Kelly Hawes

Bethany Mandel had a feeling she was about to become famous.

“This is gonna be one of those moments that goes viral,” she said.

The moment came more than halfway through a 12-minute interview on a podcast produced by the online newspaper The Hill.

Mandel was there to promote the book she had co-written with Karol Markowicz, a columnist for the New York Post. The book’s title, “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation,” probably tells you all you need to know about what’s inside.

Mandel and co-host Briahna Joy Gray had been talking about a “martyrdom complex” where young people seek to gain points among their peers by casting themselves as victims of mental illness. It’s hard in such a situation, she said, to separate the real from the imagined.

“But what we address as sort of the way forward is to not idolize and to not amplify mental health crises as something that gains you credibility points,” Mandel said. “It’s something that is not good, that requires treatment and conversation instead of, sort of, social cred.”

Gray agreed the crisis was real, but she wondered why Mandel seemed to be framing the issue in political terms.

“There’s a lot of things that are sort of a right-vs.-left conversation,” she said, “and I agree with you. I think there are a lot of people for whom this argument resonates, and it’s not just a right-left issue. We hope that people of all political stripes will pick up the book.”

She said America’s education system had undergone “a woke re-imagining that is very, very, very far-left.”

“Only 7% of Americans consider themselves very liberal,” she said, “and probably fewer of them consider themselves woke. And so, when we. …”

Gray interrupted, asking Mandel to define “woke,” a term she had used three times by that point in the interview.

“So, I mean, woke is sort of the idea that, um. …”

Mandel paused, seemingly unable to form words. Finally, after predicting her moment of infamy, she struggled through an answer.

“Woke is something that’s very hard to define,” she said, “and we’ve spent an entire chapter defining it. It is sort of the understanding that we need to totally reinvent and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression.”

She seemed to recognize her definition hadn’t quite hit the mark.

“Sorry,” she said, “it’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite.”

Gray assured Mandel she could take her time, but co-host Robby Soave cut off the discussion, saying basically that you know “woke” when you see it. He defined it as “the tendency to punish people formally or often informally for expressing ideas using language that is very new, that no one would have objected to like five seconds ago.”

After the interview, Mandel took to Twitter to blame Gray for her brain freeze.

“Just before we went on air, Briahna Joy Gray was on a hot mic,” she tweeted. “I heard her demeaning parenting in general in colorful and nasty terms, stating parents only have kids in order to perpetuate their own narcissism.”

As the mother of six, Mandel said, she was rattled by the remarks.

“Not an excuse, just a reality,” she tweeted. “I’m human!”

Listening to her discuss her book, you might get the idea Mandel is a trained psychologist. She actually has a bachelor’s degree in history and Jewish studies.

Mandel speaks of the “forced conformity” that “a lot of people on the left” are foisting on parents and children, but she offers few concrete examples.

It’s been a while since she’s seen the inside of a classroom. She homeschools her children.

She might not have seen a lot of this indoctrination she writes about, but she’s pretty sure it’s out there.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at Find him on Twitter @Kelly_Hawes.


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