‘The Pandemic of Cowardice’—Zuby Talks Transgender Athletes in Women’s Sports, COVID Disinformation, Roe v. Wade
“We’ve always agreed as a society that children, in particular, need special protection. And I see people pushing against that line. … People are saying that 11-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and 8-year-olds can make extremely serious and life-altering, permanent decisions about themselves.”
I sit down with Zuby, a rapper, author, fitness coach, and political commentator, to discuss our current political moment—from transgender athletes in women’s sports to drag queen story hour controversies to COVID disinformation to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“We talk too much now in the West about rights, not enough about responsibility… ‘I have a right to do this, I have a right to do that. This is my right. Me, me, me, me, me.’ It’s really narcissistic and immature. And people then reject the idea that there’s a responsibility that comes with that.”
Subscribe to the American Thought Leaders newsletter so you never miss an episode.
* Click the “Save” button below the video to access it later on “My List“.
Jan Jekielek: Today, I sit down with Zuby, rapper, author, fitness coach and political commentator, to discuss our current political moment, from transgender athletes in women’s sports, to COVID disinformation, to the overturning of Roe vs Wade.
Mr. Zuby: We talk too much now in the West about rights and not enough about responsibility. “I have a right to do this. This is my right. Me, me, me, me, me.” It’s really narcissistic and immature. But the rights part only works with the responsibility part.
Mr. Jekielek: This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Zuby, it’s such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Mr. Zuby: Thanks for the invitation. I’m happy to be here.
Mr. Jekielek: Just prior to the interview, I was looking at your music video for Underrated. I think it came out in February, and it’s almost like a kind of Marvel comic book story, from what I can tell. So, I thought to myself, let’s hear your origin story.
Mr. Zuby: Yeah. Sure thing. So, I was born in the UK, in England to be precise. My family, my parents, are originally from Nigeria. My dad’s a doctor, and my mom actually used to be a journalist. And, I’m the youngest of five kids. After living in the UK for a short time, my family actually moved to Saudi Arabia. We moved out there, so all my earliest memories started in Saudi Arabia. I went to preschool there, kindergarten. I was in the school system there up until fifth grade. I actually went to an international school, so American curriculum. Most of my teachers were American. Lots of my friends were American and from other parts of the world. So, if anyone’s wondering where this accent comes from, it’s actually from growing up in Saudi Arabia.
When I was 11 years old, I went to boarding school in the UK. So I was still living in Saudi Arabia, but back and forth between the two countries multiple times per year. So during term time, I’d be in the UK. Outside of that, I’d be back in Saudi Arabia. I was a good student. I did really well in school. I got into Oxford University. I studied computer science there, graduated when I was 20. And, I also started my music career when I was in university as well.
So, I wrote and released my first album, which was called Commercial Underground, way back in 2006. That was my very first independent release, and that’s how my music career kicked off. And then, I worked in the corporate world for three years. And in 2011, I took the plunge to go become a full-time musician. So, the journey I’m currently on, I’ve been doing full-time for approaching 11 years now.
And, over the course of time, my audience has grown very significantly. I’ve added additional things to what I do. So, it started out with me really just being a rapper and putting out multiple albums and releases, and touring around the UK and in different countries. And then in 2019, I started my podcast, “Real Talk with Zuby.” It’s also when I had my viral explosion, where I identified as a woman and broke the British women’s deadlift record, and millions of people discovered me through that. It’s also when I wrote and released my very first book, which was a fitness book called “Strong Advice,” which has sold well independently.
And, 2019 was a big transition year for me. Most people who know me now discovered me in the past three years. So, it’s kind of interesting because I’ve been… 16 years between now and when I put out my first album. But I’d say, probably, I don’t know, 98 percent, 99 percent of people who are aware of who I am only discovered me in the past three years. So it’s been an interesting journey. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just beginning.
Mr. Jekielek: And so, what possessed you to do this deadlift scene? Okay.
Mr. Zuby: This goes back to, I don’t know, from 2015 to 2016, I’d actually been keeping an eye on this issue. And I’d been seeing this notion of people being able to supposedly be whatever gender they so-called identify as. And I remember back in 2015, 2016, 2017, I was having conversations privately with friends and family, and I was saying, “Well, this is inevitably going to lead to men identifying as women and entering their private spaces, or even competing against them in sport,” and so on and so forth. And I remember about six or seven years ago, people telling me like, “Come on, Zuby, that’s not going to happen. You’re being a little too alarmist on this,” and so on. But to me, it was an inevitable result of that way of thinking. I mean, I was like, “Well, there’s plenty of incentive for that to happen, so why would it not?”
Then I started seeing actual stories popping up, in the world of MMA, athletics, rugby, soccer, different sports, where this was happening. Biological males were competing against women, and, in many cases, completely thrashing them, breaking their records and so on. As you can see in the past few years, this has now happened in swimming, in weight lifting and other athletic events and so on. So I was seeing all that happening. And, that day before I tweeted that, before I put out that infamous tweet, I’d seen two stories out of the USA. I was in the UK at the time, but I’d seen two stories from the States, where this had actually happened in high school, two different athletic events and both female competitions won by male competitors. And I was just like, “This is so silly. This is crazy.”
And out of curiosity, I thought, “Well, I’m actually really good at deadlifting. I’m a strong guy. I wonder what the British women’s deadlift record is in my weight class.” And so I did a quick search and I think it was 210 kilos. My personal best was 275, so I was like, “Oh wow. I can lift more than a hundred pounds more than the female record.” And I actually just had that video on my phone already from one of my previous training sessions, where I was doing 230. So, it’s a video of me, 9-second video, just lifting 230 kilos very easily and walking away from it.
So, I just went on Twitter that morning. I had 18,000 followers at the time. And I just tweeted something along the lines of, “I keep hearing about how biological men have no strength advantage over women in 2019, so watch me destroy the British women’s deadlift record without trying. PS, I identified as a woman whilst lifting the weight. Don’t be a bigot.”
So I just put that out there. I thought it was kind of funny. I thought, “Okay. If I think it’s funny, a few other people will think it’s funny.” And very quickly, it caught a life of its own. I think within 10 minutes, it had over 10,000 views. It hit 100,000 views within the first two hours. And it just kept going and going. The numbers were just increasing, increasing. Likes, retweets, shares, it just went crazy. By the time I went to bed that night, it had over 300,000 views. I woke up in the morning, it’s over half a million, and hit a million later that day. And, by the second day, I started getting contacted by various media platforms, because this video was just exploding on the internet.
