Big Media • Free Speech • Great America • Post • Technology

Social Media’s Transition from Novelty to Malignancy

Once Facebook escaped the cloistered world of mere campus life, it’s all been downhill—unless of course, you are one of those who invested in or went to work for the company early on. The company has endured a year of data breaches; privacy scandals; mismanagement; controversy over whether the company responded responsibly to the posting of a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi; and, finally, the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Trade Commission, a whopping $5 billion. Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has delivered seemingly endless public mea culpas and pledges to do better.

How did we get here? What made sense as a communications vehicle for a diverse but circumscribed group of people sharing many life experiences on campus and later as a helpful tool for the larger world, has transformed benign to malignant as fast as rapidly improving technology could take it there.

Students moved off the campus into the “real world,” taking Facebook with them. In those early days of social media, many Facebook competitors failed because they had developed neither the necessary campus constituency nor the needed degree of habituation among users, prior to graduation. In any case, as the graduates’ life experiences diverged, the nature of the communications was able to evolve along with them on Facebook.

Unlike on campus, where myriad shared activities were constant, for many the world of work just wasn’t as engrossing or dynamic and offered far less commonality of interests among friends than the world of college. Therefore, the communications rapidly turned to social life and the truly banal, like what a person was cooking for dinner, or the family dog’s Halloween costume.

Two critical, and probably unintentional, implications of this evolution were the slow but steady relinquishing of privacy and the concomitant compulsion to keep the interactive momentum going.

It was during this period that networks of “friends” ballooned, as friend-of-friends and friends-of-friends-of-friends connected. Of course, a social media “friend” was not necessarily somebody you knew at all outside of the online environment, but this phenomenon became accepted, then appreciated, and finally, valued for the sheer weight of numbers. The Follower was born.

Needless to say, this evolution did not escape the notice of advertisers and marketers, who recognized the access and information offered by the networks; in the process, the networks became rich and powerful from monetizing the access and data. Celebrities, who traffic in “fame,” were quick to enlist, and their numbers of followers skyrocketed. Politicians jumped on the bandwagon, albeit more slowly than those in the corporate world; after all, people buy things every day, but vote only once every two years. A new, social media relationship became significant: poster-to-follower. Genuine friendliness had nothing to do with this.

Somewhere during this phase of social media development, a crucial transformation began. Because individuals were revealing increasingly personal experiences and thoughts, and advertisers were simply and transparently hawking their wares, credibility was pretty much taken for granted. (At least to the extent that the advertising of well-known products could be believed.) Welcome to the age of gullibility.

When a “friend” expressed an opinion on just about anything, his or her sincerity, if not rectitude, was taken seriously. The foundation had been laid, and that led to more and more exchanges about politics, current affairs, and other people. Many of the postings were impulsive, because the distance afforded by internet-based exchanges allows them to be more impersonal than face-to-face or telephone conversations, and passions often ran high when there was disagreement.

Gradually, there appeared a kind of vacuum—the absence of ability to judge, or confirm, credibility. Just because it was posted didn’t mean it was true. It could be misguided, false, or part of a hidden agenda. But we weren’t ready for that quite yet.

Politicians, in particular, grew to understand this peculiar characteristic of social media, and in the mid-2000s began to exploit it. By then, the tools existed to micro-segment the now-enormous population of users; and messages could be tailored to these niche groups. Spin had advanced a quantum leap; targeted individuals could be told exactly what they wanted to hear, sometimes even by people they knew. Their gullible and conditioned minds could be penetrated. Obama campaign strategists understood these phenomena and used them to great advantage, as did many who followed.

The most recent and troubling development in social media is the mob mentality. Often the sharing of an opinion elicits a storm of response, and vastly wider distribution, via a person’s now-expanded network of friends and followers. Far from sharing ideas and feelings frankly and spontaneously, many people now assiduously avoid triggers, anything remotely resembling judgments of others, and even witticisms that might offend. In a commentary comparing today’s state of affairs to the Cultural Revolution in China during the Mao Zedong era, Columnist Peggy Noonan lamented:

The air is full of accusation and humiliation. We have seen this spirit most famously on the campuses, where students protest harshly, sometimes violently, views they wish to suppress. Social media is full of swarming political and ideological mobs. In an interesting departure from democratic tradition, they don’t try to win the other side over. They only condemn and attempt to silence.

We now have a kind of Online Stockholm Syndrome. You tread lightly with your social media audience or risk caustic online retribution and even real-world consequences like shunning, loss of a job, having your business boycotted, or worse. Having a big audience is a status symbol, but it can also be a straitjacket—a constraint on speech that veers from orthodoxy.

By promoting confirmation bias—the seeking out of information and sources, reliable or not, that reinforce your own already-held views—social media and the segmentation of cable “news” are major contributors to the much-commented-upon polarization of our society. As New York Times writer Charlie Warzel observed, “The distribution mechanics, rules and terms of service of Facebook’s platform—and the rest of social media—are no match for professional propagandists, trolls, charlatans, political operatives and hostile foreign actors looking to sow division and blur the lines of reality.”

There is another insidious, long-term effect of having people’s lives promiscuously exposed. Not everyone consistently acts with decorum and honesty (to state the obvious), and we fear that increasingly, the long-past indiscretions of public figures will be uncovered and widely reported. Will we arrive at some sort of consensus about a “statute of limitations” on bad behavior, as exists in law even for many serious crimes, or will youthful lapses destroy promising careers? Or will we simply become inured to behavior that is deplorable?

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, to strike a blow for moderation, high standards, and tranquility, maybe we should just delete our social media accounts.

Photo Credit: Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images

First Amendment • Free Speech • Post • Silicon Valley • Technology • The Left • The Media

America, Google, and Me: My Senate Speech

Last week, at the invitation of Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), I spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Google’s having placed more than 60 Prager University videos on its restricted list. Any family that filters out pornography and violence cannot see those particular videos on YouTube (which is owned by Google); nor can any school or library.

This statement is as much about what PragerU and I stand for as it is about Google. Those interested in viewing the presentation can do so here:

It is an honor to be invited to speak in the United States Senate. But I wish I were not so honored. Because the subject of this hearing—Google and YouTube’s (and for that matter, Twitter and Facebook’s) suppression of internet content on ideological grounds—threatens the future of America more than any external enemy.

In fact, never in American history has there been as strong a threat to freedom of speech as there is today.

Before addressing this, however, I think it important that you know a bit about me and the organization I co-founded, Prager University—PragerU, as it often referred to.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My late father, Max Prager, was a CPA and an Orthodox Jew who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy at the start of World War II. My father’s senior class thesis at the City College of New York was on anti-Semitism in America. Yet, despite his keen awareness of the subject, he believed that Jews living in America were the luckiest Jews to have ever lived.

He was right. Having taught Jewish history at Brooklyn College, written a book on anti-Semitism and fought Jew-hatred my whole life, I thank God for living in America.

It breaks my heart that a vast number of young Americans have not only not been taught how lucky they are to be Americans but have been taught either how unlucky they are or how ashamed they should be.

It breaks my heart for them because contempt for one’s country leaves a terrible hole in one’s soul and because ungrateful people always become unhappy and angry people.

And it breaks my heart for America because no good country can survive when its people have contempt for it.

I have been communicating this appreciation of America for 35 years as a radio talk show host, the last 20 in national syndication with the Salem Radio Network—an organization that is a blessing in American life. One reason I started PragerU was to communicate America’s moral purpose and moral achievements, both to young Americans and to young people around the world. With a billion views a year, and with more than half of the viewers under age 35, PragerU has achieved some success.

My philosophy of life is easily summarized: God wants us to be good. Period. God without goodness is fanaticism and goodness without God will not long endure. Everything I and PragerU do emanates from belief in the importance of being a good person. That some label us extreme or “haters” only reflects on the character and the broken moral compass of those making such accusations. They are the haters and extremists.

PragerU releases a five-minute video every week. Our presenters include three former prime ministers, four Pulitzer Prize winners, liberals, conservatives, gays, blacks, Latinos, atheists, believers, Jews, Christians, Muslims and professors and scientists from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and a dozen other universities.

Do you think the secretary-general of NATO; or the former prime ministers of Norway, Canada or Spain; or the late Charles Krauthammer; or Philip Hamburger, distinguished professor of law at Columbia Law School, would make a video for an extreme or hate-filled site? The idea is not only preposterous; it is a smear.

Yet, Google, which owns YouTube, has restricted access to 56 of our 320 five-minute videos and to other videos we produce. “Restricted” means families that have a filter to avoid pornography and violence cannot see that video. It also means that no school or library can show that video.

Google has even restricted access to a video on the Ten Commandments . . . Yes, the Ten Commandments!

We have repeatedly asked Google why our videos are restricted. No explanation is ever given.

But of course, we know why: because they come from a conservative perspective.

Liberals and conservatives differ on many issues. But they have always agreed that free speech must be preserved. While the left has never supported free speech, liberals always have. I, therefore, appeal to liberals to join us in fighting on behalf of America’s crowning glory: free speech. Otherwise, I promise you, one day you will say, “First they came after conservatives, and I said nothing. And then they came after me. And there was no one left to speak up for me.”

Thank you.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

Big Media • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Political Parties • Post • The Left

Of Tweets and Hysterics

Last weekend’s demented political theatrics have me enraged. I am livid this time not because leftists are calling for open borders or disarming law-abiding citizens. No, as has often happened over the past four years, I am furious more because of statements made by people who claim to be on my side. 

Sunday morning President Trump tweeted. He basically reworded the legendary 1960s-era bumper sticker: “America, Love it or Leave it.” Then a whole lot of people who claim to love America lost their teeny tiny minds. 

I am not speaking of The Bulwark “conservatives”—the people “conserving conservatism” by endorsing socialists. No, this hysteria enveloped even normally sane commentators and politicians. Conservatives who claim to support President Trump joined The Bulwark gang on their fainting couches and borrowed their pearls for clutching. “Well, I never!”

 All this drama was inspired because of statements that strike us normal Republicans not succumbing to the poisonous odors Beltway emanating from the atmosphere—you know, those of us out here in voter land—as simple, common sense. Not only was there nothing wrong with President Trump’s tweets, they were a brilliant tactical attack.

With a series of tweets that named no names, President Trump forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to own her radical wing. In very few words on a Sunday morning, Trump made an anti-Semite the face of the Democratic Party. Pelosi had two choices. She could stand up for the outright anti-American, anti-Semitic, spiteful squad, or she would be seen as agreeing with the dreaded Donald J. Trump. 

President Trump sprang a trap on Pelosi and was rewarded by the weaklings on his own side wailing like babies with wet diapers.

It astounds me that suddenly Nancy Pelosi is being portrayed as the moderate, and voice of reason in the Democratic party. Pelosi rose to power representing the radical San Francisco Left, hence the nickname “San Fran Nan.” Her election to House Minority Leader was seen as the Democrats moving as far left as possible. Once in power, she made it her life’s work to rid the party of the so-called Blue Dog Democrats. She sacrificed the party’s moderates to ram Obamacare through Congress. Yes for a time that cost her the Speaker’s gavel. But Pelosi plays the long game and plays it well.

Just last year, Democrats running for Congress ran ads insisting they would be nothing like Pelosi. The American people for no earthly reason bought their pretense of moderation. Once the Democrats had their majority back, that pretense went out the window 

Then, completely out of the blue, Pelosi found herself in conflict with freshmen members of Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her testy trio moved the Overton Window so far to the left that “San Fran Nan” is now supposedly a moderate. This, too, is only more of Pelosi’s long game. 

In reality, Pelosi has done nothing as the party’s radical base has grown ever more vocal. Ocasio-Cortez’s cry of racism suddenly makes Pelosi, who is as conniving as any Borgia, look like a poor old lady being called names by a mean girl Millennial. It’s been a brilliant plan. Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar make the rest of the Democrats look evenhanded. Meanwhile, the rest of the Democrats pay no price for their own party’s growing anti-Americanism.

President Trump saw through the Democrat’s kabuki theater. The president brilliantly figured out a way to tie Ocasio-Cortez and Omar to Pelosi’s tail. No more standing above the fray and pretending to be in control as the Democrats controlled us. Pelosi would have to condemn President Trump and therefore embrace the commie quad. President Trump has turned on the kitchen light and the America-hating cockroaches are scurrying. But so are those with weak stomachs who are supposed to be on America’s side.

