Defense of the West • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • History • Post

The Lessons of the Versailles Treaty

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The Treaty of Versailles was signed in Versailles, France, on June 28, 1919. Neither the winners nor the losers of World War I were happy with the formal conclusion to the bloodbath.

The traditional criticism of the treaty is that the victorious French and British democracies did not listen to the pleas of leniency from progressive American President Woodrow Wilson. Instead, they added insult to the German injury by blaming Germany for starting the war. The final treaty demanded German reparations for war losses. It also forced Germany to cede territory to its victorious neighbors.

The harsh terms of the treaty purportedly embittered and impoverished the Germans. The indignation over Versailles supposedly explained why Germany eventually voted into power the firebrand Nazi Adolf Hitler, sowing the seeds of World War II.

But a century later, how true is the traditional explanation of the Versailles Treaty?

In comparison to other treaties of the times, the Versailles accord was actually mild—especially by past German standards.

After the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war, a newly unified and victorious Germany occupied France, forced the French to pay reparations and annexed the rich Alsace-Lorraine borderlands.

Berlin’s harsh 1914 plans for Western Europe at the onset of World War I—the so-called Septemberprogramm—called for the annexation of the northern French coast. The Germans planned to absorb all of Belgium and demand payment of billions of marks to pay off the entire German war debt.

In 1918, just months before the end of the war, Germany imposed on a defeated Russia a draconian settlement. The Germans seized 50 times more Russian territory and 10 times greater the population than it would later lose at Versailles.

So, under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the winning democracies were far more lenient with Germany than Germany itself had been with most of its defeated enemies.

No one denied that Germany had started the war by invading Belgium and France. Germany never met the Versailles requirements of paying fully for its damage in France and Belgium. It either defaulted or inflated its currency to pay reparations in increasingly worthless currency.

Versailles certainly failed to keep the peace. Yet the problem was not because the treaty was too harsh, but because it was flawed from the start and never adequately enforced.

The Versailles Treaty was signed months after the armistice of November 1918, rather than after an utter collapse of the German Imperial Army. The exhausted Allies made the mistake of not demanding the unconditional surrender of the defeated German aggressor.

That error created the later German myth that its spent army was never really vanquished, but had merely given up the offensive in enemy territory. Exhausted German soldiers abroad were supposedly “stabbed in the back” by Jews, Communists, and traitors to the rear.

The Allied victors combined the worst of both worlds. They had humiliated a defeated enemy with mostly empty condemnations while failing to enforce measures that would have prevented the rise of another aggressive Germany.

England, France, and America had not been willing to occupy Germany and Austria to enforce the demands of Versailles. Worse, by the time the victors and the defeated met in Versailles, thousands of Allied troops had already demobilized and returned home.

The result was that Versailles did not ensure the end of “the war to end all wars.”

As the embittered Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, supreme commander of the Allied forces, presciently concluded of the Versailles settlement: “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.”

Foch was right.

Twenty years after the 1919 settlement, the German army invaded Poland to start World War II, which would cost the world roughly four times as many lives as World War I.

After the Treaty of Versailles, the victorious Allies of 1945 did not repeat the mistakes of 1919. They demanded an unconditional surrender from the defeated Nazi regime.

The Western Allies then occupied, divided and imposed democracy upon Germany. Troops stayed, helped to rebuild the country and then made it an ally.

In terms of harshness, the Yalta and Potsdam accords of 1945 were far tougher on the Germans than Versailles—and far more successful in keeping the peace.

The failure of Versailles remains a tragic lesson about the eternal rules of war and human nature itself—100 years ago this summer.

(C) 2019 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Photo credit: SSPL/Getty Images

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America • Defense of the West • Democrats • History • Post • The Left

The War Over America’s Past Is Really About Its Future

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The summer season has ripped off the thin scab that covered an American wound, revealing a festering disagreement about the nature and origins of the United States.

The San Francisco Board of Education recently voted to paint over, and thus destroy, a 1,600-square-foot mural of George Washington’s life in San Francisco’s George Washington High School.

Victor Arnautoff, a communist Russian-American artist and Stanford University art professor, had painted “Life of Washington” in 1936, commissioned by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration. A community task force appointed by the school district had recommended that the board address student and parent objections to the 83-year-old mural, which some viewed as racist for its depiction of black slaves and Native Americans.

Nike pitchman and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently objected to the company’s release of a special Fourth of July sneaker emblazoned with a 13-star Betsy Ross flag. The terrified Nike immediately pulled the shoe off the market.

The New York Times opinion team issued a Fourth of July video about “the myth of America as the greatest nation on earth.” The Times’ journalists conceded that the United States is “just OK.”

During a recent speech to students at a Minnesota high school, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) offered a scathing appraisal of her adopted country, which she depicted as a disappointment whose racism and inequality did not meet her expectations as an idealistic refugee. Omar’s family had fled worn-torn Somalia and spent four-years in a Kenyan refugee camp before reaching Minnesota, where Omar received a subsidized education and ended up a congresswoman.

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won the World Cup earlier this month. Team stalwart Megan Rapinoe refused to put her hand over heart during the playing of the national anthem, boasted that she would never visit the “f—ing White House” and, with others, nonchalantly let the American flag fall to the ground during the victory celebration.

The city council in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis, voted to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before its meeting on the rationale that it wished not to offend a “diverse community.”

The list of these public pushbacks at traditional American patriotic customs and rituals could be multiplied. They follow the recent frequent toppling of statues of 19th-century American figures, many of them from the South, and the renaming of streets and buildings to blot out mention of famous men and women from the past now deemed illiberal enemies of the people.

Such theater is the street version of what candidates in the Democratic presidential primary have been saying for months. They want to disband border enforcement, issue blanket amnesties, demand reparations for descendants of slaves, issue formal apologies to groups perceived to be the subjects of discrimination, and rail against American unfairness, inequality, and a racist and sexist past.

In their radical progressive view—shared by billionaires from Silicon Valley, recent immigrants and the new Democratic Party—America was flawed, perhaps fatally, at its origins. Things have not gotten much better in the country’s subsequent 243 years, nor will they get any better—at least not until America as we know it is dismantled and replaced by a new nation predicated on race, class and gender identity-politics agendas.

In this view, an “OK” America is no better than other countries. As Barack Obama once bluntly put it, America is only exceptional in relative terms, given that citizens of Greece and the United Kingdom believe their own countries are just as exceptional. In other words, there is no absolute standard to judge a nation’s excellence.

About half the country disagrees. It insists that America’s sins, past and present, are those of mankind. But only in America were human failings constantly critiqued and addressed.

America does not have be perfect to be good. As the world’s wealthiest democracy, it certainly has given people from all over the world greater security and affluence than any other nation in history—with the largest economy, largest military, greatest energy production and most top-ranked universities in the world.

America alone kept the postwar peace and still preserves free and safe global communications, travel and commerce.

The traditionalists see American history as a unique effort to overcome human weakness, bias and sin. That effort is unmatched by other cultures and nations, and explains why millions of foreign nationals swarm into the United States, both legally and illegally.

These arguments over our past are really over the present—and especially the future.

If progressives and socialists can at last convince the American public that their country was always hopelessly flawed, they can gain power to remake it based on their own interests. These elites see Americans not as unique individuals but as race, class and gender collectives, with shared grievances from the past that must be paid out in the present and the future.

We’ve seen something like this fight before, in 1861—and it didn’t end well.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

(C) 2019 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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America • Americanism • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Identity Politics • Post • Progressivism • The Left

A Transformation of the American Regime?

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Almost all observers agree that America is profoundly divided. This intense polarization has been described by the Claremont Institute’s Angelo Codevilla as a “cold civil war.”

What is it all about?

First and foremost, this conflict is between those who unhesitatingly love America, its history, culture, principles, and people and those who believe that “the United States of America,” its past and present, is seriously flawed and, thus, in need of “fundamental transformation” as Barack Obama famously put it.

The former emphasizes the positive aspects of what was once proudly called the “American way of life,” while noting past failings. For the latter, any affirmation of America as it actually has existed for the past two and a half centuries is heavily qualified and accompanied by endless carping about the nation’s sins. At the same time, they insist they support American “ideals,” which they view as synonymous with the goals of a new “social justice” regime that places ethnic, racial, and gender groups at the center of political, economic, and cultural life.

Put otherwise, the conflict is between those who want to transmit the American regime to future generations and those who want to transform it fundamentally. Therefore, the conflict is not simply about policy disagreements over how best to achieve the shared goals of liberty, equality, and justice, but grave disagreements over the meaning of those three principles.

The argument over “first principles” has been brewing for decades. While many were busy luxuriating in “end of history” triumphalism, during the 1990s historians and civic educators essentially uprooted and revised the traditional story of America. Textbooks and curricula now referred to the American “peoples,” plural. The concept of American “peoples” portrayed a multicultural society in which new immigrants were not “assimilated” into a shared mainstream American culture but, instead, retained their own (and sometimes adversarial) cultures as separate “peoples.” This new framework is captured by the metaphor of a “mosaic” or “salad bowl” replacing the traditional concept of the “melting pot.”

We were told America was not “discovered” by European explorers, but was the result of “three worlds meeting.” Leading state curricula declared that the United States was not the product of Western Civilization and British constitutional heritage, but the “convergence” of three civilizations, the Amerindian native culture, European culture, and the civilization of Islamic West Africa. In the same vein, the recently revised AP (Advanced Placement) curriculum refers to the “three worlds meet” narrative as the “Atlantic World.”

Whereas traditional American history began with English colonists landing in Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, multiculturalist educators (who now dominate the profession) place the foundations of the history of the United States with hunters crossing the Bering Strait from Asia to North America thousands of years ago. Of course, American civilization is not the product of nomadic hunters from Siberia, but of English colonists who were part of a broader Western Civilization, and whose single most important text, after all, was the King James Bible.

At the same time that the story of America became the “convergence” of three civilizations and its related “Atlantic World,” the promotion of “diversity” and the trinity of race, ethnicity, and gender came to dominate education from K-12 to graduate school. What mattered was not equality of American citizenship but the racial, ethnic, and gender group to which one belonged.

Meanwhile, “global education” was all the rage as Americans were admonished to “think globally and act locally” and that “global problems” require “global solutions.” The practitioners of global education deliberately obfuscated the rights and responsibilities of national citizenship in a constitutional democracy such as the United States.

This new narrative, although historically inaccurate and antithetical to responsible American citizenship, served the political purposes of its proponents—the delegitimization of the concept of Western civilization and the deconstruction of the American way of life (or the “regime” in the Aristotelian sense) as it had been traditionally understood, with the ultimate goal of “fundamental transformation.”

Since, as the truism puts it, “politics is downstream from culture” the transformationist concepts that were developed decades ago have slowly and steadily spread to the mainstream media, major corporations, and finally elected officials and politicians.

The conflict between the transmission and transformation of the American regime continues to heat up. Around Independence Day, we saw the city council of Charlottesville, Virginia vote to cancel Thomas Jefferson’s birthday holiday; Nike recall the Betsy Ross flag sneakers; the San Francisco School board vote to cover up a painting of the life of George Washington; and in St Louis Park, Minnesota, the city council vote to abandon the traditional “Pledge of Allegiance” before its meetings.

As a way of clarifying the current conflict in contemporary America over transmitting or transforming the American regime, I have developed a chart of 36 dueling concepts pitting one against the other. The chart, examining the “regime conflict,” the “cold civil war” or the “culture war” (whatever term one wants to use) compressed into the table you see on this page.

Americanist forces are striking back. St Louis Park’s mayor, for example, wants the city council to restore the pledge. The Claremont Institute has launched a major project explaining that the most important issue facing our nation is the regime struggle between Americanism and multiculturalism (understood as synonymous with identity politics, political correctness, woke-ism, social justice warrior-ism, etc.). More broadly still, people are beginning to recognize that the multicultural Left has a large megaphone but little popular support.

Americanism is not a dirty word; it’s a good thing. We should be proud to say so—and say no to the fundamental transformation of our country.

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images

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America • Defense of the West • Post • The Culture • The Left

Reclaiming the Republic

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Are Americans too corrupt to be free? As our Constitution’s framers well knew, a republic is the most demanding form of government. If the people aren’t careful in choosing elected officials and diligent in defending basic principles of self-government, they will invite politicians to bribe them. At first, politicians will give tiny bribes that don’t stand out as corruption—offers for the government to protect people, making their lives easier, more streamlined, and more comfortable. Slowly, but predictably, we come to think of these bribes as what our government “owes” us, and we become dependent subjects of distant elites.

This is the danger we came close to embracing in 2016, and it continues to grow.

From helping the deserving poor, our government moved on to creating more poverty by fostering welfare dependency, and now to “protecting” aggressive crybullies to keep their feelings from being hurt by normal folk seeking to go about their lives unmolested. Yet we continue to ask for more—more subsidized healthcare, more free education, more guarantees that no one will refuse to celebrate our choice of spouse, sex, or even profession. It is as if Americans have decided that “freedom” means forcing everyone else to protect our psyches and support us no matter what choices we make.

All this government “protection” has taken a heavy toll on our society and character. Family breakdown, crime, dependency, assaults on religious freedom, and now the loss of free speech and the invasion of our privacy by high-tech gurus and the surveillance state—all of these are born of our desire to be “protected”and in the name of making us a more just, “woke” people.

Is it any wonder our rulers would deny us the right to vote them out of office? That they would dismiss people who vote “wrong” as deplorable clingers who refuse to get with their program of security, comfort, and enlightenment?

They’ve even told us that virtue itself is less a matter of governing our own lives than of helping them govern all our lives. The “best” citizen is no longer the hard-working provider for his family, the public-minded volunteer at the local library (unless he’s a drag queen), or the child who shows initiative by selling lemonade or mowing lawns to raise money for charity or simply start a business. Now the good citizen is a “social justice warrior” who hectors his classmates or sues his neighbor to make certain no one gets in the way of celebrating “alternative lifestyles” or maligning the cop on the beat as a thug, even as we bow down before the faceless mechanisms of the deep state.

How, then, can we hope to take our country back from a government whose employees live by Reagan’s Nine Scariest Words: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”? How can a people so lost in dependency on government, social media, and the smug “helping professions” win back the right and reality of self-government?

In assessing our chances and determining our next moves, Americans should keep two important facts in mind.

First, much, if not most, of our people are not nearly so far gone as we think. Families still form and stay together in America, and most Americans never leave the spouse they first married. We still support ourselves and recognize that government’s essential, limited role is to protect America’s borders and the families, churches, and local associations in which we live from those who would undermine them.

Second, traditional American institutions, beliefs, and practices are not, in fact, intolerant remnants of a dead past. They are good things—natural things destined to reassert themselves once freed from the grip of a hostile administrative state. The family of husband, wife, and children is natural. The local community in which citizens welcome public expressions of patriotism and faith is natural to us. The American character, with roots going back before our republic was formed, is not oppressive; it is a good character, one of hard work, loyalty, honor, and a determination to uphold our basic values even in the face of a hostile government, be it that of King George III or of bureaucrats who decree that little girls must share restrooms with grown men.

Our condition looks worse than it is because the relatively few people who dominate our big government, big media, big tech, and big “culture”—as well as corporate human resource departments—hate us. But then people who rise to the top in large organizations often see themselves as better than the people they have surpassed.