So it was really confusing to me, because… So many people asked, did I preplan that? Or, did I work at all? I was like, “No. I just put that out there like I put out many other comments and statements, and it just set the world on fire.” So I started getting contacted by big media publications, from the BBC to Sky News, to Fox News here in the States and various podcasters and so on.
Then, about two weeks into all of this, I wake up one day and lots of people are like, “Man, Zuby, Joe Rogan just mentioned you on his podcast. Joe Rogan just shouted you out.” I’m like, “Wait. What is going on?” And then he’d done a podcast with the comedian, Bryan Callen, and they did a whole segment talking about this tweet and they pulled it up and he gave me a shout out. And that’s when he started following me on Twitter. And he actually DM’ed me and we had a little chat where he was just telling me how funny he thought it was.
And so this went on, honestly, for a couple months. And, I kept tweeting as usual and putting my stuff out there and letting people know about my music and my podcast and all the other stuff that I do. And, it just snowballed. A few months later, I was able to go out to the USA, in September 2019. September to November 2019, I was here in the States, did some massive interviews. First appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience.” I did a Sunday Special episode with Ben Shapiro. I was on Tucker Carlson’s show, Candace Owens’ show, dozens and dozens of smaller podcasts. And, that was the year the USA discovered me.
Mr. Jekielek: I actually really enjoyed listening to “Underrated.” I was frankly surprised. I have nothing against rap. I just don’t happen to listen to a lot of it. I don’t get a lot of access to it. There’s a few really interesting things that, one, you mentioned that people see you as controversial. So I want to touch on that a little bit. Who is it that see you as controversial? Are people trying to cancel you? The other piece though is, it sounded like you had a lot of kind of self-determination in terms of your income streams, which maybe made it harder for that to happen. So tell me about that.
Mr. Zuby: In terms of the first question, the controversial aspect, that’s one thing I constantly find funny. I find it hilarious that there are people who deem me controversial because… I think in a sane world, I would be one of the least controversial people in it. In terms of things that people traditionally used to consider controversial or subversive or taboo or whatever, I’m a pretty straight down the line guy. I mean, this is just how I was raised. I’ve never been someone who swears a lot. I don’t drink alcohol at all. I’ve never done any drugs. I’ve never even smoked a cigarette. I’m not interested in any of that stuff. And when it comes to my opinions and my positions on things, they’re pretty sane. One of the things I get most often is people thanking me for common sense, right? People thinking that, “Wow. There’s such an absence of common sense and honesty these days, and this person is saying the things that billions of people are thinking but perhaps not saying.”
And, it’s also interesting because, a lot of what I say, I’ve been saying since 2006. You can listen to my album from 2006. You’ll hear quite a few of the same themes and messages and ideas, and it wasn’t controversial then. If anything, people thought it was too milk toast or boring and not edgy enough, and this is an Oxford boy trying to rap and he’s got nothing interesting to say, kind of thing. But, I think that Western society has become so debased in that relatively short period of time, that saying really basic things now…
What’s really funny, on the very first song on my very first album, I have a lyric where I say my ideas are inconceivable like men giving birth. I said that in 2006. And, we are literally living in a time now where people are advocating and arguing that men can indeed give birth, right? So, I put that out. I said that as it’s such a ridiculous idea that is completely inconceivable, right? The word play there, inconceivable. And, 16 years later, even less than 16 years later, this is now a debate. What is a woman? What does that word even mean? What is a man? What is a woman? What are sex in general? All these things.
So, it’s so odd. If you said that men don’t give birth 10 years ago, no one would bat an eyelid. They’d say, “Yes, of course.” Even the most liberal person, the most progressive so-called person would completely agree with you, if you said that males shouldn’t compete against females in sports. There’s various issues. I use that particular one because it’s such an obvious one in just showing how odd things have become.
But, yeah. So, I don’t think that most people consider me super controversial, but I think that those who do are very loud and like to have their feelings, I won’t even say thoughts, they like to have their feelings heard by anybody. And, they’ve been causing a lot of chaos in our countries over the last few years. So, I simply am trying to… I don’t want to tell people what to think, but I want to tell people to think. I want to encourage thought. I want to encourage people to strive for the truth. This doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree on everything or everyone’s going to have the same opinion. But I think we’ve lost…
I think as a culture and as a society, the notion that truth in itself, number one, exists, and number two, is deeply important, has really been eroded. It’s really been eroded. You see this from individuals to institutions, academia. I mean, academia should be the pursuit of truth. And, it’s not now. It’s the pursuit of various forms of indoctrination and activist agendas.
The goal of the news media should be absolutely to pursue truth and report on truth. And, that doesn’t seem to be the interest anymore, right? Politics has never been purely about truth. I don’t think that’s ever been the case. But, I do feel that even in the world of politics, it’s become more dishonest. It’s become more disingenuous. And, the general conversations around so many issues have just become very much games of euphemisms and mental gymnastics and trying to attack and demonize and strongman other people and other opinions. And, I find it all pretty tiresome, which is why I speak out against it. And, I wish more people were doing the same.
Mr. Jekielek: So, I was going to ask you, you mentioned this word debased, and then you kind of qualified it a little bit. It was interesting. And so, you started talking about how you see perhaps society has become more debased. Tell me, what do you exactly mean by that?
Mr. Zuby: When I say debased, I mean unmoored and unrooted from objectivity and reality and wholesomeness and righteousness and goodness and morality. All of this stuff is becoming completely subjective and up for debate, which is really dangerous. I mean, there’s a lot of gray in the world. There are plenty of things where there isn’t just a clear, correct answer. Most things, especially when you’re taking something as complex as human societies, a lot of things are nuanced and there are trade offs, right? Everything’s a trade off. If you’re really thinking about… Especially in the world of politics, everything is a trade off, right? It’s always a trade off. It’s rarely something is all good or all bad, or just benefits or anything like that. It’s constantly trade offs.