No, the president was not wrong to tell Omar (without mentioning her by name) to go back to where she came from. He is only wrong for not deporting her for her violations of immigration law. Neither is it wrong to tell Rashida Tilab and Ocasio-Cortez to return to their parent’s points of origin if the United States is so very much to their disliking. No, the president is most certainly not wrong to tell people to love this country or get out. 

This is where a lot of conventional conservative commentators lose the thread. People often say that President Trump is playing 3D chess while everyone else is playing checkers. It is far more vicious than that. For decades, the Democrats have been playing the “Hunger Games”—no rules, no mercy. They have hit below the belt and gouged out eyes. Democrats have done whatever it takes to win. Meanwhile, Republicans and the conservative movement have kindly and gently requested if maybe just this one time perhaps the Democrats could obey the law. 

So now we are $22 trillion in debt, and states are bankrupting florists and bakers because they won’t involuntarily offer their moral support to notions they can’t in good conscience abide. That’s where the party of Emily Post has gotten us.

Here, at last, we have a president who is willing to fight the Democrats at their own game, eye gouge to eye gouge, face kick to face kick. It’s not pretty. But it is far better than letting the ignorant Ocasio-Cortez turn Pelosi Borgia into the voice of moderation.

And to all the alleged conservatives still hysterical about President Trump’s successful strategy: if you won’t fight for this country, at least get the hell out of the way of the man who does. 

Photo credit: TKTKT

America • Education • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Post • The Left

A Speech That Should Be Punished

Much has been written about the attacks on free speech, especially at universities and colleges. Speakers with conservative viewpoints are routinely banished from important venues, denied attendance, picketed, or subjected to the “hecklers’ veto.” At the University of California Berkeley and other campuses where conservative speech has been met with disorder, activists have justified it because, they claim, “speech is violence.” Gone is adherence to the maxim of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “If there be time to . . . avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Speakers must be held accountable for their words, to be sure. But sometimes “accountability” is ideological and unfair. Former Harvard president Lawrence Summers discovered this when, at an academic conference in 2006, he speculated about the preponderance of men working as professors of mathematics and physical sciences at elite universities. Although Summers acknowledged that women confronted barriers such as discrimination and disproportionate family responsibilities, he hypothesized that there might be other factors, like men’s superior performance in tests measuring mathematical ability. Summers was vilified and ridiculed, and eventually resigned.

Another example of caving to mob rule at Harvard was the law school’s decision to strip law professor Ronald Sullivan, Jr., of his position as faculty dean of a college residence hall. The reason? Some students felt “unsafe” because Sullivan represented Harvey Weinstein against charges of sexual misconduct. As Sullivan put it, “Unchecked emotion has replaced thoughtful reasoning on campus. Feelings are no longer subjected to evidence, analysis or empirical defense. Angry demands, rather than rigorous arguments, now appear to guide university policy.”

Harvard is not alone. In 2015, Erika Christakis, a highly regarded Yale University lecturer in early childhood education and an administrator at a student residence, was hounded into leaving the faculty for having the temerity to suggest that there could be negative implications if students were to cede “implied control” over Halloween costumes to “institutional forces.”

Christakis was responding to a directive from the Intercultural Affairs Committee at Yale that warned students it would be insensitive to wear costumes that could imply cultural appropriation, like feathered headdresses, turbans, war paint, blackface or redface, or costumes poking fun at certain people. In that response, in effect, she predicted her own destiny: “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

Now we are faced with statements—from a Harvard dean, no less—that deserve but appear to have escaped widespread condemnation.

As described by Heather Mac Donald in a superb, infuriating Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, dean of students Rakesh Khurana took the opportunity at graduation (“Class Day”) to make assertions that are offensive, anti-American, and worst of all, wrong. This passage (as Mac Donald related) is illustrative:

The “capitalist ethos,” according to Mr. Khurana, tells us that “we deserve to win because of our skill, our hard work, and our contributions.” Mr. Khurana—who is also a professor of business and of sociology—claimed to be “mystified by that belief

We are also mystified—by Khurana, who went on to rail about “structural inequities” such as “inherited privilege,” the supposed myth of the self-made person, and the meaninglessness of “deserving.” This sophomoric claptrap is from a professor of business at Harvard?

Could Khurana possibly be unaware that people like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergei Brin, Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Larry Page, Barack Obama, and innumerable others, inherited little and yet have been wildly successful? Privilege played little part in their success compared to their accomplishments. What has become of the famous dictum of Francis Bacon that “chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands?”

While Khurana credits chance with the lion’s share of “real” success, he completely misses the reality: The primary luck we all have is where and to which parents we are born, the level of brain power we are gifted with at birth, the culture in which we are immersed from early childhood—and, to some degree, also our race and ethnicity.

Much as Khurana (and many other progressives) may want to believe it, we do not all benefit equally from the genetic lottery. “Nurture” can overcome some limitations and stifle some abilities, but our core selves and parentage cannot be changed. The question is, what we do with what we have. This is the essence of personal responsibility and free choice. And in America, we enjoy vastly more freedom to make the most of what we are given than in most any other place on earth.

Different places in this world respond differently to the accident of birth. To this day, India remains partially mired in the caste system. In other countries, those unlucky enough to be born to disfavored minority ethnic groups may face death or permanent relegation to deprived circumstances. In America, we are always striving to eliminate disadvantages of geography, race, religion, gender, and culture, sometimes to a fault. That is “who we are.” That is why we are the Land of Opportunity.

As Mac Donald points out, the family unit seems to be highly influential in nurturing success. Asian families tend to be very close-knit, and as we see in the United States, their offspring tend to be high achievers. Out-of-wedlock births among African Americans number almost three out of four, and many of those children seem to require more than the typical public-school education to thrive and replace some of what is missing on the family side. It is not “privilege” to have a constructive family culture; it is the luck of who your parents are. To this extent, “chance” sets us up for a greater or lesser probability of future success.

The great leveling factors in our society, however, are precisely those that Rakesh Khurana dismisses: skill, ambition, hard work, and achievement. Not everyone has every skill, though many can be taught within the inherent limitations of their intellectual capacity. Not everyone will develop a personality suited to every opportunity.

It is the opportunities afforded in American society for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to coin a phrase, that removes many (though not all) of the constraints that might limit us. Khurana’s views are antithetical to what it means to have the opportunity to succeed because his conception of “chance” seems to confine us. Why strive for anything when the roll of the dice might be more important?

Given the insulting, shallow, and grossly misguided content of Khurana’s speech, he should be relieved of his administrative position and, thereby, held accountable for his speech. The precedent at Harvard is certainly well established. His is a far more serious offense than Larry Summers’ musing about a potentially useful avenue of research. Khurana should not be allowed to poison the minds of any more students at what is supposedly one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world.

Harvard, enough is enough.

Photo Credit: Dean Khurana

Democrats • Free Speech • Post • Technology • The Left

Intolerance Is Just a Stitch Away at Ravelry

Ravelry is at it again. In a continuation of its zero-tolerance policy for vocal support of President Trump, the knitting site temporarily stopped accepting new members. The moratorium is needed, evidently,  to root out all Trump supporters—harassing them either into silence or into leaving Ravelry. 

So much for the company’s policy against harassment. Do knitters now need to go through a vetting process? Answer questionnaires about our political and social beliefs before we can join and download patterns?

Creating a “safe space” for crafters now means protecting the tender emotions of left-wing knitters from opposing viewpoints, although those knitters are, of course, free to inflict their worldview upon the rest of the knitting community. The website’s creators continue to infantilize and reinforce the victimhood status of many groups while themselves victimizing others. 

A recent message to users says, “Some Ravelers have shared with us that marginalized people felt unsafe because groups with a history of hate speech violations were allowed to remain on the site. To you, we would like to say that we’re sorry, and you will see us continue to improve Ravelry’s safety.” 

So, there is no safety or sanctuary for Trump supporters. Sorry, you don’t count. 

As a former member of the group, I did a search of patterns before deleting my account. I came up with an entire page of pro-Obama and pro-Hillary Clinton patterns. And three pages dedicated to the offensive “pussy hats,” as if one pattern wasn’t enough. A search for “Trump” will call up three “F–k Trump” patterns. Now that’s free speech! 

According to Ravelry’s June 30 hate speech policy: “Hate speech and hateful imagery is not permitted on Ravelry. Note that support of President Trump, his administration, or individual policies that harm marginalized groups, all constitute hate speech.”

While it is never acceptable to lash out in violence against anyone of any group, especially those with whom we disagree, honest and harsh words are necessary in responding to a company like Ravelry. Do any of these women have the slightest familiarity with the history of the Democratic Party they so love and cherish? Democrats are the original party of hate. They controlled the South from the governor’s mansions down to the local dog catcher. They turned a blind eye to prejudice, unfair prosecutions, rape, bombings, and lynchings. I grew up in the South, so I know it’s true.

I call out Ravelry and their supporters to back up their support of marginalized groups and allow Trump supporters and conservatives and Christians space on their site. No? Why not? If you are so wedded to this ideology of inclusion, it means you must include and tolerate those with opposing views. Look up the definitions of tolerance and inclusion in the dictionary because you have obviously forgotten those terms. One definition of inclusion is “the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.” 

No, Ravelry, we are not included. We are excluded, and you have created a hostile and “unsafe” environment for Trump supporters. 

And it is the designers you pretend to support who suffer the most from your activism. A large pool of individuals can no longer share projects or posts because of your one-sided concern that some user may be sent into fits of  screaming and crying if she sees a pro-Trump pattern. I note that there is no such concern for me and potential damage done to my eyes from excessive eye rolling, as I scroll past the pro-hate posts from Democrats and leftist activist knitters.

And I’ll mention again that the site encourages members to flag posts and people while the site’s owners say they will not tolerate a witch hunt. Their own policy, updated on July 1, says “If you see a profile, pattern, or forum post that violates our guidelines, you can anonymously flag it to report it to Ravelry staff.” 

Ravelry is neither a site that supports free speech nor a site determined to stop hate. It is a group of people who support and foment hate speech and the actions of goose-stepping goons to ferret out dissent and remove it all costs. 

Photo Credit: William Edwards/AFP/Getty Images

Conservatives • Democrats • First Amendment • Free Speech • Post • Republicans • The Culture • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

A ‘Green Book’ for Conservatives?

Last year, an Oscar-winning movie made known to many of us what the “Green Book” was—a guidebook listing accommodations for the African American traveler during the days of Jim Crow segregation. 

Today, I fear, we may need a “Green Book” for conservatives and Republicans. 

Stephanie Wilkinson, co-owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, who last year had kicked out a White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and family simply for their political affiliation, recently defended and promoted that practice in a Washington Post op-ed. She compared it to Cracker Barrel barring Grayson Fitts, who advocates “the arrest and execution of LGBTQ people.” Citing the cases last year where other prominent Republicans, Kirstjen Nielsen, Stephen Miller, and Mitch McConnell, were mobbed and driven out of restaurants, she wrote, “restaurants are now part of the soundstage for our ongoing national spectacle.” Amazingly, she complained that “the business involved inevitably comes under attack.” Those inclined to “scold owners and managers” and express dismay at the loss of a perceived “politics-free zone” should just get used to it. 

Wilkinson can deny that she approves of the next step—physical assault—by cheering the fact that there has been more support for Cracker Barrel’s actions than for those of the server who spit in the face of Eric Trump recently. Democrats like Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who criticized Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and her call for mob action—namely, forming “a crowd” and “push[ing] back” on all Trump Administration members at restaurants, gas stations, and department stores—can claim to be above the fray. In truth, however, mild statements of disapproval, are lost in the tsunami of actions against conservatives by businesses ranging from advertisers on the Tucker Carlson show, movie producers in Georgia, and censors on social media.

I take Stephanie Wilkinson’s exclusion policy personally, though. Lexington is the place of my overnight stays during my frequent drives to Atlanta.

As I decide where to have dinner, I have the uncomfortable thought: that there is a restaurant in Lexington where people with my political views are not welcome. The idea is so foreign to me. I spent several years supporting myself waiting on tables and tending bar in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Back then, it was “no shoes, no shirt, no service,” or no service only for drunkenness, fighting, or nonpayment of a check. 

It is also troubling to me, given that I fled tyranny in the arms of my parents from Communist Yugoslavia. I grew up hearing their stories about political oppression. Imagine what it feels like to see things that resemble those stories in this country.

I have faced discrimination in academia. The “American dream” is to work your way up, right? I was “outed” as a conservative when the topic of my dissertation failed to advance the Marxist gender/race/class line contemporary English departments demand. As an adjunct instructor, I was expected to join in group conversations during the 2004 Democratic presidential primary speculating about who could beat the evil George W. Bush. My silence outed me. After I wrote columns, I was told that suddenly no more classes would be available for me to teach the following semester.

But back in 2004, it would never have occurred to me that such discrimination would occur outside of academia, that I could be legally discriminated against in restaurants.

It gives me little comfort that I am not easily recognizable like Sarah Sanders. Wilkinson has broadcast to the world that my kind are not welcome in her trendy establishment, a place that dare not refuse service to someone because of race. She feels righteous, claiming her actions are as justified as refusing service to someone who openly advocates murder. 

Would I feel comfortable in Wilkinson’s restaurant? What if a server overheard me expressing my political views? If I made a reservation, would staff Google my name? I might not get the boot, but would I have my food spit in, or worse? No doubt, other restaurant owners are taking note, and I wonder: how do other Lexington restaurateurs feel? Do they also not want my business? What about the hotel where I stay?

Where this will end? Will conservatives be excluded next from grocery stores and hotels (as Maxine Waters would have it)? Will we be forced to sleep in our cars when traveling? It is hard to imagine this happening, but we now have those who feel no shame in openly advocating it. The inconceivable has happened in my lifetime—in a “free country.”

The ironic thing is that I support the concept of farm-to-table restaurants. I am a regular customer of the organic farmers who come here on the village square in Clinton, New York. I am against tax-subsidized corporate farming—something started by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. I am opposed to it because it led to the near-starvation of many black farmers and tenant farmers who were excluded from Roosevelt’s New Deal subsidies. Yet, African Americans had to pay the higher taxes and inflated prices for these programs. It also bears repeating that it was a Democrat president, Woodrow Wilson, who imposed segregation in the federal workforce. His protégée, Franklin Roosevelt, continued the policies even as he wooed black voters with “relief” payments instead of jobs and denied black children afflicted with polio the opportunity to use his Warm Springs facility while his wife posed with them for campaign photo-ops.

Barack Obama took up FDR’s mantle and was even portrayed in a way that evoked his image on the cover of a prominent magazine. His proposed federal regulation of small farmers who sold at public markets was met with a letter of protest from a farmer who sold organic produce from his five acres at such markets throughout the Atlanta area where I was living. Under President Trump, businesses, including farm-to-table establishments, are thriving.

Breaking bread is a way for people to come together. Having a meal should not be a political act. Yet, liberals and the Democratic National Committee, beginning in 2015, encouraged “conversations” with family members over Thanksgiving dinner to point out how benighted they are to vote Republican. Now it’s OK to kick Republicans out of restaurants and your family gatherings.

Charles Murray, the author of Coming Apart, who is much vilified on our liberal campuses, could write an updated version of his book based on the new levels of exclusion that go beyond zip codes to businesses run by self-righteous, intolerant, well-to-do liberals. If we are “divided” as a nation as many say, it is not because of conservatives or what our president says. It is because of people like Wilkinson.

The Red Hen is off my places to patronize, no doubt to the pleasure of Stephanie Wilkinson. I am one person, without much financial clout.

So were the African Americans riding the buses in Montgomery, Alabama. The time has come for conservatives, and all Americans who value the freedom of association and policies of non-discrimination, to take a page out of the playbook of that boycott and others like it. This isn’t a fight that conservatives started, but it is one we must win. The branding, exclusion, and assaults must stop.

Photo credit: TKTKTKTK

First Amendment • Free Speech • Post • Silicon Valley • Technology • The Left • The Media

Silicon Valley Is a Clear and Present Danger to Our Rights

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the battle over personal data, free speech and the free flow of information between the American people and the tech giants is heating up. As the Googles and Facebooks of the world take an unconstitutional role in deciding what speech and information should be online, it’s becoming clear much more is at stake than first meets the eye. 

It’s also becoming apparent that there are some voices on the Right who are either deeply naïve and ignorant about what is at stake or they are in fact paid collaborators of the tech companies. 

Most people who use social media are not entirely sure what their personal data is being used for, or to what extent they’ve actually given permission for the use of such data. Fact is, most people have given far more permission to the tech companies than they may realize. 

As Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) pointed out, users of Facebook and other “free” services have been paying for them with their valuable personal information; there is nothing free in life, trust me. In light of the DASHBOARD Act, cosponsored by Warner and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Facebook even changed the wording of its user agreement to acknowledge for the first time it is paid by companies to show those companies’ advertisements to you by using your personal data. 

But that pales in comparison to what else Silicon Valley is using your personal data for when it comes to developing general artificial intelligence in pursuit of automation and singularity. Your data is like nitric oxide and jet fuel to the algorithms feeding general AI. Now add that to the premise of Moore’s Law, which is the idea that the speed of processors doubles every two years. Technology is advancing at an incredible pace. But our thinking—especially policymakers’ understanding—is lagging badly. 

We now see reports that robots will be replacing upwards to 20 million workers by 2030, most of which will be in manufacturing industries. What happens to the workers who are displaced? Where will they go? Even assuming a period of transition, what will become of an older generation of workers over the next 30 or 40 years? A universal basic income isn’t the solution for many different reasons, including the dignity that comes with actual work. I’ve suggested a new Great Works Program funded by royalties earned from energy exploration and use on federal lands. 

Regardless of what the solutions might be, no one is really discussing them. Nor is anyone really discussing what the end goal is for Big Tech and the Silicon Valley oligarchy lurking in the wings. These companies are betting hundreds of billions of dollars to realize their vision for the future, which is “the singularity” in which robots run the world. This isn’t a joke or the stuff of science fiction. This is fast becoming real life, funded by people and companies who are convinced they know how to make us all “happier and healthier.”

In exchange, our lives as a self-governing people would come to an end. Freedom of speech and assembly would disappear along with the free flow of information. And while our leaders dither, this self-appointed oligarchy is running full speed ahead. The monopolies that have been allowed to form are also accelerating the process, and yet we have some on the Right mumbling about “muh free market” and how that will solve the problem.

Some of those spouting these ideas are hardcore libertarians like the Koch brothers and their allied groups, who should be ostracized and ignored. I have some rules in life, which include little kids should not play with matches and libertarians should not play with real politics. Both end badly. 

There are others who are also spouting such idiocy, including David French and his colleagues at National Review, which has received, multiple times, direct funding from Google. Some of us think that perhaps French and his type are deeply ignorant (certainly plausible) or they’re just paid collaborators of the tech companies. Neither of those two scenarios is good. Any organization on the Right, whether a publication or think tank, that has accepted Big Tech money should be viewed with great suspicion on these questions. 

It is incumbent upon the American people to come fully awake on these issues and demand our elected officials, in the immediate, protect our rights. To delay is to ensure the demise of our freedoms and to submit to the coming singularity and tech oligarchy.

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.

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America • civic culture/friendship • Donald Trump • Elections • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Post • race • The Culture • The Left

Wokescolds Won’t Let Us Knit in Peace

The ways of the “woke” have seeped into every part of American life. No activity or outlet is safe. Even my beloved crafting community is no longer immune. Suddenly, knitters and crocheters need to “examine their privilege.”

For months, I’ve been unfollowing wokescolds on Instagram who, in their earnest desire to awaken me to the apparent and horrendous lack of “inclusion” in the fiber world, have made me question the hobby’s utility as escapism. 

Tin Can Knits is perhaps one of the larger, and most egregious, companies to jump on the wokewagon. Concerned about the lack of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) used as models in their photographs of finished pattern projects or their inclusion in your local crafting circle, they felt the need to out themselves as unconscious oppressors and ask for contrition from the Woke crowd. 

In a February 28 blog post, the company issued this statement: 

We are sorry that our Instagram feed and our publications have, overwhelmingly, reinforced white norms of beauty, instead of challenging them. We are sorry that we personally have been ignorant and not educated ourselves beyond a superficial level on issues of racism, nor considered our white privilege critically.

Apparently, white privilege is a knitted toboggan. Among the resources recommended for overcoming this scourge is White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, which, these newly awakened grannies tell us, will allow whites to “overcome your discomfort around speaking about race,” a crucial first step in managing the tricky intersection of knits and purls. 

For a more recent example that is not surprising yet has caused a great deal of controversy, Ravelry issued this statement on its website on Sunday: 

New policy, effective immediately

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is unambiguously support for white supremacy. For more details, read this document: https://ravelry.com/content/no-trump

In this statement, the editors at Ravelry have decided that “[y]ou can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.” But be careful. You may be banned if you “support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content.” 

And what can you do to rid Ravelry of all mention of President Trump? 

You can help by flagging any of the following items if they constitute support for Trump or his administration:

Projects: Unacceptable projects will be provided to the member or made invisible to others.

Patterns: Unacceptable patterns will be returned to drafts.

Forum posts: right now, only posts written after Sunday, June 23rd at 8 AM Eastern

That’s right, fellow knitters! Become a snitch!

This is censorship. Ravelry, once filled with amazing and creative people, has now become an enforcer of leftist groupthink. They are weaponizing their members to report fellow members. Members, no doubt, will be seeking out profiles and turning in conservatives and Republicans when the ability to flag member profiles is up and running. 

While no one questions the right of the editors and their members to adhere to an Anti-Trump point of view,  Ravelry should take care when making a public announcement that amounts to a clear statement intended to squash free speech. Yet many organizations today are making similar statements and, rarely (if ever), are they challenged. 

In response to this heavy-handed scorn, Republican and conservative knitters are flocking to Love Knitting (part of Love Crafts) and Humble Acres Yarn’s new app. The app, less than a month old, promises no political discussions, and all are welcome. Humble Acres still supports Ravelry as a business and, until this episode, they’ve always had a good business model. But Humble Acres’ openness and (heh!) humility is refreshing. We don’t have to agree on political, social, or cultural issues to come together over our mutual interest in and love for all things yarn. 

As more indie dyers and others join Ravelry’s call for intolerance and hate against Trump supporters and conservatives, we will keep searching for an alternative. Knitters like me just want to find great patterns and chat with like-minded yarn lovers . . .  about yarn! 

Ravelry’s policy “inspiration” came from the gaming world’s “RPG.net,” which implemented a similar ban. The language is virtually the same. 

1. We are banning support of the administration of President Trump. You can still post on RPG.net even if you do in fact support the administration—you just can’t talk about it here.

2. We are absolutely not endorsing the Democrats nor are we banning all Republicans.

3. We are certainly not banning conservative politics, or anything on the spectrum of reasonable political viewpoints. We assert that hate groups and intolerance are categorically different from other types of political positions, and that confusing the two legitimizes bigotry and hatred.

4. We are not going to have a purge — we will not be banning people for past support. Though if your profile picture is yourself in a MAGA hat, this might be a good time to change it.

5. We will not permit witch-hunts, progressive loyalty-testing, or attempting to bait another into admitting support for President Trump in order to get them banned. The mod staff will deal harshly with attempts to weaponize this policy.

6. It is not open season on conservatives, and revenge fantasies against Trump and Trump supporters are still against the rules.

Sorry, gamers. But your escapist world is also a place where Trump supporters are not allowed. Note that you cannot have an avatar with MAGA on it. 

Needless to say, companies wearing political commentary on their sleeves, had better stick to the armbands provided by the totalitarian Left.

Recently, Daisy Cottage Quilting stated her pro-life stance on Instagram. One commenter told her to “stay in your lane” and stick to quilting before unfollowing her and she still receives hate mail almost three weeks after the incident. 

Wokescolds will make you miserable until you give in or slink away. Then they sit back smugly and congratulate themselves for their ability to silence dissent. Standing up to them takes guts these days because you will be vilified and slammed at every opportunity. Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio proved it can be done. 

