Black Lives Matter • Conservatives • Law and Order • Second Amendment

Fear-Based Policing Poses a Public Danger

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It all started with a hat.

“You sure remind me of Sam Hall,” said the old-timer in the lobby of the Post Office in The Plains, Virginia. “Did you know him? He was sheriff around here for 22 years. A good man. He wore hats like that.”

I answered that I did not know Hall, that I had first come to Fauquier County in 1994 and so was a relative newcomer to the area. But my curiosity was piqued.

“Sam Hall?” said the 82-year-old black man. “Yes, he was sheriff down in Warrenton.”

“Do I look like him?”

“No, but he wore hats like that.”

“Was he a good man?”

A few seconds passed. “He was fair.”

“That’s about all you can ask for in a police officer.”

“True enough.”

I’ve always been a law-and-order guy inclined to give the police the benefit of the doubt. I agree with Eric Hoffer that “freedom is impossible without authority. The absence of authority is anarchy—and anarchy is a thousand-headed tyrant.” And as a Vietnam veteran, I abhor the idea of putting a man in uniform, having him do your dirty work, and then despising him for it.

That said, YouTube is awash with appalling instances of the police abusing their authority, sometimes tasing or even shooting people for no good reason. In a recent example, a panicky Minnesota policeman has been acquitted in the unjustified shooting death of Philando Castile, who had a permit to carry a concealed handgun and was obeying the officer’s instructions.

Is this a new phenomenon, I asked myself, or has modern technology simply made us more aware of what’s been going on all along? Entering “Sam Hall” and “Fauquier” into a search engine brought me closer to an answer.

This led to a blog titled, “Growing Up Colored: Life in rural Virginia in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.” The author, Stanley Brown, explains: “These stories revolve around the small town of Remington, Virginia, in southern Fauquier County.”

Sheriff Sam Hall.

The blog entry for April 4, 2015, “A Good Place to Land,” begins in the here-and-now and then harks back to earlier times. Brown, a heavy-set man in his early sixties, sensed that he had aroused the suspicions of a motorcycle policeman as he walked the mile and a half back to the repair shop where he’d dropped off his truck earlier in the day. He found himself scanning his surroundings, looking from the sidewalk to an adjacent field in search of a soft, wet spot to land “just in case I was slammed, face first, to the ground, like is happening to so many these days.”

Brown called such take-downs a new trend, and wrote that it’s easy for those unaffected to say things like “he shouldn’t have resisted” or “all he had to do was do what he was told . . . if it isn’t you being gripped in a chokehold, or it isn’t you with a knee on his neck and his arms being forced to go in directions they weren’t intended to go.”

And indeed, the YouTube commandos seem to think if they scream, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!” for the dash cam recorders, they can do pretty much anything they want. Another exculpatory catch phrase now seems to be, “I feared for my safety,” which has become an all-purpose justification for the use of lethal force. And juries, apparently, are buying the argument that frightened cops have carte blanche.

Brown recalled that in the 1970s he had a few run-ins with the police over traffic stops, once or twice getting right up in their faces, and at no time did the officer “fear for his safety,” nor did Brown fear for his, even during heated debate. But he wouldn’t attempt to argue with the police today.

“Regular citizens on the street haven’t gotten any tougher than folks in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, have they?” Brown asked rhetorically. He guessed that citizens are in fact a lot softer now, but so are the authorities. “I can’t fathom sheriffs like Luther Cox or Sam Hall or deputies like Butler Grant or any of the peace officers from that era saying that they did ANYTHING because they were ‘afraid.’ I don’t think the words would have come out of their mouths. They were men, Dammit!”

Brown’s experience suggests that police officers of past decades were braver, tougher—and less violent. They were more concerned with protecting the public than protecting themselves.

The last thing I want is to offend worthy police officers who don’t abuse their authority and never would assert fearfulness as license for the unnecessary use of force. If this doesn’t pertain to you, then you have no cause to be offended.

But for the others, and you know who you are, my advice is to be like the late Sam Hall. If necessary, get a hat.

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Mitch Landrieu: Monument Man for a Lost Cause

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has made a much-heralded case for removal of four Confederate monuments he suddenly found the cause of great evils.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity,” he observes. But he arrogantly concludes that now we can “make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago” by making disappear in the night the statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard along with an obelisk celebrating the anti-Reconstruction insurgency. Remove the monuments, counter bad history, Orwellian means to the new enlightenment.

Landrieu, of a venerable Louisiana political family, concedes the dubiousness of this nocturnal purging from his admission that I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

Even before the current fracas, Landrieu might have sung the popular 1969 song, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The lyrics exhibit no defense of slavery, racism or “Lost Cause” history. Rather they evoke honor, family, and above all sorrow and loss.

Like my father before me, I’m a working man

And like my brother before me, I took a rebel stand

He was just 18, proud and brave

But a Yankee laid him in his grave

I swear by the blood below my feet

You can’t raise a Caine back up when he’s in defeat

The singer’s name, Virgil Caine, recalls both the ancient Roman republic and the book of Genesis. The South he sings of is rooted in ancient stories and deeds, original sins and tragedy. Are these passions not felt when one views such monuments? The sins Landrieu (who admits his own ignorance regarding the monuments) attributes to their creators and what people today understand as they see them varies considerably. No one today wants to restore slavery, and there is likely more sentiment for secession in sanctuary cities than there is in the South. As for the “Lost Cause,” yes, the South lost; that’s what the monuments underscore. They warn: When you start a war, be sure you can finish it. A lesson that recent presidents should have kept in mind.

The “original intent” of a monument or any other work of art can be superseded by the public that views it. The Vietnam Memorial, to take just one example, was clearly designed to denigrate the war and the country that permitted it. But those who loved the Vietnam veterans swarmed about it and transformed the architect’s malign purpose into one of reverence and gratitude. In the many intervening years between today and the construction of these monuments to the Confederacy, I’d argue that something similar has occurred with respect to them.

The public that views them is not looking to renew the Civil War or to glorify the evils that led to it, as Landrieu has claimed. In any event, few today are devoted to “revering a four-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy,” or affirming a “fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.” Instead, they recall a tragic past and the strength of character that it took to heal from self-inflicted wounds. We are not the same people who erected those monuments. But, being their sons and daughters, perhaps we are not so dissimilar that we can’t learn something from their sorrows.

Moreover, Landrieu is either being deceptive or is woefully ignorant about the history he recounts. The enslavement and terror he speaks of existed for almost half of New Orleans’ history. It was not a matter of a mere four years. To wipe that history off the face of the city and transform it into something Landrieu finds more palatable is as impossible as it is ridiculous.

The peddler of a “fictional, sanitized” history himself, Landrieu is making his transformative goal far too easy. Cheap political theater has its costs, however. Once he starts the train of revisionist history, it’s going to be hard to stop. Remove a monument, eat a beignet.