But there are also things which are black and white. Two plus two does equal four. Now, I’ve seen people who claim to be academics on social media arguing, “No, it could equal five. It could equal three.” And, that’s dangerous. It’s not just foolish and incorrect. It’s actually dangerous. Because if you can… I mean, it’s Orwellian by definition. If you can convince people that two plus two equals five, then you can convince them of anything. What did they say? If you can make people believe absurdities, you can get them to commit atrocities. And we’ve seen this play out multiple times over the centuries. Just the last century alone, we’ve seen that in multiple countries. And so, this has a real world impact, right? There are few things… Again, lots of things we can debate, but there are few things more basic and essential and binary and biology than the fact that animal species have male and female, and that they’re not interchangeable. And, yes, there’s an overlap in roles, but they are different and there are certain roles that are unique to each sex.
Every single person on this earth was birthed from a woman, all of us, every human who’s ever walked the planet. This isn’t just unique to humans. Apart from, perhaps, seahorses, I think every animal, it’s the female that gives birth. And, this shouldn’t be political. It shouldn’t be a culture war issue. It shouldn’t be something that’s hotly contested or whatever, but that’s literally where we are. And oftentimes, I think people know better and people know the truth. But, we combine this with an epidemic, what I call a pandemic of cowardice, where people who even know the truth are afraid to say it.
I can understand how we’ve gotten here, because oftentimes, people who want to tell the truth or at least try to see it or even ask questions are being attacked, are being persecuted, are being called names, are being deplatformed on social media or censored, or people are socially trying to ostracize them and so on and so forth. So, I think you combine these two things together and you’ve got a debased society.
The same thing happens with morality. Again, with morality, there are gray areas, right? We can all think of ideas and concepts where it’s not totally clear cut what is right or what is wrong, or what does more harm or what does more good and so on. But, there have to be things where we can be like, okay, we have to draw certain hard lines and boundaries, and say this line should not and cannot be crossed, right? One of those lines that I see being eroded right now is when it comes to children. Okay?
So, even the most libertarian-minded person in the world generally would argue that, certainly when it comes to the law, adults, if they’re not harming anybody, should generally be free to do as they like. It doesn’t mean that they should, far from it, but should have the freedom to, right? The government shouldn’t be banning you, controlling what you eat or don’t. You shouldn’t be a glutton and you shouldn’t stuff yourself with so much food that you die, but you have a right to. Like your right to freedom of speech. It doesn’t mean you should say absolutely anything, and assume there’s no consequence to it or anything, but you do have the right to say what you want and to say what you believe.
But, we’ve always agreed as a society that the children in particular need special protection. And, I see that line, I see people pushing against that line, way more now than at any other time in my life. People are saying that 11 year olds, 10 year olds, eight year olds can make extremely serious and life altering permanent decisions about themselves, right? And, that used to be a line where, again, regardless of someone’s politics, it was never a political issue. It wasn’t like, “Okay, this side of the political aisle is trying to protect children and this side is not.”
But that’s what’s going on. And you’re seeing it happening in schools. Maybe it started in the universities primarily, but it’s trickled down now to kindergartners, six year olds, people wanting to teach six year olds about all kinds of sex and sexuality related topics, and so on. I’d say even what they’re doing with this bizarre vaccination effort, where they’re now trying to jab up babies for something that they have zero risk for, and have had zero risk for, for this whole time, in which we know, and people aren’t interested. All you’re doing is introducing risk. There’s no upside to it, apart from for the pharmaceutical companies and their profits. And, that’s a line, again, that’s being crossed. Someone can’t make the argument that that’s to protect children because it’s not. And, I think that’s not a line we want to cross.
Mr. Jekielek: And lowering the age of consent around getting vaccines, right? That’s another element. And even just, what I’ve been seeing is people normalizing pedophilia and moving down that way.
Mr. Zuby: Drag queen shows for children and having men stripping and twerking in front of five year olds. I don’t know how anyone in their right mind could not… I mean, even saying that sentence out of my mouth feels gross. I’m like, how is that even a reality? Why am I seeing videos of grown men, men by the way, dancing for little kids and them throwing money at them, or little kids dancing for grown men in gay clubs? And people are… Like, how on Earth can anyone look at that and say, “Oh yeah, that’s good. We should tolerate that. That’s progressive.”? It’s so far beyond. It’s like a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah kind of situation. Yeah, that concerns me. That concerns me a lot.
One reason this stuff concerns me a lot is because I think in the Western world, the UK, the USA, Canada, parts of Western Europe and so on, things are so good in so many ways. And, I don’t want this… And, it’s taken a long time to get here. If you look at where the USA was in 1922, which is only 100 years ago, which is just one person’s lifetime, if you look at the progress that’s been made in terms of fighting against discrimination and violence and expanding rights and equality and fairness across all different populations, men, women, gay people, people of different races, so much progress has actually been made, both legally and socially. And, I feel like, over the past decade, people have been moving to bring it backwards, right? People who call themselves progressives are often regressing the society. They’re trying to go back to this type of judging. We grew up saying, you don’t judge people based on their race and their skin color. And they’re now saying, “No, no, you should. You must, right?”
“To be anti-racist, you must see race. You must judge white people this way. You must talk to Black people this way. You must put this in the forefront.” There’s people advocating for segregation, again. There’s people advocating for… Just, again, the whole gender ideology stuff and what that’s doing to the basic rights of women and ability for them to have fairness in their competitions and be safe in places like prisons and changing rooms and so on. And I’m like, “This is all regressive. These are steps backwards.”
So, I’m very vocal on it, largely because I recognize and appreciate how good things are in so many ways. But it’s like, again, if you don’t… moor society back towards something morally and objectively, then the boat just drifts out into the waves. And, a time could come where it’s too late to bring it back to shore. And I feel like a lot of people think it’s already there. They’re kind of looking up and going, “Oh my gosh. We’ve drifted off pretty far in my lifetime. What’s going on here? How do we get this back?”
Mr. Jekielek: You know, one of the things I’ve observed, my parents escaped from communist Poland in the ’70s. I was born here, grew up in the ’80s. I think I figured out that the ’80s were probably the freest society, and we just thought, this is how the world is, right? And, even the stories from my parents, who left for very specific reasons, they wanted to be in a free society, didn’t really get it because, well, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like, because everything is so free and open. And so, I’m wondering, you mentioned you lived quite a bit of time in Saudi Arabia. That’s a very different reality. It certainly must have informed your thinking about how good we have it. And I see a lot of people today just simply don’t grasp that. They imagine that this is, you hear people say, this is the most racist society in the history of the world. This is the most terrible in so many different ways, right?