I hate, truly hate, that politics has leached into every part of society. I knit and quilt and sew. I do these things for fun, enjoyment, and escape from the outside world. Now politics have invaded my crafting world and it makes me sad and angry. Can’t we just knit and enjoy each other’s company?

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Elections • Free Speech • KBO • Post • Silicon Valley • Technology • The Left

Project Veritas Video: Google Is a ‘Highly Biased Political Machine’

As many have suspected, Google “is not an objective source of information” and is actively working to prevent Trump from being reelected in 2020,  the latest undercover video put out by Project Veritas confirms.

“Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google. And like, I love her but she’s very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it’s like a small company cannot do that,” longtime Google official Jen Gennai told Veritas undercover journalists.

In the video, Gennai dishes about how Google has been working to “prevent” the results of the 2016 election from repeating in 2020.

“We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again,” she said.

Gennai is the head of  “Responsible Innovation” for Google, a division that monitors and evaluates the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

“We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?” she mused. She told the Veritas undercover journalists that Google has been working on the issue since 2016 and although top Google officials have been called to testify before Congress “multiple times,” they won’t be pressured into changing their biased practices.

“Like, they can pressure us, but we’re not changing,” she added.

“Google is not an objective source of information,” a Google whistleblower flatly told Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe.  “We are a highly biased political machine,” he added.

After the 2016 election, the whistleblower said, Google went from wanting to promote “self-expression” and giving everyone a voice, to wanting to suppress what it deems “hate, misogyny and racism” because “that’s the reason why Donald Trump got elected.”

He said Google started “policing our users” as a way to prevent the electorate from choosing an undesirable candidate like Trump again.

The whistleblower provided Project Veritas with documents that reveal how the company uses AI to promote what it considers a “fair and equitable” state—but not necessarily reality.

“The reason we launched our AI principles is because people were not putting that line in the sand, that they were not saying what’s fair and what’s equitable so we’re like, well we are a big company, we’re going to say it,” Gennai explained in the undercover video.

According to the whistleblower, “Machine Learning Fairness” is just one of the many tools Google uses to promote its political agenda.

He showed O’Keefe some examples of Google’s “Machine Learning Fairness” in action.

The whistleblower explained the goal of Google’s artificial intelligence and Machine Learning Fairness. “They’re going to redefine a reality based on what they think is fair and based upon what they want, and what and is part of their agenda,” he told O’Keefe.

Additional leaked documents show that Google decides what is credible news and what is “fake news” and prioritizes content from different news publishers based on its own left-wing political agenda.

One document, called the “Fake News-letter” details Google’s goal to have a “single point of truth” across their products.

Another leaked document explains the “News Ecosystem” appears to use “editorial guidelines” to control how content is distributed and displayed on their site.

An additional document Project Veritas obtained, titled “Fair is Not the Default” says, “People (like us) are programmed” after the results of machine learning fairness. This document purports to describe how “unconscious bias” and algorithms interact.

The leaked documents indicate that Google makes editorial decisions about what news the company promotes and distributes on its site.

In a conversation with Veritas journalists, Gennai singled out “conservative sources” as not necessarily “credible sources” according to Google’s editorial practices.

“We have gotten accusations of around fairness is that we’re unfair to conservatives because we’re choosing what we find as credible news sources and those sources don’t necessarily overlap with conservative sources . . .”

The whistleblower explained how YouTube demotes content from influencers like Dave Rubin and Tim Pool:

“What YouTube did is they changed the results of the recommendation engine. And so what the recommendation engine is it tries to do, is it tries to say, well, if you like A, then you’re probably going to like B. So content that is similar to Dave Rubin or Tim Pool, instead of listing Dave Rubin or Tim Pool as people that you might like, what they’re doing is that they’re trying to suggest different, different news outlets, for example, like CNN, or MSNBC, or these left-leaning political outlets.”

https://youtu.be/re9Xp6cdkro

“This is the third tech insider who has bravely stepped forward to expose the secrets of Silicon Valley. These new documents, supported by undercover video, raise questions of Google’s neutrality and the role they see themselves fulfilling in the 2020 elections,” said O’Keefe.

UPDATE: O’Keefe tweeted Monday morning that he discovered Project Veritas has been suspended from Reddit when he tried to post his Google bombshell.

America • Education • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Post • The Left

What Made American Academia Great (and How It Was Destroyed)

Since retiring from the university, several people have asked if I miss it. I tell them I miss what it was, but not what it has become. Higher education in America has gone from being the best in the world to one of the most pathetic. Why? It’s hard to describe what academia was to me and to millions in the past. It was not just a job, but a way of life, and of Western Civilization; and I’m so close to it, that it’s hard to describe—like trying to describe one’s own mother (hence alma mater!).

But let me try. University life at its best was both the most serious, difficult, challenging and maddening existence; and yet, it was also the most exciting, lively, rewarding, and fun experience.

It was deadly serious because we constantly examined the most intense human issues: historical and personal tragedies; ethical dilemmas, philosophical complexities; theological mysteries; and scientific wonders. It was hard because it stretched you intellectually and emotionally, made you question everything and be changed by that knowledge. And it was difficult, because of the enormous workload and demands; assignments, exams, papers, presentations and seminars. I don’t know of another situation, except possibly the military during a war, where one could be tested so much.

Yet this academic rigor was so exciting, lively, and fun because it developed and fulfilled the most essential part of the human soul, what the Bible calls “Logos” and Aristotle “reasoned speech” of a naturally social being. It was exciting because that individual development occurred within a discipline, but free, intellectual and social environment—full of debate, discussion, argument, and questioning in a community of tolerance and respect, but also laughter, joking, flirting, fighting, explaining, and learning. That “community of scholars”—open, searching, teachers and students—changed one’s life and prepared one for whatever came one’s way. Socrates’ dictum “Know Thyself” and “The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living” underlay the traditional liberal arts education: to learn something of every subject (“Renaissance Man”) and all perspectives on every subject and thereby to learn how to think, reason, and analyze: and then be able to handle anything in life and adapt to change.

I realize that this “life of the mind” within a rigorous but friendly community is an ideal; there were plenty of dull classes and mediocre professors at every university. But the “system” of academic freedom and its attendant experiences of intellectual growth prevailed.

Nor did the academy lack in conflict (as the old joke went: “The fights in academia are so bad because the stakes are so low”). But those battles were over policy or personalities (mostly egos), not the essential basis of the university: free thought and debate. I never can remember, even in the midst of terrible fights that led to presidents being fired or programs being altered, or board members resigning, that anyone questioned the right to free speech, academic inquiry, or liberty of conscience.

Academia was full of eccentric professors with various crazy ideas and habits (some brilliant), naïve students, and pompous administrators; but they all adhered to the same standard of knowledge. This led not just to scientific discovery and technological progress, but to every other kind of progress: economic, political, social, and ethical.

Such an open, lively, productive academic system goes back to Ancient Greece and Rome, the Medieval European monasteries and universities, and Oxford and Cambridge tutorials, but it was perfected in America. The first really modern university was the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson (and celebrating its 200th anniversary this year). Jefferson said of UVA, “Here we are not afraid to follow the Truth wherever it may lead; nor to tolerate any error, so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

That is the classic statement of academic freedom: a “free marketplace of ideas” that develops individuals and society. And it is especially important in a democracy, where the people are self-governing. It holds that the solution to bad ideas is not to censor or ignore them, but to refute them with good and reasonable ideas. Just as the best products come out of economic competition, sound religion comes out of liberty of conscience.

Jefferson experienced both the intellectual and the social aspects of this academic life at his alma mater, William and Mary College, in Williamsburg, Virginia. There, he said in his Autobiography, he had professors like his philosophy and mathematics professor “profound in most of the useful branches of Science, with a happy talent for communication, correct and gentlemanly manners, and an enlarged and liberal mind.” Similarly, Jefferson’s law professor, George Wythe, taught legal doctrine within the liberal arts context of history, and political philosophy. Their formal instruction combined with an informal, personal mentoring that included dinners at the Royal Governor’s Palace (!), where this “partie quarree” enjoyed classical music and discussions of philosophy and literature, religion and history, forming, Jefferson remarked “the finest school of manners and morals that ever existed in America” and “fixed the destinies of my life.” And the destinies of our nation, as such education prepared Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.

Such a combination of formal education in classrooms and labs with informed mentoring and society became the model for Jefferson’s “academical village” at the University of Virginia and for academic freedom in America. Both effectively have been destroyed by the Liberal “political correctness” of the last 30 years, especially during the Obama Administration.

Political correctness effectively replaces free, diverse debate and a positive collegial community with Nazi-like speech control. In place of a “free-marketplace of ideas” examining all subjects and perspectives is one official ideology that eclipses all the other views. That P.C. doctrine, essentially, is that Western Civilization in general, and America in particular, is racist, sexist, imperialist and unjust. This means that nothing good can be said about certain figures or subjects (Jefferson, the founding, Christianity, etc.) and nothing bad or “offensive” can be said about “protected groups” (women, minorities, gays, Muslims, illegal immigrants, etc). This ideology has pretty much captured the humanities and social sciences in American universities (as well as the most prominent academic associations and journals, and the most prestigious awards).

This system of thought was codified and weaponized by the largely illegal and unconstitutional expansion of the Title IX Regulations in 2014. This was a provision of the Civil Rights Acts requiring equal expenditures on college sports along gender lines. It was deftly transformed into a P.C. blitz by equating “discrimination” with “harassment.” When “harassment” was expanded to include “verbal” harassment, it allowed censorship and punishment of any speech that was deemed offensive or “unwanted” by anyone. Title IX offices at every American university (with names like: The Office of Conduct, Compliance, Control, Diversity, Inclusion and Demasculinization) run Gestapo-like operations of surveillance, mandatory reporting, investigations, interrogations (without due process) and reprimands, dismissals and expulsions.

Needless to say, this has had a “chilling effect” on free speech and association. Colleges have turned into social graveyards and intellectual wastelands. The U.S. Department of Education threatened to cut off federal funding to any university that did not enforce these totalitarian policies. Terror Reigned. Sadly, the people most hurt by this were the ones it was intended to help: women and minorities. Their education was trivialized and the informal mentoring that prepared them for professional life was lost, as professors had nothing to do with them beyond purely official activity, fearing charges of harassment.

All of this has had a disastrous effect on morale and enrollment, which is down nationwide. When universities, in effect, told young people: “come here and be continually harassed, abused and assaulted (or accused of doing such and unable to defend yourself),” it did not seem, along with the high cost and worthless teaching to be such a good deal.

Title IX Political Correctness cleverly hid many of its assaults on intellectual liberty and freedom of speech under benign code of “civility” and “respectfulness”—meaning any talk, laughter, or behavior that offended anyone was forbidden. But what could be more truly “respectful” than presenting all sides of an issue and letting the student decide what they believe? Professors in my day, after the fashion of John Stuart Mill’s classic essay On Liberty, were objective and detached; presenting all sides fairly before presuming to criticize. After federal court rulings declared such an approach unconstitutional, the civil rights “training” at universities often began with proud statements that freedom of speech as respected absolutely, before listing 200 ways in which it was limited.

The negative effects of these Stalinist decrees (on morale, enrollment, publicity) has caused many universities to hire marketing consultants to clean up their image with slogans and gimmicks. Such fun activities as “Cookie Day” and “The Career Closet” (I’m not making this up) were to present a “safe” and happy image to higher education institutions. But young Americans don’t relish the thought of participating either in a re-education camp or a kindergarten; they want a university. Unless the academy is run by academics, not political activists or marketing consultants, the universities will not return—to the detriment of our entire country.

President Trump’s recent executive order threatening to cut federal research funding to universities that violate freedom of speech, along with the Department of Education’s long-awaited revision of the Title IX guidelines, will begin the reform of P.C.  saturated institutions. But how long it will take to filter down to “resistant” offices of conduct, compliance and control, and “progressive” faculty, is unknown.

My guess is that in 10 years, half of America’s universities will be turned into vocational-technical schools or closed entirely (or possibly turned into minimum-security prisons or drug rehab centers). The remaining, I hope, will return to a model similar to the lively, rigorous and useful universities we once had. Combinations of online efficiency with onsite community may be the best solution. And if secondary schools returned to teaching the best of Western Civilization (literature, history, art, music, philosophy) it would prepare Americans who do not go to college to be well-informed, thoughtful citizens, Jefferson’s ideal for American democracy.

I, like my favorite philosophers Jefferson, Hannah Arendt, and Aristotle, remain optimistic that if human beings are rational, social creatures, the academy with survive, in some form. I hope so, because without it, American greatness will not survive.

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images

 

Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Free Speech • Post • The Left

The Right Needs to Take Language Seriously

The Left’s ideas receive a major boost in ubiquity and apparent credibility because progressives control nearly all of the America’s major taste-making institutions: Hollywood, the universities, K-12 education, and the media. Such control allows progressives to set the terms of national debates, demarcating the range of acceptable opinions on any given subject. It gives rise to another ability: the power to (re)define terms by fiat. After all, when the vast majority of the most credentialed people in virtually all of the most influential organs of civil society are saying X, the average person is hard pressed to meaningfully push back and say Y. The sheer saturation of the information space is a formidable hurdle for even the most savvy to overcome.

Take immigration, for example. The Left insists, night and day, that true Americans should be perfectly happy to accept virtually unlimited migrant flows through our southern border. Not only that, but compassion demands we accept virtually all comers. Only bigots could want controlled immigration. As for the national interest, surely it’s in our interest to open our country to strivers and Dreamers. See what just happened?

Our historical practice of accepting large numbers of immigrants, contingent on the need to build up a young America, has been perverted into a suicidal posture: anyone who wants to immigrate—whether they hate or love America, want to assimilate to our national, Declaration-sourced self-understanding or not—gets to immigrate, no questions asked. Compassion is twisted to mean that you have to outstretch your hand even to the MS-13 member who would chop it off given the chance. Wanting a functional immigration system that promotes the interest of we, the American people, is equated with the KKK’s vile worldview. Sound familiar?

“War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength.”

And the Left gets away with it because the Left controls the debate. Progressives decide what’s worthy of debate, and what’s acceptable to be said within the limits they set unilaterally.

More examples abound. Former FBI Director James Comey is fêted for his higher loyalty and then invited to teach a class on ethical leadership. In fact, Comey is an ignoramus who insanely compares himself to former Secretary of State James Mattis; at a minimum, the comparison is inapt because the latter chose to resign, while the former was fired by President Trump. “Higher loyalty” is really just code for (ahem) colluding with the permanent bureaucracy to undermine the duly elected president of the United States. It’s a vain, self-serving distortion of the venerable natural law tradition on civil disobedience and conscience, classically expressed by Saint Augustine and restated for modern ears by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”:

One may well ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.”

Nowadays, a racist is someone who wants a colorblind society and an end to universities’ race-based admissions practices, both of which are in keeping with the original public meaning of the 14th Amendment and only possible because Christianity revolutionized our view of human moral equality and dignity. An anti-racist, if you can believe it, demonizes all whites just because they’re white and is happy to see the return of all-black (i.e., segregated) dorms.

Social justice means recognizing group rights, tossing out the presumption of innocence (recall l’affaire Kavanaugh), and affording special privileges to people based on the unchosen circumstances of their birth. What was wrong with plain old justice—rendering to each his due?

Tolerance means that Christians play their assigned role: meekly accepting secular subservience and social ostracization while the Left beats the war drums, fanatically pushing abortion on demand until the moment of birth and beyond, sexual chaos, and socialism.

Inclusion means, “You’re only part of the in-group if you swallow hook, line, and sinker progressivism’s dreary historical materialism”—not, “All are welcome.”

Many of these concepts are sourced in Christianity, but their traditional meanings have been manipulated into oblivion. The terms themselves are the same, but they’ve been hollowed out by cynical activists eager to commandeer the venerable traditions of an ancient faith and culture for their own godless purposes.

The Right needs to get wise to this—and quickly.

Politics is about rhetoric. It’s about persuading the public to hew to and support your plan for individual human flourishing and vision of the common good of the nation. The Left’s “megaphone”—it’s stranglehold on cultural “soft power”—is loud, and it makes it very difficult for the Right to be heard. Difficult, but not impossible, as President Trump’s 2016 election victory proved. Regardless, we have to do better because we’re living in Clown World; if left unchecked, it will only get worse.

Consider an example: A mere five years ago, transgenderism was a fringe phenomenon. Back then, many Americans would have scoffed at the idea that a biological male could be a woman simply because he declared himself to be one, and vice versa. They would have been right to scoff. Because it’s patently absurd.

And yet, just three years ago, Caitlyn Jenner catapulted transgenderism into the public’s consciousness, where it has remained ever since. What to make of transgenderism was once an open question; perhaps even a sensible debate could have been had about it. But in a few short months, we went from groping for the beginnings of a discussion on the topic to fighting a desperate rearguard action: defending the validity of sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms (so that girls aren’t exposed to male genitalia or violated in other ways) and impotently lamenting that a trans man broke a female UFC fighter’s skull during a fight (there’s more where that came from at the rate we’re going, sadly).

Men run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and physically outperform women as a general rule; they have now invaded female-only athletics, and we’re expected to cheer it. We debate the people pushing this delusion. We accept them as conversation partners who are engaged in a good-faith pursuit of truth. That’s the power of the megaphone. It forces us to take nonsense seriously. It’s the, “When did you stop beating your wife?” question on a mass scale, a series of traps—heads the Left wins, tails we lose.

It doesn’t get more ridiculous than that. Until the Right wises up, and starts challenging this rigged game, the Left will keep control of the megaphone. And we’ll deserve it.

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

Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Free Speech • Post • The Left • The Media

Nasty Media Lies About Trump Continue

In this era of Brexit, the European parliamentary elections, and a host of other matters of great geopolitical urgency and mutual interest, President Trump has embarked upon a state visit to America’s closest ally, Great Britain.

The focus of America’s press corps? Trump called the Duchess of Sussex “nasty.”

Except he didn’t. Let’s ignore issues that matter, and recap what actually happened.

On May 31, The Sun, a British tabloid, published an interview with President Trump, in which the reporter asked him what he thought about comments Meghan Markle made about him when he was running for president in 2016. Here is the complete segment from that interview:

Sun: Meghan who is now Duchess of Sussex, we have given her a different name, she can’t make it because she has got maternity leave. Are you sorry not to see her because she wasn’t so nice about you during the campaign? I don’t know if you saw that.

Trump: I didn’t know that. No. I didn’t know that. No, I hope she is OK. I did not know that, no.

Sun: She said she would move to Canada if you got elected. It turned out she moved to Britain.

Trump: A lot of people are moving here. So what can I say? No, I didn’t know that she was nasty. I’m sure she’ll do excellently. She’ll be very good. I hope she does well.

This innocuous bit of dialog has been used by nearly every major media outlet to smear Trump yet again. His crime? He called her “nasty.” And apparently, according to the anti-Trump media, by “nasty,” Trump was saying Meghan Markle was herself “nasty,” in the most obscene, sexually degrading, offensive meaning of that word.

Except he did not. Trump wasn’t using the word “nasty” to describe Meghan Markle as a person. He was describing the tone of her remarks about him. Clearly, the intent of Trump’s remark was that he didn’t know she had said nasty things about him. The definition of “nasty” that would apply to Trump’s comment, according to Merriam-Webster is “lacking in courtesy.”

But don’t try telling that to the mainstream anti-Trump media. As CNN has helpfully reported, “Meghan Markle is the new ‘nasty’ woman on President Trump’s list.” And the story gets juicier.

In response to Trump saying he did not call Meghan Markle nasty, because he was referring to comments she made, not her, the media offered proof. As ABC News anchor Tom Llamas breathlessly reported on June 2, “we have the president’s remarks on tape.” Or, as Time puts it “President Trump Denies Meghan Markle ‘Nasty’ Comment Despite Recording.”

Now there’s not only a crime but a cover-up. But not to worry, because it’s all on tape. And, of course, Americans never heard the whole transcript, because the media reports typically only played it up until the word “nasty” is uttered. The rest of Trump’s comment is not heard, where he says “I’m sure she’ll do excellently. She’ll be very good. I hope she does well.”

What we have here is a tawdry parody of the entire collusion-obstruction storyline. The crime that didn’t happen followed by the cover-up that wasn’t.

And this nonstory continues to generate “breaking news.” Prince Harry, a man who once titillated his aristocratic colleagues by wearing Nazi regalia to one of their swanky soirees, has “snubbed” Trump after he “branded” Meghan Markle “nasty.”

This would all be hilarious except for the fact that it works. For a while, painstaking clarifications of what really happened will bubble up here and there through the swamp of lies. But come 2020, this latest Trump transgression, along with countless other media concocted lies and distortions of Trump’s words and deeds, will stand as truth.

So it is in 2020 the establishment media aims to have successfully swayed the minds of just enough soccer moms and other undecided voters, driving them into the pastures of the partisan progressive herd.

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Administrative State • Deep State • Donald Trump • Free Speech • Intelligence Community • Law and Order • Mueller-Russia Witch Hunt • Post • Technology • The Constitution • The Corner

The Case for Prosecuting Comey and Brennan

Twenty-five years ago, the Arnold Schwarzenegger action hit “True Lies” depicted a jealous husband abusing his access to powerful tools intended to fight terrorism to discover whether his wife was having an affair. The character played by Tom Arnold lamely warns Schwarzenegger’s Harry Tasker that using government surveillance to spy on his wife is a crime (which is true) and that abusing these tools could land them both in prison.

Tasker retorts that they violate the law all the time. Once you have a person’s search history, access to her emails, text messages, and listen to her phone calls, it’s not hard to construct a blackmail scenario. But that could never happen in real life, right?

Wrong. In 2013, almost 20 years after the movie, Reuters reported that at least a dozen U.S. National Security Agency employees were caught using secret government surveillance tools to spy on the emails or phone calls of current or former spouses and lovers. The NSA has repeatedly promised to reform its procedures as the database it keeps on Americans continues to grow in scope and reach.

When you talk to your spouse, your child, or your lover in the presence of your electronic devices, those devices passively listen to what you’re saying just in case you say “Hey Siri,” or “Hey Alexa.” Have you ever noticed that when you suddenly develop an interest in a particular product or service, ads mysteriously seem to appear and follow you around?

Former FBI Director James Comey once admitted he covered his computer camera for his privacy. He would know. Just imagine a snooping government making a word-searchable transcript of audio and digital recording of video passively transmitted from your phone. What could a curious agent, with access to a feed from the two cameras in your phone, record while simultaneously viewing your private life in both directions?

Such data could give unlimited power to influence and blackmail elected officials, private citizens, judges, law enforcement, journalists, and so on.

When Americans see a public official or an influential journalist suddenly reverse a position or do something otherwise deemed illogical, speculation often runs to question whether “somebody has something on” that official. We should worry about the potential abuse of a database containing essentially unlimited source material that easily could be used to gain power over our fellow Americans.

False Affidavits
Congress set up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to protect Americans from being spied upon by their own government.
And we also know, as in “True Lies,” that NSA analysts “with greater frequency than previously disclosed . . . used U.S. person identifiers to query,” the giant NSA database. This abuse continues even after repeated promises to Congress and the FISC that NSA revised procedures to safeguard private information about Americans.

The NSA’s inspector general caught this wholesale abuse simply by reviewing a small sample of the searches of the database. “That relatively narrow inquiry found that [a redacted number of] analysts had made [a redacted number of] separate queries using,” names of U.S. citizens to search the database. The inspector general discovered this in the first three months of 2015.

On September 26, 2016, the government submitted to the supervising court a certification that failed to disclose the inspector general’s report even though it was well known by then to the signatories of that certification. Among the supporting affidavits falsely reassuring the FISC that the government was not abusing access to data on Americans: NSA Director Admiral Michael S. Rogers, FBI Director James B. Comey, and CIA Director John Brennan.

On October 24, 2016, in the early days of the Trump-Russia scheme then-dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane” and just a few days after the FISC issued a warrant authorizing surveillance on Carter Page, Rogers dashed to the FISC court to make an oral admission. Two days before the FISC was about to approve the government’s continued use of the database, Rogers admitted to significant “non-compliance” with the NSA’s procedures to protect the private information gathered on Americans from the prying eyes of curious analysts. Rogers amended his affidavit to address the falsehoods of his earlier affidavit supporting the September 2016 certification.

Comey and Brennan apparently did not.

In the October 26, 2016 hearing, “the Court ascribed the government’s failure to disclose” the explosive revelations of widespread abuse of Americans’ data, “to an institutional lack of candor” and “emphasized that ‘this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.’” The court further described the NSA’s abuse of the database as “widespread during all periods under review.”

Rogers Breaks Ranks 
Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Rogers then did something that incensed the Intelligence Community and its allies in the media: he
met with President-elect Trump without first giving President Obama a “heads up.” A cold slap of fear might have stung the offending intelligence officials as Rogers seemed to be tattling. This may explain why the Russia hoax accelerated after the election—to keep the incoming anti-swamp president from exposing their vast exploitation of the private information of Americans.

Georgetown University Law Center published an article arguing that the NSA gathering bulk information about Americans is simply unconstitutional. The NSA’s argument has been that the data is kept safe from unconstitutional searches until there’s a need for to search for a U.S. citizen in connection with a particular crime, at which point a warrant would be issued to “search” the data the government already scooped up. But we know from repeated experience that the database remains an irresistible temptation for bureaucrats looking for dirt on targets.

The government has repeatedly demonstrated that it won’t follow constitutional safeguards. The law review article noted, “As with general warrants, blanket seizure programs subject the private information of innocent people to the risk of searches and exposure, without their knowledge and with no realistic prospect of a remedy.” The article adds: “the seizure of papers for later search was an abuse distinct from, but equivalent to, the use of general search warrants—which is why ‘papers’ was included in the Fourth Amendment in addition to ‘effects’ or personal property.”

Comey and Brennan Have a Big Problem
“The FBI doesn’t spy on people,” Comey recently
proclaimed in a public announcement of the same lie he made to the FISC in his affidavit. Under the statute, the FBI was not supposed to search the NSA database without a court order. The FISC noted that the FBI not only accessed the database, but it did so with such frequency that it resorted to the extra manpower of outside contractors to conduct the searches.

Every search by the FBI without a court order requesting data on an American is a potential crime punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both. Comey submitted a false affidavit to deceive the court charged with protecting our constitution.

That seems like a good reason to interrupt the celebrity deep stater’s interminable publicity tour and hold him accountable. We don’t yet know the identities of the targets of these many searches or how that illegally-obtained information was used. Were wives blackmailed into humiliation? Were public officials coerced into changing positions? Were journalists forced to conform to the Intelligence Community’s talking points? It does seem puzzling that the media cheerleads so vigorously for our intelligence agencies. The victims, if they know what the government did, aren’t talking.

Rogers did the right thing by (eventually) coming clean to the FISA court on the widespread abuse of Americans’ data. But James Comey and John Brennan do not appear to have taken any steps to correct their affidavits certifying that the data was not used improperly. The FISC court did not provide numbers but it’s reasonable to infer that the term “widespread” in reference to ongoing violations by multiple officials could mean thousands of felonies under the cover of the Comey and Brennan affidavits that apparently remain uncorrected, in spite of having been found false by a published court opinion.

Comey and Brennan should be prosecuted and the evidence is in plain sight.

The great gift that Donald Trump gave America may be that he tempted the intelligence community to the task of interfering with an American election and undermining a duly elected president. The abuses related to Trump appear to be the tiny tip of a much larger iceberg that we might never have spotted as our intelligence agencies increasingly seem to see their role as “protecting” us from our own constitutional rights.

James Comey and John Brennan (among others) presided over an assault on the constitutional right to keep the government out of our emails, texts, phone calls, and other data. Our republic must hold them to account. As Roman scholars once observed, ubi jus ibi remedium—”a right must have a remedy.” If no action is taken against those who trampled on our Fourth Amendment rights, then no right remains.

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America • First Amendment • Free Speech • Infrastructure • Post • Silicon Valley • Technology • The Left • The Media

Political Bias in Big Tech Is a Major Problem

Suspicions of political bias in big tech companies are nothing new. Many people have suspected tech companies of being more left-leaning. Recent events and studies, however, are slowly turning these suspicions into facts. This political bias is detrimental not only to the companies and their users but also to the country.

A recent study by Northwestern University showed Google’s search engine ranked left-leaning political sites higher on its news feed. According to the survey, 86 percent of Google’s top stories over the course of a month came from 20 left-wing news sites. Out of these 20 sources, CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post were leading the pack.

Google is not the only tech company credibly accused of bias. Facebook and Twitter have also been denounced for censoring right-leaning accounts and groups in their respective platforms. The three tech companies were summoned to a congressional hearing last year to explain themselves.

One might think that these cases of political bias are isolated to the big tech companies but nothing could be further from the truth. Silicon Valley, a region known to be at the vanguard of technological development in the United States, is a very left-leaning place located in a deep blue state.

The services these companies offer have become deeply rooted in our daily lives. This can give them the power to influence politics on a scale greater than any lobbying group could imagine. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 38 percent of Americans get their news from the internet. Among that group, roughly 50 percent of younger adults (ages 18-49) get their news online. Google’s preference for left-wing corporate media strongly shapes public opinion in ways not even television could.

A Nation at Risk?
Many tech companies face a backlash from their own employees when it comes to Pentagon contracts. Google employees rebelled, for example, when the company began work on an artificial intelligence system for drones called Project Maven. Microsoft workers resisted the company’s work on an augmented reality system for the Defense Department using their HoloLens technology for combat and training.

The dangers should be apparent. China is investing billions in A.I. projects with military applications while U.S. tech firms wring their hands. We know, too, that China is working hard on its cyber warfare capabilities while the U.S. military struggles to keep up its defenses. Recall how last year a U.S. Navy contractor working on undersea warfare projects lost 614 gigabytes of highly classified data as the result of a Chinese hack. More recently, worries over LockerGoga ransomware are growing in light of a March attack against raw materials producer Norsk Hydro as Congress debates a $2 billion infrastructure bill, which includes money for defenses against cyber attacks on vital civilian infrastructure.

Silicon Valley’s bias also affects right-leaning professionals trying to get into the tech industry. Prospective employees might feel discouraged from applying to a company with a strong political bias against their own beliefs while current workers have every reason to hide their political views for fear of backlash. Recall the case of James Damore, the Google engineer who lost his job after sharing a controversial memorandum questioning the company’s diversity hiring policies. (The company currently is facing a massive class-action lawsuit from 8,000 current and former female employees, who allege widespread sex discrimination.)

We could say that political bias has no place in giant tech companies, which ostensibly serve the general public regardless of political belief. We could say that, but it would be folly—putting hope over experience. Google, Facebook, and Twitter exercise an outsized influence on public discourse. With the 2020 presidential elections looming, these powerful corporations will shape voters’ perceptions of the race, just as they already influence our nation’s defense. How can a free, self-governing republic allow that to continue?

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First Amendment • Free Speech • Podcast • Technology

The Chris Buskirk Show: Episode 7—Sen. Josh Hawley Stands Against the Big Tech Oligarchy

Josh Hawley introduces legislation to prevent Big Tech from tracking you. Will Trump endorse? Also a look at European Parliament elections which could send a raft of new populist-nationalists to Brussels from all over Europe. What does it mean for Europe & the US? Tune into The Chris Buskirk Show below for the latest.

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First Amendment • Free Speech • Online Censorship • Post • Technology • The Constitution

Our Tech Slave Power

There can be no doubt any longer that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and their subsidiaries—YouTube, Instagram, Periscope, among others—are trying to suffocate political speech. These American companies have chosen political sides with the Democratic Party, donating what amounts to an in-kind political contribution by silencing those who disagree with them.

Consider that techno censors have never harassed fake news organizations like CNN, and wannabe doxxers like Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims spew hateful attacks on minors without consequence.

There can be no doubt any longer that tech companies have no desire to preserve liberties or the common good. They endeavor to become a new slave power by taking that which we earn by the sweat of our brow. We work; they eat.

As long as we play by their often hidden and opaque rules, and utter only the approved opinions, we might be able to partake in the scraps they throw at us from their table.

Their actions condemn any pretense that they are disinterested, objective gatekeepers of speech. Google tried to silence the Claremont Institute from purchasing an innocuous ad announcing its 40th anniversary dinner gala. Twitter banned David Horowitz. Many others face lifetime bans for expressing their political opinions.

When the Silicon Valley oligarchs feel political pressure for their deplatforming decisions, they blame the “algorithm” or say the “mistake” was a technical “glitch.” This is, of course, a lie; but it allows them to avoid responsibility.

It is, moreover, a lie that is a material misstatement or omission in connection with the sale of a security; if it were known that these public companies were risking regulation by tampering with American politics their stock values would plunge.

And the lie is transparent. Limitations on free speech are imposed only on the Right, not the Left. Algorithms are coded by human beings and those codes target certain forms of speech the human programmers don’t like. Just ask James Damore, who wrote about Google’s “echo chamber.” It might be more appropriately called a Star Chamber.

This has had a chilling effect on speech. When people have to watch what they say or else lose their livelihoods, political speech comes with a high price. Libertarians believe all of this is fine, just the price we pay for a free market and that time will solve the problem. But, these are the same interests who believed that trade with China was free, when it truly wasn’t. What can be done to secure the freedoms and equal liberty of speech for the common good of the republic?

A co-founder of Facebook believes the company should be broken up, in part because, “Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark [Zuckerberg] controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.”

In fact, at Google, community standards are difficult to find to the point that it is obvious they are being concealed from the consumer. Facebook standards are posted, but unequally enforced. The Southern Poverty Law Center violates several tenets of Facebook’s standards, and has never been banned. Same with Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Those groups suffer no harassment for their hateful speech.

The remedy we should seek is the protection of all political speech—in its broadest definition—in order to preserve liberty and equality, which would also preserve the free press.

Government intervention to the extreme of taking over tech monopolies would not solve the problem: this is something Zuckerberg wants because it will guarantee Facebook will always be a monopoly. There is a better option to this chilling situation in the form of a two-pronged approach that would empower users (the consumer) and preserve the right to property in our opinions.

The first is to break up the tech monopolies. The second is to open up libel laws. Both are necessary and need to be moved in tandem.

The Sherman Antitrust Act provided that any person who “shall monopolize” or “conspire” to do so, is guilty of a felony. Arguably, most of our tech giants are engaged in monopolistic practices, therefore the legal pretext for breaking them up is present.

In addition to the Sherman Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act provides that no company may change the price of a good between purchasers or discriminate in providing goods and services. It is often supposed that the only “customers” on social media are advertisers and paid-content promoters. But all users who agree to allow their data to be used and sold are customers; they simply pay with property rather than cash.

Where a consumer purchases a service in exchange for his or her personal data, only to find at a later date that the company denies the service in a discriminatory manner, that might be a violation of the Clayton Act. Companies like Facebook and Google collect, and sell, a user’s data. But for those banned, it is a bait and switch, a species of fraud. Banning a person from a platform while also keeping their data presents a legal problem for the company with which a user has the right to compensatory damages. Looking to the specific terms of the user agreement may not matter. These are contracts of adhesion in the setting of a natural monopoly.

Breaking up the tech companies could look something like the breakup of AT&T in the early 1980s. The platform would remain the same, but the services offered could be styled to suit the consumer.

Facebook could still be the same Facebook overlay, but the product delivery could be different, depending on user choice. One might accept the free version wherein ads are displayed, while the payment would be the user’s data, much like now. Another might opt to pay for the service without ads, and so on. Either way, the community would not change, and public speech and interaction would continue as it does presently. Unregulated competition could survive in this construction, and several companies could use the platform’s homepage overlay to offer unique services as a result.

The problem with Facebook in particular is that they are offering their services for free in return for the purchase of our data—likes, dislikes, browsing history, etc. Platforms that ban users arbitrarily or discriminatorily and then retain user data are either breaching a contract or possibly liable under an equitable theory such as estoppel or quantum meruit (unjust enrichment). They do not return the data of the user, nor do they pay the user for the data they have used to profit their enterprise. When a ban is imposed, the user-data is retained (as well as the data derived from the user data) for their own profit while wiping out the user’s work product in toto.

