chris McGraw
Lyrics by J. Neil Schulman
Performed by Sleep Rebellion
Video by J. Neil Schulman
Music and Videos Copyright © 2015 by J. Neil Schulman and Chris McGraw
All rights reserved.
The title of this article reads like a Zen Kōan, the best-known being “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
I don’t mean my title as a mystery or a riddle. I mean it exactly.
You don’t need to focus on police killings of black men such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray to conclude that there’s an underclass vulnerable to homicide under color of law. If we look no wider it’s facile to adopt a narrative that the Civil Rights movement failed to move the United States past institutionalized white supremacy, paradoxically at a time when Freddie Gray’s Baltimore has a black mayor and police chief and both the two-term current President of the United States and both the current and previous Attorney General of the United States are black.
The evidence alone demands we look further.
Spending a few minutes looking at the CopBlock project website tells us it’s not just black men who are on the business end of thuggish police. There is no race, gender, or age that is not regularly the subject of harassment and brutal tactics at the hands of law-enforcement officers — local, state, and federal. I’m not talking about bad apples generally unrepresentative of their departments, sadists failed to be weeded out. I’m talking about officers trained in official use-of-force policies that exonerate sworn officers when they use weaponry and tactics justified with the argument that any fear of harm to an officer exonerates lethal or barely sublethal violence for even the most minor offense or generalized suspicion.
This is the sort of official lawlessness under color of law that brings out news trucks, protesters, political hucksters, wannabe nihilist revolutionaries armed with bricks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails, fire fetishists to whom a burning building is orgasmic, and opportunistic looters.
There’s a federal law supposedly addressing this: Title 18 USC Section 242 — which can be found on the Department of Justice website:
DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW
Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.
The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.
TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
If this law alone was enforced, we’d be halfway to the restoration of law and order because the assumption of Sovereign Immunity that protects the police — a concept antithetical to the concept of an America freed from monarchy — would no longer shield the shielded from more obvious cases of officious criminality.
Nonetheless that kind of obvious lawlessness is the least of our current abandonment of law.
When in the Course of human events …
- The Fifth Amendment is nullified and any non-cooperation or technically false statement to an official investigator can get one imprisoned — and Martha Stewart was neither black nor poor — there is no law and order anymore;
- Not complying with tax laws or mandated accounting;
- Failure to return library books or failure to pay parking tickets;
- Allowing your child to walk home from a park unaccompanied by an adult;
- Non-compliance with any of hundreds of thousands of obscure and contradictory local, state, and federal regulations and paperwork;
- Possession of substances or objects arbitrarily prohibited
- Civil forfeiture of private property without a conviction of a crime, approved by the Supreme Court;
- Death by drone, detention without charges, official spying without limit;
makes what is claimed as law a chute into court, seizure of one’s property, arrest, extortion into a plea, and imprisonment for even the top one-percent — much less the other 99% who barely scrape by and can’t afford expensive accountants and lawyers, or worse, the grave …
Then the claim we live under reasonable or fair law demanding obedience is a God damned lie.
We live in an age of patchwork customs and legality, some based on legislation, some from bureaucratic rule-making bought and paid for by lobbyists, some from court ruling and precedent forged by a class of professional philosophunculists.
Nobody is “equal under the law.”
Some people have established privilege and protection.
Some people have extra risk and liability.
Sometimes the difference is a yard or two crossing an imaginary territorial line.
Sometimes it’s race/class/gender/shifting popularity.
Sometimes it’s looking at someone powerful the wrong way.
Sometimes it’s just confusing, like whether a Native American has more brownie points than a Transgender or a Veteran.
It’s heaven-made for lawyers, a priestcraft who navigate our way through this established insanity for hundreds of bucks per billable hour.
It’s also confounded by statistics everybody knows which aren’t true and partisan divisions that are moving targets.
There is no law. There is only power and market and what Ayn Rand delightfully called the Aristocracy of Pull.
Equal under the law? There’s law?
You conservatives are just kidding, right — and you liberals are just in denial?
I never thought I’d see the day when Michael Moore, the filmmaker of Bowling for Columbine would agree with me that the reason for the Second Amendment is to arm the public so it can defend themselves. But Moore tweeted on April 30th, four days ago, “Next demand: Disarm the police. We have a 1/4 billion 2nd amendment guns in our homes 4 protection. We’ll survive til the right cops r hired”
When police commit crime under color of law, the law dies and the lawless rule.