Mr. Zuby: Well, I think it’s good to ask those people if they think they have it better or worse than their grandparents. And that normally sobers people up a little bit, right? There might be some odd exception where someone’s grandfather or grandma had it better than they do. But, in most cases, whether they are someone whose family has been in this country or my country the whole time, or they have immigrated from elsewhere, so there are very few people who can honestly say, who are alive in 2020, who could honestly say, “Yeah, my grandparents or my great grandparents had it easier than me, generally speaking.” That’s not the case. And that’s a good thing. That shows the progress.
I think a mistake people make though, and you sort of alluded to this earlier, is that, I think people imagine that societies just continually improve, just by default, and that there are never regressions or corrections or times when things go backwards or go sideways for a decade or two and so on. And, that’s not true. I think, over a long period of time, humanity generally improves in various ways. But, number one, I don’t think it’s just by nature, right? I think it takes effort. It takes vigilance. It takes intelligence. It takes wisdom. It takes maturity to avoid us from…
We have all these sorts of individual and collective mental pitfalls and things that we’re honestly not just not that great at, especially when you introduce an element such as fear, or when you have elements of propaganda and so on and so forth. The human brain is not perfect. As smart as we are, people can also be very, very stupid, especially in large numbers, and don’t always act in a way that is rational. People get very emotional, and you can get caught up in all sorts of things. And I think that it’s important for us all to have the humility to recognize that.
I think it’s also good for us to have the humility of having perspective and gratitude. There’s nothing wrong. It’s good for people to want society to be better. I think everybody, almost everybody wants society to be better. Now, how they determine better and how they define it might differ somewhat from individual to individual. But, that has to be done with some humility. As we know, when people have these grand notions of wanting to create some type of utopia or wanting to perfect the human race or wanting to do, it very rapidly turns into totalitarianism and dystopia and mass murder and so on. We’ve seen this under different names, in different countries, with different iterations.
And, I think it’s something we always just have to be careful with, wanting to maintain the things that are good and that are working, which I think, again, in a proper society, to use the political terms, that is really the role of conservatives, is to be vigilant about protecting the things that are good and righteous and moral in which have helped us to make it this far. Whilst the role of good liberals or good progressives should be to see and analyze and propose functioning changes that don’t have tons of downsides, have more upsides than downsides, to find those people who are being excluded and bring them towards equality or to increased tolerance in this area, or to allow some flexibility here and there, right there.
There aren’t many people who want just nothing to ever change. And there aren’t really people who want everything to change either. Even if they say so, that’s just not the reality of their lives. Everybody has elements of both of these things. There are the things we want to maintain. And there are the things that we think, okay, let’s try to change this. Maybe if you just try to change everything. You just want to rip down the past 200 plus years of the USA and throw it all away and burn it all. And, you think in your mind that, “Oh, I’m going to create this better version of it.” A word of caution, there’s a word of caution in that, because that level of hubris and arrogance is guaranteed to create chaos. It’s highly unlikely that the version that that person builds or that group’s builds is going to be better than what currently exists. I think it’s a really, really arrogant way of thinking, and very, very destructive.
So, all that said, I think it’s important for us to have that perspective and gratitude, and be grateful for the progress that’s been made. It doesn’t mean it stops here, and everything is done and it’s finished and there’s no more issues anymore, anything like that. But, yeah. Go for incremental changes and also be careful that we’re not trying to solve problems that don’t exist. That’s a big one that I see a lot, people trying to solve problems that aren’t actually problems, and where they can’t probably even explain why it’s a problem. They’ve just kind of picked it out and seen something and they’re going for it. And also, to make sure that the solutions are unlikely to create more problems than what we think they could be solving.
Mr. Jekielek: When you have a situation where people stop being able to rely on knowing that two plus two equals four, that this is a man, this is a woman, all these kinds of things, which traditionally, the definitions are very clear and you can root yourself there, in this world where there’s so much gray as well, of course, that we have to deal with, suddenly everything becomes gray. So what is the connection between that? And I think you’ve kind of alluded that you head into totalitarianism. You started talking about that just now. In that kind of a situation, is that how you see it?
Mr. Zuby: People need to be able to orient themselves in the world, and you can’t orient yourselves if everything is gray. You can’t. It leads to a form of mental chaos, which can often lead to nihilism. It can lead to the infiltration of particularly dangerous ideologies that give someone something to just grasp on, or a group to join, or something like that. It also allows people to be manipulated, because when people are trying to orient themselves, they tend to look up, right? And so if there’s some maniacal figure or dictator type of person or authoritarian who is then giving them, it’s easier to sell people on a narrative that way. I mean, if you go back to…
This is slightly different, but I think it’s relevant, I mean, if you look at the conditions that led to the rise of someone like Hitler, right? You look at the situation that the German society was in, post-World War I, and leading up to that, their people were disoriented. There was a lack of hope. There was discouragement. It wasn’t like, oh, okay, society was ticking along fine, and then this guy came along. It’s like, no, people, they were looking for certain things. They were looking for meaning, purpose, leadership, that kind of feeling of self-worth and national pride and so on. And, this guy came along, and through his rhetoric and various other means, he was able to capture that and orient people in a certain direction, horrible direction, but into a certain direction.
I think this again happened, for a much more modern day example, if you look at what happened throughout the so-called pandemic situation. Early 2020, this disease and virus comes out somewhere. It’s got a scary name, and people are seeing videos of old people dropping in the streets, and they’re hearing this and they’re hearing that, and it scares them. They’ve just been living their life, and stuff has been fine, not worrying about pandemics or plagues or anything. And all of a sudden, and then the media’s there and they’re scaring people, and they’re scaring people and politicians are saying this. And there’s all this uncertainty and fear and free-floating anxiety around, and people need to follow… You know that term, Mattias Desmet, right? And people are looking for an outlet and to direct it somewhere.
So, it was very easy for various governments all around the world to shut people in their houses, to force people to do this, force them to cover their face, force them to do this and do that, all under the guise of health and safety and science and experts, right? Those four, those magic words that they just kept pumping out in every single country. And they managed to keep huge percentages of people in line on that. I mean, we’re still seeing the aftershock effects of all of that. And so-
Mr. Jekielek: And people are ready to believe a lot of things, which on the face of them are kind of nuts.