But the damages and enrichment are real—and calculable. This potential legal liability is ripe for class action. Discovery in such a suit would expose the political model posing as a business concern.

Connected to this potentiality for class action, is the harm and damage for libel. Just because a user might hold controversial opinions does not give anyone the right to damage that person’s reputation. The consumer ought to have access to the courts to seek redress. When Facebook banned Milo Yiannopoulos, for example, it did so publicly for his alleged “hate speech.” This is a potential libel that should be actionable. No media outlet has the right to harm a person’s reputation. It violates the First Amendment, and contravenes every human being’s right to his own reputation. If Yiannopoulos is a “racist,” then it should be provable in court. If the company cannot prove such, then it should have to cough up damages.

While we have not considered the literal addictive properties that entice us in the form of a dopamine fix, as Sean Parker admitted, the freeing of speech might go a long way to preserving a space for liberty to flourish without the tyrannizing control those companies seek to impose over us. It is also the reason mainstream media cheers when those they disagree with are ousted. They are afraid of those who challenge their oligarchical position. They are afraid of the stronger deliberative argument.

They should be afraid. By breaking up these companies and opening up libel laws, citizens would have the tools they need to seek recompense for injustices done to them, and they would be free to speak their minds. The republic would be better for it.

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America • First Amendment • Free Speech • Post • Technology • The Left

Undermining Our Principles Is a Facebook Feature, Not a Bug

Earlier this month Facebook announced that independent journalists and media personalities Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Milo Yiannopoulos would be permanently banished from its global community of 2.3 billion people.

While leftists in politics and the media gloat, corporate conservatives have shrugged their shoulders and invoked the magic spell of the market’s invisible hand. Their nonresponse undoubtedly emboldens Facebook to seek the next dissenting voices to silence.

Others have fought back, making a powerful case that access to social media platforms should be included among the range of civil rights that government guarantees equally to all.

It is certainly true that Facebook’s digital de-personing of dissenters makes a mockery of American principles of freedom of speech, press, and assembly. But these bans go further, flouting principles accepted by the entire global community of states.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, echoing our Constitution, declares in Article 18, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Article 19 sharpens the point, asserting, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

To be clear, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unabashed attack on this global consensus in support of freedom of speech, press, assembly, and access to media, is a feature of Facebook rather than a bug.

In his recent commencement address at Harvard University, Zuckerberg announced the full scope of his ambition to transcend, even render obsolete, the nation-state. “The great arc of human history,” he explained,  “bends towards people coming together in ever greater numbers—from tribes to cities to nations.” In his view, these forms of community are archaic.

“Progress,” Zuckerberg decreed, “now requires coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.” He explained “the struggle of our time” almost as a holy war between “the forces of freedom, openness, and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism.”

Zuckerberg clearly sees himself at the forefront of this “battle of ideas,” and his model, evidently, is the founder and first ruler of the Roman Empire, Augustus Caesar. He explains that Augustus, “through a really harsh approach . . . established 200 years of world peace.” Zuckerberg admits that this reign of peace “didn’t come for for free, and [Augustus] had to do certain things.” With such a role model, Zuckerberg clearly has no difficulty rationalizing the digital de-personing of his enemies. It remains to be seen how far he is willing to go in his ideological warfare, and how far we will allow him to go.

Prior to his ambition to be a new Caesar, though, Zuckerberg was a hacker. He successfully hacked the media industry, and he did so by finding a way to hack our brains. Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, expressed remorse that the company has grown so powerful by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.“ Parker explained that Facebook’s first developers focused on the question, “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” This project is cynical at best, sinister at worst.

Having discovered how to monopolize our attention, Facebook leveraged its intimate knowledge of the inner workings of our minds to monopolize the media industry. Facebook and Google now combine to control almost 75 percent of the digital ad market. At a time when establishment media companies are going through mass layoffs—and alternative journalists with their new models of citizen journalism are being silenced with impunity—Facebook is achieving massive growth and boasts advertising revenues of $55 billion.

A tiny fraction of Facebook’s revenues in 2016 came from online advertising related to the U.S. presidential election. Still, the political content Facebook allowed significant for American citizens. Revelations that Russian operatives had used Facebook (and its Instagram platform) to sow seeds of anger and division during that campaign continue to produce the bitter fruit of disunity. Since then our politics have been inflamed by accusations of collusion between these Russian operatives and the Trump campaign. Though a special counsel, after an exhaustive two-year investigation, could not sustain the charge of collusion (or, more accurately, criminal conspiracy), partisans are still using the issue to undermine the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

No doubt this destabilization of American politics is just what the Russian hackers intended. But what about the intentions of the one who has hacked our minds, our media, and our democracy—Mark Zuckerberg? His public relations people were both sudden and cryptic in announcing the company’s bans, stating: “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.” It is speculative but relevant to note that the day before the bans, an influential researcher of online disinformation posted a long thread on Twitter demonstrating that Facebook’s Instagram platform was still rife with “russian (sic) propaganda/disinformation.”

It is possible to believe that Zuckerberg was not aware of this troublesome charge, and that the bans were not part of a calculated public relations strategy to distract attention away from it . . . but it does not seem plausible.

Also occurring, coincidentally, the day before Facebook announced these bans was Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Mueller investigation. This testimony underscored the point that Mueller’s report failed to support charges of collusion by the Trump Campaign with Russian operatives. As that charge loses force, a critical fact is coming into focus: the one organization that clearly and unambiguously bears Russian fingerprints during the 2016 presidential election is Facebook.

Zuckerberg may be alarmed by the prospect that Russians used his platform to interfere with American politics and elections. That does not change the fact that he intends to use Facebook as a platform for his own personal interference with American politics and elections.

Again, the use of Facebook to undermine American national politics is a feature, not a bug.

Zuckerberg’s digital de-personing of dissenters clearly amounts to a violation of their civil rights, and should be resisted on these grounds. Further, it makes a mockery of American principles of freedom of speech, press, and assembly, and even the supposed global commitment that all individuals should enjoy equal access to media. Most importantly, though, it represents a significant step toward the realization of Zuckerberg’s stated ambition of creating and leading a global empire. Having demonstrated his power to eliminate dissenting voices, Zuckerberg is well on the way to stigmatizing and silencing those who reject his anti-nationalist principles, and to undermining the authority of nation-states to regulate his business or check his ambitions. The question now is whether American citizens and their so-called leaders can muster the power, or even the will, to stop it.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Free Speech • Identity Politics • Post • race • The Culture • The Left

Challenging Liberal Racism

About a year ago, Vice published an article by Kesiena Boom called “100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color.” Offered as a way for the “anxious [White] allies of the world” to “be the change,” the article serves as a pretty good example of leftist attitudes on race. But what if these leftist, liberal attitudes are themselves racist?

By now we’re all familiar with the broad outlines of this narrative. Racism is real whether you can see it or not (No. 1). Don’t engage in “cultural appropriation” (No. 11). Don’t claim to know what is or isn’t racist (No. 17). Realize that “some days are mentally exhausting for people of color” (No. 20). Make a fuss if a collection of art, music, literature, or whatever, doesn’t include proportional representation by people of color (No. 27). Understand the “intersections of race and gender” (No. 43). Shut up and “just listen” (No. 68).

Perhaps the biggest common thread in Boom’s article is its air of moral superiority. People of color will dictate the terms of any discussion on race, and white people will keep quiet and listen. The problem with accepting this premise, however, is that the stakes are too high. According to Pew Research, by 2020 one-third of America’s eligible voters will be “nonwhites.”

Colorful Symmetries, Troubling Trends
If America’s “people of color” were as diverse in their voting preferences as non-Hispanic whites, the fact that they’re about to constitute one in every three voters wouldn’t mean much. But the opposite is the case. In the 2018 election, white voters leaned Republican, 54 to 44 percent, but Republican competitiveness ended there. Only 29 percent of Hispanics voted Republican, only 23 percent of Asians voted Republican, and only 9 percent of blacks voted Republican.

The conclusions you can draw from this unambiguous data have profound implications. The voting patterns of nonwhites are nearly monolithic in favor of Democrats, and the impact of this is transforming America’s political landscape. If nonwhites were the only voters, then today—based on the proportions of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians in the electorate—Democrats would get 78 percent of the vote. When you bring that monolithic preference into the total electorate, the symmetry is rather neat: without nonwhite voters, Republicans get 54 percent of the national vote; with everyone participating, Democrats get 54 percent of the vote.

This fact—that America’s politics are fundamentally altered by nonwhite voters preferring Democrats by a margin of nearly four to one—makes it necessary for white Republicans not only to stop being silent on issues of race and racism, but it obligates them to speak up. It is absurd, manipulative nonsense for anyone to tell white conservatives that they have to “shut up” and just be an “ally” on issues of race, when their destinies and their futures are being decided by nonwhite voters.

Not only are nonwhite voters already delivering the decisive swing vote in elections across the nation, and always in only one direction, but this reality is just beginning.

In just 16 years, between 2000 and 2016, the proportion of non-Hispanic white children in the U.S. declined from 61 percent of all children to 51 percent. Today, three years later, it’s less than 50 percent. Based on decades of consistent voting patterns and already established demographics, America is sliding, irrevocably, toward permanent rule by Democrats.

Shutting up is not an option. Whites have as much right to comment on issues of race as nonwhites, and just as much to lose if they are silent. And after all, what if the most toxic, devastating forms of racism aren’t coming from conservative Republicans, but from liberal Democrats? Wouldn’t everyone, especially nonwhites, want to hear the news?

Liberal Racism Rightly Understood
One of the reasons Republicans lose the vote of nonwhites is because Democrats have successfully tainted Republicans as racists. Who wants to vote for a party filled with racists? But if you examine the various types of racism infecting American society, there’s a strong argument to be made that the actual racism is coming from the Democrats.

First of all, you can rule out the obvious racism that everyone deplores. If you object to two people who love each other marrying because they’re from different races, you’re a racist. If you prejudge someone before you get to know them and dislike them because of their race, you’re a racist. If you deliberately deny someone an opportunity solely because of their race, you’re a racist. These are examples of toxic, indefensible racism that no serious person in American society defends.

But the third example provides a segue into what we might call liberal racism, because liberal racism isn’t whites denying nonwhites opportunities, it’s institutionalized discrimination against whites in favor of less qualified nonwhites.

If that raises the hackles of social justice warriors and their professional enablers in the diversity bureaucracy, that’s just too bad. Because affirmative action of all kinds is racism, plain and simple. And it doesn’t do anyone any good. It places less qualified nonwhites into college classrooms and corporate offices where they are not able to compete with their peers. This tempts the underachievers to believe the diversity bureaucracy’s B.S. about needing safe spaces and special treatment, and it embitters every better-qualified college or job applicant who didn’t get the opportunity they’d earned through merit.

These laws breed corruption and resentment wherever they appear. Small business owners are told they can’t compete for contracts or loans unless they have nonwhite partners. A cottage industry is formed where nonwhite partners, with no assets to put at risk and minimal qualifications, make themselves available to business owners who have invested decades of their lives and every penny they’ve ever made into a business. Who carries more risk? Who worked harder? How is this helpful?

There are nonwhite conservatives who understand there are no shortcuts to success. The list of influential black conservative Republican intellectuals and influencers, is huge, including Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Larry Elder, Ward Connerly, Condoleezza Rice, Alan Keyes, Star Parker, Walter Williams, Mia Love, Candace Owens, and countless others. Unfortunately, their work is marginalized by the liberal press and by their ideological opponents within their communities. But it isn’t just to nonwhites that white conservatives have to be more outspoken, it’s to other whites who have not questioned the liberal catechism on race.

Enforced racial quotas that do more harm than good to both whites and nonwhites are not the only liberal policy with racist consequences. Another example of liberal racism is K-12 public education policies, where the iron grip of leftist teachers unions have denied quality education to generations of nonwhites in America. Conservative Republicans didn’t destroy our public schools, the liberal Democrats did, by supporting teachers unions that care more about pay, benefits, and job security than about the children they’re supposed to educate.