Landrieu claims to want to create public awareness that “New Orleans was America’s largest slave market” and that he sees this as a task of a higher order. How we should understand the past requires even greater wisdom than mere awareness (and you’ll note that Landrieu earlier copped to lacking awareness about the monuments he is tearing down). On this point, Landrieu displays his own vacuity when he asks, “why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks.”

The real challenge for Landrieu and his majority black city council would have been to build such markers rather than to remove the offending ones. But that serious kind of work would not have played well into his partisan motives. Since Landrieu’s father left the office of mayor in 1978, all four of the subsequent mayors of New Orleans have been black. Landrieu, was elected twice with the black vote, but he lost to black incumbent Ray Nagin of Katrina disaster fame in his previous run. By his otherwise unpopular actions, Landrieu is desperately attempting to preserve some future for white elected Democratic politicians in Louisiana.

The otherwise divisive Landrieu spends the rest of his time attempting to unify the city by appealing to sensory pleasures, such as jazz: “Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.” But the senses deceive. Relying on them alone would would teach us that human beings are not equal. Our senses deceive and only highlight differences. We need to engage reason to see more deeply.

Still, a principle of right lurks behind the enjoyment of culinary delights and the world of the senses: The spirit of slavery is simply “you work and I eat.” Lincoln went a step farther than “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

Moreover, Lincoln possessed a great virtue missing in Landrieu’s self-righteousness: charity. “They [the slaveholders] are just what we would be in their situation,” he famously noted.

Landrieu concludes his speech by misappropriating the closing lines of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, showing no sign of acting or understanding what it is to act “With malice toward none; with charity for all…” In describing divine judgment against both North and South, Lincoln does not justify human usurpation of God’s wisdom. Indeed, Lincoln understood that when looking upon the shortcomings of our brothers we ought to pause and reflect that “there, but by the grace of God, go I.”

Finally, Landrieu lacks the magnanimity of a victor. In this he displays the blend of arrogance and spinelessness that one often sees in white Southern liberals. By contrast, Lincoln urged the playing of “Dixie,” the day after Lee’s surrender, and just five days before his assassination: “I have always thought ’Dixie’ one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it. I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his legal opinion that it is our lawful prize. [Laughter and applause.] I now request the band to favor me with its performance.” In this Lincoln insisted we are one people, again as always.

Lincoln was able to be charitable, as a victorious American, as we today should be. With Lincoln we desire to be neither master nor slave, for to be a master means to be a tyrant in one’s own soul and over others. We want instead to be free men and women, equals in that one decisive respect.

Can there be a more contrary, tyrannous passion amok today than the impulse to redo history in one’s own image? Is this vain willfulness not exhibited in riotous college campuses that attack allegedly offensive speakers? That is the tyranny and these are today’s masters whom Landrieu honors by removing the Confederate monuments.

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2016 Election • America • Americanism • Big Media • Black Lives Matter • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Political Parties • political philosophy • Republicans • The Culture • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

No Guilt This Time

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I have given up on discussing the ascendance of Donald Trump with anyone who didn’t vote for him. They are too hard in their denunciation. A mild suggestion that the Democratic Party went so far into identity politics that it pushed people toward a leader outspokenly tired of political correctness leads at most to a pause in the rancor.

“Yes,” they might agree, before returning to the point: “But Trump? You can’t be serious!”

You don’t get a debate, just another accusation. And pledges, too, as in Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ “We’ve got to stop his ass!

It is clear by now that reactions such as these to Donald Trump’s presidency run deeper than political differences. When you see your liberal friends and colleagues unable to contain their scorn, you know that the offense isn’t about education policy and tax rates. Something fundamentally human is in play.

In the last 50 years of culture wars in America, there has been no stronger weapon than guilt. It is the Left’s great hammer of progress. It figured powerfully in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, women’s liberation, and same-sex marriage. Guilt runs through the teaching of U.S. history from 5th grade through college. It colors controversies over affirmative action, transgender bathrooms, and the glass ceiling. The entire careers of Leftist commentators from the self-righteous Bill Moyers to the self-regarding Ta-Nehisi Coates rest upon it. If we add up the successes guilt has brought to progressive causes and identity politics, we realize just how important guilt is to the Left agenda. Without it, in fact, the Left fails.

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. Why do people hate him so?

Because he won’t accept this appointed condition. He has no white guilt. He doesn’t feel any male guilt, either, or American guilt or Christian guilt. He talks about the United States with uncritical approval—“America First”—and that’s a thought crime in the eyes of liberals. It ignores slavery, Jim Crow, the Indian wars, Manzanar . . . Donald Trump would never refer to America as beset by the original sin of racism, as Barack Obama did frequently, and that makes him worse than a conservative. President Trump is a bigot.

He enjoys the company of attractive women and makes no apologies for it. A man of proper male guilt would have bowed out after the bus tapes were released during the campaign, but there he was in the second presidential debate talking about jail time for Hillary.

And he wouldn’t say, “Black Lives Matter,” either, a slogan that implies whites don’t care about black lives, but insisted, “All lives matter.

Finally, while Christians, especially Catholics and Evangelicals , are supposed to feel guilty for their doctrine on gender roles and abortion, President Trump quickly dropped gender identity from Title IX and nominated a religious conservative to the Supreme Court.

That’s what happens when a political leader doesn’t share the guilt, and progressives know it. For decades they have pushed a campaign of guilt in classrooms, museums, movies, books, and newsrooms precisely to forestall those moves. If you can persuade an opponent that he’s wrong about a political issue, you can win the day’s debate. But if you can make him feel guilty about his opinion, you’ve got him on the defensive forever.

Guilt isn’t political, it’s psychological. When you can make someone feel guilty, it’s a powerful temptation, especially among those who already suffer feelings of resentment. When during the course of the campaign Mr. Trump refused to accept any guilt, the frustration and disbelief among the Democrats and the media were obvious. When he spoke of “Mexican rapists,” the outrage was voluminous, but he wouldn’t apologize. When the former-president of Mexico sputtered an obscenity about the wall, Trump replied, “The wall just got ten feet taller.” A guilty man wouldn’t be so unabashed.

Guilt isn’t political, it’s psychological. When you can make someone feel guilty, it’s a powerful temptation, especially among those who already suffer feelings of resentment.

When David Duke came out in favor of Trump, the media pounced, insisting that surely this time Trump would acknowledge shameful elements in his candidacy. But when asked, Trump looked more puzzled than ashamed. It was as if he didn’t understand why David Duke was even an issue, but that only compounded his vice, for Duke is significant precisely because he embodies American guilt. That Trump minimized the whole thing only showed his absence of shame.

Donald Trump’s success, then, amounts to a calamitous disarmament of the Left. Not his occupation of the White House, but his termination of the game of guilt—for now, at least. Since the election, progressives have only amplified the charges. More and more, the protests look less like political speech and more like tantrums. Yes, but what else could they do? As Freud once said, “hardly anything is harder for a man than to give up a pleasure which he has once experienced.” Until the Left lets go of guilt and begins formulating a political outlook, not a psycho-political one, its steady descent into adolescence will continue.

