Review of the Netflix series Thieves of the Wood

By John Ruberry

Are you missing some Robin Hood in your life? If you are a Netflix subscriber and you can stomach graphic violence, including torture, as well as gratuitous nudity, then you may want to take a look at the ten-episode Belgian series Thieves of the Wood, which began streaming earlier this month.

And you must be patient. Thieves of the Wood moves slowly, and if you don’t know about Jan de Lichte or Flanders of the 18th century, as I didn’t until a few days ago, you might get lost.

After watching the first episode I was indeed lost. So I got on my iPad where I learned that Jan de Lichte was a real person, a highway man, who of course robbed from the rich. After all, stealing from the poor is never very profitable. At the beginning of that first episode, de Lichte (Matteo Simoni) is being dragged on a sandy trail by mounted Austrian troops, he’s accused of murder and desertion. Now is the time to bring some historical perspective. Most of contemporary Flanders, a Dutch speaking region, lies in Belgium. But in the 1740s this region was then part of Austria although it was occupied by France. Historians call this conflict the War of Austrian Succession.

De Lichte escapes. He returns to his hometown of Aalst, which is run by corrupt Flemish aristocrats, led by Mayor Coffijn (Dirk Roofthooft). Just as de Lichte arrives in Aalst, so does the new bailiff, that is the chief of police, Jean-Phillipe Baru (Tom Van Dyck). Both learn that punishment is harsh in Aalst. Baru is horrified when he learns that a man and a woman are about to be flogged for the crime of stealing two rabbits from Coffijn’s estate, then branded–while their children watch. Now paperless, they are exiled from the city to live in a nearby forest.

Those woods are not the Nottingham Forest of Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. The refuge is overrun by abject poverty, disease, prostitution, and opium smoking. De Lichte, aided by his half-brother Tincke (Stef Aerts), organize the downtrodden to fight back against the oppression, although it’s not until the fourth episode–I did say that Thieves of the Wood requires patience–that their plans bear fruit.

The loot is shared. Everyone wins in the forest. While Coffijn seethes

The scriptwriters are clearly hostile to the Catholic church. There is no Friar Tuck in this forest, in the town presides an imperious priest, Picke. He reminded me of the cruel Lutheran bishop in Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander. 

As the series played out to me I fully expected a Donald Trump reference or two, especially since America comes up in the dialogue a couple of times. Then it hit me. Two of the town council members, including Mayor Coffijn, wear orange, or I should of course say red, periwigs. Perhaps that’s only a coincidence. Perhaps not. 

Some of the good: The costumes of Thieves of the Wood, including those wigs, are first-rate and the cinematography is superb. 

And now some of the bad: There are no subtitles, the Dutch dialogue instead is dubbed by British actors. The American entertainment industry suffers from the false premise that we won’t watch subtitled offerings. But last night I saw the Korean film Parasite, which is subtitled. Not only is Parasite an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture (and Best International Feature Film), but it is also performing very well in the domestic box office. Deservedly so, I’d like to add. 

Thieves of the Wood is rated TV-MA for reasons I listed above. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Progressive indoctrination in US schools has reached dangerous levels

It is difficult to pinpoint just when progressive indoctrination began at the college level in this country, it began slowly and under the radar at first.  What is abundantly clear today is that indoctrination has reached levels that are hazardous to our constitutional republic.  You can see just how dangerous the level of indoctrination has become from the Federalist article 4 Reasons Socialism Is More Popular Among Americans Now Than Ever Before

The supporters of socialism are not simply the young, but they’re disproportionately young people who are college-educated. The more college they have, the hotter for socialism they get. According to a 2015 poll, support for socialism grows from 48 percent among those with a high school diploma or less, to 62 percent among college graduates, to 78 percent among those with post-graduate degrees.

Those on the left probably jump immediately to the conclusion that support for socialism is just a natural outgrowth of big brains and elite educations. But there is, in fact, a less obvious but ultimately far more compelling explanation: Something — something bad — is happening at universities to pull students toward the (far) left.

We have already seen above that what’s not happening at even elite universities today is a whole lot of education in important subjects such as history. What we are getting instead is a lot of groupthink and indoctrination. Universities have always skewed a bit left. But beginning in the early to mid 1990s (for reasons I’ve explained in some detail elsewhere), ideological diversity began to vanish entirely, as the leftward deviation turned tidal.

Unfortunately the progressive indoctrination has spread down to high schools and grade schools because progressives infected teaching colleges.  The indoctrination has also been spread down to this level by teacher unions. 

Multiculturalism has always been a vehicle used to spread progressive indoctrination. Here is a particularly ridiculous example I found on Breitbart  Seattle Schools Plan Curriculum to ‘Explore’ Cultural Appropriation of Math.

The Seattle school district is putting into place a K-12 curriculum that encourages students “to explore how math has been ‘appropriated’ by Western culture and used in systems of power and oppression.”

Here is a quote from the Breitbart article that was originally from an article in Education Week

In most places, if schools offer ethnic studies at all, it’s usually in a stand-alone course in high school. But increasingly, schools and districts are starting to sprinkle ethnic studies across the K-12 spectrum. Seattle is taking a highly unusual approach by weaving the field’s multicultural and political questions not just through all grade levels, but into all subjects.

Politically correct revisionist history has been a mainstay of progressive indoctrination.  It is a particularly dangerous one because it is meant to undermine the entire foundation of our constitutional republic.  This Daily Signal article Woke History Is Making Big Inroads in America’s High Schools chronicles the spread of this revisionist history.

Two years ago, the Indiana Legislature mandated that high schools offer an ethnic studies elective. As approved by the state’s Education Department, the class teaches about the contributions of ethnic and racial groups, various cultural practices, as well as such concepts as privilege, systematic oppression, and implicit bias. And now three states—California, Oregon, and Vermont—are trying to create authoritative statewide templates that, advocates hope, will make it easier for schools to adopt ethnic studies.

The statewide California ethnic studies curriculum was proposed in June by an advisory committee, composed of ethnic studies teachers and professors, and met with public outcry that such classes are designed to recruit students into political activism, indoctrinate them with ideological jargon, and promote the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Multiculturalism may seem warm and fuzzy on the surface however it is meant to tear down one particular culture, the culture of the United States.  Here are two great Thomas Sowell Quotes which sum up this sham.

Much of what is promoted as “critical thinking” in our public schools is in fact uncritical negativism towards the history and institutions of America and an uncritical praise of the cultures of foreign countries and domestic minorities.

What “multiculturalism” boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture—and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.

It will be extremely difficult to turn the tide back on this progressive indoctrination but it is something we must do to save our constitutional republic.  Ending Common Core and all other federal intrusions, while taking local control of K-12 schools, are important steps in the process, along with completely relaxing the iron grip of teacher unions.