Along with eliminating the ability to fire incompetent teachers, and drowning effective instruction in a torrent of “process” rules and bureaucracy, liberal Democrats have supported so-called “restorative justice,” which in practice makes it almost impossible to expel nonwhite students for discipline problems unless a proportional number of whites have also been expelled. Lack of discipline ranks as high as bad teachers and politicized curricula among the reasons why our public schools are failing, and expulsion quotas make matters worse, not better. Liberal Democrats are to blame for all of it.

Republicans, by contrast, support increasing the proportion of classroom teachers in K-12 schools and cutting back the expensive bureaucracy. Conservative Republicans support charter schools, homeschooling, private schools, and school vouchers—all designed to make schools compete to provide quality education. Conservative Republicans support bringing discipline back into the classroom, firing incompetent teachers, restoring math and language fundamentals to the curriculum, and reforming out-of-control teacher pensions that are bankrupting public education. What’s racist about any of that?

Environmental Justice?
Another example of liberal racism is the indirect but devastating effect of “green” politics. The real world result of renewable portfolio standards is huge increases to the cost of energy. This means members of low-income communities, often nonwhite, are less able to afford to pay their utility bills. Affluent white liberals can congratulate themselves for supporting expensive renewables because paying those bills doesn’t take up such a high percentage of their disposable income.

Environmentalist policies in general disproportionately harm nonwhites, along with all low-income communities. Restricting housing development under environmentalist pretexts creates a real estate bubble, forcing rents and home prices up. Low-income people have to pay higher rents to live in places further from their jobs, and then they have to sit in congested roads because liberals wanted to allocate public funds to high-speed rail and other impractical, but “environmentally correct” transportation boondoggles.

None of these green policies—certainly not renewable energy or restrictions on housing development—does much for the environment. But they do make life much harder for low-income households, many of which are nonwhite.

When it comes to liberal racism, the biggest culprit is socialism itself. Mainstream Joe Biden type Democrats are just corrupt liberals, mouthing anti-racist platitudes to attract votes while their liberal racist policies do more harm than good to nonwhites. But the rising tide of die-hard socialists within the Democratic party—fueled, in part, by rising percentages of nonwhite voters—threatens to bring new levels of misery to everyone, nonwhites most of all.

Whether this new breed of Democrats are just pandering cynics like U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), or fanatical ignoramuses like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), their ideas, including reparations, redistribution of wealth, open borders, free healthcare, free college tuition, 100 percent renewable energy, guaranteed income, guaranteed jobs, and so forth, are utterly infeasible. If even half of these schemes ever became law, the United States would lose the prosperity that is the surest and, possibly, only way that nonwhites can be assured the opportunity for upward mobility.

Ultimately, that’s what liberal racism is all about. It isn’t about raising nonwhites up through equal opportunity, it’s about enforcing equal outcome, no matter what the cost. In the real world, that cost would be crushing. History is filled with examples of failed socialist utopias, and current events provide additional examples unfolding before our eyes.

America’s “people of color” need to make some tough choices. Do they want to adhere to the liberal racist temptation to blame any shortcomings in their lives on white oppression, or do they want to grab the American dream the only way it can endure, which is through hard work and merit against an immutable and equally applied standard?

It is ludicrous that conservative whites cannot join that conversation. The future of America is at stake, and everyone’s voice must be heard.

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America • Center for American Greatness • China • Donald Trump • Free Speech • Government Reform • Infrastructure • Post • Technology • Trade

Stop Whining About Google and Do Something

Some friends on the Right are angry about Google’s opaque efforts to block prominent conservative personalities and think tanks from the search engine and the company’s advertising program. Their anger is understandable, but why is anyone surprised? Despite a short-lived and undeserved reputation for libertarianism, the tech industry has always leaned left. Today, Silicon Valley is evangelically liberal and very rich—a nasty combination.

A move toward a kind of left-wing, techno-totalitarianism was predictable—and predicted.

Why else do you think Google happily made common cause with the most totalitarian state in the world, the People’s Republic of China, while at the same time repressing American conservative groups and individuals?

Don’t forget that the Department of Defense, in dire need of support from American tech firms, last year offered a $10 billion contract to whichever American tech firm could build the Pentagon’s cloud computing system. Google was among one of the top bidders. Google would have been a natural fit for the project, since the tech giant is a pioneer in cloud computing. But, following a protest from some employees about helping America’s “war machine,” Google took itself out of contention. Amazon remains a competitive bidder, but the fact that Google abandoned the project not because it might damage their financial interests, but instead out of ideological opposition to the U.S. military, is—to say the least—disturbing.

This occurred, incidentally, as Google was moving its artificial intelligence research arm into China. Undoubtedly, the move to China will help Google’s bottom line. After all, China is a massive untapped market and it is rapidly growing into the world’s most dynamic technology innovation hub. But everyone knows that China has a pernicious state capitalist system. Therefore, any American firm doing business in China will be required to share proprietary data with Chinese state-owned enterprises.

Even if Google desires to keep their artificial intelligence research confined to the civilian realm, they will be unable to keep it that way for long. Inevitably, Chinese entities will get their hands on Google’s research and reproduce it indigenously—and not merely for civilian consumption. In effect, the next generation of advanced Chinese weapons might be run by an artificial intelligence that Google helped to develop, even as they refused to do business with the U.S. military.

While this occurs, Google creates algorithms meant to stymie the free speech of conservative Americans. Many Google employees believe we Rightists are racists, fascists, bigots, war mongers, and homophobes. They hate those of us on the Right for the same reason they refuse to do business with the U.S. military (missing, apparently, the fact that today’s military is increasingly Left-leaning itself). We embody the America of their fathers and grandfathers; we symbolize the America they hate. It also happens to be the America that the Chinese Communist Party despises. So that’s two things they have in common.

Rightists should stop being outraged that their free speech is being infringed upon by a corporation that routinely collects and sells the personal data of its users to the highest bidder, refuses to work with the “warmongering” Pentagon, and gladly jumps into bed with the Chinese Communist Party. Instead, we should support calls to better regulate Google and other tech firms, so that they cannot act with as much impunity as they have done.

Meanwhile, conservatives should drop their obsession with Ayn Rand for a moment and recognize that the U.S. government needs more power to prevent American tech firms from doing business with China.

In that regard, the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) should be greatly expanded. This group is the best way to complicate Google’s (and other corporations’) attempts to sell us out to China. According to the United States Treasury Department, “CFIUS is an interagency committee authorized to review certain transactions involving foreign investment in the United States (‘covered transactions’), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.” If a foreign trade is determined to be a national security threat, then CFIUS can block that trade. This happened several years ago when Fairchild Semiconductor was forced to reject an acquisition offer from a Chinese firm. CFIUS blocked the deal out of fear that China would be able to corner the all-important semiconductor industry. CFIUS needs more robust powers, though, to fully defend against Chinese attempts to gain access to critical American technology through trade.

Also, the Pentagon should increase its understanding of the threat that unfettered free trade between U.S. tech companies and China poses to our country.

Few may realize it, but our leaders are woefully uninformed about the extent and nature of the threat that doing trade with China poses the United States, especially in the high-tech sector. This is partly because the private sector and public sector are both terrible about sharing information with each other. This is also because the incentives for American businesses to deal with China are fundamentally different from the incentives for America’s defense establishment to stunt trade with China.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) was a great first step toward bridging this knowledge gap. Established in 2015 by the Department of Defense, the DIU is headquartered in Mountain View, California with offices in Boston and Austin (two other major tech corridors in the United States). Currently, the group is focused on providing funds to tech companies that assist the Department of Defense in resolving critical national security issues. It is staffed by a who’s-who compendium of tech sector notables, academics, military officials, and hedge fund types who specialize in funding technology firms.

Yet, it is not enough.

A greater synthesis between the national security sector, the business community, academia, and the political leadership of the United States is needed if we truly and effectively want to prevent American tech firms from building the weapons of tomorrow for China to use against us today. The goal should be to create a comprehensive capability that can protect vital intellectual property and punish corporations acting against America’s best interests. DIU would complement an expanded CFIUS—as well as a stricter regulatory policy for U.S. tech firms—by providing key insights and intelligence to policymakers charged with oversight of the tech sector.

The time for outrage over Google’s transgressions against the American people has long passed. We on the Right have an ally in the White House with a skeptical view both of the tech industry and China’s intentions. What’s more, President Trump is more willing than his predecessors to make corporations pay for their actions when they harm America.

Rightists everywhere would do well to use this to their advantage. The administration has an opportunity to rein in Google and other tech giants that, left to their own devices, would sell out this country, trample our God-given freedom of speech, and empower the Chinese Communist Party. Time is of the essence.

Photo credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

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.

America • First Amendment • Free Speech • Post • Silicon Valley • Technology • The Culture • The Media

Understanding Google’s Military Mindset

Google tried to censor the Claremont Institute last week. The tech giant backed off under pressure, but the tactical maneuver was hardly a failure. To see why, we only have to think strategically.

The Claremont Institute is a conservative think tank devoted to preserving the original meaning and vitality of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Claremont has launched a new campaign against the dangers of multiculturalism, as Institute President Ryan Williams announced in an essay last month in its digital publication, The American Mind. The essay explains how multiculturalism and identity politics are anathema to the American principles of equal natural rights.

Google decreed that essay, and indeed Claremont’s whole American Mind site, to be “a racially oriented publication”—an absurdity belied by Claremont’s long-standing fight against racial classifications, and Google’s indifference to rampant leftist obsessions with racial and ethnic differences.

When the Institute responded aggressively, publicly challenging Google, several conservative outlets expressed outrage.

Google backed off, claiming it had made a “mistake.” Given the facts and applying the most basic logic, this is obviously false.

The most relevant fact is that Institute staff had to spend two hours on the phone asking Google how its ban (on paid advertisements for the Institute’s upcoming banquet) could be appealed, and for clarification about the grounds of the ban. Google responded that there was no appeal. Further, the ban would be withdrawn only upon complete capitulation to Google’s political correctness: the Institute would have to censor itself and repudiate four decades of patriotic scholarship and advocacy.

To understand what’s happening here, one has to think strategically. We are in a cold war with the Left. That war is heating up. Many soft-headed conservatives and libertarians either fail to see this or they’re clinging to the tiniest shreds of information they hope will allow them to ignore what’s happening. Even those of us who appreciate what is going on, do not always see how the other side really is thinking and acting in terms of war.

A military mindset is at work behind Google’s action—which represents the censorship and propaganda agenda of the whole social media conglomerate. To see this, it helps to reflect on a few lessons from one of the 20th century’s great but under-appreciated teachers of war and strategy, Harold W. Rood. Fittingly, Rood himself (who passed away in 2011) was affiliated with the Claremont Institute and taught for many years at Claremont McKenna College.

He had two sayings he was fond of repeating to his students: “Politics is war by other means,” and, “There are no coincidences.”

Take the second one first: The targeting of Claremont was no mistake and no accident. Scholars and activists associated with the Claremont Institute were among the earliest supporters of Donald Trump. The Institute’s Claremont Review of Books published Michael Anton’s famous “The Flight 93 Election”—the only essay that arguably had a significant effect on the 2016 election. And the Institute, more so than any other conservative think tank, has devoted its entire existence to explaining and defending what it means to be an American—an identity grounded in our founding principles of color-blind equal rights.

If Google could have bullied the Claremont Institute into submission, it would have been a massive victory for the regressive Left, and laid the foundation for a vastly more intense and aggressive censorship campaign.

But that wasn’t really what Google expected to happen, which brings up Rood’s second aphorism. The Left’s unrelenting propaganda, intimidation, censorship, de-funding and de-platforming are all tactics as part of a strategy in a “war by other means.” Google’s attempt to ban Claremont’s ads was a classic reconnaissance operation: initiate a small provocative skirmish with the enemy to probe his defenses and see how he responds; then pull back, analyze, and plan for the next (bigger) assault.

Google’s claim that it had made a “mistake” is a transparent falsehood. They were testing the perimeter. Thank goodness, Claremont stood its ground. That was necessary and important. Google has learned that at least one of its targets isn’t soft. But this simply means that the next assault will incorporate what the company learned this week; so it will strike harder.

Will you be ready?

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