Usually councils of business leaders are the most vocal supporters of police and government in general. How long will it take for business leaders to remember that the American Revolution of the 1770′s was supported by business leaders for the obvious reason that sending capricious and bureaucratic “swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance” is bad for business?
And if the costs of complying with evermore government regulation doesn’t wake them up to the cost of official lawlessness, could arson and looting trashing their businesses — following just about every instance of police lawlessness — possibly make the small business a revolutionary vanguard again?
When business relies not on government to provide law, but the rules of business itself to provide a stable market, we might get going a coalition to get our country back from those liars who claim that anarchists like me are the foes of law, when the opposite is true: the most dangerous enemies of law today are those who claim to enforce it.
In a discussion with Fox News correspondent Ed Henry on The O’Reilly Factor for April 30th, Bill O’Reilly argued that “selling heroin is not nonviolent.”
Eliminating the double negative, O’Reilly is saying that the act of selling heroin is an act of violence.
Bill O’Reilly, one of the most highly watched TV pundits of our time, either doesn’t understand English language usage or he’s deliberately conflating non-violent and violent acts in a misuse of language that would alarm George Orwell, who in his novel Nineteen-eighty-four warned of a “Newspeak” that equates opposites: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” Eric Blair, writing with the pen name George Orwell, argued that the confusion of opposites is a precondition to negating thoughtful resistance to totalitarianism.
On the premise that Bill O’Reilly is, himself, confused — rather than deliberately misusing his platform to disarm his audience intellectually — let me clarify.
Here — Bill O’Reilly — are acts of violence:
- Throwing a punch at someone.
- Stabbing someone.
- Holding down someone and forcing a sexual act.
- Shooting someone.
- Exploding a bomb in a crowd.
- Flying jetliners into an office tower.
- Holding someone down and making them consume a toxic substance or injecting a toxic substance into their body against their will.
Here — Bill O’Reilly — are acts that contain no element of violence:
- Possessing something.
- Transporting something.
- Concealing something.
- Offering something in exchange for something else.
- Giving something in exchange for something else.
- Accepting something in exchange for something else.
- Applying to someone’s body, at their request or with their consent, a medicinal, pharmacological, or otherwise biologically active substance.
Violence does not exist without force. Selling heroin to a consenting buyer is not a forcible act.
If I sell someone a car, it’s not my responsibility to make sure the buyer won’t drive that car drunk, or while texting.
If I sell someone guitar strings it’s not my responsibility to anticipate the possibility the E string would be used as a Garrote wire to assassinate someone.
If I sell someone cutlery it’s not my job to run a criminal background check to make sure a carving knife will not be used to commit a murder.
Heroin is merely one of dozens of opiates that can be used for pain management. Like cars, guitar strings, and dinnerware it can also be misused.
A free civilization attempts no more than preventing individuals by force or deceit from injuring others. When, instead, some people impose their will on others, whether for reasons of avarice or altruism, it is always the hubris of those who think themselves better than others and thus should rule their inferiors.
There’s an old word for that in the English language: aristocracy.
There are other words: busybody and meddler are the kindest; bully and fascist are less kind.
You have a voice. Freedom allows you to attempt to convince others that you have something to teach them, and your large audience suggests you’re good at that. You want to tell your big audience that heroin is habit-forming, and that it’s also risky using it because heroin distribution is controlled by violent illegal cartels, that’s accurate information.
John Stossel would also argue that decriminalization of a product monopolized by violent illegal cartels — as the word “decriminalize” defines — would make selling heroin in a Walmart no more violent than selling ibuprofen, single-malt scotch, or Redline.
But when you go beyond your rhetorical gift of moral persuasion and avuncular advice — when you use your position to advocate for the use of force to impose your beliefs on others — you’re no different than the criminal or terrorist co-conspirator who also believes the civilized restraint of foregoing force in dealing with others doesn’t apply to them, either.
Cross that line — even using the excuse that you’ve engaged police, bureaucrats, and soldiers to do the dirty work for you — you’re a megalomaniac criminal sociopath and an enemy of the free.
The only real YouTube site for Alongside Night — the full movie!
A 6-minute infomercial from Liberty Coin Service sponsors this free YouTube preview of the movie while the Alongside Night Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack is in production.
We’re making this YouTube preview available so you can spread the word about the movie on your blog or podcast, on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and in User Reviews and Ratings for the movie on IMDb.
Traditional media are also welcome to review the movie.
Alongside Night Author/Filmmaker J. Neil Schulman is available for interviews. Email Neil at jneil[at]jesulu.com.
This DVD-quality print of the movie has stereo sound and English SDH, French & Spanish captions available on YouTube.
It’s the near future and America is in trouble. Hyperinflation and disorder reign in the towns and cities of the nation. The government doesn’t have money to pay the military. A revolutionary group inspired by the Declaration of Independence is fomenting a second American Revolution and the director of a futuristic FEMA is arresting political enemies without court-issued warrants and imprisoning them in a secret prison.
This is the nonstop action and suspense in award-winning indie filmmaker J. Neil Schulman’s latest production, Alongside Night, based on his award-winning 1979 novel endorsed by Nobel-laureate Milton Friedman, A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess, and Dr. Ron Paul.
Starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, God’s Not Dead), Said Faraj (Green Zone), Contact and Starship Troopers‘ Jake Busey, Star Trek Voyager‘s Tim Russ and Garrett Wang, Alien Nation‘s Gary Graham, Men in Black 3‘s Valence Thomas, Parks and Recreation‘s Mara Marini, Lady Magdalene’s Ethan Keogh, Adam Meir and Susan Smythe, Kevin Sorbo’s real-life wife, actress Sam Sorbo, singer/songwriter Jordan Page, and real-life activist Adam Kokesh, as well as up-and-coming actors Christian Kramme, Reid Cox, Kyle Leatherberry, Rebekah Kennedy, Charlie Morgan Patton, and Eric Colton, this is a film far more current than The Hunger Games or Divergence series.
This is the story of Elliot Vreeland (Kramme), son of Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Martin Vreeland (Sorbo). When his family goes missing and while being shadowed by federal agents (Faraj and Leatherberry), Elliot, with the help of his mysterious companion Lorimer (Cox), explore the underground world of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre to find them. It’s a story of romance, intrigue, action, adventure, and exhilarating science fiction thrills.
“J.Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night is at the forefront of libertarian cinema.” — Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
“Seeing the movie adapted into a full length movie was a dream come true.”
–Sean Gangol, The Libertarian Enterprise
I believe Alongside Night will advance the cause of liberty.”
–Dr. Ron Paul, Ron Paul Channel, June 16, 2014
“The story is, by turns, touching, suspense-filled, violent when violence was called for, highly polemic, and altogether satisfying.”
L. Neil Smith, The Libertarian Enterprise
“ It’s a handsomely produced film for its low budget. Well-acted and ingeniously directed.”
– John DeChancie, best-selling author
“J Neil Schulman’s film Alongside Night is just as brilliant as his original novel and it may be even more so with all of the anarcho-capitalist and libertarian visual Easter eggs placed in the background that are a treat and supreme delight for all of those in the know.”
– Justin Ptak, Facebook
“A movie dedicated to promoting liberty and warning about a too powerful government.” — Coos County Democrat
“Abundant professional talent …supported the making of this fine movie. The result is visually bright and stunning, laced and layered with great music and pregnant with the theme of the unquenchable human spirit seeking liberty.”
–Jerry Jewett, Mondo Cult
Alongside Night has been recognized as an important projection of near-future crises on such diverse mass media as Fox News’ Red Eye, ABC’s On The Red Carpet, The Ron Paul Channel, Alex Jones’ Infowars, Reason.TV, the Larry Elder Show, Las Vegas Weekly, the Libertarian Republic, the Sam Sorbo Show, and many blogs, local TV and radio shows, and podcasts. With recommendations from Ron Paul and Alex Jones to their millions of listeners and viewers this movie has a fan base eagerly awaiting it.
Official Movie Website: http://www.AlongsideNightMovie.com
Official Facebook: http://Facebook.com/AlongsideNightMovie
Official Twitter: http://Twitter.com/AlongsideNight
YouTube Alongside Night Short Video Play List: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-Amt4eMOq4MupHcidoJdPZ2ajFjpIVMv
All back articles of this blog are now also archived at the new site.
My gratitude to Thomas L. Knapp for offering me this space for my blog back in 2009 and for assisting me in maintaining it ever since.
J. Neil Schulman
“We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
–Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speech to Joint Session of the United States Congress, March 3, 2015
Q: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help?