Mr. Zuby: Especially if other people are believing it. People don’t necessarily want to be right. They want to be in the majority. They want to be in the majority. So, that’s an important thing for people to understand just about human nature. It’s hard to go against the grain, in anything. Humans typically will seek the path of least resistance in most things. Whether it is your diet and your exercise habits, or it’s relationships, or even things related to career or finances or whatever it is, people will typically opt for the path of comfort, the path of least resistance, the path of least confrontation or argumentation and so on.
And, that’s understandable. Most of us don’t want to go around every single day constantly arguing with people and involved in conflicts. We like our lives to be relatively peaceful. But, there’s a line, or there are lines, where that’s something you have to be very careful of, right? Are you saying something or doing something, or not saying something or not doing something, simply because you think you might be in the minority? Or, if you’re going along with something, are you doing it because you genuinely think that it’s right and it’s correct?
Or is it just that, “Oh, well, other people are doing it.” I mean, our parents warned us about these things, especially when you’re a child. When you’re a teenager, your parents will say, “Oh, well, if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff?” Don’t do something just because. That’s peer pressure, right? That’s the power of peer pressure. And peer pressure isn’t something that’s unique to teenagers and children, a friend passing them a cigarette or trying to get them to drink alcohol or something. It affects us our entire lives, right?
We’re social beings. We need to be able to get on with each other. We need to be able to have a cohesive and civil society and so on. And I’m also a big fan of that. But you also have to be willing to stand up and say no, if you think that something is wrong, or you think something is going too far, you think somebody is being mistreated. You see something that’s wrong, you have to be able to call it out, even if you are the first person or the only person, because our default nature isn’t necessarily to do so. But actually, if you get into the habit of doing that, then it does become a habit.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s like a muscle, people have said, so I can say that with you.
Mr. Zuby: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: You get used to it.
Mr. Zuby: You get used to it, exactly. You got to put in the reps.
Mr. Jekielek: But you gave away that you’re into Mattias Desmet’s thinking. You talked about free-floating anxiety. So, it sounds like, I’m going to take a guess here, that when you read or listened to him speak or read his book, “Psychology of Totalitarianism,” you thought to yourself, “This makes perfect sense.” That was me as well. And, I actually think it’s one of the more important books of recent years, because it’s just not a phenomenon, this mass formation phenomenon, I think a lot of people are ready to believe can actually happen, but pretty obviously, it seems to me is happening. Why is it so obvious to you, when you look at this and you say, “Oh yeah, this makes perfect sense.”? Tell me about that.
Mr. Zuby: As a non-psychologist, I wouldn’t have been able to explain it in the same terminology that he does prior to this time. However, I am someone who is a non… For the past 20 years especially, especially with all the stuff I’ve had to do with my career and with my music, and how I used to promote and sell my stuff, I’ve been studying human psychology unofficially, for at least two decades, at a pretty deep level. And I’ve always been very interested in social dynamics and the way that human beings behave as individuals versus when they’re in groups, right? The concept of mob mentality, for example, has always fascinated me, because there’s things that people will do when they’re in a large group that they won’t do by themselves, right? There’s a difference in behavior between an individual and a group.
Also, prior to any pandemic situation, I read books like “The Gulag Archipelago.” I read books like “Ordinary Men,” because I was trying to understand. You look back at history and you think, “How did that happen? How did that happen?” And, again, this takes a degree of humility because we need to remember that human beings haven’t changed. We are the same, right? So if you’re looking back at things that happened in the 1920s or the 1940s or the ’70s or whatever, don’t be so arrogant to assume like, “Oh, we’ve evolved. We’ve evolved.” We haven’t evolved at all, right? We’ve just got better toys, right? We are the exact same people, with the exact same merits and flaws and issues. The only two advantages we have over our ancestors are better technology and access to history.
Mr. Jekielek: Sometimes.
Mr. Zuby: Yes. If we choose to, right? If we choose to. Those are really the only… We’re not bigger or smarter or stronger. We’re the same flawed human beings. And with that, you realize that those bad things that happened in history can happen again in some way, shape or form, right? It can happen again. I mean, people go back that far. What about the Rwandan genocide in 1994? How did that happen?
Mr. Jekielek: That’s right.
Mr. Zuby: People forget about that one, or they never knew to begin with, how did that happen, right? Neighbors turned on each other. About a million people killed in the course of a matter of months.
Mr. Jekielek: With machetes.
Mr. Zuby: With machetes, right? Propaganda on the radio. Messages put out there by politicians. People caught up in this mass psychosis. I mean that’s a perfect example of a mass formation.
So, I think the reason why, from early on, when I started to see some of these elements happening, I’m not talking about people being killed, but people buying into a certain narrative and not questioning it, and people being shamed and attacked for questioning it and so on. In early 2020, I’d never heard the term mass formation. I’d heard the term mass psychosis. And I was like, “All right. Something is happening here. And the truth is not the truth.”
Again, that’s that debasement. The people don’t seem interested in the truth here, right? Doctors are being silenced. Scientists are being silenced. You’re only hearing from certain ones, right? There’s no room for dissent. There’s no room for argument. People are being called names and this and that. There’s a very certain narrative. All these three words sentences.
I kept noticing three word sentences, three word sentences, right? Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Take the jab. Do this. Do that. It was duh, duh, duh. Duh, duh, duh. Duh, duh, duh, right? Like people being programmed, right? I noticed this. I’m super perceptive. I see things. And I’m like, “This is interesting.” Even in different countries, the messaging, duh, duh, duh. Duh, duh, duh. Every country, right? Slightly different language, but oh, the same thing. And I was like, “This is weird.” And then lots of stuff wasn’t making sense. It didn’t make sense. And it still doesn’t make sense. So, that was why, early on, I think I was able to see, because I’d done that pre-thinking. And I’d also thought…
I’m also aware of things like the Asch Experiment, the Milgram Experiments, the Stanford Prison Experiment. How does human psychology play out in certain things? I myself have thought of these things and thought, “Ooh, in my life, if I’m ever in a situation that resembles anything like this in any way, how would I respond? Would I have the courage to say that line is shorter than that line, just because everyone else is saying that line is longer? Would I have the courage to say to them, ‘I have to’. If I see that people are being hurt or being discriminated, do I have the boldness to say something?” Because if I don’t, then aren’t I just the same as all those people in the past, in all these different situations, who saw something happening that was really, really wrong, and they just put their head down and said, “Ah, we need to ignore that.”