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Black Lives Matter • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Education • First Amendment • Free Speech • Terrorism • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Who Will Veto the Hecklers?

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President Donald Trump fantasizes from time to time about “opening up” the nation’s libel laws to give himself – and presumably other rich and famous people – a leg up on a “very unfair” press. It’s a far-fetched fantasy.

Here’s a better one: Why not confound people’s expectations, be a champion for real freedom of speech? To do that, however, would mean making college and university officials very uncomfortable.

Trump didn’t defeat Hillary Clinton so he could pursue a quixotic campaign to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan. The half-century-old U.S. Supreme Court case established that public figures must prove a publication acted in reckless disregard of the truth when printing an allegedly defamatory statement. Yet to hear White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tell it, the administration has spent time and resources pondering the idea.

Read the rest at The Sacramento Bee.

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2016 Election • America • Americanism • Black Lives Matter • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Immigration • Law and Order • Michael Anton • race • Steve Bannon • The Constitution • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ridiculous ‘100 Days’ Report

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The Southern Poverty Law Center is at it again.

At the hundred-day mark of President Trump’s administration, the center has released a report that purports to expose the rampant “white nationalism” the president and his “alt-right” advisors have unleashed upon the nation.

Instead of judging President Trump’s actual record, the report rehashes left-wing conspiracy theories and tired Democratic National Committee talking points. Dressed up in somber but hilariously misplaced language, the report reads more like an article from The Onion than anything of actual substance. It is replete with lies, overstatements, calumnies against upstanding Americans, Soros-approved talking points, smears, and a militant close-mindedness typically found on elite college campuses. The report is a testament to the depths to which anti-Trump forces have sunk to try to overrule the will of the people who put Trump into office.

The SPLC’s report opens by speaking of the “themes of a campaign that had electrified” white nationalists across the nation. We are led to believe that it is racist to have discussions about our crumbling infrastructure, one-sided “free trade” deals, rising crime in major cities, mass acceptance of unassimilable numbers of illegal immigrants, lack of attention to American interests abroad, and a political class that couldn’t care less about the common good of their fellow citizens. Apparently, the nearly 63 million Americans who found cause to vote for and continue to support Donald Trump are white nationalists because no other explanation makes sense to the geniuses at the SPLC.

This is the pathetic nature of the “arguments” found in this piece. And the more one digs in, the worse it gets.

The report slanders individuals such as Steven Bannon, Michael Flynn, Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka, and Michael Anton. Their claims regarding Gorka are borderline libelous, as they engage in the baseless calumny that he is “associated with Neo-Nazis in his native Hungary.” This reductio ad Hitlerum gained traction in the fever swamps of the Left because Gorka wore a medal during the inauguration called the Order of Vitéz (or Vitézi Rend), which had been awarded to his father (and many other Hungarian nationalists) for fighting communism. Sorry to break it to the SPLC, but this award represents something far bigger than the person Vitézi Rend, a Hungarian who was associated with the Nazis during World War II.

Readers are expected to believe the Trump administration’s effort to deport “undocumented immigrations [sic] charged ‘with any criminal offense’ or who ‘pose a risk to public safety or national security’” is evidence of “white nationalist” policies. Readers are supposed to be appalled because the administration now publishes “a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants.” But in issuing such commonplace orders (also known as enforcing the law or doing his job), Trump has simply taken a cue from President Bill Clinton, who in his 1995 State of the Union said:

All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.

Under the SPLC’s rubric, Clinton would qualify as a stone-cold white nationalist. And so would at least 59 percent of Americans who, in a recent Gallup poll, say they worry a “fair” or “great” amount about illegal immigration.

If the vast majority of Americans are  irredeemably racist, why would so many foreigners want to come here? Wouldn’t it be unjust to invite more immigrants to suffer racial discord and institutional oppression? The SPLC is silent about this and other basic logical inconsistencies.

Laughably, the SPLC routinely trots out its “Hate Map,” which tracks actual Neo-Nazi organizations along with mainstream conservative groups, such as  the Family Research Council, as purported evidence for the claims that litter the new  report. What’s wrong with the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies according to the SPLC? Their opposition to unrestricted immigration earned them a place on SPLC’s list of “hate groups.” In other words, the proof that FRC, FAIR, and CIS are “hate groups” is that the SPLC says they are. This is the extent of their reasoning skills.

Though it might put a damper on fundraising, the SPLC would do well to heed the advice of former President Obama, who during a recent interview cautioned against labeling supporters of restricting immigration as automatically racist.

The SPLC’s report cites actual white nationalists such as Richard Spencer and David Duke, who generally approve of Trump, and judges the president guilty by association. But like Ronald Reagan, Trump has repeatedly denounced the support of that infinitesimally small group of individuals (see here, here, here, here, and here). Only an organization with a tunnel vision focus on taking the president down at all costs would continue to make such spurious assertions.

Laughably, the SPLC routinely trots out its “Hate Map,” which tracks actual Neo-Nazi organizations along with mainstream conservative groups, such as  the Family Research Council, as purported evidence for the claims that litter the new  report. What’s wrong with the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies according to the SPLC? Their opposition to unrestricted immigration earned them a place on SPLC’s list of “hate groups.” In other words, the proof that FRC, FAIR, and CIS are “hate groups” is that the SPLC says they are. This is the extent of their reasoning skills.

The SPLC also finds evidence of latent white nationalism in accusations that mainstream media outlets peddle “fake news”—a claim that President Trump has used to great effect prior to his election and throughout the early days of his administration. But the SPLC might be shocked to learn that Americans trust Trump’s White House more than the national media, by a margin of 37 percent to 29 percent. In fact, 48 percent of Americans think the media has been unduly hard on Trump compared with its treatment of previous (liberal) administrations. Is the SPLC really willing to argue that these Americans, many of whom also voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, are secretly white nationalists as well?

“100 Days in Trump’s America” is Exhibit A of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Launching wild accusations and using scare tactics, the SPLC has found it profitable to widen the divide between Americans by inciting hatred and violence among citizens. Morris Dees, the SPLC’s founder, lives a lavish lifestyle and and the coffers of the SPLC are flush with cash.

Fortunately, Americans have had it with the bullying tactics of hard-Left organizations like the SPLC. They know that Trump’s first 100 days—to the extent that such a measurement even matters—have been an overwhelming success. He has issued a vast array of executive orders that have overturned much of Barack Obama’s legacy, nominated now-Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, begun enforcing immigration laws, which has already put a major dent in the number of illegal immigrants coming across our border, put forward an ambitious tax plan, expanded offshore oil drilling, and strategically deployed American power in Syria and Afghanistan that has shown the world that America will not hesitate to secure its interests.

Let’s hope that the next 100 days are even better.

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America • Black Lives Matter • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Education • First Amendment • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Law and Order • self-government • The Culture • The Resistance (Snicker)

Students Act like Little Fascists Because They Refuse to Grow Up

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It’s no secret that elite university campuses are hostile to a broad swathe of ideas and that many enrolled at them often reject with a zealous fanaticism any ideas that are even slightly to the right of those of Bernie “I Have Three Houses But You Need To Pay More In Taxes” Sanders. The latest victim of the now all-too-common displays of intolerance by campus progressives is Heather Mac Donald, a leading authority on race and policing. Mac Donald was slated to speak at both UCLA and Claremont McKenna College in the last several days about her recent book, The War on Cops, in which she carefully defends the thesis that “There is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police.

It’s critically important to note, partisan politics and ideologies aside, that it’s not at all obvious if that key contention of Mac Donald’s (or the many others she makes) is correct. No person can possibly conclude that she’s wrong by merely thinking about the matter in isolation—let alone by surrendering their critical thinking skills as the price of admission to join a wannabe jackbooted mob. To refute her requires evidence, logic, and open discussion to test out alternative theories. At minimum, it requires reading her book and listening to her talk.

But the students at these two elite colleges, bless them, were not in the mood to do either thing.  No. They cared only to smear Mac Donald (wholly without argument) as a “notorious white supremacist fascist”—all in the name of  “social justice.” What is needed in response to these lawless individuals’ dangerous foolishness is for consequences to be meted out so that universities, little by little, can be restored to their essential purpose: the pursuit of truth. But that appears very unlikely to happen, unfortunately.

By now, sadly, this is a familiar pattern. Right-leaning groups invite a speaker who may or may be situated on the political Right but who, the campus Left alleges, espouses some ostensibly “conservative” positions (read: positions intolerable to the political Left’s sensibilities); social justice activists (sometimes infiltrated by outside forces, sometimes not) do everything in their power to shut down the expression of those views; university administrations give mealy-mouthed defenses of what should be universally acknowledged as a sacrosanct commitment for a free society: free speech. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.

Because of this spinelessness on the part of college officials, there is another dangerous mindset on campuses that gets far too little attention but which is equally pernicious and which I have seen firsthand. Students don’t have to gather together in a mob and shout down or even physically assault those with whom they disagree—as some did in the Charles Murray/Allison Stanger case at Middlebury—for there to be a chilling effect on speech. Such a chilling occurs whenever there is an unwillingness to boldly and explicitly assert, at an institutional level, an ironclad commitment to free inquiry. The absence of this kind of affirmative declaration and commitment to free speech is just as  detrimental—albeit in a more subtle way—to campus life and to students’ intellectual growth.

I attempted to rectify that glaring weakness at my own University of Michigan in recent days by putting forward a resolution to bolster our institutional commitment to free speech, at least at the student leadership-level. It was defeated by an embarrassingly wide margin when it was put before the Central Student Government.

I won’t spend significant space recapitulating the arguments I proffered in defense of free speech, other than to say, briefly, why it’s important to protect it. It’s necessary if we want to find out what is really true, actually understand the why of what we believe, protect ourselves against rigid and dangerous group-think, and have any hope at all of combating bad ideas. I want to now focus on the central question: Why are my peers are so resistant to affirming their commitment to free speech, a concept which protects all persons’ right to speak, engage, and learn from one another—a concept which ought to be non-partisan?

For a while I believed them to be too fragile—too delicate emotionally, psychologically, and maybe even physically—to handle hearing opposing viewpoints articulately stated. I was forced to abandon this view after I watched in horror as young adults at Berkeley rioted and destroyed property to prevent a scheduled speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, from sharing his message.

Even then I assumed the progressive students were simply unaware of the many powerful arguments in favor of free speech and were also unaware of why free speech is critical to the maintenance of a free society. Again, I was forced to rethink this view when I realized, at least in the case of Berkeley, that some were comfortable justifying the suppression of words with thuggish (in this case, anti-Milo) brutality in a series entitled “Violence as self-defense.”

I have concluded that what explains students’ reliable recourse to these quasi-fascist tactics (to be frank, there’s really no other way to describe these sorts of inexcusable behaviors) is simple. They refuse to be molded and to grow into mature citizens.

Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government at Harvard University, has said, “Conservatism is more tolerant than liberalism.” Why? “Because conservatives don’t expect that liberalism is going to disappear; whereas liberals expect that conservatism will disappear.” I think this is exactly right. Progressives are so certain of their moral righteousness and of the unassailability of their intellectual postures that they feel supremely comfortable resorting to force to stamp out or suppress those who think differently from them. They do not feel compelled to articulate their worldview, and anyone who even just dares to question its premises is instantly branded a bigot and cast out of polite society. Theirs is simply the smug position that progress is inevitable, interspersed with nonsensical don’t-you-know-that-the-arc-of-History-bends-toward-justice-and-that-you’re-on-the-wrong-side-of-said-History-if-you-disagree-with-us-type platitudes.  Those who see the world with different eyes are retrograde and backward. Shaking them up—even physically, if necessary—is viewed as a public service and a personal kindness. Better beaten and bloodied than to think cops are actually essential to a well-ordered and free society!

Deep down, they are convinced that if they just deny conservatives enough intellectual, moral, and social “oxygen”—that is, places to speak and disseminate their ideas—we will just disappear. We conservatives might have pity on them and their almost child-like naïveté, except they want to bash our heads in with rocks and light businesses on fire—visiting anarchy and dissolution upon our beloved Western civilization.

They fail to see or to comprehend what I believe is the most important pro-free speech argument: That, by continuously availing oneself of the marketplace of ideas, one learns to think for oneself and to be one’s own person—not merely the puppet of those with great wealth, authority, or influence. As William F. Buckley pithily noted: “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” It is simply impossible to become a responsible and upright citizen if one categorically rejects the expression of any views that do not perfectly align with one’s own or deludes oneself into thinking that the pluralistic, wider world is an intellectual and moral monoculture in just the same way as one’s campus is.

Fascists are not people who have been duped into committing horrible atrocities; they are, instead, people who obstinately refuse to grow up and for that reason insist—with brutal violence if need be—that the world parrot back to them their own narrow prejudices and idiotic ideas. Our universities have to do better—for all our sakes.

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What is the “Alt” Left?

Much has been written about the “Alt[alternative]-Right” It is attacked as a sort of updated paleo-conservatism—or anti-orthodox conservatism that promotes white identity, often dressed up with hip culture to appeal to younger right-wingers.

Yet no one seriously believes that a supposed Alt-Right is a widespread phenomenon, much less that it drives the Republican Party or the Trump administration. The latter, for example, is the most pro-Israel American government in recent memory.

During the primaries, Trump was often accused by the conservative pundits of being moderate and nationalist in conservative clothing. The Trump message is often under attack from traditional conservatives as too centrist, aimed at the lower middle classes, not serious about cutting back entitlements, and too soft on Obamacare reform.

But on the other side, an “Alternative Left” is no longer an “alternate” wing of the Democratic Party or traditional liberalism. It now drives the Democratic Party trajectory.

What are its tenets other than the obvious of addressing man-caused climate change by radically restructuring the American economy, favoring a lead-from-behind stature abroad, and seeing “you didn’t build that” capitalism as parasitic rather than nourishing of American democracy?

Its overarching ideology seems to be a filtered version of campus postmodernism. Therefore the “truth” is simply a pastiche of “stories” or “narratives.” They can gain credence if those with power and influence “privilege” them, in efforts to enhance their own status and clout. “My story” is just as viable as “the truth,” a construct that does not exist in the abstract.

For the Alt-Left, there are not really inanimate laws of human nature or language. Instead political mobilization can construct powerful narratives of change: Opposition to gay marriage can be endorsed by both Obama and Clinton in 2008 and then be reconstructed as proof of right wing bigotry by 2012.

Zones of neo-Confederate federal nullification to stop the deportation of illegal alien criminals can be rebranded as “sanctuary cities” to protect the innocent “migrants” from arbitrary and racist immigration laws. “La Raza” does not really mean “The Race.” Instead Raza simply denotes the “people” in reference to oppressed communities.

The Obama victory of 2008 had a profound effect on the Democratic Party, suggesting that the “power” of getting elected twice gave “truth” to Obama’s polarizing brand of organizing groups based on ethnic and racially based grievances, in concert against a supposedly fading and bigoted establishment. (This axiom is in need of some postmodern revisionism after the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the loss of most governorships, state legislatures, the Congress, the presidency and the Supreme Court.)

The Alt-Left largely dismisses the old liberal idea of 1960s Civil Rights. Liberals once promoted integration and the goal of an American melting pot empowered by the time-honored traditions of racially blind integration, assimilation, and intermarriage. The liberal goal once was a common American culture and experience where race became subsidiary. Yet we hear little from liberals any more about non-discrimination and integration. Instead, preference, diversity, and segregated safe spaces become the new discriminatory and reparatory agendas.

The Alt-Left also believes that racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious identity is essential not incidental to character—as evidenced from the profound by the recent racialist statements of would-be candidates to head the DNC, to the ridiculous, as the careerist-driven and invented identities of a Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Ward Churchill or former white/black activists such as Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King attest.

Blatant appeals to racial chauvinism such as those of La Raza (“The Race,” a phraseology popularized in Franco’s Spain in imitation of Hitler’s Volk) or “Black Lives Matter” (that went to great lengths to reject counter ecumenical arguments that “All Lives Matter”) are not just tolerated as useful political props, but institutionalized by the Alt Left to the degree that the Obama Justice Department used fines collected from financial institutions to redistribute to such Alt-Left radical identity political groups.

Another tenet is the age-old left wing idea that the noble ends of “fairness”—equality of result, and government mandated redistribution—justify almost any means in obtaining them. At Obama rallies in 2008 and 2016, no conservative goons stormed the assemblies and sprayed mace at the audience; at current Trump gatherings protesters in masks try to incite violence, in order to suggest that mayhem is innate to Trump’s appeal. There were no Inauguration Day obscenity-ridden protests on January 20, 2009. To have adopted such tactics to disrupt an Obama rally would have been “racist.”

On campus, sexual assault has vastly expanded from traditional definitions of rape to now include one party’s post-coital unhappiness over initially consensual sexual congress, while justifying denial of due process to the accused in such cases as is supposed to be accorded to all defendants under the Constitution. Indeed, the Alt-Left’s fear is that accusations of sexual assault on campus would be customarily turned over to the local District Attorney, who would work within the Bill of Rights and not be free to prejudge defendants in the manner of campus ideological Star Chamber courts or administrative edicts.

The Alt-Left also does not really believe in free speech, at least as it was calibrated by the New Left of the 1960s that mandated “free speech” zones on campus, wrote academic handbooks outlining the need for protected expression, such as the Yale University’s highly regarded Woodward Report, or, in hippie fashion, equated free speech with advocacy for obscenity and pornography. Reading Mark Twain is hurtful and should be banned, screaming “F—k you to a Yale professor’s face is free speech and to be encouraged.

The purpose of safe spaces and trigger warnings is to deny free association and expression on grounds that purported victims deserve extra-constitutional protections. In French Revolution or Maoist style, speakers deemed antithetical to campus majority views or liable to influence students in the wrong directions are often barred from giving speeches, or have their lectures shouted down, violently so if need be.

When student protesters and outside activists disrupted Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley and Charles Murray at Middlebury, their activism was predicated on the assumption that they would never be subject to criminal charges leveled by those local district attorneys. Presumably, the influence of new Alt Left ideology had at least won some sympathy from campus officials or so instilled a fear of career imperilment that administrators had green-lighted exemption from criminal prosecutions.

The Alt-Left’s idea of the nullification of law is not limited to campuses. Over 300 sanctuary cities and jurisdictions have now adopted states’ rights arguments from the 1850s (which resurfaced under the Dixiecrat movements of the 1940s and 1950s, before ending with George Wallace defying federal law enforcement’s desegregation orders at the doorway to the University of Alabama). Local laws trump federal legislation, and thus entitle sanctuary cities to shield illegal aliens wanted on federal criminal warrants.

In California, a third of the population polls that it would like to secede from the Union and is encouraged to do so occasionally by state officials and legislators. And like kindred Confederates of old, the Alt-Left does not envision federal nullification as an abstract concept adoptable in theory by any local and state jurisdiction.

Certainly, San Franciscans would go to court to sue a Utah city or the state of Wyoming if either declared EPA endangered species legislation null and void within their jurisdictions or suspended or superseded federal gun registration statutes. A chief tenet of Alt-Left nullification is that the innate moral superiority of the Left allows it to render inert any law it finds reactionary or unhelpful to its agenda (immigration law, the ACA employer mandate, the Defense of Marriage Act, the contractual order of Chrysler’s creditors, or NSA surveillance laws)—on the premise that such principles are not transferable to other groups who do not share its supposedly unique ethical agendas.

Postmodern relativism reinvents standards of probity to fit changing perceptions of morality: the filibuster was bad under Obama but good under Trump. The “Biden Rule” opposed lame duck presidents from nominating Supreme Court justices—except when they were declared morally superior nominees. The nuclear option was a necessity corrective to mindless rejectionism unless the rejectionism became rebranded as moral and principled. Pen and phone executive orders were constitutional remedies for gridlock—until they became unconstitutional overreaches to stop gridlock. Powerful minorities and women were role models—but if conservative deserved smears as traitors to their race and sex.

A final tenet of the Alt-Left is its ease with Big Money—in rejection of the 1960s leftist notion that small is beautiful, simplicity is revolutionary, and lucre is proof of exploitation and criminality. Today, an inverted orthodoxy is that billionaire grandees from Wall Street to Silicon Valley to Hollywood have been flipped from robber barons to social justice mavens (read they are so wealthy that they are personally exempt from the deleterious ramifications of their own ideology that falls on the poorer and less influential). There is nothing odd about an Alt Left activist consulting his ample stock portfolio, insisting on granite and marble in his kitchen, or preferring Mercedes to Lexus; the old left wing idea that life emulates ideology is passé.

Anything once deemed exploitative and autocratic—the military, hugely endowed private foundations, an imperial presidency—for the Alt-Left is welcomed as expedient, on the premise it can bypass legislative logjams and fast track or fund moral agendas such as transgendered restrooms, women in frontline combat units, gay marriage, or climate change.

For now, the Alt Left has crushed its Democratic opposition. Bill and Hillary Clinton have mostly renounced their political positions of the 1990s—from opposition to gay marriage, work requirements for welfare, closed borders and enforcement of existing immigration law to support for more police, tough sentencing, and drug enforcement.

So is there an Alt-Left?

Not exactly.

The real Alternative Left is what is left of the Blue Dog Congressional delegation or the remnants that occasionally pop up around an enfeebled James Webb or Joe Manchin.

The old Alt-Left in contrast is the Democratic Party—not an alternative to it. In its present manifestation, not just a Harry Truman and JFK or even Bill Clinton would be seen as noxious, but the earlier incarnations of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 as well.


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Trump: Ending the War on Cops

As the ambush of two police officers in Miami last week reminds us, the war on police, fomented to some extent by former President Obama and his cronies, is not over.

But in the two months since President Trump took office, things are much more positive in the law enforcement community.

Trump, who was unapologetically pro-police from the outset of his campaign, has demonstrated since becoming president that his campaign promises were not just talk.

In his first two weeks in office, he signed a series of executive orders designed to curb violence against law enforcement, reduce crime, and enforce federal law to rein in transnational criminal organizations.

He had a statement posted to the White House website that said, “The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”

He used the high-profile occasion of his late-February speech to Congress to reiterate his strong endorsement of the work police do. “We must work with – not against –the men and women of law enforcement,” the president said in his speech to Congress. “We must build bridges of cooperation and trust – not drive the wedge of disunity and division.”

And, of course, he appointed Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a noted advocate of law enforcement, to be Attorney General.

President Trump aims to change the anti-police narrative, relentlessly and continually expounded by Obama and the Eric Holder-Loretta Lynch Justice Department. That campaign began with Obama’s remark that police were “stupid” in the way they handled the confrontation with Harvard Law Professor Henry Louis Gates, and it continued with his immediate condemnation of police in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Obama’s ambivalence—and sometimes even hostility—toward the police may have played well to his liberal base, but it had a real impact on the lives of Americans—and that impact was not positive.

It led to the “Ferguson effect”—the reluctance of police to become involved in confrontations, investigations, and arrests that are no-win situations for them.

That, in turn, led to police going on defense and criminals on offense, which led to chronic offenders remaining on the streets to commit additional crimes, which led to generational increases in crime rates in major cities across America.

Baltimore set records for murders in 2015, and crime jumped more than 50 percent in Washington, D.C., that year. Shootings in Chicago returned to numbers not seen since the violent 1990s with an astounding 4,400 people shot and 760 murdered in 2016. Most of the victims were black – 900 more black men were killed in 2015 than the year before.

The former president’s rhetoric fueled a protest movement led by Black Lives Matter and other radical groups, who claimed the entire law enforcement apparatus to be a racist enterprise and drug laws to be a means by which our country seeks to reinstitute slavery. Black Lives Matter activists were regular visitors to the White House, to “help mend frayed ties between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” according to one of them.

Police officers knew well before the election they had a friend in Trump, which is why a poll shortly before the election by Police Magazine found Trump with 84 percent support among the men and women in blue to 8 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Not all the increase in crime can be blamed on Obama but as Heather MacDonald—one of the nation’s leading authorities on crime and policing—said in her 2016 book The War on Cops:

As 2015 progressed, few law-enforcement practices escaped attack for allegedly imposing unjust burdens on blacks. But it was the virulent anti-cop rhetoric that was most consequential. Officers working in inner cities routinely found themselves surrounded by hostile, jeering crowds when they tried to make an arrest or conduct an investigation. Cops feared becoming the latest YouTube pariah when a viral cell-phone video showed them using force against a suspect who had been resisting arrest.

There is no hard evidence yet, but it seems morale among police is improving and the kind of violent and radical opposition seen last summer is abating.

Attorney General Sessions has sent strong signals he will bring a refreshing support for prosecutors and law enforcement officers, push back on the Ferguson Effect, which has led to less proactive policing in dangerous communities, and change the climate in which law enforcement is maligned for what he calls “the unacceptable deeds of a few bad actors.”

For better or worse, President Trump is learning his words carry tremendous weight. America’s police officers are listening, and one can’t help but be optimistic those words will have an impact on their work and, eventually, the crime rate.


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A Cosmopolitain Hillbilly Tries to Understand the Race Problem in America

When I saw that J.D. Vance, the author of the widely (and justly) acclaimed Hillbilly Elegy, had written an essay examining why racial relations in America have deteriorated, I thought: “Ah, now we are getting somewhere. This will have some important insights.”

I had good reason for thinking so. As I read Vance’s memoir in the wake of Donald Trump’s recent speeches touching on the question of race, I thought Vance might be capable of making a good argument in a similar vein. I thought he might show how the problems that plague poor black communities are not too dissimilar from those that plague poor white communities. And I thought he might further explain how those problems are exacerbated by a left wing racialist ideology that blames white oppression for black failures, since the existence of places like the mainly white Breathitt County, Kentucky, gives reason to doubt that explanation.  In Breathitt and countless other communities like it, the failures are of a piece with those in poor black communities and can be found in equal measure. I thought I might see some discussion of the way the policies of a well-meaning but ultimately destructive welfare and administrative state, especially when combined with the ubiquitous cultural rot of our age, have worsened the odds the poor of all races have of escaping these problems.
hillbilly elegy jd vance

Although Vance does not engage in an explicit discussion of race in his book, as I read it, I could not help but notice the compelling similarities between the problems faced by the white working class/Appalachian descendants Vance describes (and, hailing from the same general vicinity as Vance, people I know) and the struggles of urban minorities. These problems are not black versus white problems. They are the problems of poor and lower middle-class people everywhere in America. Lower class whites and blacks alike, yes. But they are also characteristic among lower class Hispanics, Pacific Islanders and, even, Native Americans living on reservations.


Everywhere one goes in this country, the problems and pathologies of lower middle and working class families—the “working poor” in the parlance of our politicians—are the same. Poverty, drug dependency, family chaos, poor education (combined with little tradition of cultural respect for education), and a lack of jobs above all. Though our economy still rewards hard work and ingenuity in some sectors, it has transformed more and more into one that places a premium on knowledge and credentials over (and sometimes against) the virtues of good character and hard work in other sectors.
I was not wrong to expect a compelling read in Vance’s article. But I was disappointed by his analysis. Vance fails to see that the connections these groups of poor Americans share are the way forward in overcoming, at long last, the identity politics behind our ongoing but now burgeoning race problem. Poor blacks are not poor because they are black any more than poor whites are poor because they are white.

This is not to deny that racism exists and remains a real problem. It does. And it is. Human beings, being flawed and imperfect creatures, do tend to flock together with people who are like themselves and to be suspicious of (and sometimes cruel toward) those who are different. By itself, this doesn’t make a person racist. But the more insular people are, the less likely they are to temper those inclinations with reason or to see that the overwhelming similarities between human beings dwarf our dissimilarities. In such cases, that very human tendency can harden into uninformed and negative opinions, attitudes and behaviors. Indeed, this kind of personal racism may be to blame, in part, for the apparent lack of realization among poor minorities and whites that they have a common enemy in the welfare and administrative state. It may be that neither wants to admit that they have much in common with the other. In a rational world, they would be unified against this thing that is hurting them and holding them back. But as a matter of systemic institutional structure that encourages real discrimination and harm to individuals, racism is largely irrelevant today and easily—probably too easily—prosecuted.

Yet, while liberals have swallowed the notion that “white privilege” makes the victimization of poor whites an impossibility or a problem of relatively small consequence, conservatives have so fetishized the idea of “individualism” that they have little sympathy for people who claim to be victimized by anything.

This is most evident in the following reflection from Vance about the sad inability of Republicans to attract black voters.

Republican failures to attract black voters fly in the face of Republican history. This was the party of Lincoln and Douglass. Eisenhower integrated the school in Little Rock at a time when the Dixiecrats were the defenders of the racial caste system. Republicans, rightfully proud of this history, constructed a narrative to explain their modern failures: Black people had permanently changed, become addicted to the free stuff of the 1960s social-welfare state; the Democratic party was little more than a new plantation, offering goodies in exchange for permanent dependence. There was no allowance for the obvious: that the black vote drifted away from Republicans en masse only after Goldwater became the last major presidential candidate to oppose the 1960s civil-rights agenda. Besides, Republicans told themselves, the party didn’t actually need the black vote anyway. It would win where others had lost, by re-engaging the “missing white voter,” a phantom whose absence allegedly cost Romney the 2012 election.

Vance offers some legitimate and astute criticism of Republicans here. And I join him in criticizing Republicans who seemed callously to blame black voters for not liking them. Everyone knows that the cliché used in breakups, “It’s me, it’s not you,” is a cliché. It’s always you and something that the other dislikes about you. Sometimes it is worth reflecting on it. Other times it is not. But it is always worth knowing why you are disliked and it is especially worth knowing if you are a political party trying to garner votes and you are disliked by a vast swath of people sharing one trait in common.

But there is also something off in Vance’s critique. The narrative he alleges Republicans “created” about large numbers of blacks having become addicted to the free stuff of the 1960s welfare state isn’t simply false. It was and remains largely true. But it’s also true among the hillbillies for which Vance wrote his elegy. Probably not coincidentally, these are also votes Republicans have always had a hard time securing. But Vance is right that there is something obtuse in the rhetoric that black voters (or hillbilly ones, for that matter) have “permanently changed” and become willing volunteers on the Democrat plantation. It’s not hard to see why voters (black, white, and everything in between) might find such language offensive or, even, fighting words.

But I don’t think Vance is correct in understanding why this rhetoric is obtuse. It is not obtuse because it misses what he describes as the “obvious” hiatus of black voters from the Republican Party when Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and subsequently was chosen as the party’s nominee for President. Though that may have been the origin of Democrats using race as a cudgel against Republicans, the painting of Republicans as secret racists by crafty Democrats (and, today, their enablers on the right) is not an insurmountable problem. The true Republican history on the question of racial equality is not an embarrassing one and, if more Republican politicians knew it, understood it, could tell it, and defend it we’d be a long way toward de-weaponizing that tiresome trope of the Democrats.

No. Republicans have been obtuse vis a vis black and minority voters in exactly the same way they have been obtuse in relation to poor, working-class whites.

Take, for example, the smug and self-satisfied judgment that came along with denouncing the dependence on government of so many welfare recipients. Talk of welfare queens may have been entertaining and a way to release justified anger over stupid policies that encourage the abuse of our welfare system, but the emphasis should have been on the poverty pimps: those who were happy to promote policies that kept people poor and desperate so as to exploit them for their votes. Aren’t they far more contemptible?
Mitt Romney was the perfect culmination of this reflexive and unthinking rhetorical style of Republicans. His comments about the 47 percent, the “makers versus takers” of society, and other victim blaming rhetoric encapsulate the Republican tendency to make a fetish out of the concept of individual agency. Of course individuals bear the ultimate responsibility for their own welfare, safety, and happiness. But governments are instituted among men in order to effect that pursuit of happiness in the way that seems most likely to them to secure it, consistent with their rights to life and liberty. When it fails in this mission and when it fails, moreover, in ways that are inconsistent with the liberty of the people (i.e., when laws and regulations about these matters are not clearly connected to the consent of the people), these people are victims of an overbearing and incompetent government. And it is the responsibility of politicians who wish to have their support to denounce it.

Conservatives were happy to point out the condescension of progressives and of the welfare state in a general way. But that is where their thinking stopped. Was it pride in their own ability to resist the pull of the moral hazards associated with being “on the dole” that stopped them from going further? Or was it a fear of admitting the role that chance and luck play when it comes to talent and success in a person’s life?
For the ideological conservative, the combination of these two things present a challenge to their orthodoxy, perhaps. Aaron Renn in his excellent review of Vance’s book speculates that this may explain much of Vance’s own inclination to gloss over the role that talent and and luck played in his escape from the moral hazards of his Appalachian upbringing. He does not neglect to mention these things, but Vance repeatedly emphasizes his hard work (no doubt real) and indignantly calls suggestions that something more than hard work is to be credited with his success, “bullshit.” Renn closes his review with the following:

At the heart of the matter, Vance is right. It’s not a question of either circumstances or culture, but “both-and.” The poor and working class do face challenging, sometimes horrific circumstances. They also have agency in choosing how to respond. Too often, their culture produces bad responses, even when the opportunity exists to choose otherwise. This culture itself may be an inheritance that individuals did not choose. But people can have disabilities for which they are not to blame. That doesn’t change their real-world effect. Unless both the external circumstances and the culture of the working class, of all races, are ameliorated, broad-based change is unlikely.

As a working principle in a young person’s life, Vance’s attitude toward the role his own agency played in his success is probably a good one. He definitely built that!  It reminds me of Lincoln’s admonitions against jealousy and envy—not to mention Christ’s. But as a working principle for those who wish to do and understand politics, this bootstrap ideology isn’t really very helpful. It necessarily papers over real difficulties and challenges. Even worse, as we see in our current American example, it is preventing us from seeing the ways in which our own government has become an obstacle to instead of a protector of our freedom.

2016 Election • Black Lives Matter • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Free Speech • Lincoln • race • Republicans • The Culture

A Tale of Two Kinds of White Racists (Not to Mention those of Other Hues)


Elsewhere on our site, Ken Masugi writes about Donald Trump’s impressive speech last week in Milwaukee which, in addition to addressing the important question of law and order, also did not flinch from the question of Republicans and race.

When Trump has not been accused actually of being a despicable racist, he’s accused instead of seeking deliberately to appeal to white racists with his campaign. But debating the merits of this charge begs a more important and relevant question:  If those people are drawn in, what do they hear?  What is Trump actually saying on matters of race and, if people heed what he says, will they be inclined to be more or less racist? I submit that racists (of all varieties) giving Trump a fair hearing will be inclined to see that their racism is less justified than they previously believed. They may even see that race–something that can’t be changed, in any event–is not the source of their troubles and, instead, find a more rational object at which they can direct their legitimate frustrations and correct them. In short, if they pay attention to what Trump has said in Milwaukee and elsewhere on the campaign trail, they may rethink their views. As I have argued on occasion, Trump has unconventional methods for getting people to reconsider fundamental questions.

A follow up to these questions is this:  What has Hillary done to make racists less racist? Moreover, what is she doing to quell the various forms of racism coming from too many of her own supporters on the Left?

In addition to remembering that racists come in flavors other than vanilla, it important to remember that there exists more than one kind of vanilla. There is the ordinary variety, of course. And though the specter of this type of racist regularly is trotted out for public contempt and scorn, mainly to stir up fears about the party he is likely to support, he is a laughingstock and the butt of jokes. His ignorance is demonstrable. To the extent that he has any following at all, it has long been confined to the fringes. His sense of “superiority” is so clearly rooted in a real fear of his inferiority, insecurity, and social impotence that it is only worth fearing him when he can, with justice, lay claim to something that is an affront to his actual human dignity or rights.

Unfortunately, not in Trump, but in the Left–we find people happy to give a just claim to him and then to use him and his example as a cudgel against those who dare call the Left’s outrages outrageous.

But, there is also a more sophisticated and condescending type of white racist. This is the kind who thinks so little of non-whites and their capacity to be his equal in citizenship that he feels compelled to defer to them in everything. He does not do this to make some kind of cosmic adjustment to the scales of justice or because he feels the shame of past wrongs. He does it out of a sense of his own superiority and a firm belief that unassisted by his generosity of spirit, minorities could not compete. He believes that he is born so superior and privileged vis a vis other men, that he must make amends for this terrible whim of fate. He is a self-loathing but superior sonofabitch. He condescends and in his condescension feels even more superior as he is lifted up in status and power in return for wearing the hair shirt. He cares not for the good of those to whom he condescends, except insofar as they can make him feel benevolent and superior.

Let me ask you: Which kind of racist is more dangerous? The dumb racists or the clever ones?

And let me ask further: Where else could the dumb racists go? They are not sophisticated enough to keep up with these sophisticated racists of the Left. They are not going to be elevated to hero status for their self-loathing superiority. Naturally, they are drawn to Republican candidates who, at least, don’t (or didn’t used to) tell them they deserve to die. Were conservatives as concerned during the Romney race as some seem to be now about their presence on the Right?  We renounced their views, but we did not spend inordinate time worrying about their influence. We dismissed their skewed understanding of the universe, but we did not dismiss their votes. Nor ought we to have done. Votes are votes and they all count.

See the first paragraph in this speech for an example of how Lincoln dealt mercifully but candidly with the ignorance of such voters. He did not renounce them. But if you read carefully, you will see that he also did not give any succor to their point of view. Indeed, he planted the seeds to replace it with a better crop. Of course, this has not prevented some leftist historians and intellectuals from asserting that the Republican party and Lincoln with it were racists. But no serious person on either side of the political divide takes those criticisms to heart because they are so demonstrably false.

If stupid racists on the right are in ascendancy today, I would submit that this is due mainly to the outrageous nature of today’s Left in terms of PC culture–to say nothing of how naked is their wish to commit cultural (not racial) suicide. These facts are so evident and so undeniable in their urgency today that old-style racists think they have found a vehicle in which they can take a ride to respectability. They’ve latched onto a real example of injustice and they are (understandably, from their point of view) going to do what they can to milk it. We should be careful about assigning blame when we wonder who is facilitating this.

The way to undermine this old kind of white racism is to take away the injustice of leftism and lead people away from the path of cultural suicide. Take away their claim to just anger. Then they will slink away when it becomes clear that America’s greatness and the greatness agenda is intended for all American citizens who choose to embrace it. As Trump put it in Milwaukee:

I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and hatred and oppression in all of its forms, and seek a new future of security, prosperity and opportunity – a future built on our common culture and values as one American people.

But what solution is there to the problem of sophisticated white racists on the left who fan the flames of anti-white racism in people of other colors for the sake of ruling them and owning their votes? People genuinely concerned about the dangers of racism ought to be more concerned about these racists than they are about these good ‘ole boys who will go back to their funny hat wearing circles when there is no longer anything legitimate for them to hang those hats or their hate upon.

Black Lives Matter • The Left

The War On Cops Undermines Civil Society

the left's war on cops undermines social order

The Left has been openly hostile to the police at least since the 1960s when it became cool to call cops, “pigs.”   Anti-police violence rose during that period and the images of the 1968 Democrat Convention in Chicago where Mayor Daly’s finest clashed with protesters are still remembered.

What is not remembered so well is that Bill Ayers, Obama’s friend and occasional political mentor, specifically targeted the police in his terrorist activity.  His bombings of the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon are well-known but he also bombed New York’s police headquarters in 1970 and in 1969 he bombed a statue honoring police officers slain during the Haymarket riot in Chicago.  Thankfully, organized anti-police violence subsided as the 1970s wore on but the hostility did not.  Delegitimizing the police has been an ongoing project of the Left.  To whit, today’s Black Lives Matter protests have taken to chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.”


Who Will Watch The Watchers?

To be sure, the police, because they wield the sword on behalf of the state, require scrutiny.  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, as the Roman poet Juvenal wrote.  In English, “Who will watch the watchmen?”  The Left promotes the lie that no one is watching the watchers – that the police are an unaccountable force unto themselves.  But this could not be more false.  

In America, independent institutional oversight exists at multiple levels.  Every police force is subject to one or more review boards not to mention independent prosecutors (local, state, and federal) and ultimately to the court system.  But the Left in general and today’s Black Lives Matter protesters more specifically, would have people believe that the system either has failed or is actively conspiring to murder American citizens.  It isn’t true.  

In recent weeks we have seen police officers ambushed and murdered on the streets of Dallas, Baton Rouge, and other cities.   For decades, the Left has sought to undermine the authority of police with highly charged and mostly false rhetoric.  This has created a climate ripe for street violence that has a larger political purpose. It is a strategy to gain on the street what they cannot gain at the ballot box and as such to disenfranchise voters and void our system of free government.  Attacks on the police are an attack on civil society itself.   It is the mob’s veto and it cannot be allowed to stand.

In today’s episode Seth Leibsohn and I discuss how we came to this point and why the Left employs this tactic. (Hint: because it works).  We are joined for part of the show by Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center, author of More Guns, Less Crime.

Attacks On Cops Are An Attack On Civil Society

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