REP. RON PAUL: I wouldn’t do that, because I don’t expect it to happen. A Mossad leader said it would be the stupidest thing to do in the world. They’re not about to do this. And you’re supposing that if it did, why does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way. When they want to have peace treaties, we tell them what they can do because we buy their allegiance and they sacrifice their sovereignty to us. And then they decide they want to bomb something, that’s their business, but they should suffer the consequences. When they bombed the Iraqi nuclear site, back in the ’80s, I was one of the few in Congress that said it’s none of our business and Israel should take care of themselves. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?
–2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate Nov 22, 2011
I just saw on Turner Movie Classics Humphrey Bogart’s last movie, as a sports writer turned boxing promoter, from 1956, The Harder They Fall. It’s about an oversized South American named Toro Moreno (Mike Lane) who, despite having zero boxing skills and a glass jaw, wins 23 heavyweight fights by the simple expedient of all 23 opponents being paid to take dives. So when Toro Moreno is finally in a real bout against the real world heavyweight boxing champion, he goes down in the third round with a broken jaw, and lasting that long only because his strategy is to stay away from the champ as long as possible.
The State of Israel has prevailed in all its wars to date beginning in 1948 against the combined military forces of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq; in 1967′s Six Day War against Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq; in 1973′s Yom Kippur War against Egyptian and Syrian forces; in 1976 Israeli commandos successfully rescued 102 Israeli hostages from Entebbe, Uganda; and Israel prevailed against the Palestinian Liberation Organization attacking from Lebanon in 1978 and various additional attacks from Palestinian Arabs, including rocket attacks, in the years since. In 1981 the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq’s sole nuclear reactor, under construction outside Baghdad.
Israel is rumored to possess a nuclear arsenal as well as chemical and biological weapons — but rumor is all it is since Israel has never admitted to it and no objective proof of Israel’s status as a nuclear power has ever been offered.
So I imagine a poker game in which the players are U.S. President Barack Obama; Supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei; King Salman of Saudi Arabia; Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu; and Dr. Ron Paul.
King Salman is holding markers from the United States and Barack Obama is holding markers from Israel. It’s an open secret that it’s not entirely an honest game because some players can signal other players; yet it’s still interesting because the players do conceal their true hands and the game is based almost entirely on the ability of several of the players to bluff the others. Dr. Ron Paul, the only player who’s not a Head of State, has been allowed into the game only because he’s willing to play all his cards openly and his cards inform the other players.
Iran and Israel both have to convince the other players that they have powerful hands (military forces) to remain in the game. Israel has to convince the other players that it has a nuclear arsenal and Iran has to convince the other players that it can have a nuclear arsenal in short order.
The United States has a massive nuclear arsenal and the most deployable, effective, and well-armed military in human history. But the United States is in massive debt and to avoid what I’ve termed Yankruptcy has to use its military in ways pleasing to foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia, which is willing to inject massive amounts of investment capital into the United States economy all the while financing radical Wahabis whose agenda is an Islamic caliphate that attacks or at least dominates the United States and as many other powers as possible.
Dr. Ron Paul is showing four Aces in Hearts.
King Salman has four Aces in Diamonds.
Ali Khamenei has a pair of jacks in Clubs.
Barack Obama is holding a Royal Flush in Spades. (Racial reference acknowledged but unavoidable — it’s simply the highest hand possible in Poker.)
Barack Obama is the only player who actually knows the cards in Netanyahu’s hand.
King Salman is using his markers to signal Barack Obama both to fold and to use its markers with Israel to signal Netanyahu to fold.
The outcome of this game is entirely in the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu because Neyanyahu is the best player at the table and is utterly willing to raise to the maximum regardless of his hand.
But ironically, if Obama successfully uses his marker to get Netanyahu to fold, and himself folds because King Salman wants him to, then Ron Paul wins the hand.
Let’s start this with a practical joke that I collaborated on with Leonard Nimoy as the target.
In May, 1974 I was a young writer living in Manhattan, and I’d just started working on my first novel, a few years later published as Alongside Night. One of my friends was Michael Moslow, another writer who circled around the NYU Science Fiction Society and its two founders, Samuel Edward Konkin III (at that time an NYU post-graduate student in Theoretical Chemistry) and another NYU post-graduate student, Richard Friedman.
One of the advantages of hanging around NYU students and attending an on-campus club, to non-NYU-students like Mike and myself, was easy access to the many celebrities who came to lecture. One of them was 1956 Nobel laureate in Physics, William Shockley, who at the time was much more controversial for his writings outside of his field, on eugenics and comparing the intelligence of racial groups.
There were, not unexpectedly, major campus protests against Shockley speaking on the NYU campus, covered widely by all media. It was big news.
Mike and I did not attend Shockley’s lecture. But speaking in the same NYU auditorium exactly one week after Shockley (and without any protests) was Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock … and I had a sick idea that once I told it to Mike he could not be stopped doing it. Not that I even tried.
Nimoy began his lecture to a packed house, Mike sitting near the back of the hall, me seated somewhere nowhere near Mike, because I wasn’t a complete fool.
About twenty minutes into Nimoy’s talk, Mike jumps up and shouts, “I came to hear Shockley. This isn’t Shockley! Who’s this clown?”
Everyone, including Nimoy, cracked up as Mike marched himself out of the auditorium, still shouting.
At a Star Trek convention not long after that I met Leonard Nimoy and let him in on the joke, which he remembered and still thought was funny.
(This was also the convention where I first met Nichelle Nichols, who three decades later starred in my first feature film, Lady Magdalene’s.)
Look, I’m a Trekkie old enough to have watched Star Trek in its original first-run NBC broadcasts. A TV Guide description of the next episode was enough for me to convince my ninth-grade history teacher to write on the blackboard the episode “Bread and Circuses,” broadcast on the Ides of March, 1968.
In later life I’ve worked professionally with four actors from Star Trek series: Nichelle Nichols, Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, starred in the title role of the first feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Lady Magdalene’s.
Tim Russ (Tuvok in Star Trek Voyager), Garrett Wang (Ensign Kim in Star Trek Voyager), and Gary Graham (Ambassador Soval in Star Trek Enterprise) all have featured roles in the second feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Alongside Night.
When I spoke with Ayn Rand in August 1973 I asked her about Star Trek.
“She told me that she watched Star Trek and Spock was her favorite character.”
–J. Neil Schulman: “I Met Ayn Rand“
Leonard Nimoy at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore
So Star Trek has a permalink in my consciousness.
But Star Trek, and Leonard Nimoy in particular, also had a profound impact on my understanding and describing some of the most mysterious experiences in my life.
Here’s three excerpts from my book The Heartmost Desire, describing aspects of those experiences.
Now, I had thought of myself as somebody who, if he identified with any character out of Star Trek, it was Spock. I was out of control. Suddenly my emotions were out of control. It was “Amok Time” — or something like that — without the mating ritual.
It got to the point where on the night before my birthday I lay down in bed and this feeling of uncertainty — and remember this combined with this death phobia — I was afraid I was going to die from this, that something was happening in me that was killing me. I didn’t know what it was.
I lay down in bed – and bed for me was a futon on the floor in this bedroom – and I felt a hand on my heart inside my chest. I can’t describe it any other way. I felt a physical presence of a hand, as if it was holding my heart. Not squeezing it but holding it so I could feel it. In my head I heard this voice and it said to me, “I can take you now.”
Suddenly my worst fear, death was coming, you know, God is going to take me. I’m in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode. Hand on my heart. I’m scared to death – literally. And a voice — The Voice, which I knew was God’s voice — was saying, “I can take you now.” And I was scared.
Something unusual happened at that point. The Voice, which had just said “I can take you now,” started laughing at me.
And I said, “Why are you laughing at me?”
And The Voice — God, I might as well just say God, because that’s how I identified it — God said to me then “Because I can’t believe that you’re scared.”
I said, “Why would you be surprised that I’m scared? I’ve always been scared of death. You’re surprised that I’m scared?”
It was totally inexplicable to me that while this is going on, God’s first reaction is to be astonished, and laugh, that I am scared of death. Who am I that God would be surprised that I’m scared of death? I’m not a war hero, who’s been an Audie Murphy who’s charged machine-gun nests, or anything like that. Why on Earth would God be surprised by that? This was one of the things going on while I am, in essence, scared out of my mind.
After He stopped laughing at me, God said “You have to make a choice. I can take you now. You will die now or I can let you live but here’s the thing. No more promises. No more deals. You have in your mind somewhere that you can make a deal with me and I’m going to make everything come out all right and you’re going to be safe from everything and you’re not going to die and the people around you, who you keep on praying for constantly, are not going to die. And if you stay – if I don’t take you now – all bets are off. You stay, unconditionally, with no promises, and whatever happens, you have to let happen.”
And I was more scared of death than of fate. And so I said “I’ll stay.”
And I felt The Hand leave my heart. I had accepted the contract.
I thought, at that point, I wonder if this is simply some sort of psychological event, some fantasy my body is having to tell me that I’m having a heart attack?
BRAD LINAWEAVER: While this was going on, weren’t you thinking about Heinlein’s situation as well as your own?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, I was thinking in terms of everybody. Not just Heinlein, but I was praying for my parents, and my wife, and all my friends, you know, “Don’t let any of them die, don’t let me die, don’t let anybody die.”
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I just remember conversations I had with you at the time. Heinlein seemed to be very prominent in your mind.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Very prominent, but at that particular moment I don’t know, okay? But again, it was this clinging to God, praying so tight that nobody dies, that no harm comes to everybody. You know this panicked clinging, which was what He was breaking. In essence He was telling me, “Don’t pray so much! because I’d been praying every day, constantly. Not just the Lord’s Prayer, but also the prayers for everybody to be okay – and not in the Christian sense of praying for their soul – but praying for them physically not to die, not to get hit by a truck.
So, God ended that at that moment.
Nonetheless, again, being the rationalist, I’m thinking maybe this is my science-fiction writer’s brain telling me that I’m having a heart attack. So at this point I woke up my roommate and I said, “Call the paramedics, I think I’m having a heart attack.”
The paramedics arrived and they put those sensors on me to do the electrocardiogram, which they do instantly, and they looked at me like I was crazy. They said, “Your heart is perfectly fine. What are you talking about? There’s nothing going on.” One of them asked me an interesting question. He said, “Are you going through a divorce right now?”
“No,” I said, “everything’s fine. My wife is coming out tomorrow to celebrate my birthday. Everything’s great. But I thought I was having a heart attack.”
“No, you’re not having a heart attack. Forget it, you’re fine!”
They didn’t even want to take me down to the hospital for observation. My heart must have been rock steady at that point.
They left. My roommate went back to sleep. And my panic was over.
Whatever had happened – now that I knew that I was not dying — what had been going on for a week, with this recurring hyperventilation, this emotional lability, it stopped at that instant.
It was over. The event was over.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now, important question. So what would have been your first contact with God — when it was over you thought it might very well be God but you weren’t one-hundred-percent certain that it was God?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I was pretty certain that it was God.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Ninety percent or one-hundred percent?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Ninety-eight percent.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But there was still two percent of doubt?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: So you thought very likely it was God but you weren’t totally convinced, just almost.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. There was always that two percent of doubt because I might be crazy. I knew that the human body was capable of doing odd things, and the human brain was capable of doing odd things. I thought that maybe I was suffering from some toxic poisoning from coffee or something like that. Maybe this was some sort of hallucinated experience.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now another question. What would be your first encounter with God? Because a lot of people who have known you over the years, when they see your license plate “I met God,” or when they see the title of this book, are going to be thinking about your econd encounter — which we we’re not getting to for a while yet — which you call the Mind Meld with God, which is the most intense meeting with God. But, in fact, this is the first meeting with God?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: This is the first direct encounter, or actually the first one which I identify as a direct encounter, because I have had experiences –
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But this is not the Mind Meld. That was a later experience?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is correct. This is a frightening and entirely confronting and unpleasant experience.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: And, it’s the most unusual thing about what would be your first encounter of God. The first time you move from agnosticism to pretty damn close to the theistic position, that you now believe there is a God. You’re awful close to it now, that the first thing, in effect, you get out of your first encounter with God is?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: God telling me to stop praying.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Right! You don’t normally hear that from somebody who prays, prays, prays — God finally communicates and says, “Stop all that praying!”
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. Bizarre. And also, just as bizarre, God laughing at me because he can’t believe that I’m afraid.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Right, so there’s two things. The sense of humor, which a large part of your argument about God, you’ve argued. A large part of your novel, Escape from Heaven, and many times on Jack’s show when you’re explaining your real beliefs, your view that God has a sense of humor, is a very, very important part of everything you’ve been building out of these experiences. This was the first time you had the idea that God had a sense of humor, his laughing at your fear?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. You know a really rough sense of humor.
But two events happen. One of them is Heinlein dies. I let go and a few weeks after that he’s dead. Okay? I’m told that I can’t keep him alive any more and a few weeks later he’s dead. And it’s almost like what was going on with me was not, in fact, a caffeine reaction, or a coffee reaction or something like that. But in essence this link, which I have set up psychically with Heinlein, is killing me, and unless I let go I’m going to die.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Die along with Heinlein or in place of Heinlein?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Along with, I’ll go with him.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Were there were links to others, too? It sounds like there were a couple of links.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, but the others weren’t dying. I’ve linked up with a number of people and one of them is dying and it’s going to drag me along with it. On the metaphysical level if we want to look at it in these terms, that’s what was happening.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: This psychic link with a dying person, dangerous move.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. And then he dies, May 8th, was that the date?
Now. Something else happens, very significant. I have a dream.
In my dream I am in a courtroom and to my side is my counsel and my counsel is a woman and my counsel is God.
Not, in some same sense, the God who had his masculine hand on my heart a few weeks before that. But God as a female and God is my lawyer.
And there is a panel, a panel of judges up on the judge’s bench, and I’m at the defendant’s table. Although it’s more of a hearing, an inquiry, than a trial, I’m not on trial for having done something wrong. But it is a court of inquiry. And the question before the court, I am told by God, my lawyer who is female, is, “Why was I afraid?”
BRAD LINAWEAVER: The same question repeated?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. What was it, why was I afraid? God is obviously surprised that I could be afraid and apparently it’s something that needs to be resolved.
Here is something very interesting, I am told by God, my lawyer who is female, “The judges need your permission to unlock the records. They are sealed. None of us are allowed to look at them without your permission. Will you give us permission to look so that we can find out why you are afraid of death?”
I said “Yes, permission granted.”
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But God is asking for permission to look at sealed records in effect.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Not only God but all these judges in this courtroom.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: But what’s impressive is, God won’t look at these records without permission. Do I have this right?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is correct. And I said, “Yes you can look.” And only a few seconds go by — it’s not like court is adjourned, we’ll be back later — a few seconds go by and they have the answer immediately after I give permission.
I am told, “We have just searched the records and what we found out was that in your immediate incarnation before this you were murdered as an infant and died not understanding what was going on, that the imprint of this carried over into your current life as fear, as an irrational fear of death.”
Now, I woke up from this dream and the phobia that had dogged me my entire life up to that moment was gone.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: The phobia was gone?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The phobia — something, which had dogged me my entire life – was gone. Okay?
Now what sort of dream is it that you have, that changes your life, that changes something fundamental about you? This was remarkable to me, I have a dream and then suddenly, this thing which I have never been able to go to bed without distracting myself so I wouldn’t think about death, suddenly this is gone?
BRAD LINAWEAVER: The dream reinforced the first meeting with God. You could actually argue that this dream is either an epilog to or a second encounter with God, but it’s logically tied to that first encounter. It is all of a piece with the hand on the heart and that you’ve got to let go what you are afraid of, all of that is a piece of the same experience, the same event. Therefore, at the end of what might be called this first encounter with God, you’ve had a major psychological change and you as somebody who used to be an atheist, and then have gone through this agnostic period, are wondering why the thing that would get you over the hump of such a dire problem, why you of all people ould be imagining that it’s God? Since you’ve never felt for most of your life a need for God.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right
BRAD LINAWEAVER: And yet God shows up in this situation and suddenly a huge life problem of yours is resolved. It’s like, what is it eight years later when you have the Mind Meld? There’s a good chunk of a decade that separates this event from the next encounter with God. Which means you’re not just having — like these people who claim they have born again experiences and God’s in their heart and they’re in communication with God all the time — you go through a long period of time from this moment to the next time you have an encounter with God.
–J. Neil Schulman, The Heartmost Desire (Section 2, “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith,” Chapter 3: Contact)
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Napoleon, or Jesus Christ. As you say, the asylums are full of people who claim to be Jesus Christ or Mary or something like that. But the point is they’re going around trying to convince other people of it.
The last thing I wanted to do was tell anybody about this. Because, if I thought I was crazy, certainly they would think I was crazy, too! I didn’t want to tell anybody that I was considering — inside my skull — the idea that I was God. They’d put me away!