So, I understand why people don’t want to do this thinking, because it’s quite dark, then you have to get in touch with your dark side and humanity’s dark side. And I think people generally prefer not to do that. But I think it’s important to do, because otherwise, you are even more prone for being manipulated by bad actors.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m just looking at the book behind you, “The Candy Calamity.” This is your new kids book. A really important theme in it, and I think it’s incredibly important at this time in history, is personal responsibility. It’s just not something a lot of kids are being taught. They’re not being taught that they need to take responsibility for themselves. So thank you for a children’s book that actually does that. But, this personal responsibility has become something that’s almost like a question. It’s like someone else is supposed to take the responsibility. Is it the government? Is it the people, the privileged people? Is it what… So what are your thoughts?
Mr. Zuby: Sure. I think that personal responsibility is another thing that has been sadly eroded over the course of the last few decades, with society and culture. I think on a deeper, more philosophical level, I think this stems from various forms of thought and academia, which promote the notion that human beings are somehow perfectable. They reject the notion of any type of original sin or religious thinking, and the ideas that human beings are these sort of blank slates and we’re simply product of our environment. So, if someone commits a crime, or somebody does something that’s bad or wrong, it’s purely because of environmental and social factors, and if we just had this thing in the right place, then that person wouldn’t have done it. It almost goes against this idea of free will.
Mr. Jekielek: It is deterministic.
Mr. Zuby: Yes. It’s this deterministic kind of situation that, oh, if someone is born into these conditions, or they grow up in these conditions, then they have no control over their outcome, and it’s just a result. And I think this is an attractive thought, number one, because it allows people to deny personal responsibility. But also, because there’s some truth in it, but they make it absolutist, right? We all recognize that the environment that you grow up in, and your family situation, and the level of poverty or crime around you or certain role models around you or whatever, we understand all of these things can influence and impact people’s behavior. Human beings can absolutely be influenced. That’s what we’ve been discussing. But, you do have…
I believe people do have free will, and you do make your own choices. You don’t choose the cards you’re dealt, but you can choose how you play the hand, especially over the course of multiple decades. I’d tell [you], the situation you’re born into, you have zero control over. The parents you’re born to, no control. The country you’re born in, no control. The time period you’re born into, you have no control. You have no control over your genetics. All that, we have no control. But where you end up over the long course of time, that is largely up to you. Again, even not completely. There’s random variables in there. There’s people who, you could be in good health and take care of your health, and you could still get cancer. You could still get a random heart attack, right? There are many things that we are not totally in control of.
So, I’m a big advocate for the things which we are, to take control and take responsibility of that. There are all these random variables. There are all these environmental factors and so on. But the one thing we can control, I can only control myself and my response and reactions to things. I can control my choices. I have control of that. No one else does, not the government, not even my parents and my family, not anyone I know, my friends, my acquaintances. I have control of that. Just like I pick what foods I want to eat on a daily basis, I have the control of many other more important decisions. And, the message to me about personal responsibility is, number one, it’s one of reality.
And number two, it’s actually a very empowering message. Because as I’ve said, there are so many things that we cannot control, and that can feel disempowering, right? It can feel disempowering to not be able to control every single aspect. We certainly can’t control other people, and all of their decisions and so on. But it’s empowering.
It should be empowering to people to go, “Hey, you know what? Despite all that, I’ve got that certain control over my body, and I can act as a force in the world to make good decisions and make wise decisions, which will lead to an increase in my own happiness and other people’s happiness, and my ability and my potential, and what I’m trying to orient myself towards in a personal direction, and if I want to have a family, the family I come from and the family that you go on and create.” All of that, it’s amazing. You’ve got great control over that. So, this is a message that I wish were pushed more. I think we talk too much now in the West about rights and not enough about responsibility.
Talking about rights is really important. I talk about rights a lot, but you always have to couple it with responsibility. Because with every right comes a responsibility. And I think there’s so much focus on that first part. “I have a right to do this. I have a right to do that. This is my right. Me, me, me, me, me.”
It’s really narcissistic and immature. And, people then reject the idea that there’s a responsibility that comes with that. And I think it’s also dangerous to disregard that, because if you don’t, then that power will be outsourced elsewhere. It will be outsourced to the state. It will be outsourced to somebody else who can then have control over you and manipulate you and do your bidding. But, the rights part only works with the responsibility part.
And this goes for many issues, hot button topics here in the USA even. There’s lots of control right now about guns and gun rights, right? I support the Second Amendment. Most British people probably don’t. I support the Second Amendment. But if you are a gun owner, if you have a right to own a firearm, then you have a responsibility, a big responsibility actually, that comes with that, right? If you want to just talk about us as human beings, as a species that reproduces and we all have the capacity and ability to reproduce and a right to reproduce, you’ve got to be careful with that, right? You’ve got to be smart. You have to make good decisions.
Mr. Jekielek: You were talking about your support of the Second Amendment. I can’t help but remembering that, you yourself were at one point taken down by the equivalent of something like a SWAT team, in a case of mistaken identity. And some people might wonder, in this situation, you weren’t treated well. And, when you have a situation, which a lot of people today would say is terrible and representative of the bad way our society has gone, how could you support the Second Amendment?
Mr. Zuby: If that’s the way someone thinks of it, they should support it even more because that was the police that did that. So, if people are thinking that the police are the problem, or that the police can’t be relied on to protect their lives and other people, then to me, that sounds like an argument in favor of a Second Amendment.
I’ve never even viewed my situation through that lens, but if anything, that would’ve been an outcome that comes of it. In terms of that particular incident though, it’s not something I really think about that much. What happened was, it was a case of… I’d been out promoting my music. One day, I came back home. I was at a train station, and there was a mistaken identity case. They thought I was somebody I wasn’t. They thought I was someone who’d threatened someone with a firearm in a city I hadn’t even been to that day. And, two firearm units were sent out and were dispatched to stop the train and arrest me. So, that was a very strange situation, on multiple levels. But…
There were many lessons taken from it, but I don’t use… I don’t know. I don’t generally… Number one, I don’t like to get hung up on any type of victim narrative. It would be easy for me, in the many years after that, to kind of perceive myself as some kind of victim of injustice or something, which I temporarily was in that case. That was an injustice. It’s not something that should have happened nor something that was fair, because I hadn’t done anything wrong.