What to do? We can and must: break up big government by refusing to accept its bribes and insisting that officials follow our laws and Constitution—or suffer real, legal consequences; break up big tech by using antitrust actions to restore competition and protect our privacy; stop allowing government contracts and student loans to subsidize intolerant, “woke” universities with their billion-dollar endowments; stop giving tax breaks to Hollywood peddlers of hatred toward Middle America; and stop allowing the mainstream media to dictate what we think about the issues of the day, even as they provide cover to an increasingly arrogant and lawless deep state.

Donald Trump’s victory, and the current cultural conflicts over marriage, abortion, religious freedom, speech on campus, and the whole LGBTQ+ extremism of transgender aggression aren’t a last gasp of resistance to “the tide of history.” They are the first act of effective resistance by Americans who object to having the fringe program of a decadent cultural elite thrust down their throats.

The American way of faith, family, and freedom remains our rightful inheritance. It is a way of life natural to us and worth fighting for. We got into this mess by choosing the ease and protection of life in the shadow of big government. Speaking up in the public square, at the ballot box, on campus and, where necessary, in court, we can reclaim our deeper values, reconnect with our deeper virtues, and take back what is properly ours: the rights and duties of self-government.

Photo Credit: Justin Tierney/EyeEm/Getty Images

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Defense of the West • Democrats • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post

Immigration as Reparations?

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The New York Times recently published an op-ed advancing a rather peculiar argument. Author Suketu Mehta builds on the familiar, hackneyed debate over reparations for slavery to make an even bolder, but more politically contemporary proposal: as penance for colonialism, the West should open its borders to the Third World.

Mehta suggests immigration quotas for Western countries that correspond with their respective historical sins. Mehta categorizes the nations of the world into “creditors” and “debtors,” according to their legacy as oppressors or oppressed within roughly the past 500 years.

By this token, “Britain should have quotas for Indians and Nigerians; France for Malians and Tunisians; Belgium for very large numbers of Congolese.” The West should accept 12 million African laborers, one for every African enslaved by the colonialists of the past.

While audacious, this argument expresses what many on the Left believe, but are often careful to avoid stating frankly: that mass migration should be seen as a form of just punishment for the West’s history.

Open-Borders Double Talk
In general, immigration activists try to disguise their malice as sympathy for “refugees,” many of whom are in fact economic migrants seeking a better life. Of course, one need not be so cynical as to imagine that their concern for the well-being of would-be immigrants is entirely fake. But once in a while, the mask will slip, and it becomes apparent that they are motivated at least as much by resentment towards the destination countries as they are by compassion for migrants.

From the “walls are immoral, but we don’t really want open borders” denialism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to those openly calling for immigration as a form of reparations, there is a growing consensus on the Left that all restrictions on migration are motivated by xenophobia, borders are immoral because they are exclusionary, and Western countries are morally obligated to accept an unlimited number of migrants because of past wrongs.

How would these immigration quotas be drawn up? As with slavery reparations, the price is levied indiscriminately and with great prejudice. People who had nothing to do with the negative effects of colonialism are saddled with collective, generational guilt for the sins of distant, forgotten ancestors.

Mehta mentions more recent ravages as well, such as the Iraq War. National sovereignty doesn’t absolve America’s leaders from the responsibility of making smart, and ethical, foreign policy decisions. The United States should not invade the world and then expect the world to stay behind in the blast crater. But why should American workers pay for Iraq, when it is America’s irresponsible leaders who deserve the blame?

An exact accounting of who the “debtors” are, and what they owe, is beside the point. How would one go about determining who deserves to pay for King Leopold II’s brutal exploitation of the Congo? The enterprise is no more workable than figuring out which Americans living today should pay for slavery. Never mind the specifics; all Westerners are assumed guilty for the wrongs of all Western history.

A Profound Shift
The classes that comprise America’s elite are pushing this narrative. Journalists, academics, educators, entertainers, and activists are all popularizing academic, anti-American histories that invert the story of America’s founding and legitimize unlimited migration as a form of just deserts.

This new radicalism marks a shift from traditional American heritage, history, and identity. No one can deny that immigrants have had a profound impact on American history and society. But until recently, immigration has been understood as adding to, not defining, American identity; as something that should occur within legal and reasonable boundaries, not endlessly and without consideration for the economic welfare and social fabric of the existing nation.

Put simply, immigration always has been regarded as a privilege. Immigrants would come to America through a legal process. They would be vetted and accepted as American citizens, with certain expectations. They would assimilate to American society and pledge loyalty to their new home. They would contribute more than they would take. The would learn English, and be good neighbors and citizens.

In sum, immigration worked best when it had benefits for America and the migrants it accepted alike. There was no malice or malevolence toward the United States or its existing people involved.

This is a path that countless migrants have followed and continue to follow. But for numberless thousands of migrants coming more with the mindset of invaders than immigrants, a set of powerful interests exists to justify their illegal entry as an entitlement.

The Left today has an altogether different understanding of immigration’s role in American identity and political life. The old, sentimental imagery associated with immigration to America—Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty—does not align with the present situation or progressive ideology. Lawful process has been replaced with lawlessness, gratitude and respect with brazen entitlement.

Immigration Myths and Realities
For the Left today, immigration is a universal human right that can brook no restrictions, whether by national sovereignty or mere economic realism. “No human is illegal.”

To justify this universal right of entry, the Left employs a foundational myth. In this myth, America, and the West broadly, is the villain and debtor to the suffering masses around the globe. Citizenship is not a privilege but a right owed by Westerners to every “citizen of the world.”

In this founding myth, the settlers of America were illegitimate brutes who despoiled the verdant plains and stole the birthright of today’s rightful heirs to the continent. American history begins not with 1492, but with the beginning of the struggle for social justice and the rise of modern progressivism in the 20th century, particularly the mid-century. The American “history” that has been written is illegitimate and needs to be written anew, by the erstwhile, rightful occupants of the land. In fact, the real Americans need not have any historical ties to the American continent at all, other than having been on the receiving end of America’s might.

This academic narrative typically writes off the Founders as irredeemable racists, discrediting their nobility, wisdom, and efforts to build a lasting constitutional republic. Once relegated to humanities departments in America’s universities, this “de-colonialist” ideology has seeped into the wider public consciousness through various left-wing channels. Today’s students learn more in K-12 education about what is wrong with America and its past than what made it great.

At its core, this anti-founding myth denies that America has a core identity at all. There is nothing greater about American life than the sum of the countless job seekers searching for a better life from abroad. America has no history, since that history is illegitimate; it has no culture that rises above what can be bought on the market, including the various commodified “cuisines” brought from afar and sized down to American palates; it has no border, since borders are restrictive. America is simply a giant casino in which all and sundry may seek their fortune, with special preference given to those shut out by the prejudices of the past.

In this narrative, migration, being a right rather than a privilege, comes with no obligation for the migrant. What nation would there be to render any obligation to, anyway, when America is merely a “nation of immigrants?”

It’s not hard to imagine why millions of Americans find this vision a threat to their economic welfare, security, and cultural integrity. When push comes to shove, elites must fall back on gaslighting to deceive Americans into believing that unlimited mass immigration is actually in their interest.

Rational Fears
It’s here that the elites’ immigration message shrieks with dissonance. While browbeating Westerners for the sins of their ancestors, the Left simultaneously will work to assure their targets that their apprehension about open borders is unfounded.

In one breath, the Left claims reassuringly that nobody actually wants open borders, that America is a bountiful country with plenty to go around, that fear of mass migration is irrational and rooted in xenophobia. In the next, coaxing words are replaced with gnashing malice. Nobody wants open borders, but even if that were true, you deserve it, you bigot.

In an excerpt of his book, This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto, Mehta argues the West is being “destroyed, not by migrants, but by the fear of migrants” and describes fears of mass migration as “irrational.” Millions of Westerners somehow have been duped into working against their own interests by populist strong men playing off atavistic hatred.

But if immigration is a form of punishment, payment of the “debt” for the West’s wrongs, is this not an admission that those “irrational fears” are simply clear perceptions of the costs of mass migration?

When they’re not forwarding shallow, disingenuous arguments for mass immigration as a boost to the GDP, today’s most ardent proponents of open borders—however much they might deny it—agree in their most honest moments that mass immigration, rather than being a net boon, brings burdens that Americans may be loath to accommodate—but must bear, as payback. How, then, are the fears of immigration restrictionists irrational?

In their haste, the open borders proponents are giving the game away. Does their confidence stem from a belief that they have already won? That through their combined institutional powers, the media, activist judges, the administrative state, academia, an education system thoroughly co-opted by anti-American ideology, and corporate interests seeking cheap labor, dissenters are powerless to resist their agenda?

They may be right to believe so. But for America’s sake, one must hope that they are wrong.

Photo Credit: Federico Scoppa/AFP/Getty Images

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America • Conservatives • Defense of the West • Post

Clarity About Nationalism

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In order to make arguments for nationalism, we have to define it.

The first definition in Merriam-Webster is “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” But in a second paragraph, it adds, “especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”

Let’s be clear: If the second paragraph is the only definition of nationalism, nationalism is always a bad thing. Furthermore, I acknowledge that this definition is what some people have in mind when they call themselves nationalists.

At the same time, even anti-nationalists would have to acknowledge that if the first paragraph is the definition of “nationalism,” nationalism can often be a beautiful thing.

So, if we are to be honest, the answer to the question of whether nationalism is good or bad is “How do you define it?”

Dictionary.com offers seven definitions.

The first is “spirit or aspirations common to the whole nation.”

The second is “devotion and loyalty to one’s own country; patriotism.”

Only when we get to the third definition is the definition pejorative: “excessive patriotism; chauvinism.”

Therefore, a) based on the competing definitions of the term, b) assuming both definitions can be true and c) if intellectual honesty is to govern our discussion, we can reach only one conclusion: There is good nationalism and bad nationalism.

That—not “nationalism is always good” or “nationalism is always bad”—is the only accurate assessment.

Therefore, morally speaking, nationalism is no different from anything else in life.

There is moral violence (in self-defense, in defense of innocents, in defense of a society under unjust attack, etc.) and immoral violence (murder of innocents, wars of aggression, etc.).

There is moral sex (consensual sex between adults and, in the Judeo-Christian value system, within marriage) and immoral sex (such as rape, incest and with a child).

There is moral use of a gun (in self-defense, etc.) and immoral use of a gun (against an innocent, etc.).

Knives are used morally by chefs and surgeons and immorally by murderers, muggers and torturers.

Even love must be morally assessed according to context. Love is not always beautiful and moral. Germans’ love of Hitler, Chinese people’s love of Mao and Russians’ love of Stalin were evil.

Nationalism is beautiful when it involves commitment to an essentially decent nation and when it welcomes other people’s commitment to their nations. Nationalism is evil when it is used to celebrate an evil regime, when it celebrates a nation as inherently superior to all others and when it denigrates all other national commitments.

One should add that nationalism is evil when it celebrates race, but that is not nationalism; it is racism. Nationalism and racism may be conjoined, as German Nazism did. But they are not definitionally related. While some Americans have conjoined American nationalism with race (such as the Confederacy, the Ku Klux Klan and currently various fringe “white identity” movements), American nationalism, based as it is on the motto “e pluribus unum” (“out of many, one”), by definition includes Americans of all races and ethnicities. That is how conservatives define American nationalism. I have never met a conservative who defined American national identity as definitionally “white.”

Otherwise, nationalism—the celebration of one’s nation and one’s national identity—is almost always a beautiful thing.

The creation of nations was a major moral achievement. It got people to identify with something beyond their families and tribes, which always involved violent feuds and warfare. The creation of the nation is one of the main reasons the West developed morally and in many other ways ahead of other cultures.

And the lack of a unifying national identity is one of the two main reasons (the other being corruption) that much of Africa lags behind other regions. If Hutus and Tutsis would have identified first as Rwandans, one of the worst genocides in the contemporary world—the Hutu slaughter of nearly 1 million Tutsis in a little over three months in 1994—would likely never have happened. It was murder at a greater pace than the Nazi genocide of the Jews in the Holocaust—and without any modern machines of death. It was done one-on-one almost entirely using machetes.

Today, nationalism in Europe is increasing primarily because of the belief among many Europeans that the European Union is overbearing and because many Europeans do not believe that a “European” identity can offer anywhere near the comfort, emotional sustenance and communal ties a national identity offers.

Human beings need a descending order of commitments: first to oneself, then to one’s family, then to one’s community, then to one’s nation and then to humanity. It is neither possible nor praiseworthy to cry over a family killed in a car crash on the other side of the world as one would cry over the death of one’s own family or a family in one’s neighborhood or in one’s own country.

The great teaching of the Bible is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It does not say “Love all of humanity as yourself.” Love must begin with our neighbor. It should never end with our neighbor, but it must begin with him.

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America • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Europe • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

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What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and the stunning recent Australian re-election of conservatives?

Put simply, the middle classes are revolting against Western managerial elites. The latter group includes professional politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, condescending academics, corporate phonies and propagandistic journalists.

What are the popular gripes against them?

One, illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.

Two, globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. New global markets and commerce meant Western nations outsourced, offshored and ignored their own industries and manufacturing (or anything dependent on muscular labor that could be replaced by cheaper workers abroad).

Three, unelected bureaucrats multiplied and vastly increased their power over private citizens. The targeted middle classes lacked the resources to fight back against the royal armies of tenured regulators, planners, auditors, inspectors and adjustors who could not be fired and were never accountable.

Four, the new global media reached billions and indoctrinated rather than reported.

Five, academia became politicized as a shrill agent of cultural transformation rather than focusing on education—while charging more for less learning.

Six, utopian social planning increased housing, energy and transportation costs.

One common gripe framed all these diverse issues: The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor.

In other words, elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.

Green policies were aimed at raising fees on, and restricting the use of, carbon-based fuels. But proposed green belt-tightening among hoi polloi was not matched by a cutback in second and third homes, overseas vacations, luxury cars, private jets and high-tech appurtenances.

In education, government directives and academic hectoring about admissions quotas and ideological indoctrination likewise targeted the middle classes but not the elite. The micromanagers of Western public schools and universities often preferred private academies and rigorous traditional training for own children. Elites relied on old-boy networks to get their own kids into colleges. Diversity administrators multiplied at universities while indebted students borrowed more money to pay for them.

In matters of immigration, the story was much the same. Western elites encouraged the migration of indigent, unskilled and often poorly educated foreign nationals who would ensure that government social programs—and the power of the elites themselves—grew. The champions of open borders made sure that such influxes did not materially affect their own neighborhoods, schools and privileged way of life.

Elites masked their hypocrisy by virtue-signaling their disdain for the supposedly xenophobic, racist or nativist middle classes. Yet the non-elite have experienced firsthand the impact on social programs, schools and safety from sudden, massive and often illegal immigration from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia into their communities.

As for trade, few still believe in “free” trade when it remains so unfair. Why didn’t elites extend to China their same tough-love lectures about global warming, or about breaking the rules of trade, copyrights and patents?

The middle classes became nauseated by the constant elite trashing of their culture, history and traditions, including the tearing down of statues, the Trotskyizing of past heroes, the renaming of public buildings and streets, and, for some, the tired and empty whining about “white privilege.”