I was pretty much back to myself after the first few weeks, when I started feeling physically stronger again, and no longer had this fear that this was an end-of-life experience. Because, by the way, people who I’ve spoken to about this experience since, say that, in some senses, it matches up with the near-death experiences of those who have had their hearts stopped or something like that and found themselves out of themselves. Because, when I would try to explain that I was out of my personality, people would hear it and think of it as an out-of-body experience.
I wasn’t out of my body. God was in my body with me. That was different.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: No, it’s definitely flipped from the normal. It’s definitely different.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. So, again, I didn’t want to go around telling anybody I was God. Not during the experience and not afterwards.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: You weren’t floating around looking at your own body. You had decided that God had invaded your body –
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: No, it wasn’t an invasion because it was welcome. The experience was entirely welcome.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I don’t know what verb to use but God had overlapped with, intruded upon…
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: How about had communed with me?
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Or double exposured, or whatever?
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: How about conversation in the Biblical sense? That it was a joining? Instead of a physical joining it was a spiritual joining? Or to use the metaphor which I came up with later, it was a Mind Meld.
–J. Neil Schulman, The Heartmost Desire (Section 2, “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith,” Chapter 8: Aftermath)
After the book is already published, after Escape from Heaven is in print, that’s when I start discovering what I put into the book. What God has revealed to me without my even knowing it.
And two things in particular. One is that I got ahold of Leonard Nimoy’s photographic book, Shekhina, and I had never heard the word Shekhina before then. But this is what was interesting to me, and here is the sequence of knowledge and learning here.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: Back to kabbalah…
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. Leonard Nimoy was raised Jewish, in Boston, and when he was taken to the Orthodox synagogue, you had the ritual of everybody turns their back so they can’t see the Holy of Holies and I guess the Rabbi holds up his hands and does the Vulcan greeting, as we know, with the two fingers separated into a “V” in the middle.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: “Live long and prosper!”
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The “Live long and prosper” symbol, which is a representation, Nimoy explains in his book Shekhina, of the Hebrew letter “shin,” if I’m not mistaken, which is the representation of Shekhina. Shekhina being the Holy Spirit, the feminine aspect of God.
And I am learning, when I start now researching this — having learned about it — that it’s God’s wife, the female aspect of God. And here’s the important part: the advocate of man to God.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I have to ask you a question.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: But let me, before you ask me the question. I can’t let this go by without emphasizing it too strongly.
We go back to 1988 where I had that dream, the dream that changes my life, where my attorney — my advocate — is God and she is a woman. God was a woman in my dream, okay?
I put that in Escape from Heaven and now I find out that Shekhina, the Holy Spirit in Judaism, is a central part of the hidden kabbalistic doctrines, and I’ve met her in my dream in 1988, and put her in a novel? And only now I find out who she is? That the defender of humanity before God, in essence, represented me?
This is — I’m starting to think — this is a central part of Judaism which I never knew about.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: I always thought it was a hidden part of Judaism.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Hidden, but you know it’s not something I was taught in the year of Hebrew School.
BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s what I mean, I always thought it was kind of like secretive.
J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It is. It’s secretive. It is deliberately secretive.
Here is Leonard Nimoy doing a book about it, telling me about it, starting me researching about it, and what I find out is that who Shekhina is, the Holy Spirit, the defender of man before God, was in my dream, defending me in 1988, after I had the experience where I had God — the male God — having His hand on my heart.
I’m blown away when I learn this.
–J. Neil Schulman, The Heartmost Desire (Section 2, “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith,” Chapter 9: Collaboration)
These experiences formed the backdrop of my 2002 third novel, Escape from Heaven, so when I first received printed copies of the novel I decided that the man who had told me about the Shekhina should be given a copy.
Living in Culver City it wasn’t far to drive to Leonard Nimoy’s house in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles.
As I drove up the gate was open, and Leonard and Susan Nimoy were outside their house. Susan approached me. “Delivery for Leonard Nimoy,” I said. “No signature needed.”
Leonard Nimoy’s eyes were on me as I handed Susan the package with the book. I don’t have any idea how well he could see me or whether there was any chance he’d recognize me from our few convention encounters. But while Leonard Nimoy was looking at me, I gave him the Vulcan split-finger salute and said, “Live long and prosper.”
Susan Nimoy smiled but Leonard Nimoy didn’t return the Vulcan salute and in true Vulcan fashion, he didn’t smile as I drove away.