But, I’m here. Life goes on. As I said earlier, you can’t control every random thing that happens to you. And sometimes sucky things just happen. But you can control how you react and respond, right? If I’d made a really stupid reaction, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, right?
So even if you do find yourself in that type of situation, my most important takeaway I could say to anyone is, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve got guns pointed at you and police arresting you for something that you have not done and you have no idea what’s going on, comply. Just comply, and stay alive, and then deal with it later. If you are innocent, then you’ve got very little to worry about in that scenario. Just stay calm and stay alive. And then you can deal with it later and find out what happened. Don’t be reckless. Don’t try to fight them off. That’s how so many of these situations end up tragic, in these rare incidents where people are unjustifiably killed by police. Oftentimes, it escalates because they’re trying to fight them, or they’re trying to run away, or they themselves pull out just…
Yes, it’s not fun. It’s not pleasant. Hopefully, no one listening to this ever has to go through something like that. But, that’s really the key takeaway. That’s the part you can control is the response.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s go back to Roe.
Mr. Zuby: Sure.
Mr. Jekielek: Roe v. Wade. And, there’s a lot of people saying it’s the end of some foundational rights for women. There’s other people that are saying this has been a wrong decision for 50 years. It’s caused a lot of death of unborn children. Actually, you have a quite interesting take, and I want to explore that actually.
Mr. Zuby: Yes, sure. I have a lot of takes on this. I guess the first two is, firstly, it seems very clear to me that most Americans don’t know what Roe v. Wade even is, let alone non-Americans, right? People are now saying that, even a lot of politicians are saying that this now means that abortion is federally banned across the USA or something like that.
That’s strongly what they’re outright saying or hinting at, which is just wrong. It simply means that it goes back to a state decision. My understanding of the case from the ’70s is that it was a bad decision to begin with, because people are claiming that abortion is a Constitutional right, which, by definition, it’s not. It’s not in the Constitution. Never was. And so, that decision shouldn’t have been made in the first place, as far as I’m concerned. So that’s the first part.
Number two is, I am very openly pro-life. I’m against abortion. I have been for many years at this point, and I don’t hesitate to say that. Again, I don’t need to speak in euphemism. I don’t think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a deeply immoral thing, in fact. And so, from the governmental perspective, I think that it should be a state’s right issue, so I think that it’s the right decision that was made. Number two, is that the reality is, for a lot of states, it’s not going to change anything. It just means that they can confirm what they already have or what they already wanted to confirm. But, I think, perhaps the best… It’s the most unpleasant part of it, but perhaps, one of the best things that comes out of this is bringing the moral and legal conversation to the forefront again.
I’ll be honest with you. There’s no topic I hate discussing as much as abortion. I really hate it. And I think a lot of people hate discussing it, which is why it’s shied away from because it’s a life and death issue. It’s so personal. People have such strong feelings about it, understandably, and so on, on both sides of the issue or multiple sides of the issue.
But, as a society that’s trying to improve and get better, you have to be willing to have uncomfortable and unpleasant conversations. You have to be willing to listen to people who disagree with you, or you may think that their views are completely wrong or crazy or immoral or this or that. And it can be exhausting. But I think it’s good that in the USA, which by the way, is an extremely young country. I always tell my American friends that this country is a teenager. As far as countries go, this is a teenager.
So, I think it’s good. Sometimes, the culture war stuff can get tiring, but it’s good that people are having these conversations. It’s good that people are arguing about gun rights and the role of guns in society. It’s good that people are discussing and sharing their thoughts and opinions on issues such as abortion. Because these things need to be out in the open. And, I get that it’s hard. I get that it’s unpleasant. But, this is one issue where I think that the current status quo is completely wrong. I actually think it’s abhorrent. And this is not unique to the USA. In many Western countries, I think this is one where people really, really miss the mark.
Mr. Jekielek: So the status quo, I assume you mean basically, prevalently available abortion as a sort of a common way of dealing with pregnancy. Is that what you mean when you say…?
Mr. Zuby: I mean, that is the status quo. It’s what, about 800,000, 900,000 a year, in this country? I think in my country, about 170,000, 180,000, per year. People try to trot out this line that it’s just about extremely rare circumstances or something like that. It’s not. That’s not the truth. And the truth is that, many people advocating, not all, but many people advocating for it simply want it to be on demand, oftentimes with no limits.
Yes, I think that’s abhorrent, to put it simply. To me, it’s morally as abhorrent as… Honestly, it’s morally as important as slavery, or something like that. It’s not even… I think society [is] in such a dark place, where millions of people can think that that is, not even morally neutral, but there’s people advocating that that’s some type of moral good, or that it’s pro-social, or that’s overall good for society for all sorts of reasons that I consider heinous. And, yeah, so we need to talk about that.
Mr. Jekielek: In the past, there was this sort of… I don’t know if it’s a mantra exactly, but it was something, it was… Rare was one of those three words.
Mr. Zuby: Safe, legal and rare.
Mr. Jekielek: Safe, legal and rare. Yes, exactly. And then it just kind of turned into something else.
Mr. Zuby: Now it’s on demand, any reason, anytime, any place. Again, not everyone. There are still the, I guess you could call them like ’90s liberals or classical liberals who sort of maintain the safe, legal and rare position. Although, that in itself doesn’t really make sense. Because, if there is that type of moral weight to it, then the rare part doesn’t really make sense, if your argument is that it’s of no more moral value or difference than clipping a toenail or getting an appendix removed or something, then the rare part doesn’t really hold up.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s examples of situations where it might be reasonable, the people that believe in the rare part, right? The idea would be that the moral position would be, “This isn’t a good thing to do, but there’s some circumstances it might be acceptable.” As opposed to the position that it’s never acceptable.