If Western nations were really so bad, and so flawed at their founding, why were millions of non-Westerners risking their lives to reach Western soil?

How was it that elites themselves had made so much money, had gained so much influence, and had enjoyed such material bounty and leisure from such a supposedly toxic system—benefits that they were unwilling to give up despite their tired moralizing about selfishness and privilege?

In the next few years, expect more grassroots demands for the restoration of the value of citizenship. There will be fewer middle-class apologies for patriotism and nationalism. The non-elite will become angrier about illegal immigration, demanding a return to the idea of measured, meritocratic, diverse and legal immigration.

Because elites have no answers to popular furor, the anger directed at them will only increase until they give up—or finally succeed in their grand agenda of a non-democratic, all-powerful Orwellian state.

Photo Credit: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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America • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Education • Post • The Left

‘Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Civ Has Got to Go’

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On January 15, 1987, Jesse Jackson and around 500 protesters marched down Palm Drive, Stanford University’s grand main entrance, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go.”

They were protesting Stanford University’s introductory humanities program known as “Western Culture.” For Jackson and the protesters, the problem was its lack of “diversity.” The faculty and administration raced to appease the protesters, and “Western Culture” was formally replaced with “Cultures, Ideas, and Values.”

The new program included works on race, class, and gender and works by ethnic minority and women authors. Western culture gave way to multi-culture. The study of Western civilization succumbed to the Left’s new dogma, multiculturalism.

When I attended college in the 1960s, taking and passing the year-long course in the history of Western civilization was required for graduation. The point of the requirement was perfectly clear. Students were expected to be proficient with the major works of their civilization if they were to be awarded a degree. It was the mark of an educated person to know these things.

Because it was a required course, it was taught by a senior professor in a large lecture hall with hundreds of students. The course was no walk in the park. When I took the course, only one student got an A grade for the first semester. Students went down in wave after wave. Many dropped out of the course, planning to try again later. Others dropped out of school or transferred to another college or university.

Student protests were all the rage on campus in those days, too. But nobody protested the Western Civ course, its contents, the difficulty involved, or the fact that it was required. Students evidently accepted the idea that studying the story of how we got here and who shaped that story was essential to becoming an educated person.

It is also not at all clear that the faculty in those days would have raced to appease student protesters chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go.”

Many of the faculty, after all, had served in World War II. My best friends on the faculty had all served either in the European or the Pacific theater. They had put their lives on the line to defend Western civilization, and served with others who had lost their lives in that fight. Whether they were teaching Plato or Italian art of the Renaissance and the Baroque eras, they taught with the passion of men who had fought as soldiers and were working as teachers to preserve Western culture. Perhaps my fellow students would not have dared to present our teachers with that particular protest.

The protesting students at Stanford in 1987 were pushing against an open door. Radicalized professors, products of the student protests of the 1960s, welcomed the opportunity to do what they already wanted done. The protesters provided the excuse. Instead of doing the hard work of teaching Western civilization, they were free to preach multiculturalism—and the change was presented to the world as meeting the legitimate demands of students.

It is worth noting, I think, that the chant has an interesting ambiguity. Was it the course in Western civilization or Western civilization itself that had to go? Clearly, Jackson was leading the protesters in demanding a change in the curriculum at Stanford, but the Left, having gotten rid of “Western Civ” at Stanford and at most other colleges, is reaching for new extremes. Today, ridding the world of Western civilization as a phenomenon doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

In the wee hours of the morning recently, in a nearly deserted international airport terminal, I got into conversation with a fellow passenger while we waited for our luggage. He told me he was returning from a stay at an eco-resort. He said because of cloudy weather there had been no hot water on most days—and little hot water when there was any—and the electric light ran out every night soon after nightfall.

The worst part for him, he said, was the requirement to put used toilet paper in a special container provided for that purpose. When I remarked that what he had experienced at the resort was what the Greens have planned for all of us, he cheerfully agreed. He went on to say that he believed the real purpose of the Greens’ plan is population control, that a truly green future would only be able to support a much smaller population.

The amazing part is this: he conveyed a complete agreement with the environmentalist project and what he believed to be its underlying purpose. It seemed that what he had experienced at the resort had not caused him to re-think his attitude, or even to consider that there was a risk he might not survive the transition to a much smaller population.

As he spoke, I easily imagined him as a younger person chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go.”

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American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Defense of the West • Libertarians • political philosophy • Post • The Culture • The Left

Sohrab Ahmari and Our Existential Struggle

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Perhaps the most amusing intramural intellectual squall on the Right these past few days has centered on “Against David French-ism,” Sohrab Ahmari’s recent polemical reflection on liberalism in First Things.

I did not think that Sohrab had all that much to say directly about the man who provided him with the title of his essay, but then I am not, so to speak, a French man. I have never met Pastor French, rarely read him, and generally feel about him the way C. K. Dexter Haven in The Philadelphia Story felt about George Kitteridge, man of the people: “to hardly know him is to know him well.”

The outpouring of indignation, fury, and contempt that greeted Sohrab’s column reminded me that opinions about the Pastor vary widely. I group him with Pete Wehner and some other NeverTrump evangelists as a modern incarnation of the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse, virtue signaling around the clock to the amazement of the world. I know there is disagreement on that score.

As I read it, Sohrab’s essay involved David French only incidentally. There were, I thought, two key passages. The first came near the beginning. “The movement we [conservatives] are up against,” Sohrab writes, “prizes autonomy above all, too; indeed, its ultimate aim is to secure for the individual will the widest possible berth to define what is true and good and beautiful, against the authority of tradition.”

I’ll come to what I think the other key passage is in a moment. First, note what a bold statement Sohrab has made here. Autonomy: aren’t we all for that? Isn’t it the prime Enlightenment virtue? Sapere aude, Kant said: “dare to know!” Priests, superstition, convention, tradition: didn’t the Enlightenment discard all of that for the sake of autonomy? For the sake, that is, of giving the law (nomos) to oneself (autos)?

The Ghost of J. S. Mill
In a word, yes. And it was a project carried on by such Enlightenment heirs as John Stuart Mill, whose On Liberty is a sort of bible of Enlightenment-infused liberalism. I note that Sohrab quotes in passing Mill’s famous line—famous imperative—about the importance of “experiments in living.” “Individual experiments in living,” he writes, “—say, taking your kids to a drag reading hour at the public library—cannot be sustained without some level of moral approval by the community.” Which suggests that the project of autonomy always involves an element of heteronomy: the emancipation from tradition, convention, etc., always seems to yield a new sort of orthodoxy. It was just this tendency, I suspect, that bothered Sohrab.

We see it all around us now. What we call liberalism presents itself not as one view of the world among others but as a neutral (but nevertheless inherently virtuous) state of nature from which no right-thinking (i.e., left-leaning) person could dissent.

The same dynamic was ostentatiously on view in Mill’s radical libertarianism. For anyone interested in understanding the nature of the modern liberal consensus, the extraordinary success of Mill’s rhetoric and the doctrines it advances afford a number of lessons. Above all, it provides an object lesson in the immense seductiveness inherent in a certain type of skeptical moralizing.

Together with Rousseau, Mill supplied nearly all of the arguments and most of the emotional weather—the texture of sentiment—that have gone into defining the liberal vision of the world. His peculiar brand of utilitarianism—a cake of Benthamite hedonism glazed with Wordsworthian sentimentality—accounts for part of Mill’s appeal: it provides a perfect recipe for embellishing programmatic shallowness with a cosmetic patina of spirituality. It is a recipe that has proven to be irresistible to those infatuated with the spectacle of their own virtue.

Mill was exceptionally adroit at appealing to his readers’ moral vanity. When he spoke (as he was always speaking) of “persons of decided mental superiority” he made it seem as though he might actually be speaking about them. Mill said that there was “no reason that all human existence should be constructed on some one or some small number of patterns.” Quite right! Even if persons of genius are always likely to be “a small minority,” still we must “preserve the soil in which they grow.” Consequently, people have a duty to shun custom and nurture their individual “self-development” if they are not to jeopardize “their fair share of happiness” and the “mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is capable.”

Mill’s blandishments went even deeper. In On Liberty, Mill presented himself as a prophet of individual liberty. He has often been regarded as such, especially by liberal academics, who of course have been instrumental in propagating the gospel according to Mill. And “gospel” is the mot juste. Like many radical reformers, Mill promised almost boundless freedom, but he arrived bearing an exacting new system of belief. In this sense, as Maurice Cowling argues, On Liberty has been “one of the most influential of modern political tracts,” chiefly because “its purpose has been misunderstood.” Contrary to common opinion, Cowling wrote, Mill’s book was

not so much a plea for individual freedom, as a means of ensuring that Christianity would be superseded by that form of liberal, rationalising utilitarianism which went by the name of the Religion of Humanity. Mill’s liberalism was a dogmatic, religious one, not the soothing night-comforter for which it is sometimes mistaken. Mill’s object was not to free men, but to convert them, and convert them to a peculiarly exclusive, peculiarly insinuating moral doctrine.

This tension in Mill’s work—between Mill the libertarian and Mill the moralistic utilitarian—helps to account for the vertiginous quality that suffuses the liberalism for which On Liberty was a kind of founding scripture.

How Liberalism Corrodes Morality
Mill’s announced enemy can be summed up in words like “custom,” “prejudice,” “established morality.” All his work goes to undermine these qualities—not because the positions they articulate are necessarily in error but simply because, being customary, accepted on trust, established by tradition, they have not been subjected to the acid test of his version of the utilitarian calculus. (Mill elsewhere refers to such calculation as “rational self-conscious scrutiny,” the implication being that anything else is less than completely rational.)

The tradition that Mill opposed celebrated custom, prejudice, and established morality precisely because they had prevailed and given good service through the vicissitudes of time and change; their longevity was itself an important token of their worthiness. It was in this sense, for example, that Edmund Burke extolled prejudice, writing that “prejudice renders a man’s virtue his habit. . . . Through just prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.”

Mill overturned this traditional view. Indeed, he was instrumental in getting the public to associate “prejudice” indelibly with “bigotry.” For Mill, established morality is suspect first of all because it is established. His liberalism is essentially corrosive of existing societal arrangements, institutions, and morality.

Mill constantly castigated such things as the “magical influence of custom” (“magical” being a negative epithet for Mill), the “despotism of custom [that] is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement,” the “tyranny of opinion” that makes it so difficult for “the progressive principle” to flourish. According to Mill, the “greater part of the world has, properly speaking, no history because the sway of custom has been complete.”

Such passages reveal the core of moral arrogance inhabiting Mill’s liberalism. They also suggest to what extent he remained—despite the various criticisms he made of the master—a faithful heir of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism. And I do not mean only the Bentham who propounded the principle of “the greatest happiness for the greatest number,” but also the Bentham who applauded the proceedings of the Star Chamber, advocated the imprisonment of beggars, defended torture, and devised the “Panopticon”—a machine, he said, for “grinding rogues honest”—to keep miscreants under constant surveillance. Liberty was always on Mill’s lips; a new orthodoxy was ever in his heart. There is an important sense in which the libertarian streak in On Liberty is little more than a prophylactic against the coerciveness that its assumption of virtuous rationality presupposes.

Such “paradoxes” (to put it politely) show themselves wherever the constructive part of Mill’s doctrine is glimpsed through his cheerleading for freedom and eccentricity. Mill’s doctrine of liberty begins with a promise of emancipation. The individual, in order to construct a “life plan” worthy of his nature, must shed the carapace of inherited opinion. He must learn to subject all his former beliefs to rational scrutiny. He must dare to be “eccentric,” “novel,” “original.”

At the same time, Mill notes, not without misgiving, that

As mankind improve, the number of doctrines which are no longer disputed or doubted will be constantly on the increase; the well-being of mankind may almost be measured by the number and gravity of the truths which have reached the point of being uncontested. The cessation, on one question after another, of serious controversy is one of the necessary incidents of the consolidation of opinion—a consolidation as salutary in the case of true opinions as it is dangerous and noxious when the opinions are erroneous.

In other words, the partisan of Millian liberalism undertakes the destruction of inherited custom and belief in order to construct a bulwark of custom and belief that can be inherited. As Mill put it in his Autobiography:

I looked forward, through the present age of loud disputes but generally weak convictions, to a future . . . [in which] convictions as to what is right and wrong, useful and pernicious, deeply engraven on the feelings by early education and general unanimity of sentiment, and so firmly grounded in reason and in the true exigencies of life, that they shall not, like all former and present creeds, religious, ethical, and political, require to be periodically thrown off and replaced by others.

So: a “unanimity of sentiment” (a.k.a. custom) is all well and good as long as it is grounded in the “true exigencies of life”—as defined, of course, by J. S. Mill.

A New “Theocracy”? Oh, Please
A lot more could be said about Mill’s doctrine and its importance for understanding today’s liberal consensus. But for now, I’ll just say that that I suspect it also informs Sohrab’s criticism of our culture’s habit of elevating autonomy into the highest virtue even if—especially if—it circumscribes the individual’s freedom understood as something that cannot flourish apart from a particular community or outside a particular tradition. Edmund Burke caught an important aspect of this dynamic when he observed, “The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: We ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risque congratulations, which may be soon turned into complaints.”

Again, more could be said about all of this, but let me move on briefly to what I think is the other key passage of Sohrab’s essay. It comes at the end. “Progressives,” he writes,

understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values. They regulate compliance with an established order and orthodoxy. We should seek to use these values to enforce our order and our orthodoxy, not pretend that they could ever be neutral. To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.

This passage was Exhibit A for Sohrab’s critics. Imagine, consigning civility and decency to the status of “second values”! Praising “enmity,” endorsing our own values and (dread word) “orthodoxy.”

Some of Sohrab’s critics seem to think that such passages indicated that he was advocating a new theocracy. I think he is advocating realism when it comes to our opponents in the culture war. What they want is not tolerance but full-throated approbation, whether the issue is bringing children to public libraries to be indoctrinated by sexual freaks, unlimited abortion, radical environmentalism, or the smorgasbord of toxins populating the ideology of identity politics. What they offer is not tolerance, not debate, but an invitation to submit to their view of the world.

In such situations, dissent cannot succeed if it proceeds piecemeal. It must recognize that what is at stake is, in the deepest sense, an anthropology, a view of what man is. We are living among the fragments of a shattered inheritance, morally and socially as well as politically. The so-called liberals (so-called because no one is more illiberal) are bent on scattering those fragments and trampling underfoot the values they represent.

Sohrab Ahmari’s essay is certainly not the last word in how to respond to this onslaught. But it has the inestimable virtue of understanding that this battle is not fodder for a debating club but an existential struggle.

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Administrative State • America • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • EU • Europe • Post

The Surprising Internationalism of the Nationalists

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Globalism is the ideology of the ruling class. It is the stuff of the World Economic Forum, Paris Climate Treaty, multinational banks pushing transsexuals, payment processors excluding conservative activists, social media giants deciding what is permissible speech, the movement of Third World peoples to the First World, the abolition of tariffs that protect local industries and traditions, and the elevation of global economic efficiency above all other concerns.

Until now, globalism had substantial support. For starters, rulers from diverse nations believed in it. They each allowed the logic of globalism to overrule parochial concerns for their particular nations in the name of the greater good. Globalism also benefited from substantial propaganda support in the news, movies, and television. Today the stodgiest banks and technology companies’ advertising looks like a Benetton ad from the early 1990s. And, finally, globalism’s support derived from its claim to raise the prosperity for people everywhere.

Nationalism Rising
Today, nationalism is on the rise. Nationalist parties have won in Italy, Hungary, Brazil, and in the United States, where Trump won largely through nationalist politics and rhetoric. Nearly one third of the seats in the European parliament were recently taken by nationalist parties.

We also see dissident nationalist movements in France, in the form of the Yellow Vests, and in the United Kingdom, where Theresa May lost the support of her Conservative Party by clinging to the European Union long after the will of the people and her party had been made manifest in the Brexit referendum.

While nationalism, by its nature, varies in its particulars based on the nation to which it is attached, nationalists everywhere emphasize common themes, all rooted in the elevation of culture and national unity above mere economic efficiency. Globalists support the strengthening of the United Nations and other global enterprises like the EU, because the rules these institutions promulgate are, by their nature, uniform and universal. By contrast nationalists seek to elevate the authority and rights of particular peoples and their respective states.

With nationalism, diversity is at the level of the group and includes a diversity of laws and policy approaches emphasizing the interests of the people in the nation, not the pseudo-diversity that would make Sweden, Brazil, Japan, and the United States all contain, essentially, the same disunited and diverse populations living under the same uniform rules. Thus, nationalists in many nations emphasize the importance of national independence, skepticism of mass immigration, the preservation of language and culture, and the subordination of global and financial institutions to local control.

Why the Controversy?
Nationalism has something of a bad rap. In addition to the economic arguments, the association of nationalism with the atrocities of the hypernationalist Nazi Germany has caused some to equate the term with other views deemed retrograde and illiberal, such as racism and sexism. For critics, it is a short road from nationalism, to racism, to eliminationist violence.

This view, however, is as uncharitable as it is selective of the historical record. German nationalism emerged from the ashes of World War I and the Weimar era to become an aggressive, imperialist, and racist ideology that ran roughshod over the competing nationalisms of Germany’s neighbors. Yet more prosaic national movements also emerged from World War I, including Czech, Hungarian, and Polish nationalism. The Polish nation re-emerged from World War I as a small nation-state made up largely of an ethnically homogeneous people living within its historical borders, along with various well-established national minorities. Where Germany sought to expand and to impose its will on its neighbors and rid itself of its minorities—in particular the Jews—Poland sought to reestablish its national rule in land previously ruled over by multinational empires and accommodated its large Jewish population with a strong degree of autonomy, as exemplified by the persistence of the Yiddish language.

While imperfect, the model of Polish nationalism was limited, historical, nonimperialist, and nonaggressive towards its neighbors. It was certainly less violent to minorities and neighbors than the German alternative. And this model is not so different from the model of nationalism prevalent today, which does not chiefly seek to create empires or fight wars against neighbors, but rather to create a flourishing nation-state where the national culture, leaders, language, and character of the rulers derive from and benefit a particular nation.

Both variants of nationalism, of course, create the potential for conflict and oppression of local, historical minorities, but the ambitions of ordinary nationalism are far less damaging than the alternatives, including the expansionist ideologies of the German and Soviet Empires of the mid-20th century. Nationalist ideologies are limited in scope precisely because they do not seek to impose a universal way on all mankind, and their territorial ambitions are limited by the historical land of a particular people.

Critics tend to group these two very different types of nationalism together in order to discredit all nationalism with the crimes of the Nazi regime, even though the more tragic, valiant, and just nationalism of the Polish style is predominant today. This type of nationalism is compatible with the mutual flourishing of various nations each expressing their own nationalist views, each within their respective boundaries, and each aiming not to expand or impose upon others, nor to acquire new territory.

Nationalism International
The defensive nationalism of today has fostered a surprisingly “international” movement whereby nationalist groups in various European nations, as well as Brazil, India, and Japan, find common cause in opposing globalism. Globalism, being a universalist and single ideology, has the same agenda for various nations, whether Sweden, Brazil, or the United States. Thus, nationalist movements in these various countries find much common ground for cooperation, as they face a common enemy with a common agenda.

The particular expressions of nationalism may vary from country to country, but the concern for sovereignty, preservation of one’s people and their culture, and the need to subordinate the economic power of multinational corporations is universal. Nigel Farage of the British Brexit movement, for example, was a prominent Trump supporter. Jair Bolsonaro and Viktor Orbán, in Brazil and Hungary, also each have many international and American admirers. Conferences of European nationalists, each seeking to foster their respective nations’ flourishing, are fairly common, and members of the American dissident nationalist movements have begun to forge ties with these groups, as well.

In this sense, the international movement of nationalists is analogous to movements for regional autonomy or federalism here at home. The content of federalism likely would differ widely from Texas to Florida to Vermont. But in each case a meta-principle of self-rule, regionalism, and ultimately freedom is at stake.

By contrast, a universal rule falls more heavily on some than on others, as it deviates more or less from the local traditions and preferences. This is as true for the one-size-fits-all decrees of the United Nations, the EU, or the American federal government with regard to their respective and subordinate political units. A strong preference for local control can unite Greek nationalists who seek to preserve their local olive farmers, Frenchman who value their language and Catholic religion, and Swedes who do not want to be set upon by angry hordes of Somalis.

The Failure of Globalism
Globalism is a failing ideology. The increasing turn to censorship and suppression of dissident movements is as much an indicator of this as any economic figures. The largest failure of globalism is that it has failed to deliver on its own terms. Globalism fundamentally elevates economic concerns above all others and promises to raise all boats. But mobile global capital has instead transformed the entire globe into winner-take-all competition, where the largest share of the dividends are delivered to the managerial class and investors rather than to ordinary workers, who must now compete with Chinese laborers working for a pittance. Economic security has not increased with global competition, particularly among nations that were already quite content, such as Sweden or the United States.

More important, globalism—and particular its feature of unsustainable mass immigration from extremely dissimilar populations—has done much to undermine various nations’ quality of life. As with other failed ideologies, it errs by misunderstanding human nature. People are not merely economic actors. They are also fathers, sons, mothers, neighbors, members of communities, and the like. The value of cohesion and communication are natural byproducts of homogenous communities. These fragile goods, however, are given little consideration by the globalists, who proclaim, contra all the evidence, that diversity is our strength.

In real life, diversity often leads, as often as not, to higher crime, lower trust, neighbors with whom one cannot communicate, and a vague sense of not being at home in the country of one’s birth. Very few people really like this, outside of the small, self-selected globalist managerial class. In our lives, we reveal our true preferences by substituting other goods—cohesion, trust, stability, closeness of friends and family—for mere efficiency. Even capitalism itself recognizes that market-based efficiency is not always everything, as competing organizations are not themselves organized on market principles, but instead on bonds of culture, trust, and command and control relationships of various kinds.

Nationalism is compatible with freedom, free markets, peace, alliances, and much else. It is in fact the most natural mode of political organization, as Yoram Hazony argues. It is not compatible, however, with the single-minded focus on efficiency and uniformity that characterizes globalism. Much of the nationalist resurgence is about the rights, not just of individuals, but of communities to live among the people they’ve always known, with whom they share blood and history, and to continue to live as they have in peace.

Nationalism is no more an aggressive threat to others than having one’s own home, own religion, and own family is hostile to the homes, religions, and families of others. But those who claim in Orwellian fashion than “diversity is our strength” would permit no such diversity. After all, there is a global GDP to worry about.

Normal people everywhere emphasize different priorities when given the choice. And nationalists, to their credit, have recognized that there is some value in cooperating and building truly international ties among one another—ties that are only possible in a community of real, vital, and distinct nations. The globalists may find that they unite the various nations of the world, just not in the manner they expected.

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Administrative State • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Post

The Virtues of Patriotism

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The elections to the European Parliament underway now through Sunday present a major war of ideas between the “Europe of Nations” and the “Europe of Brussels”—between national democratic sovereignty and supranational authority.

On May 13, I participated in a conference in London organized by the White House Writers Group and attended by leading conservative intellectuals and political figures, including Yoram Hazony, Daniel Hannan, Roger Scruton, John O’Sullivan, Nile Gardiner, and Polish cabinet minister Anna Maria Anders, among others. The conference, “Europe at a Crossroads: The Virtue of Nationalism,” for the most part echoed Margaret Thatcher’s famous Bruges speech advocating a Europe of “independent sovereign states” in opposition to a democracy-deficient supranational EU that would “try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the center of a European conglomerate.”

Two days before, on May 11, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the Claremont Institute’s 40th anniversary gala dinner with a spirited defense of the universal principle of democratic sovereignty as central to the new Trump doctrine in American foreign policy. Pompeo declared:

This new pride in taking America’s interests seriously is not just an American phenomenon. Countries all over the world are rediscovering their national identities, and we are supporting them. We are asking them to do what’s best for their people as well. The wave of electoral surprises has swept from Britain to the United States all the way to Brazil.

Pompeo also noted, “President Trump has helped put the world back on track to a nation-first trajectory,” and warned  “democratic leaders” who “are not responsive to the jolts of patriotism which are sweeping the world . . . won’t be leaders for long.”

For more than a half a century, the United States automatically has supported more European integration and opposed efforts to reassert national sovereignty. As recently as 2016, President Obama traveled to the United Kingdom to warn the British that as far as America was concerned, they would be sent to the “back of the queue,” if they dared to approve Brexit. In contrast, then-private citizen John Bolton remarked,“Americans should welcome Britain’s coming Declaration of Independence.”

With the advent of the Trump Administration, automatic support for continued EU centralization and reflexive opposition to national sovereignty has ended. Pompeo, speaking directly to the Europeans in Brussels, forthrightly declared: “Our mission is to reassert sovereignty, reform the liberal international order, and we want our friends to help us assert their sovereignty as well.”

President Trump in his official speeches, informal remarks, and tweets has made no secret of his support for democratic sovereignty in general, and his sympathy for Brexit in particular. As Trump told the U.N. in 2018, “Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, [and] democracy has ever endured.”

Interestingly, the pro-Brussels forces link supporters of democratic sovereignty in Europe with the Trump Administration. In a European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) paper titled “How Anti-Europeans Plan to Wreck Europe and What Can Be Done to Stop It,” European integrationists complained:

Like Trump or his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, European nationalists are usually critical of “political correctness”—to the extent that they present their opposition to women’s rights, LGBT rights, other cultures, or measures to mitigate climate change as a crucial part of a pluralist political debate. They are particularly suspicious of multilateralism, as expressed in the Paris climate agreement and the Marrakesh migration pact.

In other words, for the pro-Brussels elite it appears that some retrograde “anti-Europeans” do not endorse political correctness, the green-socialist global agenda of the climate change regulators, and mass migration from the developing world. Imagine that!

The core argument, of course, is not between “pro-Europeans” and “anti-Europeans,” but between two different visions of Europe. It’s an old conflict. During the 1960s French President Charles de Gaulle advocated a “Europe of States” and strongly opposed European Commission President Walter Hallstein’s push for more centralization. Twenty years later, in the 1980s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher battled with then-European Commission President Jacques Delors over the same general argument of democratic sovereignty versus undemocratic supranationalism.

In recent years, the vision of a “Europe of Nations” embraced by de Gaulle and Thatcher is re-emerging both intellectually and politically.

In 2017, a group of leading European intellectuals, including Pierre Manent, Roger Scruton, Ryszard Legutko, Chantal Delsol, Remi Brague and others issued “The Paris Statement: A Europe We Can Believe In,” in which they declared: “The True Europe is a community of nations. We have our own languages, traditions, and borders, yet we have always recognized a kinship with one another.”

The Paris Statement uses the term “oligarchy” to describe the current status of the EU regime. The choice of oligarchy versus democracy, cuts to the heart of the matter. The political renaissance of the “Europe of Nations” is manifest in support for Brexit and for a range of political forces endorsing democratic sovereignty in the European Parliamentary elections.

These forces are not always in agreement on economics, on foreign policy, or other issues. Some are Thatcherite, some are Gaullist, some are sophisticated, some are not, some are traditional and classically liberal, some are given the nebulous label of “populist,” which is meant as a derogatory epithet.

Interestingly, the Paris Statement declared “we have our reservations” about “populism” because “Europe needs to draw on the deep wisdom of her traditions.” Nevertheless, the statement continued: “We acknowledge that much in this new political phenomenon can represent a healthy rebellion against the tyranny of the false Europe, which labels as ‘anti-democratic’ any threat to its monopoly on moral legitimacy.”

Clearly, the core moral question is who rules: self-governing democratic peoples or undemocratic supranational authorities? This is the same argument for democratic sovereignty constantly repeated by President Trump and his chief foreign policy lieutenants Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

And, indeed, 27 years ago, Daniel Hannan noted, that in a radio broadcast to the French people, Charles de Gaulle emphatically declared, “democracy and national sovereignty are the same thing.”

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America • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Post • The Constitution • The Culture • The Left

The Constitution Does Not Protect Freedom of Speech

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Around the inner rotunda of the Rhode Island state capitol stands this quotation from Tacitus: Rara temporum felicitas ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet. “Rare happiness of the times,” said the sardonic republican, “when it is permitted to think what you will and speak what you think.” Rare indeed.

Let us concede for the sake of argument that freedom of political speech in the broadest sense is a good thing, speech that bears not only upon whom we should elect to public office and what laws they should pass, but upon what is good and bad, true and false, wise and foolish.

Americans believe that that freedom is secured by constitutional provisions. They are wrong. Such freedom, such latitude for seeking the truth and securing the common good, must live within the hearts, the minds, and the cultural habits of a people. Otherwise it is dead, even while the constitutional provisions continue, like soulless automata, or the living dead.

The provisions march on, blindly and aimlessly, granting liberty to pornographers on principle, a mistaken principle as I believe, while ordinary people are ever more forbidden to think what they will and speak what they think, even about such ordinary things as what a marriage is, or what a man or a woman is and what they are for.

The phenomenon is, strangely enough, nowhere more evident than when the word “community” is invoked, like a talisman; and the undead shakes the dirt from his grave.

Where are true communities to be found? A communitas implies a place and identifiable members, sharing duties and benefits in common: think of a commons, or a town hall, or a public ball field. The community chest gathers donations from everyone in town, to disburse them to individual charities or to the poor according to their needs and the capacity of the whole. A Greek polis is a community, but a community need not be “political” in that specific sense. Your local parish is a community, or it should be. People who come together to build and operate a school form a community. An old-fashioned guild of shoemakers, ensuring quality of work, honoring their patron on Saint Crispin’s Day, and providing for their widows and orphans, form a community.

Such communities may require the awkwardly put “community standards” from their members, and these may be helpful or harmful, sensible or merely self-righteous and snobbish, as the case may be, and if you don’t like East Podunk, whose zoning laws will not permit bright orange houses, you may move to West Podunk, land of the garish. But in the absence of a real community, to call upon “community standards” is to establish an excuse for censoriousness, intolerance, and mendacity.

When I was a professor at Providence College, we used to receive messages from the administration, containing the words “Providence College community.” Mostly I ignored the phrase, as one of those pleasant fictions that the bureaucratic among us have enjoyed since the days of Orwell. The word “community” added nothing to the meaning. It was a smiley face in the margins, suggesting, “Here you are to have a feeling,” a tenth of a degree warmer than usual. For there were 4,000 students, transient of course, 250 professors, hundreds of staff members, at least 100 adjuncts, also transient, and nobody could know even a small percentage of all those people, by face or by reputation or by family.

Even so, you might attain some measure of community if you all shared a fundamental belief in God, regardless if you worshiped together; or if you all believed that the point of education was to discover the truth, regardless of what you thought the truth to be. But the school, like most others, was stocked with atheists and agnostics, some professed, some so by the sheer acedia of a life devoted to avarice, prestige, and hedonism. And the very idea that there is a truth to discover outside of the province of the slide-rule and the microscope was not only controversial but condemned by many as downright oppressive and wicked.

So there was no community. Why appeal to it, then, other than as a psychological hiccup? To shut down the expression of beliefs that those in power do not like. Hence it was that a professor of politics, while students nodded like puppets, delivered herself of the remarkable opinion that although the object of her public loathing (me) enjoyed academic freedom, that freedom must be used “responsibly,” according to community standards. The inversion was complete. Someone who does not believe in objective moral truth, and who therefore in moral debates cannot use her academic freedom “responsibly,” condemns someone else who does believe in objective moral truth, who seeks it, who declares what he believes he has seen, and who therefore can have cause to speak of what is responsibly or irresponsibly done.

Recently, four people, one of them an enfant terrible of conservative discourse, Milo Yiannopoulos, were banned from the public space provided by the Piranha Brothers, controllers of Facebook, for violating the unwritten law. Again, “community standards” were invoked. But there is no community. Facebook has become a gigantic public utility, like the telephone companies. There is no Facebook jamboree. Facebook has no fish-fry and clam bake. Facebook does not gather funds from little faces everywhere to succor the faceless. There are many thousands of what we might call notional Facebook commons, whereby people who are far-flung in geography write to one another about the topics of the times. These notional communities have little or nothing to do with one another, and nothing at all to do with Facebook, no more than conference calls have to do with Skype.

What can the Piranha Brothers possibly mean to convey, then, when they nailed Yiannapoulos’ head to the floor? It can have nothing to do with a “community.” It has to do instead with a desire that certain kinds of notional communities should be constrained or should not exist at all.

Hence the Piranha Brothers will permit you to put your ignorance of religion and your contempt for religious people on full display, all day long and every day of the week; the spike will never penetrate your temple. But they will not permit you to say, bluntly, that a man who believes he is a woman is in the grip of a delusion. If someone complains, out you go, and out goes your “community” or your portion thereof.

We must expect more of this in the future: people whose intolerance and censoriousness rises in proportion as their faith fades and their longing for the truth grows dull. We will hear the word “community” every day, and never see the real and living thing. We will have the Constitution, neither alive nor dead, but undead, and people who are afraid to let slip the wrong truth at work will continue to believe that they live in a free nation.

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America • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Identity Politics • Post • The Left

The Modern Bonfire of the Vanities

Five centuries ago, in Renaissance Florence, the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola, in his quest to purge Florence of all “immoral” works of art, started what came to be known as the “bonfire of the vanities.” Thousands of objects and works of art were burned in the fire; paintings by Sandro Botticelli, works by the poet Boccaccio, and countless other books, paintings, and objects were forever lost to history.

Looking back on this event today, we might be tempted to feel smug. We’re better than that, aren’t we? Surely today, in our enlightened, modern society, we’d never be stupid enough to destroy works of art or irretrievable relics of our history.

Yet it seems like, every day, leftists are more and more eager to prove that yes, they are that stupid. Because of the Left today, we are stuck in a slow-moving, modern version of the bonfire of the vanities. Unlike Savonarola’s bonfire, this isn’t a one-day affair; it’s an ongoing, subtle, never-ending eradication of our Western history and culture.

A story out of George Washington High School in San Francisco is the latest case in point. Earlier this month, the high school convened a “reflection and action working group” to determine the fate of a pair of 83-year-old murals depicting George Washington. The group determined the artwork is “highly problematic” and “traumatic” for students, since one of the murals presents George Washington next to several laboring slaves, and the other represents a dead Native American. The working group’s choice follows an earlier decision in February by a school-board committee that the art “glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc.”

What’s particularly moronic about this attempt to erase history is that the original painter of the murals, Victor Arnautoff, didn’t even intend to glorify President Washington. Arnautoff was a Communist who depicted Washington in such a way to “provoke a nuanced evaluation of his legacy,” namely, to call attention to the human costs of slavery and manifest destiny.

But the modern Left, which proudly upholds moral relativism, ironically sees the world in black and white terms. There is no room for nuance in their worldview. If George Washington (or James Madison or Thomas Jefferson) was a slaveholder, that in itself negates all the good qualities of his character. It doesn’t matter that he’s consistently rated as one of the best presidents in U.S. history; that without him our country probably wouldn’t exist; that he saw slavery as a great evil, and emancipated all of his slaves upon his death; no, the only thing that matters is that he wasn’t woke enough by 21st century standards.

Attempts like this one to whitewash the past raise the question: where does it all stop? At what point do we draw a red line and say “enough?” If a pair of murals in a high school “traumatize” students, why not paint over the fresco of George Washington in the Capitol dome ceiling in Washington, D.C.? Why not take down the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial? Why shouldn’t we rename Washington, D.C. itself to something more politically correct?

What’s especially striking is that this sense of historical revisionism and shame is unique to the West. You’ll hear American leftists bellyaching about how evil Christopher Columbus was, and how Columbus Day should be changed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day; Brits clamoring to topple statues of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated Napoleon’s fleet and saved Britain from invasion; Australians referring to Australia Day as Invasion Day, to mourn the creation of their own country; and Westerners of all nationalities claim that Winston Churchill, who saved the Western world from Nazi domination, was a “grotesque racist and a stubborn imperialist, forever on the wrong side of history.” But you very rarely hear of non-Westerners attack their own national heroes, even when those heroes were often much worse, and were responsible for the deaths of many more people than a Washington, a Nelson, or a Churchill.

Take Mongolia, for example. Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s most famous leader, was one of the greatest mass murderers in history. After unifying the disparate tribes of Mongolia in his youth, Genghis Khan and his descendants led the Mongol people to conquer the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Throughout the journey, they murdered, tortured, plundered, and raped their way across the Eurasian landmass. The estimated death toll of the Mongol Conquest is around 40 million people, or 10 percent of the world’s population in the 13th century.

The account of the conquest of the Persian city of Nishapur reads like a contemporary eyewitness account of the Rape of Nanking; the Mongols massacred more than 1 million unarmed civilians in the most inhumane ways imaginable. Khan’s daughter, who was heartbroken over her husband’s death during the siege of Nishapur, wanted to make sure that not a single civilian survived; she asked her father to decapitate every single body, and pile the skulls in massive pyramids, to ensure no one was playing dead. The Mongolian people still revere Genghis Khan as a national hero, and the capital of Ulaanbaatar has a 131-foot stainless steel statue of Khan that cost $4.1 million to build. To my knowledge, there are no organized protests demanding that the statue be torn down.

Consider the entire history of the Ottoman Empire. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey still waxes nostalgic about the empire, which kept most of the Balkans enslaved for centuries. He has previously surrounded himself with troops on parade dressed like Janissaries. The Janissary Corps, in Ottoman times, was a troop of elite soldiers made up of men who were forcibly ripped from their Christian parents’ arms when they were only small boys, converted to Islam, then turned into troops who were sent to wage war against their own people.

Many Ottoman figures are still celebrated in Turkey; Hayreddin Barbarossa, an Ottoman Admiral in the 16th century, repeatedly raided European shores, murdering and enslaving tens of thousands of men, women, and children. Despite his crimes, a mausoleum dedicated to his memory still stands in Istanbul. Sultan Mehmed II, regarded to this day as a national hero in Turkey, murdered hundreds of thousands of people in his quest to subjugate the Balkans. In the conquest of Constantinople alone, he murdered thousands of civilians and enslaved over 30,000 others. No major Turkish publications, scholars, or public officials have recently referred to Mehmed as a “grotesque racist” or a “stubborn imperialist.”

Joseph Stalin, one of the most ambitious butchers in history, remains popular in Russia. Stalin is responsible for starving 7-10 million Ukrainians in one of the worst man-made famines in history; for allying with Hitler and starting World War II by invading Poland; and for murdering tens of millions of his own people. Despite his crimes, a record high of 70 percent of all Russians approve of Stalin’s historical role. Only 19 percent of Russians view Stalin negatively, down from 32 percent in 2016.

Contrary to the example of George Washington, there is nothing nuanced in any of these monsters. Washington was a man of his times; a slaveholder, born into his position, who nonetheless realized the evil of slavery and eventually emancipated his slaves. He was also a man widely known for his character and probity. Genghis Khan, Mehmed II, and Joseph Stalin were all mass-murdering butchers with no redeeming characteristics.

Yet even as American leftists whine about murals of Washington “traumatizing” children, other cultures proudly celebrate their national heroes with no apparent interest in a critical look at their own history.

What’s particularly shocking about the stupidity of iconoclasts in America is their ignorance of how indebted they are to Western culture. The protestors who want to destroy the Washington murals in San Francisco, or to rename Columbus Day, or to tear down a statue of Thomas Jefferson from the university he himself founded, are all proving the superiority of the Western culture they claim to hate. Our culture of rationalism leads us to question everything about our history, even our most sacred figures, and our freedom of speech gives us the right to question, even to revile, our national heroes without fear of retribution. A Russian attempting to criticize Stalin, or a Chinese citizen condemning Mao’s atrocities, or a Turkish national feeling traumatized by a painting of Mehmed II would not fare as well as an iconoclast in America.

America • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • History • Hollywood • political philosophy • Post

The Political Implications of the Antihero

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Once upon a time in Western civilization, the knight in shining armor was the beau ideal for male character development. A guileless, clean-living, fair-playing Christian and brave sort of rule-keeping chap who treated women with due deference and willingly, if not enthusiastically, sacrificed all for God, king, and country.

The Somme, to steal from Robert Graves, bid goodbye to all that. In the United States, one might have thought Fredericksburg would have done the trick. It didn’t and it took until World War I to start the process in earnest. It took the Vietnam War to finish it.

But culturally, we see in the Great War poets like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, followed by the “Lost Generation” in Paris, the beginning of the disillusion with, and rejection of, Western codes of honor that had held sway for 1,000 years. Fictional characters such as Jay Gatsby, Rick Blaine, Harry Callahan, and Han Solo showcased leading men who broke rules, disdained authority, and behaved as they saw fit, sometimes in serious contravention of reigning codes of society. They are the antihero.

Though a phenomenon since the time of Andrew Jackson and the American cowboy, it’s fair to say that as artillery serves as a precursor to an infantry assault, this post-World War I trend paved the way in America for Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. These men are rogues who found political success in a culture no longer looking for Boy Scouts.

When we think of the past world, in a sense the old world before 1916, we think of bemedaled sovereigns and potentates striding in solemn procession at Edward VII’s funeral in 1910. The approximate century prior since Waterloo had seen the concept of the Christian gentleman, perhaps best typified by Gordon of Khartoum, as the apogee of masculinity. We perceive them as Dudley Do-Rights today. John Glenn was a self-admitted member of the club and worried about it.

The generation of men who thought and lived like that—Rupert Brooke may have been their most sublime and beautiful voice in “The Soldier”—found their ultimate sacrifice in the trenches of the Western Front. The young subalterns straight out of Eton or Oxbridge, in keeping with Wellington, saw it as a grand game at first. After all, gentlemen didn’t even carry a weapon. Slaughter was the work of the lower orders. Aristos had better things to do. Many of our best of 1917 felt the same way.

Their attitude soon changed when the butcher’s bill came due courtesy of German machine guns and poison gas shells.

British poet Wilfred Owen caught that acidic aftertaste in his classic Dulce et Decorum Est. Americans came home a bit less scarred but still questioning why. With the League of Nations not yet passed, Europe still in shambles, and an intervening decade that would see Europe on the road to world war again, just what did America accomplish in its bid to “make the world safe for democracy” and “end all wars”?

The consensus was very little. Hence, when the draft was up for renewal in 1941, and as World War II brewed with vigor, the bill passed by just one vote in the House, so present was the searing memory of the waste of World War I.

If you know your Fitzgerald, you know the story. The dashing young Princeton lieutenant off to war at the outset of This Side of Paradise is much removed from Gatsby, a bootlegging mystery man who consorts with mobsters and blithely violates societal norms to possess Daisy Buchanan. The difference between hero and antihero? The crucible of war.

Rick Blaine, who had run guns to the Spanish loyalists, then thought the nobler of the sides in the Spanish Civil War, in “Casablanca” is a boozy bar owner in Vichy France who is on the lam from American authorities for an unknown reason. When approached to help Victor Laszlo, a resistance leader against the Nazis, escape to America, he puts his bitter, burning torch for his ex, now Laszlo’s wife, above his alleged duty to fight for freedom and country. Yes, eventually he goes all squish. In 1942, the rot was in a state of stasis because of another war.

Jump forward two wars, Korea and Vietnam, a semi-victory and a loss, and we come to the San Francisco Police Department’s Dirty Harry. Since it’s relatively modern, I won’t belabor the details, as many readers will recall the film. Suffice to say, Callahan has only a passing acquaintance with rules and respect for duly constituted authority. The American public glorified him for it and a U.S. president quoted him from the podium. No more nice guys, we want winners, even if they have to fight dirty.

It’s almost as though we channeled the frustration over the failed objectives in Korea and Vietnam and decided to ape the Viet Cong in their dedication to final triumph, regardless of the questionable ethics required to achieve it.

Do I even have to go into all the ways Han Solo is no choirboy? He’s Rick Blaine in a galaxy far, far away. He’s out for himself and, like Blaine, only comes around at the urgings of a woman he eventually loves. Solo is a smuggler and free-booter, just the man for the age after “the best and brightest” lost Vietnam.

The young selfless honor-bound war hero George H. W. Bush’s win in Desert Storm notwithstanding, we rejected him a bit over a year later for a draft-dodging womanizer of highly questionable personal ethics and his wife who put, more so now, the Borgias to shame for their lack of integrity.

And how do we remember the 1990s? For many of us, it was a glorious decade. Now that could be a function of our then-relative youth, the good economy, or the GOP congressional dominance. No matter the qualifiers, however, many prospered. We noticed the White House doings, up to and including impeachment, and then went on with our lives, rarely giving a second serious thought to the summer stock Elvis in the Oval Office. Our need for noble individuals in power had fallen to that.

Consider that after Bill Clinton was impeached, his poll numbers went up.

I also won’t go into the current president’s foibles and what I consider his good record, as that was recently covered in another column in this space. You can make your own judgments. Though, ask yourself, when you hear of a scandal are you surprised at all? Do even the most heinous acts of political transgression motivate you to think, “Wow! I never would have guessed”?

I would venture to speculate it is generally unlikely.

Russian hoaxes, socialist authoritarians, and congressional witch hunts are usually not repulsed by the Dudley Do-Rights of the world. Fictional San Francisco police inspectors and their temperamental followers fare better when jousting with those foes. So our devolution from hero to antihero has its political plus sides. On the ethical and moral sides, the jury is most definitely still out on the question.

As it should be. For the specter of political conflict is not the total be all and end all of life. When it is our more vital civic, intellectual, and cultural lives are worse off for it.

Photo Credit: Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

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America • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Post • The Culture • The Left

Control the Narrative, Save the West

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Although the mechanism is mysterious, it often seems as though a centralized control center is issuing out for dissemination the turns of phrase and interpretations of events to be spread by celebrities, prestige journalists, and other influencers. These narratives end up influencing and controlling the way we think about things.

Political correctness has been a subject for amusement and mockery for some time, but it is a serious matter, because over time it has corrupted language and restricted the range of acceptable ideas. It has slowly corroded ordinary and normal feelings of community and “in-group” loyalty, particularly among people with a longstanding historical roots in America.

Worse, political correctness has been used selectively to permit and forbid expressions of group identity, allowing new outsider groups and minorities to have a strong sense of identity rooted in victimhood, while inculcating feelings of doubt and shame among the majority.

We’ve seen this most recently in reactions to the recent explosion of Anti-Christian violence in Sri Lanka. Muslims there, as they do almost anywhere they live alongside non-Muslim groups, have engaged in terrorist violence, in this case by murdering 253 Christians and wounding hundreds of others in a series of bombing attacks on Easter Sunday. Muslims make up only 10 percent of the Sri Lankan population but, as in Europe and the United States, their small numbers have not forestalled aggressive violence towards non-Muslims. The Easter attacks were horrifying not only in their violence, but in their sacrilege against a day holy to all Christians.

As one might expect, the attack received nearly unanimous condemnation in the West. But the language used to describe these events, particularly among the cognoscenti of the far Left, was peculiar. Instead of calling it a Muslim attack on Christians, the victims were widely described as “Easter Worshippers” by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and various other media personalities.

The use of this peculiar term happened nearly instantaneously and unanimously. No one referred to the Muslim victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand as “Friday Prayer attendees” or “Halal eaters.” This clumsy phrase is simply strange, distancing their activity from their identity, and implicitly suggesting that Christians cannot be a victim group. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when Christians engaged in revenge attacks against Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, the perpetrators were described as Christians without qualification. Of course, the victims of these revenge attacks were described as Muslims.

Language Choices Direct Thoughts and Values
These linguistic gymnastics are admittedly subtle. One could plausibly argue that because the attack occurred on Easter, calling them “Easter Worshippers” was shorthand for highlighting the grave evil of the attack. But we know that in many other contexts, Christians are persona non grata whose claims of a right to a place or authority to influence culture is under assault.

The distancing language of “Easter Worshippers” here chiefly functions to alter our perceptions, sympathies, and loyalties. It helps Western Christians experience less fellow feeling with their brothers in Asia, and it downplays the various places where Christians are under attack because of their identity.

We know generally that language matters. The widespread use of the phrase “‘N’ word” magnifies the grave impropriety of the racism of yesteryear, just as the widespread use of formerly foul terms like “s–t” and “f–k” undermines the older view elevating mankind from being a merely clever animal, defined chiefly by bodily functions.

The selective magnification or denigration of victim groups occurs in other arenas, particularly those dealing with race. News articles will make much of gruesome white-on-black crimes, such as the murder of James Byrd, and use these events as “teachable moments” to explore endemic racism in the broader, white-majority society. But proportionally greater black-on-white crimes receive little notice, including cases such as the Wichita Massacre or the Knoxville killings.

Indeed, a myth persists of white serial killers, but even here the politically incorrect truth is that blacks make up a disproportionately high percentage of such killers, though not nearly as high as their disproportionate percentage among ordinary crimes and homicides. The facts in all these cases, along with the selective focus and choice of words, all serve to elevate some groups (immigrants, minorities, and nonwhites) at the expense of the erstwhile dominant groups (Americans, whites, and Christians).

The Narrative Undermines the Confidence of the Majority
None of this is an accident. It all reinforces the broader leftist narrative, which is rooted in various calumnies and libels against traditional civilization, whites, and Christians. These three things made up the cultural and demographic core of the old America and the old Western Civilization. And thus, they are systematically denigrated, delegitimized, and devalued by a constant drumbeat of propaganda.

We hear stories, see movies, and read books endlessly regarding the evils of slavery, the Holocaust, and colonialism, but little is made of our abolition of slavery, tradition of natural law and natural rights, and the evils of non-Western peoples, such as the murderous Genghis Khan or the extensive Muslim slave trade. At the same time, we almost never hear generally that we have a right to exist, a right to flourish, and a right to maintain ourselves as a distinct people, culture, and civilization.

This line of critique is not applied fairly or equally. Mayan human sacrifice, the Chinese cultural revolution, and the Turkish barbarities in the Balkans and against Armenians are rarely brought up to undermine the legitimacy of these groups and their rights as a people—moreover, to the extent these criticisms are made, they almost never arise from the peoples themselves. The reversal of the normally cautious human instinct against change and the diminishment of one’s power in favor of “progress” and “social justice” has its foundation in the pervasive and misleading leftist narrative of the various sins and shortcomings of our people.

As Roger Scruton has observed, this kind of thinking is a shoddy foundation for civilized life. Writing in City Journal, Scruton argues:

Political correctness is not a morality in the traditional sense: it does not require you to change your life, to make sacrifices, or to live by an exacting code of conduct. It tells you to watch your language, so as to avoid the only prevalent adverse judgment, which is judgment of the adverse judge. It tells you to speak inclusively of other cultures, other life-styles, other values: never take a disapproving stance or use words that might imply one. Hence the extreme volatility of the new speech codes. Any phrase or idiom that seems to imply judgment of another category or class of people can become, almost overnight, an object of stigma.

The whole point of the new morality is to extend equality from a principle of fair treatment of individuals to one of indifference to and, indeed, enthusiasm for one’s own people’s decline in power, prestige, and population. Is this healthy or normal?

More important, this line of criticism is hard to resist, as it takes advantage of the West’s preexisting individualism, including its high regard for the rights of minorities, the rule of law, and the preference for thinking of morality in terms of “universals,” an extension of the broader universalism of the Christian belief system.

The combination of shoddy historical education, remorse over prior injustices to minorities, and the high social and economic costs visited on dissenters provides fertile ground in which this type of criticism can slowly eviscerate the confidence upon which any people and its civilization depends to survive.

The Way Forward
The foundation of this criticism makes plain the proper antidote to such propaganda plain, both for conservative intellectuals and for individuals. Real historical education, found in the Great Books and western art and music, by their own grandeur do much to instill faith in our people and its achievements. The very ugliness of the world crafted by the left does much to reduce its legitimacy.

As for injustice, there is no need to retreat from recognizing and even atoning for injustice. But any such recognition, just as in the case of individuals, does not require the root and branch destruction of a people and institutions. As Solzhenitsyn observed, “Nations are the wealth of mankind, its generalized personalities . . . the least among them has its own unique coloration and harbors within itself a unique facet of God’s design.” As with individuals, nations may be called to repentance, but as with individual repentance, this is a process with an end in mind: reconciliation.

Finally, the high social and economic costs should be emphasized at every turn; as more and more people find themselves fearful of being destroyed, jobless, and pariahs on account of some wayward utterance, the fragility of the system is laid bare. A system that needs to eliminate, ban, or silence critics is not as strong as its apparent power may first suggest. We should refuse to participate and join in this chorus of condemnations, instead questioning the long term designs and purpose of such a regime.

At the same time, let’s be prudent. The dissident Right and normal people more generally live in enemy territory. The institutions are in the hands of hostile forces, and their power is substantial. But their power depends largely on the rest of us genuflecting before the pseudo-morality of political correctness, progressivism, and multiculturalism.

By recognizing their propaganda, we become more immune to it. By refusing to participate in tactical victories—condemning Democrats for 100-year-old racism, for example—we maintain the strategic high ground. And when fewer and fewer people really believe this ideology of Western suicide, the leftist overlords are left only with raw power, which is hard to muster against an awakened majority. Indeed, when this occurs, their apparent powers of coordination will instead be an indictment of the small, self-interested, and hateful clique that wants nothing less than the destruction of America and the West’s historical peoples and their hard-won civilization.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Middle East • military • Post

To Conquer Chaos, Court It

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For all of the rhetoric about our supposed liberal international order, the world is more chaotic and unstable than it has been since World War II. Disorder reigns.

And for the technocratic, democratic globalist elites in the West, this disorder can only be repaired with the right combination of U.S. tax dollars, the blood of American servicemen and women, and a desire to remake entire societies in our image (or, at least, in the distorted image of postmodern, Western elites).

Yet, with each new U.S. intervention, we have detached the use of military force from serious national interests and, in so doing, done real damage to our interests. As the disorder caused by American intervention proliferates and becomes systemic, rival powers, such as China or Russia, step into that chaotic void, eventually benefiting from the chaos that the United States has sown, even as we squander our temporary gains.

Flipping Gaddafi: The One Upside of the Iraq War
For instance, the disorder caused by the United States in Iraq won us the initial benefit of newfound cooperation from a long-time adversary, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. We managed to get him to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons and to engage with the West.

Whatever may have been the other failings of U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, we could always point to Gaddafi and his decision to give up his nuclear weapons as a win. For a time, Gaddafi even turned Libya into an essential partner in America’s ongoing global war on terrorism. Throughout North Africa thereafter, Libyan intelligence worked hand-in-hand with the United States and its allies to thwart jihadist threats there.

Thanks to the alliance with Gaddafi, the George W. Bush Administration was also made aware of the illicit nuclear weapons proliferation cabal led by Pakistan’s preeminent nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan. Washington was able to disrupt Khan’s highly successful nuclear proliferation scheme, which entailed moving nuclear materials and know-how from places like Russia, China, and Pakistan and into the hands of desperate, rogue regimes, like those of North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and at one time, Libya.

Despite having benefited from its alliance with Libya’s insane strongman, though, Washington’s planners eventually led the successful international effort to topple Gaddafi in 2011.

How Washington Spreads the Contagion
What followed were years of instability in Libya, as no central government could assert enough control over the vast country to quell the disorder. The chaos quickly proliferated to neighboring countries, such as Mali, prompting greater Western military intervention. Soon, Islamists began taking over provinces of Libya (such as Benghazi), where they promptly imposed Sharia law, slavery, and other horrors upon the citizenry.

The more the chaos in Libya compounded, the less ability the United States (and the West) had to influence events there. Yet Russia experienced a concomitant increase of its own influence over powerful actors in the region. Ever since the end of the Cold War, Russia had been cut out of the region by U.S. foreign policy. As a result, nowadays people in the region view Russia in a more positive light than they do the Americans.

Thanks to this perception, Moscow has had a much easier time inserting itself into the region. Further, Moscow and Beijing have a firmer and more fundamental grasp on realpolitik: play all sides against each other, keep the locals distracted, and rarely take sides, while waiting to see how the pieces fall before fully asserting one’s own will.

This is precisely what Russia is doing in Libya today. As the U.S.-backed Libyan government of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj in Tripoli founders, the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, led by the autocratic General Khalifa Haftar, steadily marches toward Tripoli. Things have gotten so bad that the State Department issued an order for all U.S. government personnel to leave Libya until the dust settles.

Many analysts are convinced that Moscow covertly is supporting Haftar’s military juggernaut. After all, Prime Minister Sarraj’s regime in Tripoli has proven itself incapable of asserting control over Libya. Plus, Haftar’s forces control most of the oil-rich parts of Libya, meaning his is the force with all of the money and resources behind it. The always-cash-strapped Moscow wants influence over Libya’s natural resources as well as access to Haftar’s wealth. By backing his claim to power, Moscow hopes to gain exclusive access to Libya.

Civil Wars as State-Building Exercises

The instability and chaos created by American intervention in Libya have, therefore, been a boon for the revanchist Russians. In fact, we’ve witnessed the resurgence of Russian might all across the Middle East and Africa (what Andrew J. Bacevich refers to as the “Greater Middle East”), where American forces have intervened. From Syria to Libya to the Central African Republic, Russia is yet again reasserting its power in ways that it has not been able to do since the heady days of the Cold War.

None of this would have been possible without the feckless policies of America’s permanent bipartisan fusion party.

As Edward N. Luttwak once exhorted, “Give War a Chance.” Civil wars are brutal (just look at our own). But, if they are expected and allowed to play out naturally, the result is often longer-lasting and more stabilizing than any peace imposed by outsiders. Wars—particularly civil wars—are a harsh remedy. But just as wildfires sometimes help cull forests in order for them to thrive again, wars can be a necessary and natural part of state building. Intervening to stop them can have grave unintended consequences for the long-term development of a country, such as Libya or Syria.

Because Washington waded into countless civil conflicts with little understanding of the dynamics involved, in many cases even more bloodshed and instability resulted. As instability expanded, strategic rivals, like Russia, managed to court the chaos and use it to their geostrategic advantage. In Libya, Russia has not only courted Haftar’s forces but, until recently, it appeared to be courting Haftar’s rival, Prime Minister Sarraj as well. This pattern has repeated throughout the world in the post-Cold War era. As states breakdown internally and intrastate conflict—driven by ethno-religious tensions—takes hold, American forces repeatedly are drawn into the conflict by well-meaning but ignorant elites.

The U.S. military is good at killing people and breaking things, but it often cannot discern one tribal faction from another—especially when everyone fighting are bad guys (such as in Syria). For instance, the group of belligerents who captured a cowering Muammar Gaddafi and then gruesomely executed him on the side of a Libyan highway, the National Liberation Army, were not secular “freedom fighters” looking to create Western-style democracy in Libya. Instead, key elements of this American-backed hodgepodge force were unapologetic jihadists looking to spread Islamist governance to war-torn Libya (which, they eventually did until Haftar showed up and started killing them).

When America intervenes in civil wars to “protect universal human rights,” very often American forces end up having to take sides in a civil war with no clear good guy, thereby incurring the wrath of those who are fighting against our preferred side, while our supposed allies use us, and eventually turn on us.

Plus, we often end up removing the players in a civil war who might be able to lead their country to some semblance of stability. Once such forces are destroyed, we have then created a permanent vacuum for others, like Russia, to exploit.

We’ve Met the Enemy and He Is Us!
Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Iran are case studies in how the United States completely destroyed its own dominance in a vital part of the world and allowed for its weaker rivals—particularly Russia—to benefit from the ensuing chaos.

Given this, the United States should stop trying to bring order to chaos and instead start courting that chaos as the Russians and Chinese have so effectively done over the last 20 years.

Why doesn’t Washington ever wait to see what Beijing, Moscow, or Tehran intend to do in a given civil war? Why do we always have to go first?

It is time for Washington to realize that, in an age of durable disorder, there is simply no way to impose stability from the outside. Instead, the goal should be to do the least amount of harm both to ourselves and allies while enhancing our national strategic interests—and our understanding of those should be far more limited than it currently is. At times, the United States should not intervene in a civil war, regardless of the human suffering involved. Other times, we might benefit by replicating Chinese and Russian strategies and exacerbate the chaos; playing all sides against the middle. Rarely, though, should American forces deploy to engage in unwinnable humanitarian warfare as they have done on multiple occasions since the end of the Cold War.

The disease of humanitarian military interventionism has infected the minds of America’s permanent bipartisan fusion party; this disease has made those purported great minds dull and has gotten countless American servicemen and women needlessly killed while wasting trillions of hard-earned U.S. taxpayer dollars. More importantly, these unnecessary wars have quantitatively hurt U.S. strategic interests around the world.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

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Defense of the West • Europe • Post • Religion and Society • Religion of Peace

The Burning of Notre Dame and the Destruction of Christian Europe

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The fire that destroyed much of the Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris is a tragedy that is irreparable. Even if the cathedral is rebuilt, it will never be what it was before. Stained glass windows and major architectural elements have been severely damaged and the oak frame totally destroyed. The spire that rose from the cathedral was a unique piece of art. It was drawn by the architect who restored the edifice in the nineteenth century, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who had based his work on 12th century documents.

In addition to the fire, the water needed to extinguish the flames penetrated the limestone of the walls and façade, and weakened them, making them brittle. The roof is non-existent: the nave, the transept and the choir now lie in open air, vulnerable to bad weather. They cannot even be protected until the structure has been examined thoroughly, a task that will take weeks. Three major elements of the structure (the north transept pinion, the pinion located between the two towers and the vault) are also on the verge of collapse.

Notre Dame is more than 800 years old. It survived the turbulence of the Middle Ages, the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, two World Wars and the Nazi occupation of Paris. It did not survive what France is becoming in the 21st century.

The cause of the fire has so far been attributed to “an accident,” “a short circuit,” and most recently “a computer glitch.”

If the fire really was an accident, it is almost impossible to explain how it started. Benjamin Mouton, Notre Dame’s former chief architect, explained that the rules were exceptionally strict and that no electric cable or appliance, and no source of heat, could be placed in the attic. He added that an extremely sophisticated alarm system was in place. The company that installed the scaffolding did not use any welding and specialized in this type of work. The fire broke out more than an hour after the workers’ departure and none of them was present. It spread so quickly that the firefighters who rushed to the spot as soon as they could get there were shocked. Remi Fromont, the chief architect of the French Historical Monuments said: “The fire could not start from any element present where it started. A real calorific load is necessary to launch such a disaster”.

A long, difficult and complex investigation will be conducted.

The possibility that the fire was the result of arson cannot be dismissed. Barely an hour after the flames began to rise above Notre Dameat a time when no explanation could be provided by anyonethe French authorities rushed to say that the fire was an “accident” and that “arson has been ruled out.” The remarks sounded like all the official statements made by the French government after attacks in France during the last decade.

In November 2015, on the night of the massacre at the Bataclan Theater in Paris, in which jihadists murdered 90 people, the French Department of the Interior said that the government did not know anything, except that a gunfight had occurred. The truth came out only after ISIS claimed responsibility for the slaughter.

In Nice, after the truck-attack in July 2016, the French government insisted for several days that the terrorist who crushed 86 people to death was a “man with a nervous breakdown“.

In 2018, Sarah Halimi’s murderer, who recited verses from the Quran while torturing his victim, was declared “mentally disturbed” and held in a psychiatric institution immediately after his arrest. He will most likely never face a court. On April 8, Alain Finkielkraut and 38 other intellectuals published a text saying that her murderer must not escape justice. The text had no effect.

The fire at Notre Dame took place less than three years after a “commando unit” of jihadi women, later arrested, tried to destroy the cathedral by detonating cylinders of natural gas. Three days before last week’s fire, on April 12, the leader of the jihadis, Ines Madani, a young French convert to Islam, was sentenced to eight years in prison for creating a terrorist group affiliated with the Islamic State.

The Notre Dame fire also occurred at a time when attacks against churches in France and Europe have been multiplying. More than 800 churches were attacked in France during the year 2018 alone. Many suffered serious damage: broken, beheaded statues, smashed tabernacles, feces thrown on the walls. In several churches, fires were lit. On March 5, the Basilica of St. Denis, where all but three of the Kings of France are buried, was vandalized by a Pakistani refugee. Several stained-glass windows were broken, and the basilica’s organ, a national treasure built between 1834 and 1841, was nearly wrecked. Twelve days later, on March 17, a fire broke out at Saint Sulpice, the largest church in Paris, causing serious damage. After days of silence, the police finally admitted that the cause had been arson.

For months, jihadist organizations have been issuing statements calling for the destruction of churches and Christian monuments in Europe. Notre Dame was repeatedly named as a primary target. Despite all that, the Cathedral was not adequately protected. A couple of young men, who entered the Cathedral at night, climbed on the roof last November and shot a video that they then put on YouTube.

Many messages were posted by people with Muslim names on social mediaTwitter, Facebook, the website of Al Jazeeraexpressing a joy to see an important Christian symbol destroyed. Hafsa Askar, a migrant from Morocco and the vice president of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF), the main student organization in France, published a tweet saying, “People are crying on little pieces of wood… it’s a delusion of white trash”.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had never even mentioned the attacks on Saint Denis or Saint Sulpice, quickly went to Notre Dame and declared, “Notre Dame is our history, our literature, our imagination”. He totally left out cathedral’s religious dimension.

The next evening, he said that Notre Dame would be rebuilt in five years: it was a bold statement. Many commentators interpreted his words as dictated by his will desperately to try to regain the confidence of the French people after five months of demonstrations, riots and destruction stemming from his ineffective handling of the “Yellow Vests” uprising. (On March 16, much of the Champs-Élysées was damaged by rioters; repairs have barely begun.) All experts agree that it will almost certainly take far longer than five years to rebuild Notre Dame.

Macron strangely added that the cathedral would be “more beautiful” than beforeas if a badly damaged monument could be more beautiful after restoration. Macron went on to say that the reconstruction would be a “contemporary architectural gesture”. The remark raised concern, if not panic, among defenders of historic monuments, who now fear that he may want to ​​add modern architectural elements to a jewel of Gothic architecture. Again, he totally left out the cathedral’s religious dimension.

Macron’s attitude is not surprising. From the moment he became president, he has kept himself away from any Christian ceremony. Most of the presidents who preceded him did the same. France is a country where a dogmatic secularism reigns supreme. A political leader who dares to call himself a Christian is immediately criticized in the media and can only harm a budding political career. Nathalie Loiseauthe former director of France’s National School of Administration and the leading candidate on the electoral list of Macron’s party, “Republic on the Move,” for the May 2019 European Parliament electionswas recently photographed exiting a church after mass, which led to a media debate on whether her church attendance is a “problem.”

The results of French secularism are visible. Christianity has been almost completely wiped out from public life. Churches are empty. The number of priests is decreasing and the priests that are active in France are either very old or come from Africa or Latin America. The dominant religion in France is now Islam. Every year, churches are demolished to make way for parking lots or shopping centers. Mosques are being built all over, and they are full. Radical imams proselytize. The murder, three years ago, of Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest who was slaughtered by two Islamists while he was saying mass in a church where only five people (three of them old nuns) were present, is telling.

In 1905, the French parliament passed a law decreeing that all the properties of the Catholic Church in France were confiscated. Churches and cathedrals became property of the State. Since then, successive governments have spent little money to maintain them. Those churches that have not been vandalized are in poor condition, and most cathedrals are in poor condition, too. Even before the devastating fire, the Archdiocese of Paris stated that “it can’t afford all the repairs” that Notre Dame needed, “estimated at $185 million.” According to CBS News, in a March 20, 2018 report:

The French government, which owns the cathedral, has pledged around $50 million over the next decade, leaving a bill of $135 million. To raise the rest, Picaud helped launch the Friends of Notre-Dame of Paris Foundation. It works to find private donors both in France and across the Atlantic.

“We know Americans are wealthy, so we go where we think we can find money to help restore the cathedral,” Picaud said.

On the evening of the fire at Notre Dame, hundreds of French people gathered in front of the burning cathedral to sing Psalms and pray. They seemed suddenly to understand that they were losing something immensely precious.

Following the fire, the French government decided to start collecting donations from private individuals, businesses and organizations for reconstruction; more than one billion euros have poured in. French billionaires promised to pay large sums: the Pinault family (the main owners of the retail conglomerate Kering) promised 100 million euros, the Arnault family (owners of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods company), 200 million euros, the Bettencourt family (owners of L’Oréal), also 200 million. Many on the French “left” immediately said that wealthy families had too much money, and that these millions would be better used helping the poor than taking care of old stones.

For the foreseeable future, the heart of Paris will bear the terrible scars of a fire that devastated far more than a cathedral. The fire destroyed an essential part of what is left of the almost-lost soul of France and what France could accomplish when the French believed in something higher than their own day-to-day existence.

Some hope that the sight of the destroyed cathedral will inspire many French people to follow the example of those who prayed on the night of the disaster. Michel Aupetit, Archbishop of Paris, said on April 17, two days after the fire, that he was sure France would know a “spiritual awakening”.

Others, not as optimistic, see in the ashes of the cathedral a symbol of the destruction of Christianity in France. The art historian Jean Clair said that he sees in the destruction of Notre Dame an additional sign of an “irreversible decadence” of France, and of the final collapse of the Judeo-Christian roots of Europe.

An American columnist, Dennis Prager, wrote:

The symbolism of the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral, the most renowned building in Western civilization, the iconic symbol of Western Christendom, is hard to miss.

It is as if God Himself wanted to warn us in the most unmistakable way that Western Christianity is burningand with it, Western civilization.

Another American author, Rod Dreher, noted:

This catastrophe in Paris today is a sign to all of us Christians, and a sign to all people in the West, especially those who despise the civilization that built this great temple to its God on an island in the Seine where religious rites have been celebrated since the days of pagan Rome. It is a sign of what we are losing, and what we will not recover, if we don’t change course now.

For the moment, nothing indicates that France and Western Europe will change course.

Editor’s note: This article was first published by the Gatestone Institute and is republished here by permission.

Photo Credt: Ibrahim Ezzat/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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America • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Identity Politics • Post • The Culture • The Left

Appeasement in the Academy

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At Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, a student club with the expressed purpose of “the preservation, dissemination and extension of the Western moral and philosophical Tradition” is currently struggling to achieve official recognition from the college administration. Why? Because for a small group of social terrorists on campus, Winston Churchill is a symbol of white supremacy. Also, because we live in hell.

The Churchill Institute is one of a few groups scattered across the American academy that sees Western Civilization under attack, by outsiders and insiders, and has organized itself around its preservation in response.

Trinity’s Churchill Institute (CI) was founded during the 2015 school year by Gregory Bruce Smith, a professor of political science and philosophy. For the past few years, the club has maintained a relatively low profile, operating for the most part as an off-campus organization.

The group occasionally brings speakers to campus, once in conjunction with Young Americans for Liberty, once the former governor of Massachusetts, Jane Swift, for lectures on the importance of free speech. CI publishes ​The​ ​Trinity Review​, a student newspaper offering an alternative perspective to the progressive status quo. The paper is open to ​all​ students and faculty for submission, just as the Churchill Institute itself is open to ​all​ students and faculty for participation and inquiry. This year, CI established its first student reading group; they are reading Leo Strauss’s Natural Right and History.​

How refreshing that there are still leaders in the academy living out the notion that it is imperative for well-educated people to defend the Western tradition by knowing the Western tradition. How heartening that there are young people who still feel that to know her is to love her.

It is standard procedure at most colleges that student clubs seek formal recognition by their respective school administrations in order to have priority access to reserve spaces on campus for events. This year, students involved in the Churchill Institute planned to establish a “Churchill Club” for this reason. But when the students leaders submitted the club and its constitution to the Student Government Association (SGA) for review, they became the targets of a slanderous social media and real-life intimidation campaign.

Nick Engstrom, class of 2022, is one of many students involved with the Churchill Club who has experienced an onslaught of attacks from activist peers attempting to prevent them from the apparently subversive act of reading and appreciating old books. These know-nothings either hide behind the anonymity of the internet or the darkness of night. And they are relentless.

An Instagram account for anonymous political organizers called “Militant Movement” and its followers doctored emails Engstrom had sent to student body to dispel nasty rumors about Churchill to make him look like a racist and called Engstrom and his comrades “pasty Klansmen.” They also published adulterated essays by Smith to the same effect, making them say the exact opposite of what was in the original text. All to inflame passions.

The slanderous campaign is not relegated to the virtual world. Engstrom opened his Instagram one day to find a direct message telling him to check his student mailbox. When he did, he found a threat that read, “Be careful what you wish for.” Engstrom has woken to strange and aggressive knocks on his door at night. He got up one morning to find flyers dispersed throughout the school with his picture on them and the caption, “New racism is just as bad as the old.” But these flyers were not the only ones circulated: several more targeted other members of Churchill personally, as well as the club generally. The billboard outside Smith’s office is littered with Post-It notes baselessly charging him with racism.

To be formally recognized, club leaders must take questions from members of SGA in public at an official meeting, so that everyone can get a better sense of the club’s mission, internal structure, and presence. When members of the Churchill Club first submitted themselves to questioning, Engstrom says he stood for 90 minutes while fellow students, who are not members of SGA but somehow coordinated to show up, berated him along these lines: “Is CI a white supremacist organization?” “Why are all of the authors you read old, white men?” “What will you do to ensure that your club is faithfully committed to diversity and inclusion?”

After that first meeting, SGA moved to postpone the decision on verifying the Churchill Club. In the meantime (a period of about five weeks), the student government decided to offer two town halls so that the concern trolls who’d been attempting to intimidate members of Churchill had a public forum for the airing of their baseless, insinuative grievances and ask Churchill Club members, once again, when they stopped beating their wives.

At the most recent SGA hearing on the matter SGA, heeding the recommendation of the administration, moved to postpone its decision again. The administration invented the entirely ad hoc requirement that the matter be submitted to a mediator.

There is one meeting left this semester before SGA adjourns for the summer. This will be the last chance for the Churchill Club to be recognized before next fall.

The obsequious silence of Trinity College, its professors, its administrators, and its board is deafening. Their policy of appeasement is inexcusable. As they hide behind layers of bureaucracy to absolve themselves of their responsibility to do what’s right, Rome burns.

Threats and slander

Is this a free speech issue, or something else? In summer 2017, Trinity College professor Johnny Eric Williams revealed to his social media followers his intense desire to see white people suffer and die. On June 16 of that summer, contributing to the conversation that ensued after Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot and nearly killed at a congressional baseball practice at a Virginia park, Williams made a Facebook post:

It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be “white” will not do, put an end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF–kingDie.

He made several more posts on Twitter calling whites “inhuman.” Predictably, the media’s response to Williams’ statements (as well as the administration at Trinity) amounted to obfuscation and placation. Overnight, Williams became the victim of vague “threats” and calls for his firing.

The Hartford Courant published a story headlined, “Trinity Professor Flees Campus After Threats Over Facebook Comments, Issues Public Apology.” The article depicts the man—who had explicitly stated that all white people are racists, and that the rest of people should relish the moments in which white people died—as a father of young kids apparently fleeing for his life from agitated alumni. His comments were called “controversial.” Williams was sorry not for his words, but that they were “misinterpreted.” And according to the Courant, the “right-wing” publication Campus Reform had actually orchestrated a “hit on Johnny” by “misrepresenting” the words he’d clearly written.

Trinity College sent him on a paid vacation until it all blew over. They cited his freedom of speech in their defense of him. And the Churchill Club’s freedom of speech? Stunted on account of dog whistles only leftists can hear. The hypocrisy is staggering.

Freedom of speech is not the issue. Civilizational decay is. Right now, any discussion and inquiry about Western Civilization or the great men who made it must be rooted out, punished, or censored unless, of course, its purpose is to flagellate and score that civilization. Burn your books and take the knee because activist children know better. So we add “Western Civilization” to the ever-multiplying list of terms that refer to “Things that are definitely white supremacy” (in reality, just things the subversive Left despises).

And in each moment that list expands, we inch closer to a world in which the notion that Winston Churchill is literally Hitler is no longer preposterous.

This isn’t about white supremacy. This is about entropy. The new barbarians only seek to destroy. Their mission is to “dismantle systems of white supremacy.” When pressed, they admit that any system designed or influenced at all by white men is an iteration of white supremacy. The logic of total destruction follows.

What does it say if conservative professors at Trinity and elsewhere, people who care deeply about Churchill and the civilization he represents, are simply too terrified to come out and support these students and their professor? The Left has wrenched the Overton window so far in their direction that Winston Churchill is concealed from view. Winston Churchill. A great man of history. A man of culture. A fundamentally good man, however flawed. One of the best. There is simply no room for conservatives on campus, no room for heroes of Western Civilization. The destroyers of culture flail violently in their anger and ignorance. Onlookers are either too confused by or too scared of them to intervene.

The activists are right about one thing only: that Winston Churchill is a symbol of something greater than himself. Culture relies on its symbols to infuse us with self-knowledge, purpose, and gratitude. If we can’t have Churchill, nothing and no one is safe. If we can’t have Churchill, who are we?

This story is bigger than Trinity College. It’s bigger than the banning, firing, disinvitation, or protest of any individual thinkers from prominent universities across the country, including recently such great minds as Harvey Mansfield, Camille Paglia, and Roger Scruton. If Trinity College does not stand up for the Churchill Institute and student club by offering a strong condemnation of their opposition, they will have lost the battle and the war. And so will we all.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: John F. Stephenson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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America • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Left

Democratic Self-Government or Mass Migration?

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Editor’s Note: The following is drawn from remarks delivered in late March at the Mathias Covinus Collegium International Conference on Migration in Budapest, Hungary.

If migration is the biggest challenge of our time, the key question is who will make the decisions regarding this challenge? There are three possibilities: supranational institutions (let’s call this Davos); the migrants themselves arriving without the consent of the people in the nations that are affected; or the demos, the citizens of democratic nation-states.

The question of whether migration is decided by Davos, by the migrants, or by the demos will determine the direction of the West in the 21st century.

The challenge of migration is at the heart of the most important question in politics going back to Plato and Aristotle. Who governs? Supranational institutions or democratic nation-states? Transnational elites unaccountable to any democratic people or the citizens of a given nation?

President Donald Trump has described the coming conflict as one between patriotism and globalism.

Today, sovereign self-government is challenged within the democratic world and within the West by the ideological and material forces of transnational or global progressivism.

The party of Davos-Global governance—transnational progressivism—is supported by an interlocking network of transnational elites including international lawyers, judges, bureaucrats, and activists housed at institutions like the United Nations, the European Commission, the European Court of Human Rights, leading global corporations, NGOs, and within the governments of many Western nation-states. These groups have a symbiotic relationship. John Bolton has referred to some of their practitioners as the “high-minded.”

This network promotes two complimentary ideologies: supranationalism abroad and multiculturalism at home. With supranationalism, decision-making authority is transferred from democratic nation-states to unelected global institutions which are unaccountable to any particular demos or people.

With multiculturalism—individual citizens and the nations themselves are divided into adversarial groups—some groups are designated as dominant or oppressor groups (males, native-born citizens, Christians) others are considered marginalized or victim groups (women, ethnic and sexual minorities, illegal immigrants.) This multicultural emphasis seeks to undermine the traditional unifying national culture of democratic states.

The end goal of the global governance project—implicitly and sometimes explicitly—is the fundamental transformation of the Western democratic nation-state into a regime that is subordinate to global rules which are designed by global experts externally, and subject to multicultural strictures internally. It is, quite simply, a regime ruled without the consent of the governed.

How Mass Migration Transforms a Nation
Mass migration plays a crucial role in the process of fundamentally transforming the democratic nation-state. Mass migration has momentous political, social, economic, and civilizational consequences.

Let’s look at some specific examples.

In the United States, the state of California has changed drastically due to mass immigration, both legal and illegal. California has imported poverty, driven large numbers of the middle class from the state, and radically altered its politics.

Victor Davis Hanson writes that California now ranks 49th out of 50 states in the number of residents who have finished high school. On public school tests, California ranks 45th of 50. One in three of all federal, state, and local welfare recipients in the United States lives in California. About 20 percent of the state lives below the poverty level. This is the result of the perpetual mass migration of low skilled, poorly educated people into a political-economic-cultural system that promotes multiculturalism instead of assimilating legal immigrants and, most importantly, limiting their numbers.

Another result of mass migration is that California politics have changed dramatically. Ronald Reagan was governor of California in the 1970s. Today no conservative could be elected to statewide office. There are 46 Democrats and only seven Republicans in California’s congressional delegation. That is a ratio of 6.5-to-1 in favor of the Left.

Historically the United States assimilated large numbers of immigrants, economically, culturally, and patriotically. We were successful for two reasons. One, previous American elites insisted on “Americanizing” immigrants and rejected multiculturalism and two—even more importantly—there was a 40-year period of restricting immigration to a very small number. In the past, this made it possible for assimilation to succeed. But the situation is different today. Our current year is not like 1919.

Several speakers at this conference have written books examining the consequences of mass migration in Europe. This includes restrictions on traditional Western freedoms, particularly freedom of speech.

Christopher Caldwell wrote of the “criminalization of opinion” in part because of fear, as European elites attempt to keep domestic peace among Muslim migrants, and in part, guilt over past colonialism and racism.

Douglas Murray wrote that mass immigration has completely altered Britain. He notes that some people have argued that Minister for Immigration and Asylum in the Labour government in 1997, Barbara Roche launched a deliberate policy of societal transformation—a type of a culture war against the British people—using immigration as a “kind of battering ram.” He writes that in 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg what could be done to stop citizens criticizing her migration policy on Facebook. Zuckerberg answered, “We are working on that.”

My colleague Nina Shea and her co-author Paul Marshall have written how so-called hate speech laws using apostasy and blasphemy codes have restricted criticism of (and within Islam) and of migration in Western nations. Further, the United Nations has promoted enhanced enforcement of hate speech that is being interpreted to include narrow Islamic definitions of blasphemy.”

All of these authors, Caldwell, Murray, Shea and Marshall, describe how the Western response to mass migration is based in fear, guilt, and a lack of confidence in the positive aspects of their own civilization.

We constantly hear about xenophobia, the fear and hatred of things foreign, as if large section of the Western population and right of center political parties can be defined as xenophobic. As philosopher Roger Scruton has suggested it is more likely that many among Western transnational elites are afflicted with oikophobia (fear and loathing of one’s own), or perhaps xenophilia (preference for alien cultures over one’s own).

Institutionalized Demand for Migration
Let us look at the U.N. Global Compact for Migration. The agreement is weaponized. It is a mechanism that will be used to transform democratic nation-states. It is designed to facilitate global governance and multiculturalism and weaken independent nations.

The compact states as a guiding principle that migration is a global good: “Migration contributes to positive development outcomes.”

Other objectives in the compact state that detention of illegal immigrants should be a last resort; it’s preferable they be placed in migrant communities; that individual illegal migrants should have lawyers and that all legal remedies should be exhausted before they are deported; that illegal migrants have access to all welfare and social services; that border security officials should be trained in non-discrimination by experts (NGOs); that nations should quote “support multicultural activities.”

Objective 17 states that nations are to:

  • “Promote awareness-raising campaigns . . . to inform public perception . . . [of the] positive contributions . . . of migration.”
  • “Promote quality reporting . . . by sensitizing and educating media professionals on migration issues and terminology . . . [and] stop support for media outlets that discriminate towards migrants.”
  • “Establish mechanisms to detect and respond to ethnic and religious profiling of migrants by public authorities.”
  • “Work in partnership with Human rights institutions (NGOs) to ensure access to effective complaint mechanisms.”

Translated into non-Orwellian, non-global bureaucrat language this means that states are to conduct propaganda in favor of migration and censor and suppress of anything critical of migration or migrants.

The U.N. Global Compact is labeled non-binding, but it is a mechanism to limit the control of democratic nation-states over their own immigration and integration policies. It could also create new customary international law. This has happened before with non-binding agreements. Transnational NGOs working with supranational courts claim new customary international law that democratic states have not consented to.

I have been mostly negative so far, but let me look at the bright side.

The forces of democratic self-government, democratic sovereignty are on the march in Europe and the Americas’ with the election of President Trump, with what is going on in Hungary, Poland, and the Visegrad countries, and in Western Europe. In Italy, Spain, Britain, France, and elsewhere ordinary citizens want their self-government back and increasingly political parties from Likud in Israel to the new government in Brazil emphasize democratic sovereignty and patriotism. Last year President Trump told the United Nations “Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived and democracy has ever endured.”

Writing in the 18th century, Alexander Hamilton declared that the purpose of the young American republic was to determine whether good government could be established through reflection and choice rather than accident and force. Mass illegal immigration is not something that democratic peoples have consented to by reflection and choice—but instead is centered on accident and in some cases force, with violent criminal gangs.

The challenge of mass migration is at the center of the great conflict of our time between societal transformation and societal reproduction or societal transmission.

Are our societies, nations, cultures—and our civilization—going to be transformed against the will of our citizens by global elites or do democratic peoples exercise their right of societal reproduction, that is, the right of free peoples to reproduce themselves, to transmit—to pass on—their core traditions, principles, habits, mores, cultures, and our civilization to their children, grandchildren and to future citizens and future generations? In the American Constitution this is referred to as “securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”

President Trump declared in Warsaw in 2017, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” We are witnessing expressions of that will to survive being exercised yesterday, today, and tomorrow in this MCC international summit conference on migration.

Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

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Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post

Truth and Hand Washing in the Mueller Report

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What is truth?” shrugged the ambitious official, stuck for the moment in flyover country but with ambitions to return to Rome and higher office.

He never made it, at least not to that office. Pilate was sacked from his job for incompetence after his patron back in the capitol died.

You could almost—almost—feel sorry for him, stuck as he was with a howling mob, an accused he likely disliked, and no evidence that really supported an indictment. So he washed his hands of the matter. Given his overall disdain for those he ruled, we’re not surprised.

But it is for his casual disdain even for the idea of truth—or for its importance—that he’s remembered today.

Perhaps Pilate was too practical a Roman to pay much attention to philosophy. But if he had done so, he might have known that truth and meaning are intimately connected.

Had he paid attention to his tutors, Pilate would have remembered what the ancient Greeks called logos. The term meant “word” and the meaning conveyed by words, and hence our capacity to reason. Western philosophy started, centuries before the Roman Empire solidified, with the desire to apply logos to understand our world. We see its offspring in words like “biology” and “archaeology,” disciplines that seek to find the orderly patterns in complex phenomena.

The Greeks had a third meaning to logos that is both intriguing and applicable to what is happening around us today. It comes from Euclid’s mathematics, where it referred to the ability of an equation to bring otherwise incompatible things—things so different from one another that there is no common yardstick with which to measure them into meaningful relationship with one another.

Boy, could we use some of that today. Because all around us, meaning itself is under attack. And not just with skeptical questioning or deep exploration, but with fury-fed flames that seek to destroy.

For more than 2,000 years, Western civilization honored logos. It peaked in the Enlightenment, when the emerging success of science led many to believe, not only that there is meaningful order in the world, but that humankind fully could grasp and articulate it. Some saw this as proof of the existence of a God who was the source of logos and order. Some saw it as proof that humankind had outgrown religious belief.

The assumption that humans could understand the whole complex world gradually morphed from wonder to confidence to hubris. And where hubris arises, a fall is sure to come.

It started innocuously enough, back with the discovery that in mathematics there can be multiple versions of, say, geometry that can contradict one another and yet each appear to be internally consistent. With that discovery, the assumption that what is logically consistent to our eyes is by its very nature true crumbled. Soon physicists were finding non-Euclidean math, math that doesn’t match our sensory experience, that was useful in explaining the very small and very large elements of the universe. By the time we got to 20th-century quantum theory, the universe seemed very, very odd to us indeed.

Where math led, philosophy and the humanities followed until postmodern critical theory asserted not only that our knowledge has limits but that all meaning is arbitrary, culturally shaped, and ultimately personal.

Losing confidence in logos did not, however, get in the way of industry. Engineering continued to produce increasingly powerful tech. And soon a mindset evolved that replaces belief in logos with belief in our ability to engineer solutions to every problem, and ultimately to engineer control of our entire world and society.

How tempting, then, when you wield political power and have an army (the old media, Big Tech) behind you, to want to create a narrative in lieu of a logos-based dialogue.

Left-wing journalist Matthew Yglesias tweeted ahead of Tax Day that “progressive groups did a really good job of convincing people that Trump raised their taxes when the facts say a clear majority got a tax cut.”

He was unapologetically celebrating a lie that he considered to be a win.

If you’re a leftist undergrad with helicopter parents, you demand courses that cater to your sensibilities and do not challenge you with difficult facts. You demand the removal of art, statues, speakers that do not fit your assumptions. Because if there is no real truth, if meaning is not based on anything outside of yourself, then those who disagree with you can only be seen as the enemy.

If you’re an Antifa type you ramp it up. You physically threaten and attack those whose opinions you dislike. You smash windows and cars when the person you despise is due to be inaugurated into office.

Is it any surprise, then, that we saw just this week hard leftists celebrating the destruction at the Cathedral of Notre Dame?

And if you’re neither of those but rather a hard-nosed, practical law man—one with a track record of “doing what it takes”—and you’ve got to deal with flyover country types who lack your Roman gentry discipline? Suppose you can’t quite find a basis for indictment. No worries. You can always wash your hands of the matter and let someone else take responsibility for the No Obstruction conclusion.

And let the mob continue to howl for the destruction after which it lusts.

The search for truth is hard. That is why we have laws and principles to guide judgment. It’s why in this country an accused is deemed innocent until and unless there is evidence sufficient to convict of a clear crime.

Give Pilate his due on this, however: although the Roman aristocracy was already starting to descend towards late-stage public degeneracy, many still prided themselves on hard-nosed self-discipline and an unflinching willingness to confront reality. Pilate could not bring himself falsely to indict a man for whom there was no evidence under Roman law of criminal behavior.

There were two areas, according to Attorney General William Barr, where Russia tried hard to insert influence into the 2016 election: attempts through the Internet Research Agency to sow discord among American voters through disinformation and social media, and the successful hacking of Hillary’s emails by Russian military officers with the intent to publicize them.

However, Robert Mueller’s report also states unequivocally that there was no collusion in these attempts with anyone associated with the Trump campaign. Nor did the investigation find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign. The mob is unappeased and howls “Obstruction!” But most will agree, I think, that this president will not go willingly to Golgotha.

This has not ended. Only the first phase is complete. What comes next will hinge, critically, on the willingness of leaders on the Left once again to embrace shared meaning of words and of the law. But the mob has been whipped into blood frenzy and it will not quiet easily.

Photo Credit: Antonio Quattrone/Electa/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

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