Mr. Zuby: Yeah. Well, the fact is that those rarities that people often point to make up, in many cases, under two percent of all of it. And it’s really a rhetorical trick, because if I say, “Okay, well, if we say there’s allowances for that two percent, are you okay with condemning the other 98 percent, let alone banning the other 98 percent?” Of course, they’ll jump and say no, right? Because that’s not really the position. And it’s a dishonest position as well.
There are situations where a homicide is justifiable, right? But you wouldn’t use the one or two percent cases where homicide is justifiable to try to justify homicide in general. That would be insane, right? That would be ridiculous. We recognize there are situations, self-defense, right? If you have a gun and someone runs up and puts a gun to your head and you shoot them before they shoot you, or someone’s about to kill someone next to you and you have the ability to get the jump on them, then that is a self-defense case. That’s a homicide, right?
War. War, especially on a defensive end, you’re defending your nation or something like that, then that’s a justifiable homicide. But you wouldn’t take that and say, okay, so the other 98 percent, 99 percent times when people kill, take another person’s life, that’s okay because those one percent are okay. So, for me, again, it’s just another trick. I think, if someone wants to have an honest conversation about those edge cases, then that can be had. But oftentimes, those edge cases are being jumped to immediately to try to justify the entire position. And it’s only done on this one issue, which to me is just disingenuous and dishonest.
And, I’ll be honest, with this whole conversation, you really want to go upstream as well on the conversation, because by the time you’re discussing that issue of abortion, then something’s already gone very wrong further upstream. And we need to have that conversation.
Mr. Jekielek: You mean in society in general.
Mr. Zuby: Yeah. And with individual decision making. We all know how babies are made, right? We all know how babies are made. There are various options. There is abstinence. There is contraception. There is parenthood. There is adoption. Those four choices morally are fine. Nobody is getting killed in any of those choices. So, I wish people would, again, be honest and stop pretending that it’s impossible to not get a woman pregnant or for a woman… There’s never been more options before. It’s never been easier for that not to happen, right?
Mr. Jekielek: But I guess your case is that, in a world where you don’t have personal responsibility, then…
Mr. Zuby: This is the outcome. This is the natural outcome. That’s my point. When you erode personal responsibility and you give people an easy out for everything, essentially, then they are going to adjust their behaviors accordingly, en masse, not just individually, but en masse. And you can see how, over the past few decades, that has changed. Let’s be honest. There’s a lot of people who just think, “You should be able to do whatever you want, exercise every right, have none of the responsibilities, suffer none of the consequences.” There’s people who basically think that that is the case. And, I push back very strongly against that entire notion, and I don’t think that’s something you want to be teaching future children and future generations, because I think it’ll just degrade and debase society even further. And 20 years down the line, if you keep going on that path, I mean, Lord knows where things would be in 20, 30 years from now.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so, as we finish up, you’re essentially saying that our society, our children, our people, we need strong moral principles.
Mr. Zuby: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s what we base things on. Now, traditionally, that’s been provided by religion. But that’s another thing. Religion’s another thing that’s been eroded, like you said exactly, and, in some ways, very deliberately. And when you look at some of these protests right now, there’s a lot of people that are specifically protesting religion, not just abortion. That’s one of the things I’ve observed, right? So what’s the way forward?
Mr. Zuby: And what’s interesting is they’re the ones who bring in the religious angle, right? In this whole conversation and this whole topic, I never quote Scripture or discuss religion because you can just totally stay in the realm of biology and rationale and logic to make the strongest arguments. You don’t need to say, “Well, it says right here in the Bible or in the Quran, this thing.” But I think the way forward is, I think there are multiple paths. I am a Christian, and I still think that Christianity and traditional religions are a strong path forward when it comes to moral and finding moral guidance, purpose, meaning, ways to live your life that have worked for billions of people successfully. I still think that is a very good answer and not an answer that should be thrown away.
I also think that people need to do some soul searching and some thought. I think it’s very easy in this time, with all these distractions and all these options, to kind of live your life, especially as a teenager, young adult, even going into someone’s middle age, and never really do that much thinking, and just kind of, you’re just on this treadmill and you’re just this leaf that’s blowing around in the wind and going around with whatever is happening in society, and whatever celebrities tell you, or politicians or experts are telling you. You’re just going along with that blowing in the wind, and you never really think about your own principles and where they come from and how you should live a good life and so on.
Now, there’s different ways people can orient themselves, and different ways that people can live good, wholesome, purposeful, righteous lives. I don’t think I’d be being honest if I said that my religion is the only way forward. So I think that’s absolutely still an answer for billions of people around the world and should continue to be so. But for someone who, for whatever reason, is not interested in that, or just simply doesn’t believe, I’m totally aware that not everyone is a person of faith, I believe there are other ways that one can certainly find senses of purpose and morality and ethical guidance, and stay away from nihilism and destruction and anti-human attitudes and behaviors.
Mr. Jekielek: Maybe they can look at some of your feeds, listen a little bit. No, because I do. I appreciate your commentary, because I find it to be very, frankly, positive and proactive, and calling people to be responsible in a fair and reasonable way. I think-
Mr. Zuby: The truth is, and I want everyone to really understand, there’s even people who disagree with a lot of what I say or some of what I say, is that, I do, I love humanity. I love people. I love people. As much as they can annoy me, and as stupid as I feel like people can be sometimes, I ultimately have a very deep love for humanity and for my fellow men. And to be religious, I do believe that we are all reflections of God’s image. And I take that seriously in how I conduct myself in this world.
And so, what I say and what I’m advocating for, that’s where it stems from. It stems from genuinely wanting to see people fulfill their potential and wanting to live good, upstanding, purposeful lives for themselves, for their families, for their future children, for the world as a whole, for the next generation. Because if we can’t all maximize our potential, at least strive to. Not everything is always about achieving the pinnacle of everything, right? That’s not possible. But, at least having standards and striving to achieve them, everything, our health, exercise, nutrition, spiritual, mental, educational, societal, all of these things, if you’ve at least got, “Okay, this year’s the standard. We should strive towards that,” then that’s really important.
And what concerns me is this idea that there’s no standard, right? Like, “There’s no standard. Just do what you want. Just seek short-term pleasure and thrill, and don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t worry about the next generation.” I don’t think that’s good.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Zuby, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Mr. Zuby: Thank you, man. I appreciate it.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Zuby and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Follow EpochTV on social media: