Great America

A Second Wave of Stupidity

The coronavirus panic was starting to ebb after the successful state reopenings of May and enthusiastic public protests of June. Rather than acknowledging this good news story, the same lunatics are clamoring to tighten the screws again.

First we were warned about an exponential increase. Cases were doubling and tripling in as many days. Soon millions would be sick and dying. Then we were warned of rising deaths, even though many of these deaths had other causes.

We were told to flatten the curve. We needed to stay home. We should not wear masks. Then we should wear masks.

The whole experience has been dizzying.

The Testing Solution

The media and experts then began selling tests as the key. Why exactly was unclear, with the vast majority of people having mild symptoms, no cure or vaccine in sight, and no realistic way for our decrepit public health system to do contact tracing. But tests it would be.

We now conduct a lot of tests. “Drive-by” testing has happened in some locales. Private companies, local walk-in clinics, and county health departments are all offering tests. So far, 36 million coronavirus tests have been administered.

Tests are showing a lot more positive cases. In May, Florida was confirming 1,000 or so cases per day. By July 2, the state reported nearly 10,000 new cases in one day. Arizona and Texas showed a similar rise in positive tests.

It appears the Cassandras may have been right. The disease was “exploding.” Red states were warned about reopening too early. Selfish people wanted to go to the beach and bars, and now they are paying the price.

Or Maybe Not?

Rising tests only matter if they indicate the actual, continuing growth of the disease. Is it possible this is not happening?

Yes . . . it’s probable, in fact.

From day one, many people had the coronavirus and didn’t know it. They won’t know for sure until they have an antibody test. Back in April, the Santa Clara antibody population study estimated 54,000 cases, about 2 percent of the California community under study, even when only 1,000 coronavirus cases had been officially confirmed by authorities. At that time, public health authorities were using the more difficult-to-administer “PCR” test to come up with that lower number. PCR tests show active infection.

A similar study in hard-hit New York estimated 20 percent of the city’s population had viral antibodies. The authors reached this estimate for a city of 8 million when the nationally reported cases were less than 1 million.

Most people have not been tested. People with mild symptoms do not run to the doctor for tests, nor do the asymptomatic. Thus, millions of people only minimally impacted by the coronavirus are not ending up on the radar of the health authorities.

The disease has been spreading because of this group. They spread the disease unknowingly, as do those to whom they spread it. For the same reasons, the spread of the disease is probably slowing, as people already infected are no longer able to transmit the disease further. They are a cul de sac for further disease spread. Fatalities are going down as well, as the most vulnerable have already been “harvested,” in the grim terminology of the epidemiologists.

All of these factors combine to produce greater and greater “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is probably the only way to resolve this situation in the absence of a vaccine or a realistic mitigation strategy. Ironically, herd immunity is impeded by the masking and social distancing measures so in vogue.

The Florida Situation

Now testing is up significantly, including in Florida. Tests are cheaper and more widely available. After exposure to those with confirmed cases, people are getting tested in an abundance of caution. Sometimes, employers are requiring them as well.

When Florida began to reopen in early May, the state was reporting 8,000 to 20,000 tests per day. Positive percentages ranged from 8-10 percent. In June and July, the daily testing numbers increased to a range of 34,000 to 78,000 tests per day. During the week of June 24, 10-17 percent were positive among the greater than 400,000 people tested.

Thus, more tests are showing more cases and a higher percentage of positive cases. The media’s reactions were predictable. The Palm Beach Post said cases were exploding. The New York Times called it America’s “Pandemic Playground.” Breathless articles reported that, for now, the number testing positive was younger, but that soon many of them would be in the hospital, and the elderly would be clobbered by a second wave.

This seems unlikely. We already have extensive data that young people are barely affected by this virus. In spite of the “surge of cases,” over half of COVID-19 deaths are among people over 75. A few anecdotal stories of people having a hard time get the media spotlight, but the death and hospitalization data show it is significantly concentrated among older folks, including many over their average life expectancy and with major comorbidities.

Even now, in spite of recent news about rising cases and fears of a second wave, daily death numbers are down and remain down from their April 28 high in Florida. Nationwide, coronavirus deaths dropped from a weekly high of over 19,000 in April to around 4,300 for the week of July 1.

Nonetheless, local authorities have lost their nerve on reopening. Local governments in Tampa, Sarasota, and Orlando ordered mandatory indoor masking. The governor shut down bars and nightclubs again. Talk of a “second shutdown” is becoming frighteningly common. It seems unlikely Disney will reopen as planned in mid-July.

Bad Data Combines PCR and Antibody Tests

The news of rising case numbers is highly misleading. The data will continue to show rising numbers because Florida’s rise in reported “tests” includes the results of antibody tests. The CDC also combines antibody and PCR tests, confounding the national data.

Antibody tests show those who had the coronavirus a long time ago, may have never known they had it, and are long past the time they can spread it. Because antibody test results are retrospective, the percentage of positive antibody tests will always be rising.

It’s not clear how many of all the tests reported in Florida are merely antibody tests, but it appears at least 500,000 of the 2 million tests reported on Florida’s “dashboard” were. (While total tests are confusingly combined in the state’s case reporting data, two large groups of antibody tests are broken out in reports of private and government-administered antibody testing.) In other words, Florida is doing 3-5 times more testing than a few months ago, and much of the rise in testing is antibody testing. This guaranteed to show a rise in cases.

Consistent with the earlier Santa Clara study, Florida’s first report of statewide antibody testing showed 4.4 percent of Floridians tested had antibodies. If this is representative—and it was certainly a large sample of more than 120,000 people—this would amount to 900,000 people statewide, a much higher number than today’s 175,000 official case count.

The War to Close Down the Economy

States have been reopening for about two months now. The economic results certainly have been impressive, and deaths are not accelerating. The new metric of “rising cases” seems custom-designed to keep the bad news coming, even though it includes long-since-resolved or asymptomatic cases.

Obviously, there are many people with an agenda. During the Black Lives Matter protests in June, we saw the ruling class’ bold willingness to ignore what they said five minutes ago. Protests against lockdowns were the end of the world, as was a day at the beach, or going to church. But the BLM protests were not a problem because they were supposedly for a good cause. 

This should cause a permanent rise in skepticism and wariness of the media, the public health authorities, and the ruling class. The recent good news on hydroxychloroquine further reminds us that the whole point of hyping the coronavirus, the riots, and much else was to spread fear and despair, hurt the country, and impair President Trump’s reelection chances.

Important and expensive decisions are being made based on bad data, including misleading “new case” data that merely reveals the huge, preexisting gap of testing and the actual number of cases. Nonetheless, these bad data are talked about as if they’re gospel by an incurious media.

While I would not expect ardent leftists and those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome to care about the reliability of data, I do think local and state authorities are more practical, less ideological, and less able to weather additional shutdowns. Here they are simply too cautious or uninformed to push back against the imperius experts.

But they should.

Science is not black magic. It involves data and logic. The enormous holes in the coronavirus testing data—as well as the very recent failure of the experts’ dire predictions to come true—should encourage more critical thinking by everyone.

In litigation, we often talk about the “garbage in, garbage out” aspect of expert opinions. If the expert is relying on the false statements of a witness or the “cooked books” of his client, a perfectly sound, scientific method will still produce useless and misleading results. Even reliable models are only as reliable as the data one feeds into them.

The public health community has behaved irresponsibly throughout the coronavirus episode. It has not considered costs and benefits, the usual rise and fall of epidemics even absent intervention, the nature of the testing data on which it relied, and the public health risks of mass unemployment and mandatory social isolation.

The coronavirus panic was starting to ebb after the successful state reopenings of May and enthusiastic public protests of June. Rather than acknowledging this good news story, the same lunatics are clamoring to tighten the screw again, this time by looking at flawed data showing “new cases.”

This time, don’t play along.

Great America

Swamp Within A Swamp

Local politicians see the government of the District of Columbia, with its bloated bureaucracy and annual multi-billion-dollar federal payment, as their own fiefdom-cum-business. Now only statehood, accompanied by the likely demand for reparations, will do.

Most U.S. license plates feature some sort of tourism hype, like “Sportsman’s Paradise” or “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” In Washington, D.C., the plates say: “End Taxation Without Representation.”

That’s supposed to make tourists, slowly trickling back into the city, feel sorry for the poor unrepresented citizens who live here. It shouldn’t.

D.C. license plates are propaganda for an unconstitutional and increasingly violent power grab by the Democratic Party. For years, the aim has been to make the nation’s capital the 51st state, giving the party two permanent votes in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives. Seventy-five percent of Washington’s registered voters are Democrats.

But in the Age of Trump, the statehood drive has become decidedly more militant. The protest-verb “End” was added to “Taxation Without Representation” when Donald Trump was inaugurated president. Reviving a favorite 1960s-ism, Democrats seized the opportunity to cast Washington as the Last Plantation and Trump its evil overseer.

The president has nothing to do with governing the city. The U.S. Constitution designed Washington not to be a state or even a city in the normal sense, but a unique piece of real estate under the exclusive control of Congress “in all cases whatsoever.” The idea was to locate the capital in a place between Maryland and Virginia, a compromise between the North and South, where the federal government could conduct its business free of interference from any state.

Yes, Washingtonians pay federal and local taxes. As for representation, nearly 50 years ago Congress granted the city (then 71 percent African-American) a limited form of home rule. Since then, residents have had an elected mayor and city council, as well as an elected non-voting delegate in the House.

Staged to accommodate the anarchy inflicted on Washington and other cities run by Democrats, D.C.’s latest push for recognition as a state officially began a week ago. The Democratic House, in a party-line vote, passed a statehood measure, sending it to the Republican Senate, where nothing more will happen.  But don’t expect the issue to go away.

Antifa and Black Lives Matter couldn’t care less about what happens on Capitol Hill. With Trump in the White House everything about the city, especially its name, sends them into a frenzied rage.

The nation’s capital is called Washington, D.C. (for District of Columbia) to honor George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Lately Marxist mobs have torn down statues of both men, with encouragement from Democratic lawmakers, governors, and mayors.

“I’m with the protesters,” said Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s non-voting delegate to Congress since 1991.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, also a Democrat, ordered “Black Lives Matter” painted in 30-foot yellow letters covering two blocks of 16th Street just north of the White House. Bowser and other local politicians, all Democrats, have used the trashing of America’s Founders as slave owners—and therefore men incapable of justice, fairness or even common decency—to frame statehood as a racial issue.

Local politics in Washington has always been about race. Late Mayor Marion Barry, whose three terms in city hall were interrupted by a term in prison, blamed his 1990 cocaine conviction on a racist conspiracy. For years, aspiring D.C. politicians ran for office campaigning against “The Plan,” a fictitious plot by Washington’s white minority to take back the city.

Maryland and Virginia both contributed land to create the new nation’s capital in the late 18th century. Virginia reclaimed its contribution of Arlington and Alexandria in the 1840s. If the real issue today were full voting representation in Congress for the citizens of Washington, a deal could probably be struck to cede its original contribution of land back to Maryland and the problem would be solved.

But D.C.’s swamp-within-a swamp political establishment would never trade the benefits afforded by the Last Plantation for being just another county in Maryland. Only statehood, accompanied by the likely demand for reparations, will do . . . for now.

City politicos see the D.C. government, with its bloated bureaucracy and annual multi-billion-dollar federal payment, as their own fiefdom-cum-business. Which may explain why, as Washington’s African-American population continues to decline (it stood at 44 percent in 2019), the statehood campaign has gotten angrier and more destructive; mirroring what’s going on in the streets.

Take the recent attempt to topple the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, not far from the U.S. Capitol Building. Statehood activists and their history-challenged allies only see it as a reminder of white oppression.

The memorial, dedicated in 1876, was paid for entirely by former slaves—the very people Abraham Lincoln gave his life to free. It depicts the 16th president urging a freed slave to rise up from servitude.

What it became was the point in the current upheaval where enough was enough.

Pro-statehood community organizer Glenn Foster told cheering blacks and whites, some carrying “51st State” signs: “This statue right here embodies the white supremacy and the disempowerment of black people that is forced upon us by white people . . . . That’s why we are tearing this motherfucker down.”

It was clear the city would not be providing police protection.

On the appointed day, however, the plan fizzled when the White House sent a contingent of U.S. Park Police to guard the memorial, protected by a newly installed 10-foot fence.

Earlier President Trump, visibly fuming, had signed an executive order authorizing the arrest and prosecution of anyone who vandalized a monument or statue on federal property. Lincoln Park is federal property. The FBI had already apprehended dozens of vandals for damaging memorials around the country and across the street from the White House, and was looking for more.

With the stakes suddenly raised, Foster was no longer talking about tearing anything down but instead having a conversation about race and statehood. Before a turnout of hundreds, a few decked out in street-fighting regalia, several brave Washington residents took up the offer.

One speaker schooled the monument breakers in history that teachers’ unions abandoned long ago.

“You don’t even know the history of this statue,” he shouted, mocking their ignorance. “But you want to tear it down because you’re offended.”

By the time he was finished the “elder,” as one Black Lives Matter protester called him, had hijacked the rally. Confronted with a few facts and a show of force the community organizer and most of the crowd soon departed.

Whatever they were supposed to be, this bunch of misled losers was no advertisement for statehood.

So Trump-deranged was this mob that it never occurred to anyone in the movement, from the mayor on down, that associating the noble desire for self-rule with the cancel culture may not be the best PR for life inside the would-be state of D.C.

Great America

COVID-19 Did Not ‘Cure Pneumonia’

It is imperative to rebuke what is clearly misleading, no matter how much it reinforces our preexisting opinions.

When it comes to memes, “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia” is a good one. Its obvious implausibility immediately directs the reader to consider the underlying allegation, which is that pneumonia deaths are being deliberately understated in order for the Centers for Disease Control to reclassify them as COVID-19 deaths, thus fanning public panic.

When there’s a meme, there’s an image. To support the phrase “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia,” there is a graphic representation of CDC data that appears to show a precipitous drop in pneumonia cases at precisely the time when COVID-19 cases were precipitously rising.

Depicted below is the graph behind the assertion that “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia.” On the surface, it’s awfully convincing.

It references an official government source and the data on the downloadable Excel spreadsheet is faithfully rendered in the graph. And wow! Compared to the previous six years, this year far fewer people are dying from pneumonia.

The problem with this graph, and the accompanying meme, is that, as the CDC discloses on their Daily Updates of Totals by Week and State, “it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated.” The first chart used data as reported to the CDC through March 25. The next chart, below, uses data gathered for an additional three months, through June 24. The differences are striking.

What appears to have happened around the tenth week of 2020, in mid-March, is completely different on the earlier chart compared to the more current one. On the chart that went viral, which purported to indicate what might even be deceit on the part of the CDC, deaths from pneumonia plummeted, dropping from around 3,100 during week nine to only around 2,400 during week 10. On the later chart, using complete data, weekly deaths from pneumonia were averaging around 4,000 per week in mid-March, and by early April had surged to nearly 12,000 in a single week.

Further comparisons between the earlier chart and the later chart show that pneumonia deaths were not reported based on complete data on the earlier chart after around the beginning of the year. On the earlier chart, weekly deaths peaked in early January at around 4,000 and then began to fall. But on the later chart, using complete data, it is clear that pneumonia deaths remained at around 4,000 per week right up until mid-March, when they skyrocketed.

For this reason, it is premature to assume that much if any of the drop showing in pneumonia deaths later in April and onward is real. We don’t know yet.

Subjective Data, Subjective Conclusions

The COVID-19 pandemic is impossible accurately to dissect and analyze. Obviously the differing policy responses and differing media interpretations are evidence of differing political ideologies and agenda. But what happened with the “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia” meme should remind everyone, regardless of their perspective, to dig beneath the surface.

“COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia” is false both on its humorous surface but also in its clever insinuation. No matter how far you dig into the labyrinth of data surrounding COVID-19, it remains untrue.

When data is inherently difficult to parse, and the consequences of misinterpreting the data are so serious, it is vital to dig beneath the surface of clever phrases and charts. It is imperative to rebuke what is clearly misleading, no matter how much it reinforces our preexisting opinions.

As it is, even the CDC appears unsure of how to characterize COVID-19. There have been allegations that deaths around the country are being reclassified as COVID-19 deaths, and that co-morbidities are present in almost all deaths. This however is why isolating and reporting just deaths from pneumonia is indicative. Clearly this year there are far more people dying from pneumonia than in previous years. In April 2020, pneumonia deaths were more than triple what they had been any of the previous six years.

Another way to get at the lethality of COVID-19 is to look at total deaths from all causes, a statistic that is rather difficult to cook. Here also, using CDC data, there is a definite trend. In the five weeks encompassing April 2020, there were 355,399 deaths from all causes in the United States. By contrast, in 2019 there were 276,887, in 2018 there were 273,205, in 2017 there were 272,089, in 2016 there were 265,612, in 2015 there were 261,623, and in 2014 there were 251,622. Deaths from all causes.

This is unambiguous data. Prior to 2020, the six-year average deaths from all causes in the United States during the five-week period encompassing the month of April was 266,839, with the largest deviation from that average in any year topping out at only 6 percent. This year, during the same period, deaths are up by 88,560 over the average, a 33 percent increase. Something horrible is going on.

It is important to debate the efficacy of masks, social distancing, hand washing, and the whole shutdown. It is important to point out the rampant hypocrisy of encouraging riotous protests over social justice while condemning any crowd formed in favor of a conservative cause. It’s important to wonder why we’re locking down the healthy instead of just protecting the vulnerable. And it’s probably true that COVID-19 is reasonably easy for a healthy young person to beat. But this disease is a mass murderer, and all debates ought to acknowledge that context.

COVID-19 Exposes Inadequacy of Ideological Rigidity

When President Trump calls COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” he’s right. COVID-19 was spawned in the Wuhan “wet market,” a horrific public slaughterhouse where virtually any living cellular organism is for sale, ready on-demand to be dismembered while still alive. The Wuhan wet market is a fetid, barbaric throwback that disappeared from developed Western nations well over a century ago.

But who can say so? Who can, with abundant justification, condemn these “wet markets,” in all their filth, squalor, and hideous brutality? Racists? Nationalists? Western chauvinists? White supremacists? Trump’s deplorable minions? Why is it appropriate to throw our Constitution’s Bill of Rights out the window in the name of a health emergency, yet it is stigmatized as racist, and subject to online censorship, to unequivocally identify and condemn the source of this virus?

COVID-19 not only exposes some of America’s cultural absurdities. It challenges both the pieties of the globalist Left, and the principles of the libertarian Right. Because COVID-19, for all the havoc it is inflicting on this nation and around the world, could well be just a prelude.

For all we know, only a distant microbial ancestor of COVID-19 was spawned in the Wuhan wet market. There is evidence it was designed in a Chinese lab, ostensibly in an effort to experiment with vaccines and treatments. If so, was it released from this lab accidentally or on purpose? Mao used to boast that his nation could absorb hundreds of millions of casualties in war, and emerge relatively unscathed. So why not? And the Chinese, for their part, have accused the Americans of creating and spreading the virus.

One thing is certain. Viruses exist today that are capable of making COVID-19 look like a mild cold. Far more infectious, far more persistent on surfaces and in the air, and far more deadly, these designer diseases are stored in labs and military depots all over the world. Should any of them ever be unleashed, Americans will be glad they had a dry run, coping with COVID-19.

This fact should make everyone wonder as objectively as possible about how Americans respond to COVID-19. Maybe we shouldn’t have shut down the economy, this time. Maybe we’re going to be paying for that for many years. But what are we going to do when the big one comes? What sort of collective skills will we need to have as a nation?

To that question, libertarians, as usual, have no answer. “Collective” anything is anathema to them. Nationalists should recognize that next time could be different, much worse, and that what they perceive as an unconstitutional overreaction this time might be a condition of survival next time. And globalists, liberals, the whole woke mob, God bless ’em, will need to shut up when we have to shut the borders, and they will need to stop apologizing for our enemies.

Great America

If You Build It, We Will Trash It

It’s a bit rich for the “free enterprise” crowd’s first response to a surge toward a Twitter alternative to be so publicly negative, nasty, dismissive, and crude.

Twitter’s decision to ban the viral Trump meme creator Carpe Donktum from its platform last week precipitated an unexpected development in the normally stagnant, crippled marketplace of Big Tech: a departure.

Thousands of users, sick of Twitter regulating content to suit its political bias, started setting up accounts on a social media platform called Parler. The platform was launched in 2018 by John Matze, a University of Denver grad, and marketed as a more robust free speech platform than Twitter, whose insistence on regulating the content and viewpoints of its 330 million monthly users tends to go in one direction.

For years, the defenders of Big Tech, who generally dismiss accusations of viewpoint bias as hysterical, misinformed, or irrelevant, have told unhappy users to just “build their own platform.” So, somebody finally did.

But the sour grapes response to Parler’s surge (within days, it was the most downloaded news app in Apple’s store), has presented an interesting Rorschach test for how the “build your own” crowd really feels about the people who actually go and, well, build their own.

Within days, the tech free-marketers were taking public shots at the free-market alternatives. Staff at both the Cato Institute and the Charles Koch Institute began dunking on Parler’s terms of service which are, admittedly, somewhat extreme. (The company has said the terms are being updated.) It’s striking that the same individuals who wax poetic on tech’s “free marketplace” had never once taken a good look at the free-market alternatives. That is, until they needed something negative to say about them.

The libertarians at Reason magazine, who are forever finger-wagging at anyone with bad things to say about Big Tech, started making fun of the platform’s conservative slant. Apparently it’s OK to call out the biases of Parler’s creators, but not Twitter’s. Got it.

Upset about Parler’s attempt to woo more liberals to its site to create more diversity of views, Mike Masnick of the tech industry blog TechDirt helpfully lit into them as a “shithole platform for assholes and trolls.”

Reason senior editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown also slammed Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for signing up for Parler, but not leaving Twitter. Availing yourself of all the market alternatives apparently makes you a hypocrite. No word on if Reason will also be trashing Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), all of whom have also set up Parler accounts alongside their Twitter presence, in part because they say they are sick of Twitter’s bias.

Gleefully, the writers at Reason, the tech industry blog TechDirt, and, of course, The Dispatch’s David French began pointing out that Parler—which markets itself as a “First Amendment platform” and says “if you can say it on the streets of New York, you can say it on our platform”—were banning users for pornographic content, posting pictures of fecal matter, and other smutty content.

Haha! This crowd exclaimed. It’s not a “free speech” platform! They’re banning people! See? Content moderation is hard, isn’t it?  (The unstated corollary being Twitter, the sainted platform, is thus entirely justified in its moderation practices.)

As Aaron Ross Powell of the Cato Institute hopefully put it, “Parler will be a ghost town in six months and everyone who ran to it as a safe space for conservatives will be back on Twitter pretending the whole episode never happened.”

It’s a weird brand of free marketer who so earnestly wishes for the free market alternatives to spectacularly fail.

Completely Missing The Point

There are a few things to unpack here. The first is the massive straw man that all these groups have created regarding what conservatives actually want from their social media platforms. Claiming that we’re all a bunch of hypocrites because our “free speech platform” also, like Twitter, engages in content moderation is a big swing and a miss over the actual point.

Conservatives are not angry about content moderation as a matter of absolute principle—that is, the ability to take down harassing, smutty, or obscene content. In fact, they realize how important that is. It’s why every effort in Congress to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is tied to the ability of platforms to do just that—generally with more accountability, transparency, and responsibility when it comes to things like child sexual exploitation.

Rather, the issues that fire up conservatives center around two aspects of content moderation, both of which are routinely dismissed, ignored, or downplayed by pro-tech advocates.

First, there is the objectivity and fairness with which content moderation is applied. Twitter claims to be a “free speech platform” just like Parler, but it routinely applies so-called fact checks only to certain users, hides from view President Trump’s tweets for “glorifying violence” while leaving up death threats against Jews from the leader of Iran, and so forth. The transparency in how Twitter subjectively applies its standards is limited, and users have very little recourse.

Second, there is the ripple effect of how this viewpoint discrimination—particularly because it is done on an unprecedented scale—has over free thought, market access, behavior, and even election integrity. Ninety percent of the world uses Google. When Google decides what you see and whose words matter, the ramifications are hugely consequential.

(For a taste of the havoc Google’s “academic” definitions can render on both objective learning and individual reputations, see this unsettling essay from a former undergraduate professor of mine, Dr. Paul Kengor.)

The question isn’t if these companies have a right to engage in content moderation. They obviously do. Rather, the question at the root of much of our policy debate is how that power is being weaponized at scale, the consequences of it, and if this power has become so unaccountable that Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey are effectively deciding the terms of our national political debate—and even worse, the terms of what constitutes “appropriate thought.”

“Build Your Own So We Can Trash You For It”

Parler may market itself as just an “alternative to Twitter,” but it’s taken on an outsized role in the center of this political and policy debate over the power social media has over our society. And, sadly for a new and growing business, the so-called “free market advocates” of the tech world are intent on distorting the actual concern that Parler is seeking to address.

Parler markets itself as a “First Amendment platform” seriously, but not literally. The company does not want its platform to be a trashy mess of pornography and harassment, but it does want a diversity of views to flourish. And that’s the thing its newfound user base is responding to with enthusiastic approval.

Ironically, Twitter has said the same thing about itself. Its actions prove otherwise—but you’ll never hear the pro-tech “libertarians” point out the obvious disingenuousness of Twitter execs. That’s only reserved for Parler and its leadership. It’s also ironic because, as one former Google engineer pointed out, Parler’s efforts are actually closer to what the law governing content moderation online originally intended.

Parler, of course, is not immune from criticism, but it’s a bit rich for the “free enterprise” crowd’s first response to a surge toward a Twitter alternative to be so publicly negative, nasty, dismissive, and crude. It adds a new, insincere spin to the line “build your own;” a second clause that says: “build your own—so we can trash you for it.”

Great America

Cancel Culture vs. Mount Rushmore

It seems clear that those hellbent on undermining America have little or no knowledge or appreciation of the past.

I was glad to see the Democratic Party this week quickly delete its tweet about the great fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore in honor of Independence Day. The reprehensible tweet called the nation’s birthday party “a rally glorifying white supremacy.”

Political passions have become so hot of late that some will not even set aside the hatreds of identity politics on July 4th, a day when we celebrate this great nation and express gratitude for the extraordinary blessings of freedom it has bestowed on all of us, of all skin tones.

Two of the mighty presidents hewn into the rock of Mount Rushmore—there on the left, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—were slaveowners. It is interesting that a third president, over on the right, Abraham Lincoln, was a bitter, lifelong enemy of slavery who, at immense sacrifice, finally presided over its destruction. But he had the highest regard for both, recognizing their crucial role in securing liberty and preparing the way for slavery’s destruction.

All three are under attack in today’s fevered climate—all four, if you count Theodore Roosevelt, whose memory was recently dishonored in New York City. Our nation’s leaders seem to have surrendered to an anti-intellectual mob that argues (falsely, in my opinion) that America is inherently evil and that symbols of its past and national identity thus must be eradicated.

Lincoln, the subject of my new book, Every Drop of Blood, was a brilliant man. Born to desperate poverty, he virtually educated himself. He was not a churchgoer—some thought he was not even a believer—but he read deeply into the King James Bible, the one book that could be found in many pioneers’ cabins. He loved its beautiful language and the hard-won wisdom it conveyed about enduring the catastrophe that is human existence, and living a just, moral, and fulfilling life.

His decency, absence of arrogance, and unwillingness to look down on others reflects a sense of morality and maturity that sets him high above any politician or activist today I can think of. He seemed to take Jesus’ message (which he quoted in his Second Inaugural) to heart: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

While activists today want to brand every Confederate as evil, and tear down their statues, Lincoln had this to say in 1854 about the Southern people: “They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up.” Rather than seek to punish the Southern people after the war, he called for “malice toward none” and “charity for all” in his Second Inaugural.

Lincoln especially revered Jefferson for two actions that he believed set slavery on the path of destruction. The first was his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, which argued that “all men are created equal” and endowed with rights no government or tyrant could justly take away. While initially thought to refer to white men, the language helped destroy any moral authority for slavery.

“I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence,” Lincoln said in 1861. The Declaration was not just about separating from Britain but giving “hope to the world for all future time.” The Declaration promised “that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”

Jefferson, Lincoln said, “had the coolness, forecast and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men at all times . . . that shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.”

That is among the vast blessings we celebrate on July 4.

Jefferson also used his influence to block the spread of slavery into the Northwest Territory, through the Ordinance of 1787. That was proof, in Lincoln’s eyes, that the Founders wished to stop slavery as much as they practically could, hoping it would wither and die.

It is striking how strongly Jefferson denounced slavery. He held throughout his life that it was unjust and immoral. He blasted the slaveholding interest’s “avarice and oppression” and contrasted this with the “sacred side” of emancipation. The great black leader of the Civil War era, Frederick Douglass, quoted Jefferson’s blistering observation that Patriots who had fought the British were willing to inflict “on their fellow man,” through slavery, “a bondage one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.”

Although they were unable to eradicate slavery on their own, Jefferson and Washington were among the first people in human history to question the morality of that ubiquitous institution. We owe everything to them.

As for Lincoln, as much as he detested slavery, he argued he would rather quit politics — and let the pro-slavery Democrats win  — than join forces with the Know-Nothings, or American Party, which advocated much stricter immigration controls and opposed the election of foreign-born people or Roman Catholics to public office.

Lincoln wrote:

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people?

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.”

When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

Boston, succumbing to the self-righteous anti-intellectualism of a segment of our society, has decided to remove a monument to this man that was designed by ex-slaves. It seems clear that those hellbent on undermining America have little or no knowledge or appreciation of the past, which involves the complex interactions of human beings. Is it too late to change the way we educate the young?

This article originally appeared on EdAchorn.com.

Great America

Adapted from United States of Socialism, by Dinesh D’Souza (All Points Books, 304 pages, $29.99)

The Virtue of Enterprise

What Donald Trump could teach Karl Marx.

Perhaps the strongest force propelling socialism in the United States is the moral anxiety about capitalism. Capitalism, we know, is efficient. But the Left insists it is grossly unjust. Partly this is because capitalism creates inequality, but the underlying claim is that capitalism doesn’t allocate rewards in proportion with what people contribute. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reflected this when she recently declared that no one genuinely earns $1 billion.

“You take a billion dollars.”

Is this true?

I’m going to answer this question at the deepest level by considering what entrepreneurs and workers actually do.

The Tale of the Parking Guy  

One of my favorite hotels in America is the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. I’ve stayed there several times, and gotten to observe the staff—the concierge, the doormen, the valets—at work. Consider, for a moment, the fellow who parks cars at that hotel and earns, let us say, $100 a day. 

Now, if I put myself in his place, I would ask myself this question: How many cars do I park each day? Let’s say the average is a hundred. And it costs $30 to park a car overnight, a rate comparable to the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons or any fine resort hotel. So how much does the Trump Organization make each day on the parking? It makes, on average, $3,000. So that’s interesting! The hotel makes three grand and it pays the parking guy just $100.

From the point of view of the parking guy, he’s being cheated. Why? Because he’s the one doing the work. Yet virtually the entire profit goes to the Trump Organization. Why does he get so little? Who gets the remaining $2,900? Our indignant parking guy imagines a member of the Trump family using the money to help pay for a Hawaiian soiree. Notice the parking guy doesn’t view himself as a “taker.” Rather, he’s a “maker.” It’s the Trumps who are the “takers,” depriving their employees of their fair share. 

The parking lot guy wants to know, “Where are my just deserts?” And this is a legitimate question. We cannot convince him—and countless others like him—by simply chanting, “Free markets!” “Capitalism!” “America—Love It or Leave it!” We have to show where the other $2,900 went. In other words, we have to show that he is being paid commensurate with what he is producing. If we can, we will have shown that the rewards of the free market system are not only efficient but also fair. If we cannot, some socialist-type redistribution becomes not only plausible but also irresistible.

We can generalize the parking guy’s question by putting it in the context of Marx’s celebrated criticism of capitalism, one that is taught in schools and universities today, and one that Marx regarded as his most original contribution to economic thought. This is the critique on the basis of “surplus value.” It is intended to show that the outward cooperation between entrepreneurs and workers is illusory, that at bottom there is a deep conflict between them, and the result of the conflict is thievery and exploitation. In short, the capitalist is a dirty rotten scoundrel and he, not to mention the capitalist system that sustains him, deserves to be overthrown.

The strength of Marx’s critique is that it does not apply to capitalist “excess”: to crisis situations or monopolies or predatory pricing environments like airport concession stores and eateries in sports stadiums. Rather, Marx attacks capitalism in its normal functioning; this gives his critique a universal character. And nothing vindicates it in the minds of young people so much as the fact that it is rarely confronted and never answered. I have never heard a single Republican—not Trump, nor any congressman or senator—ever discuss, let alone rebut, the Marxist critique.

Marx considers the operations of a normal business, let us say an automobile company or a delivery service like FedEx. Marx recognizes that it costs money to start and operate a business; these represent its total costs. The total costs would include such things as rent, machinery, insurance, travel and so on. Typically, the largest cost is for labor, in the form of salaries and benefits, so Marx factors this in as well. And when you have added these all up you get the total cost of running the business. 

Now, Marx says, one might imagine that a business would price its products in such a way that it would recover all its costs, but in fact businesses are not content to do that. Rather, they price their products as high as the market will bear. And so, Marx says, businesses generate an income stream that we can call total revenue. Total revenue typically exceeds total cost. And when you subtract total cost from total revenue, you get a crucial number. That number Marx calls “surplus value.” We call it “profit.”

Profit . . . and Loss

Marx asks a profound question: who gets that? The profit, Marx argues, belongs entirely to the workers. Why? Because they are the ones who have produced the product. What about the capitalist? Marx insists that the capitalist has produced nothing. The capitalist has—like the name says—contributed the capital. Marx concedes that capital counts for something, but we know what capital counts for: it counts for interest. And paying the going rate of interest on capital is part of the cost of doing business. So a business that does this has already repaid its capitalists. They are not due anything above and beyond that.

Yet although the workers are the ones who are getting the job done, Marx notes that it is the entrepreneur who swoops in and takes all the profits. The workers produce the “surplus value” but the capitalists steal it. Here, for Marx, is the true meaning of exploitation and social injustice. Here are the roots of the class division. And here is the moral argument against capitalist exploitation and in favor of socialist redistribution. Here’s where Obama and later Elizabeth Warren got their diatribes about “fair share.” It’s not about realizing some vague goal of equality; it is simply giving workers their due, using the agency of government to return, one may say, the “stolen goods” that have been taken from them. 

The Marxist critique is open to an immediate objection that I regard as telling, though not decisive. Marx insists that the capitalist contributes nothing but the capital, and the workers do all the work to make the business run profitably. Ilhan Omar offered a softer version of this critique when she tweeted that the CEO of Walmart earns over $20 million while the median worker at the company barely earns above $20,000. But if this is indeed the case, why don’t the workers dispense with the CEOs and start their own companies? 

No one is being forced to work at Walmart, so why don’t the workers leave and create their own Walmart? Sure, they may lack the initial capital, but surely they can borrow that at a going rate of interest. This way, there is no one to exploit them and they can share all the profit among themselves. I find it interesting that workers never do this, and even more interesting that Marxists and socialists never even call on them to do it. Deep down, the Marxists seem to realize: they don’t do it because they can’t.

But why not? Here we get to the heart of Marx’s fallacy. Marx was a highly theoretical guy, and I intend to show that he had no idea of how businesses actually operate, and what entrepreneurs actually do. Let’s recall that Marx never ran a business. He never even balanced his checkbook. He was a lifelong leech, a Bernie Sanders type, who had most of his expenses paid for by his partner, Friedrich Engels, who inherited his father’s textile companies. Incidentally, Engels didn’t run his family business either; he had people do that for him. Freed from the need to work, Engels was a man of leisure and a part-time intellectual.  

Ironically, Marx and Engels were both dependent on the capitalist system they scorned. And one reason American progressives are continually drawn to this duo is that they too have little understanding of what entrepreneurs do. Nor do they really care. They have no aspiration to become entrepreneurs. Rather, they prefer occupations like community activist or professor of romance languages at Bowdoin College. And they aspire to be, like Marx, lifelong leeches, agitating against capitalism even as they subsist off its largesse. 

But what is it that Marx and the progressives are ignorant about? I’m going to answer this question by considering two men, an economist and an entrepreneur. The economist is Joseph Schumpeter, who is famous for his theories about the cultural impact of capitalism. Schumpeter wrote a little-known book The Entrepreneur that is one of those rare documents that makes the moral case for capitalism and entrepreneurship. 

Tellingly, however, Schumpeter doesn’t say this. He merely describes what entrepreneurs do. But this is very instructive. Schumpeter shows that the one thing Marx says that capitalists do, capitalists in fact do not do. Schumpeter shows that capitalists do at least four important things that Marx either ignored or had no idea about, calling his whole critique into question. Entrepreneurs earn what they make because of the vital functions they—and they alone—perform.

Trump as Entrepreneur

The entrepreneur I’ll focus on is a familiar guy, who happens to be president of the United States. But we’re not looking at him in that capacity, but rather in the capacity he functioned for most of his career. Trump is a businessman and a builder; he is the quintessential American capitalist. He actually did the things that Schumpeter talks about, and it’s revealing to see how he did them. Together these two will help me provide my full and complete refutation of the Marxist critique and a persuasive answer to that sullen parking attendant at the Trump Hotel in D.C.

The starting point of Donald Trump’s career, he writes in his best-known book The Art of the Deal, was his realization that “I didn’t want to be in the business my father was in.” A strange thing to say, since his father was in real estate. But Frederick Trump made his money through rent-controlled and rent-stabilized housing units in Queen and Brooklyn. A cautious, self-effacing man, he liked to say that collecting rent was a reliable way to make money. Donald Trump—who was not his father’s son in this respect—disagreed. 

Trump wanted to cross the bridge and do business in Manhattan, and collecting small rents could not have been further from his mind. “I was looking to make a statement,” he says. “I was out to build something monumental—something worth a big effort….What attracted me was the challenge of building a spectacular development on almost one hundred acres by the river on the West Side of Manhattan, or creating a huge new hotel next to Grand Central Station at Park Avenue and Forty Second Street.”

What does Schumpeter have to say about this? One defining feature of an entrepreneur, he writes, is “the dream and the desire to found a private kingdom.” In fact, the secret dream of the entrepreneur is to found a “dynasty,” to project the dream beyond his own life. It is, Schumpeter admits, “the nearest approach to medieval lordship possible to modern man.”

The motivation of the entrepreneur, according to Schumpeter, is not primarily monetary success. Rather, it is “the will to conquer, the impulse to fight, to prove oneself superior to others, to succeed for the sake, not of the fruits of success, but of success itself.” Schumpeter likens it to sport. “The financial result is a secondary consideration, or at all events, mainly valued as an index of success and a symptom of victory.” It is entirely subordinate to “the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one’s energy and ingenuity.”

Early in his career, Trump sets his sights on the Commodore Hotel—built in 1919 and named after “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt. Yet in the depressed real estate market of the mid-1970s, this historic property had become a sorry sight. “The hotel and the surrounding neighborhood were unbelievably run down,” Trump says. “Half the buildings were already in foreclosure.” The brick façade was filthy; the lobby dingy; and there were derelicts reclined in the hallways. Management didn’t mind; no one wanted to stay at the Commodore, despite paltry room rates.

“But as I approached the hotel,” Trump writes, “something completely different caught my eye. It was about nine in the morning and there were thousands of well-dressed Connecticut and Westchester commuters flooding onto the streets from Grand Central Terminal and the subway stations below.” 

Here we have a critical scene. A progressive academic might interpret it one way, such as to note the ironic contrast between the upbeat commuters and the depressed Commodore. Once the hotel was historic, but now history had passed it by.

Trump’s interpretation was more prosaic: There’s a business opportunity here! 

“What I saw was a superb location.” Affluent prospects were passing through it every day. “The problem was the hotel, not the neighborhood. If I could transform the Commodore, I was sure it could be a hit. Convenience alone would assure that.” Trump put himself in the place of his prospective customers. Surely they would say to themselves: why live in Westchester when I can live at a chic location in midtown, just minutes away from work?

The Creative Disposition

So Trump has an idea for a business: he wants to buy the Commodore. It’s a crazy idea for a brash kid who just came across the bridge from Queens. But it’s a big new idea, and that’s what counts to get things started. So here’s the first thing entrepreneurs do, they come up with a big new idea for a venture. They don’t necessarily invent something new—in fact, invention takes an entirely different skill and sensibility—rather, they envision a new product, a new landscape, a new way of doing things or a new way of living. 

This new idea—this new combination the entrepreneur sees—is invisible to others. “Most people,” Schumpeter writes, “do not see the new combinations. They do not exist to them. Most people tend to their usual daily business” and that effort alone “exhausts their energies and suppresses all appetite for further exploration.” They have neither the creativity nor the disposition to envision something new. In fact, they view the entrepreneur as reckless, “out there,” even as a bit of a crackpot. 

It’s one thing to have the vision for a new business, Schumpeter writes, but entirely something else to figure out how to do it.

Here we have the second element of entrepreneurship, which involves organizing the business. In Trump’s case, he didn’t have the money to buy the Commodore. Nor was daddy much help. “I went to my father and told him I had a chance to make a deal for this huge midtown hotel . . . He refused to believe I was serious.”

Trump had to figure out how to buy the Commodore, and how to run it, even though he lacked the funds to purchase it, or to renovate it, and he had no experience in operating an upscale Manhattan hotel.

First, Trump negotiated a bargain price for the hotel with its owners, who were eager to unload it, but who had to be convinced that Trump could afford to buy it. Trump convinced them to sign a paper listing the terms. Then Trump went to banks and told them the owners of the Commodore had consented to sell to him, so if the banks loaned him the asking price, plus the money to upgrade the hotel, he could put up the Commodore itself as collateral. It was, as Trump himself admits, a “juggling act.” But the banks went for it and the sellers came through, so Trump got the Commodore.

Schumpeter calls the entrepreneur a Mann der Tat, a German phrase that means a “man of action.” What he means is that quite apart from conceiving the idea for a business, and figuring out how to organize it, you must take action notwithstanding the risk involved. So here we have a third distinguishing feature of the entrepreneur; unlike his employees, who receive a guaranteed paycheck, as per their contracts, the entrepreneur takes virtually all the risk. The entrepreneur gets paid only after the profit is calculated—that is to say, after everyone else is paid—and if the venture fails, he does not get paid at all. 

Trump knew the risk: If the Commodore failed, he would not only make no money; he was basically out of the real estate business in Manhattan. It would then be back to Queens and collecting rents! Yet how could Trump be sure that the Commodore would be successful? He couldn’t. Trump confesses he hates risk. “People think I’m a gambler. I’ve never gambled in my life. It’s been said I believe in the power of positive thinking. In fact, I believe in the power of negative thinking. I always go into the deal anticipating the worst.”  

With the Commodore, as with most business ventures, there are known risks that one can compute, but there are also unknown risks. A known risk is one you can insure against. An example of a known risk is tossing a coin: you know in advance that there is a 50 percent chance to get “heads” or “tails.” Unknown risks are risks you cannot insure against because you cannot compute the probabilities.

A Leap Into the Unknown

Imagine starting a new business in luxury goods that is highly dependent on the state of the economy over the next several years. What is the chance the economy will remain strong? Or drop into recession? This is like tossing a die with an unknown number of sides; there is no way to know. Economists call this second type of risk Knightian uncertainty, after the economist Frank Knight who studied the concept. Knight pointed out that unknown risks are the hallmark of a capitalist economy. 

Entrepreneurs must go ahead in the face of risks that cannot be known, let alone mitigated. Sometimes they must do so with very limited information, indeed with little more to go on than personal intuition. This, Schumpeter writes, involves the entrepreneur overcoming the greatest resistance his venture will ever encounter, not resistance from the outside but resistance from within the mind of the entrepreneur himself. 

Yet at some point, Schumpeter says, the entrepreneur has got to quell this resistance, to stop calculating and agonizing, and make the leap. It is a leap into the unknown, because the new thing the entrepreneur wants to make does not exist yet; it is only the “figment of his imagination.” He is carving out a new road, and Schumpeter notes that this is an entirely different matter than walking along a road that someone else has already carved out. 

Trump wasn’t making a new road, but he was determined to make a new hotel. He unveiled his plan to remake the hotel. He intended “to cover the Commodore’s brick façade with an entirely new curtain wall of highly reflective glass.” Trump’s plan drew fire from city planners, architectural critics, and media pundits. This was friendly fire; Trump was not a Republican, so he didn’t get the unrelentingly savage opposition he gets now. The critics groused that Trump was violating the architectural norm of the area, breaking away from the classical look of Grand Central Station and the ornamented brick-and-limestone buildings along the block.

Trump had a different idea. The point of the reflective glass, he felt, was to make the hotel a kind of mirror of the grand landscape of New York City itself. “By choosing this highly reflective glass, I’ve created four walls of mirrors. Now when you go across Forty Second Street or go over the Park Avenue ramp…you see the reflection of Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building, and all the other landmarks, which otherwise you might not have noticed at all.”

What we see here is Trump’s genius for spectacle, which gives us the fourth characteristic feature of entrepreneurs: the branding and marketing of the business. Trump has shown this marketing flair throughout his career. When he built Trump Tower he pitched it as the most desirable place to live in New York. “we were selling fantasy,” he admits. His business team informed him that a competing property—Museum Tower—had lowered its prices. “We’re in trouble,” they told Trump.

Here’s how Trump reacted. “I thought for a minute, and I realized that actually the opposite was true: Museum Tower had done itself damage. The sort of wealthy people we were competing for don’t look for bargains in apartments. They may want bargains in everything else, but when it comes to a house, they want the best, not the best buy. By pricing its apartments lower than ours, Museum Tower had just announced that it was not as good as Trump Tower.”

Trump summarized his marketing strategy for Trump Tower as “play hard to get.”

Finally, Trump solved the problem of how to operate the Commodore. He partnered with the Hyatt hotel chain to do it. At first, Trump’s people advised him against splitting the profits 50-50 with Hyatt. Hyatt wanted to re-name the Commodore the Grand Hyatt, and Trump agreed. His reason was that in Hyatt, he found a partner that was not only experienced in running hotels, but was also willing to share the financial risk, by reimbursing Trump a significant portion of the funds expended to acquire and upgrade the old Commodore. 

And it paid off for him. The Commodore reopened as the Grand Hyatt, it was successful, Trump and Hyatt split the profits. Eventually, a dispute arose between the two parties which was settled in a conventional business way: in 1996 Hyatt gained complete ownership by buying out Trump’s half-share in the hotel for $142 million. 

A Walking Refutation of Marxist Nostrums

Today, decades later, Trump has the experience, and he doesn’t have to go to Hyatt; he operates his own hotels, resorts, and casinos across America, indeed in foreign locations also. And he employs thousands of people, including, of course, the parking guy at his D.C. location. “The entrepreneurs,” Schumpeter writes, “are the workers’ best customers.” This is a very clever way to look at it: the worker is a salesman who markets his labor to his employer, who is, in that sense, his customer. “A continuous improvement of the workers’ situation stems from them.” 

Contrary to Marx, the entrepreneur undertakes projects the worker has no comprehension of and would not undertake himself, but which nevertheless result in paid employment commensurate with the value the worker provides to the employer. Imagine the workers at the old Commodore Hotel figuring out how to transform the hotel, and then making it happen, and then marketing it, and taking all the risk, and finally, when the venture is successful, splitting the cash among themselves. They could scarcely get started! That’s why they didn’t. It took Trump to do it. That’s why Trump is the boss and they are the workers. 

I’ve given only a tiny window into Trump’s entrepreneurial world, and we can see from it the inadequacy of the Marxist critique. Marx implies that all that capitalists’ supply is capital, and yet typically this is the one thing that capitalists do not supply. Most entrepreneurs get their capital from banks—as Trump did—or venture capital firms.

What entrepreneurs do supply—the idea for the business, the organization of it, the marketing, the assumption of risk—are all critical elements completely ignored by Marx. He simply had no conception of what capitalists do. This ignorance renders the Marxist critique of who gets what under capitalism completely useless.

Although Trump may be a walking refutation of Marxist nostrums, Trump’s story is by no means one of unalloyed entrepreneurial success. In Trump’s The Art of the Comeback, he describes seeing a homeless man holding a begging cup on the street. This was in the early 1990s, and two of Trump’s big properties—the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Plaza Hotel—had just gone bankrupt. Trump owed $900 million. Pointing to the homeless man, Trump remarked, “He’s a beggar, but he’s worth $900 million more than me.”

Reviewing this passage in the book, a writer for the website Vox is appalled by Trump’s casual, almost whimsical, attitude here. 

“You’d think this kind of story would result in some kind of self-reflecting,” Dylan Matthews writes. Trump, however, seems “uninterested in his failures.” In progressive academic and journalistic precincts, self-reflection is what you do when things take a downward turn. Failure is an occasion for some high-toned navel gazing, asking whether your busts and bankruptcies are a real measure of your worth as a person. 

To such minds, Trump’s willingness to assume gargantuan debt, and then forge unreflectively ahead, seems downright surreal. The man must be demented! Total lack of introspection!

Yet Trump weathered the storm and went on to massively successful new ventures, including some like hosting NBC’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” that was quite remote from his familiar territory of real estate. He won some and he lost some, but he won more than he lost, and he’s got a vastly bigger brand, and the vastly bigger bank account, than all his critics put together. 

I’d like to conclude this section by addressing the parking guy at Trump’s hotel. If he wants to know why he isn’t being paid more, the likely answer is that his work is not worth more. It’s not worth $30 to park a car. If the guy parked my car, I’d pay him a dollar. The reason people pay $30 to park overnight is that they are at a resort. The overall ambiance and amenities of the resort, and not merely the simple task of parking a car, is the “value” that people seek when they park their cars overnight. Deep down, I suspect the valet knows this.

Someone—in this case Trump—had the idea for that resort. He organized it. He marketed it and established a coveted brand. His brand attracted the clientele. He took all the risk. The parking guy did none of this. So Trump, not the parking guy, deserves the lion’s share of the profit. Both of them—the boss and the menial laborer—are getting their just desert. If the parking guy wants more, he should work to be the parking supervisor. Or go back to school and study hotel management. Perhaps, one day, he will run his own business and, once he has paid all his employees and managers, justly keep the balance for himself as profit.

Great America

The Time Has Come to ARM

The case for an American Revolution Movement for Self-Defense.

Last week in St. Louis, an angry mob trespassed on the property of Mark and Patricia McCloskey and threatened harm to the couple. “I was a person scared for my life who was protecting my wife, my home, my hearth, my livelihood,” McCloskey told reporters, describing his state of mind as he brandished an AR-15 and Patricia brandished a handgun. Their actions kept the mob at bay and brought to light another chilling reality. 

Local prosecutor Kimberly Gardner faulted the McCloskeys for protecting their lives and property. Missouri State Representative Rasheen Aldridge, who organized the protest, claimed “We’re not doing anything where we’re hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger.” The McCloskeys, both attorneys, recognized the danger but no local, state, or national organization came to their aid. 

Democrat politicians have held the police and National Guard at bay as violent mobs loot, burn, and take over sections of major cities such as Seattle. No local, state, or national network came to the aid of these embattled Americans, who had done nothing wrong. Victims of mob violence could use such a network, and its foundation, the American Revolution, already took place. 

A network such as ARM, the American Revolution Movement for Self Defense, would preserve the revolution’s gains. That means bourgeois trifles such as the rights to life, liberty, and property; freedom of speech; and of course the right to keep and bear arms. These need restating, and ARM could clarify other realities that have escaped notice in all this excitement. 

No moral defect accrues to any human being because of factors they cannot control, such as age and skin shade. Likewise, no person automatically gains status or privilege for those reasons. ARM would welcome all who recognize those truths. 

On the organizational side, ARM would connect Americans seeking to defend themselves and their nation against those now inflicting violence and terror. For example, when anti-Semitic mobs show up to vandalize synagogues and attempt to inflict a Kristallnacht on Christian churches, pastors and rabbis could tap ARM to hold off the attack. In similar style, a St. Louis ARM chapter could reinforce Mark and Patricia McCloskey as they protect their lives and property. 

An ARM presence at political rallies would keep the sub-nihilists away. Call it a strategic defense initiative, a simple extension and reinforcement of what locals are already doing. Countless millions of Americans are on record that their great nation should endure and prosper. These Americans should be aware of their natural allies. 

As looting and arson spread across California, bikers from the Vagos and Molochs stationed themselves and their Harley Davidsons in front of stores in San Luis Obispo, where—surprise!—no looting, arson or violence took place. Meanwhile, the Hell’s Angels and Mongols caught wind of an Antifa move on Placerville, California. Sure enough, Antifa never showed up. No pasty-faced dance major from UC Davis is going to throw down with this crowd. Yes, the Angels and such can be rowdy, but these are patriots who love America. 

The biker movement began with World War II and Korean War veterans. In 1965, the Hell’s Angels broke through police lines to go after Berkeley “peace” protesters they regarded as “a mob of traitors.” Hell’s Angels founder Sonny Barger, a veteran, expressed “patriotic concern for what these people are doing to our great nation.” 

As sub-nihilist mobs now attempt to burn down the nation, patriotic bikers recognize the enemy and take action. The McCloskeys could have used them; but any reinforcements would have evened the odds against the mob and its powerful allies. 

Democrats are uncritical of the sub-nihilists, who function as their political sturmtruppen. The previous president, formerly known as Barry Soetoro, deployed the national security establishment against domestic “right-wing” extremists, people who believe in constitutional rights and limited government. Should that be doubted, check out “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” an April 2009 publication of the Department of Homeland Security, then run by Janet Napolitano.

The FBI under Christopher Wray remains in that camp, and not a single FBI official has been brought to justice for the coup attempt against President Trump. Back in the early 1990s, the FBI used military force—snipers, tanks, and armored vehicles—against Americans at Ruby Ridge and Waco. In 2020, with arson, looting, and murder afoot, and mobs taking over parts of major cities, the FBI for whatever reason has not deployed snipers, tanks, and armored vehicles to protect the victims. For its part, the U.S. military is already signaling neutrality and retreat. 

Democrats are already taking a knee and presidential loser Mitt Romney, instead of standing with victims of mob violence, is marching with Black Lives Matter, which even opposes the nuclear family. Maybe Romney could get a transplant of personal gear that Pennsylvania health boss Dr. Rachel Levine no longer needs. 

In the current conflict, as the McCloskeys and many others have discovered, embattled Americans are pretty much on their own. That needs to change, and contributions to the Heritage Foundation won’t get it done. Someone with the wherewithal needs to step up and stand with those already fighting back. They are already part of an American Revolution Movement, but they need a national network like ARM to connect them with allies. 

Violence is certain to surge as the November 3 election approaches. Whatever the result, an American Revolution Movement for Self-Defense could prove useful for years to come.

Great America

If It Weren’t for Double Standards, Our Media Would Have None

The Marxist blood running in the veins of the media, of celebrities in Hollywood, in nearly every Democratic politician, and unfortunately some weak sister Republicans, demands that we do not question the Left.

Since the death of George Floyd in May, the top headlines every day report that the protests stem from his alleged murder. Though the left-leaning woke media insists on describing the protests as “peaceful,” they have spiralled into destructive rioting and are responsible for deaths, in some cases, at the hands of Marxist opportunists looking to upend our Founders, our institutions, our Constitution, and our way of life. 

An MSNBC reporter standing in front of burning buildings said, “This is mostly a protest, it is not, it is not, generally speaking, unruly.” In the face of destroyed buildings (including a brand new low-income housing unit), looting, lawyers tossing Molotov cocktails into police cars, and the shooting death of David Dorn (a retired policeman who was guarding his friend’s business), the legacy media continues on with this “peaceful change” narrative.

Legacy media, as well as Antifa and some Black Lives Matter activists are little more than opportunists. They can “never let a crisis go to waste,” as Rahm Emanuel and now Hillary Clinton like to say. The progressive media understands what this means, and while it’s interesting to see how the news anchors, editors, and writers all seem to have similar talking points, they may only be loosely tied to actual Democratic directives. They don’t really need marching orders anymore. They are so very tightly anchored to the same political philosophies, attitudes, and methods that they speak as one voice even without prompting. As Alinskyite Democrats, they know “the issue is never the issue; the issue is always the revolution.

The mainstream media continuously ignore the weekly shootings in Chicago and other large cities. Two young children died this past weekend in Chicago from the violence, and  at least 16 other people are dead while at least 50 others were wounded in shootings. These people matter too. The children matter. The adults matter. The police who put their lives on the line every day for people in those communities matter.

What the media does to the American public every day is nauseating. Rather than reporting the news on all sides, they choose which news you hear, and they make sure it leans in only one direction to influence your opinion. 

At least 17 people have died as a direct result of the violent riots, but strangely I couldn’t find more news sources reporting on this after June 6. Twelve law enforcement officers have been shot during the riots as of June 10. Where are the updated news articles about that? Where are any articles written about law enforcement death by the mainstream media? Where are the protests of these murders? I know there was at least one more death in the CHOP zone in Seattle (since occasionally a local station will cover news that doesn’t always fit the leftist narrative). Rather than the “summer of love” the Democrat Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Rolling Stone hoped it would be, they instead have had a hellscape of looting, arson, and assault with the cops out of the equation.

Of course, the media was whining and screeching over the Open America protests from business owners and citizens now desperate and destitute over the arguably unconstitutional shut down of the United States economy. On MSNBC in April, there was a commentator who told the audience the Open protestors were… wait for it… racist. Slate noted the “reckless behavior” of those protestors. CNBC covered the (shocking, I tell you!) Open protests and included two dozen pictures to shame the people protesting in less-than-social-distancing poses around the country. The New York Times ran a story about “Top Manufacturing Lobbyist,” Jay Timmons calling Open protestors “idiots,” and ABC warned that “Trump’s push to open economy could come at cost of lives.”

A mere two months later, and they were strangely silent concerning less-than-social-distancing, violent rioters. Again, the legacy media has sacrificed its soul on the altar of the Marxist Left. Whether it is their Tara Reade/Joe Biden vs. Christine Blasey-Ford/Justice Kavanaugh coverage, Nicholas Sandmann vs. Nathan Phillips, Obama’s kids in cages vs. Trump’s border policy, Jussie Smollett and Bubba Wallace’s false stories of racism, or the fawning coverage they give to New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo vs. their “Trump is Evil Incarnate and Does Nothing Right Because We Hate Him” coverage during this pandemic, the mainstream media never fails to skew the news to the far-left. 

It’s perfectly fine to have thousands of people at protests, riots, and LGBT events, but we’re all gonna die if we go to a Trump rally! Like Baghdad Bob from the Iraq War, reporters today will stand in the middle of a riot, complete with broken glass and burned cars with graffiti everywhere, disrupted small businesses, and terrified residents and tell the viewers it’s perfectly reasonable to applaud the “disruptors.”

The Marxist blood running in the veins of the media, of celebrities in Hollywood, in nearly every Democratic politician, and unfortunately some weak sister Republicans, demands that we do not question the Left; do not point to the giant, gaping holes in their stories; do not listen to reasonable arguments, and do not find good in anyone on the Right because, again, “the issue is never the issue; the issue is always the revolution.

Great America

What Does Our Nation Mean to Us? Rejecting the Culture of Hate

Freedom has died many times in history; let us not witness new death pangs on the anniversary of its birth.

As we approach this Fourth of July, the United States is consumed by reckless violence, nihilistic silencing, and a systematic assault on the nation’s cultural and political patrimony. The voices of sanity are few, and civic courage is in short supply. The exemplars of such courage in the Anglo-American tradition—Washington, Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill—are under assault from angry extremists who topple statues with impunity and demand absolute conformity. Government at every level appears impotent as indignant fanatics rule the streets. We have arrived at the unthinkable: “America’s Jacobin moment,” as an editorial in the Wall Street Journal aptly put it. What has happened to our republic?

Our talking heads, the so-called “chattering classes,” pretend that this eruption of insanity has something to do with the quest for racial justice. That could not be further from the truth. Black Lives Matter—the movement, not the slogan—is in fact a racialist and ideological organization that denies common humanity and a morality applicable to all human beings. Professed enemies of decency and restraint, these Maoists and para-Marxists demonize all white people and anyone of any race or religion who challenges their bizarre and fanatical worldview, as well as the police (whose immediate abolition they demand). Of course, they do not believe that all black lives matter: Those black people, including children, cut down by urban violence in Chicago or Baltimore every weekend, or aborted at higher numbers than they are born in New York City, don’t pass ideological muster. Black lives matter, of course, because all lives matter, but that elementary truth is now verboten.  All races are equal, but in BLM’s universe, some are more equal than others. This is a recipe for hatred and perpetual social conflict.

To affirm the moral law, the natural law, the spirit of the Ten Commandments, the true ground of all human dignity, is now said to be an indelible mark of racism. The mob dictates, and subservient elites shamelessly comply. We are witnessing nothing less than a Cultural Revolution marked by voluntary servitude or self-enslavement. American democracy risks committing suicide. Things are just that stark. And our pusillanimous cultural elites risk plunging us off the cliff like the “Gadarene swine” described in Scripture, but with the demons in charge rather than exorcised.

True democracy presupposes mutual accountability and mutual respect. Our greatest and most noble president, Abraham Lincoln, “loathed slavery,” as Frederick Douglass, the greatest black American of the 19th century, rightly said. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,” Lincoln wrote in a note to himself in August 1858. This, he said, “expresses my idea of democracy.” And in his Gettysburg Address of November 1863, he called for a “new birth of freedom” that would bring black Americans fully into the American civic community. Lincoln knew that proud black men had spilled their blood for the Union and liberty and that Americans owed them honor and due respect for their sacrifices on behalf of the republic. As Douglass said in his dedication to the Freedmen’s Monument in Washington, D.C., in April 1876—a statue dedicated by former slaves in memory of Lincoln—one must show gratitude and appreciation to those “loyal, brave, and patriotic” black soldiers who “fell in defense of the Union and liberty.” Both they and Lincoln died at the service of a republic worthy of free men and women, one where citizens shared in rule and were neither masters nor slaves. We should be proud of that shared civic legacy, that mutual struggle for liberty and human dignity.

But now even the Freedmen’s Monument is threatened by a mob of angry thugs. These “Bourgeois Bolsheviks,” as the American Conservative recently described them, despise the mutual accountability and respect for law that undergirds true liberty and equality. They mock the greatness of Lincoln and Douglass. They are defined by ignorance, ingratitude, and envy. Their ignoble “passion for equality,” as Tocqueville called it, is a grotesque perversion of the noble moral and civic equality that underlies the American proposition. This desire to tear down, to destroy and repudiate the patrimony of our fathers, is incompatible with civilized existence.

It is time to reopen Dostoevsky’s Demons, the most penetrating exposé of modern nihilism ever written. Even in the early 1870s, Dostoevsky exposed the spirit of pure destruction that could only pull down and never build anything worthy of human beings. The revolutionaries portrayed in his pages promise to cut off Cicero’s tongue and poke out Shakespeare’s eyes, to the applause of an educated society that fawned before fashionable barbarism. Dostoevsky, in his most prescient and prophetic mode, predicted that 100 million people would perish if such nihilists and fanatics ever came to power. It was given to that great soul to see many things, as another great Russian writer once observed.

Now is a time for Lincolnian and Churchillian fortitude. Let us reject the path of nihilism and hate and renew our own civilized patrimony and our noble civic tradition. Nothing less than the survival of republican self-government is at stake. If we are to renew our commitment to racial justice and civic reconciliation, we must take our bearings from the best of the Western and American traditions.
Freedom has died many times in history; let us not witness new death pangs on the anniversary of its birth.
A version of this article first appeared at Real Clear Politics. Re-posted with permission.
Great America

The Present Moment Has Set Blacks Back a Half-Century

The damage the left is doing to so many blacks—to their moral compass, to their happiness and to their relations with their white fellow citizens—is not in the realm of “may do.” It is done.

According to the make-believe world of the Left, we are experiencing a great moment in American racial history. For the first time, the story goes, more whites than ever are coming to realize how racist America is, how racist cops are and how systemically racist everything in America is. Only now do many Americans understand just how racist Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, Ulysses Grant, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, “whitening” agents, meritocracy, Western culture, Christianity, jailing blacks and the NFL are. The bestselling book in America is about alleged “white fragility”—the term for any rational response to the irrational charge that all whites are racist.

All this is supposed to be good for America’s blacks.

But none of it is. In fact, it is all destructive.

Take the movement to defund police departments and the incessant charges of “police brutality” and “racist police.” Only those who don’t care about blacks other than using them to advance their power—Democrats and the rest of the Left, both black and white—argue this war against the police is good for blacks. Already the increase in the number of blacks murdered, not to mention injured, is reaching levels unseen in decades. And there is every reason to assume, as police pull back from high-crime areas, it will get worse.

Take the left-wing mantra that all whites are racist. If I wanted to obstruct black progress, and especially damage black children, I couldn’t come up with a more effective idea. To believe from early childhood that you walk through life held in contempt by all of your fellow citizens who are white is to walk through life with much more than a chip on your shoulder. It is more like a heavy boulder.

It means that you will walk through life with two paralyzing burdens: anger and victimhood. Either one is enough to ruin your life. Combined they’re devastating. It gives one an idea of how cynical the Left is that it would want to cultivate both of these life-ruining emotions in as many blacks as possible.

Anger and victimhood not only ruin the individual’s life but also destroy one’s relationships with others. Everyone who has an angry individual in their family knows not only how unhappy that person is but also how much havoc they wreak on the rest of the family. The same holds true for the relative who sees him or herself as a perpetual victim. Such people are both miserable and miserable to be around. And since victimhood is a major cause of evil—people who see themselves as victims usually think they are not nearly as bound by moral rules as others are—they are more likely to hurt others.

The “protesters” who destroy and loot think their victim status allows them to destroy and loot. The man identified as the president of the greater New York Black Lives Matter, Hawk Newsome, recently told Fox News: “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking … figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation.”

In a report yesterday on a police shooting of a robber who resisted arrest and reached for an object in his waistband, the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted a protest organizer: “If this young man was robbing, that means his state and his government failed to provide him with the resources he needs.” When you feel you are a victim, you are allowed to rob.

Take the constant, often absurd, charges of racism at the most benign comments. If you say, for example, that you see nothing wrong with the picture of Uncle Ben on a box of rice, you will be accused of racism. As a result, most whites understand they can no longer speak truthfully or from the heart in the presence of a black American. It is hard to imagine a worse recipe for genuine relationships between the races. Whereas the great majority of whites, and even most blacks, thought white-black relations were good and improving when Barack Obama assumed office, a minority of both groups think so today.

Take the assault on merit-based advancement in the name of racial equality. Will this help or hinder blacks? It will obviously help some blacks in the short run. But over the long term, telling any group they needn’t meet a universal standard of excellence can only harm that group—not to mention harm the way their success will be viewed by others. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine a more condescending view of a group than to argue that standards must be lowered for them to succeed.

The damage the left is doing to America may be mortal. When it is widely deemed OK to destroy statues of Abraham Lincoln, society is experiencing a moral earthquake which may eventually destroy it. But the damage the left is doing to so many blacks—to their moral compass, to their happiness and to their relations with their white fellow citizens—is not in the realm of “may do.” It is done.

Great America

The South Picks College Football Over Its Heritage

Even though college sports programs are rife with fraud, scandals, and other tawdry behavior, too many Southern conservatives will bend the knee for their favorite team. 

Mississippi abolished its Confederate-influenced state flag last week. For years, this was a point of controversy for the state, yet Mississippians resolutely stood by their flag.

The recent unrest—along with threats of economic boycotts—seemed to change the minds of Mississippi lawmakers. Both Republican-dominated state chambers voted overwhelmingly to change the state flag. GOP leaders tried to portray it as a genuine “change of heart” and a “ticket for that train of unification.” One Republican called the Confederate battle flag the “Democrat battle flag” in order to defend his vote.

In reality, it was a submission to the power of college football. 

At least one Republican was honest enough to admit this. “When outside groups, the SEC, the NCAA seriously start making decisions that are going to hurt our students, hurt our businesses that support those communities, that provided the opportunity for this discussion to rise to another level,” state Representative Trey Lamar told the Clarion-Ledger

Not So Cut-and-Dried

College football made Mississippi eliminate the flag celebrating its heritage and a flag that was supported by a plurality of state residents

The Southeastern Conference, Conference USA, and the NCAA all threatened to exclude Mississippi from hosting championship events if the flag remained the same. “It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” SEC President Greg Sankey said in a June statement. “Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all.”

Coaches and officials from Mississippi’s public universities gathered at the statehouse last week to demand the state change the flag. 

“We removed the flag from our campus five years ago, so we’ve made it clear that it doesn’t represent who we are at Ole Miss,” new University of Mississippi head football coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN. “Today is another big step in doing our part to move the state forward and ensure a more welcoming environment for everyone. This is extremely important to me and to our players. Time to change!”

Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach agreed, saying the state needs a flag that “everyone is proud of.” 

Kiffin also said that he supports efforts to remove Confederate honors from the Ole Miss campus. The university has spent years trying to cast aside its “Rebel” image, even though its nickname remains the Rebels. Then-coach Tommy Tuberville pushed the school to ban the Confederate flag from its stadium in the 1990s. The school eliminated its “Colonel Reb” mascot in the early 2000s and replaced him with a series of animals that have nothing to do with rebellion. The university stopped flying the state flag from its stadium in 2015 and discontinued playing “Dixie” in 2016. 

Concessions Everywhere

College football is an integral part of Southern life, but it’s making it impossible for other aspects of Southern culture to survive. Several programs are capitulating to the mob to appease players. 

The University of Florida announced it would end its “Gator Bait” chant because of allegedly “racist imagery” associated with the phrase. The University of Alabama removed Confederate monuments that honored students who fought in the Civil War and plans to review all building names to ensure they had no racist connotations. The move was supported by current and former Alabama players. The football team released a pro-Black Lives Matter video as well. Clemson University renamed its John C. Calhoun Honors College primarily due to pressure from former Tiger football stars. The University of Virginia changed its athletic logo to remove serpentine curves from its saber handles. Critics said the handles were too associated with slavery.

Several players at the University of Texas vow to never participate in recruiting or fundraising events unless the school renames “racist” buildings, “diversifies” its statues, makes substantial donations to Black Lives Matter, and replaces the school’s allegedly racist alma mater song. The school has yet to decide what to do in response to these demands.

Gone are Mississippi’s real traditions, heritage, and regional uniqueness—all the school has left is a team that can’t even make a bowl game.

In the semi-southern state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy had

to issue a groveling apology for daring to wear a One America News t-shirt. His apology was brought about by player outrage at his expressing support for a conservative news outlet. He also agreed to let his players wear do-rags, sag their pants, and play music with foul language at practice as part of his atonement.  

College football players outside of the South are also trying to bully their schools into submission. Kansas State’s football team is threatening to boycott all activities unless the university expels a student who made a joke about George Floyd. The school says it is “exploring” options in how to punish the student for expressing his First Amendment rights.

College football’s popularity in the South has immense sway over the region. Tubervillle, the man who helped ban Confederate flags from Ole Miss, is now the frontrunner in Alabama’s competitive U.S. Senate race. He has no political experience, his positions aren’t very conservative, and he’s made no mention about the escalating culture war. Yet, he leads in the poll based on his reputation coaching college football and an endorsement from Donald Trump.

Everything on the Chopping Block

Most Southern universities have traditions with Confederate or antebellum roots. The Louisiana State Tigers were named after a Confederate regiment. Auburn’s “War Eagle” fight song extolls the “power of Dixieland.” And, of course, there’s the Ole Miss Rebels. 

All of these will soon be on the chopping block. Not even Republican lawmakers will stand up for their traditions and heritage if it gets in the way of college football. Even though college sports programs are rife with academic fraud, rape scandals, and other tawdry behavior, too many Southern conservatives will bend the knee for their favorite team. 

The Ole Miss Landshark mascot embodies the monocultural future of southern college sports. Here is a mascot with no ties to regional culture or history; it’s just a silly animal that school officials hope cannot possibly offend anyone. “Tony the Landshark” represents a Southern culture created in a corporate boardroom. Gone are Mississippi’s real traditions, heritage, and regional uniqueness—all the school has left is a team that can’t even make a bowl game. 

Great America

Big Tech’s Escalating War on Free Speech

What the leftist establishment denies—from the corporate boardrooms to mainstream media—is that truth cannot be permanently suppressed.

On June 19, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld 9-0 the right to freedom of speechincluding “hate speech.” As Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court: “The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate.” Justice Anthony Kennedy added in a concurring opinion: “A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all.”

Tell that to big tech. Because for them, “hate speech” is any point of view opposed to the political agenda favored by the people who run their industry and control the platforms that have become the 21st-century version of a public square.

While this is an ongoing story, it is important to understand the theme. It is not “big tech platforms censor conservative and nationalist speech by defining it as ‘hate speech.’” Rather, the theme is more accurately and ominously characterized as “big tech platforms are continuously widening the criteria for what sorts of conservative and nationalist content are defined as ‘hate speech.’”

The first big wave of censorship broke in 2017 when websites offering full-blown neo-Nazi content, such as the notorious Daily Stormer, were deplatformed. Nobody wanted to defend the right of these content creators to go on publishing, even though in principle, they still should have had “the freedom to express the thought that we hate.”

The next wave of deplatforming took place in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. Within a few days in early August of that year, Alex Jones of “Infowars” was expelled from Apple podcasts, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube. On September 6, Twitter followed suit. On September 8, Apple banned Alex Jones’s InfoWars app from its industry-dominating App Store. Jones was virtually erased. Prior to that, Jones had 2.4 million YouTube subscribers, all gone; 830,000 Twitter followers, purged; his Apple podcast archives were deleted; his Facebook page, with 2.5 million followers, wiped out.

What did Jones do? His content was attacked, with some justification, as often concocted. He was stigmatized as a “conspiracy theorist.” But Jones never violated U.S. law. He never incited actions to harm others or distributed obscene materials, which are the two primary areas not protected by the First Amendment. 

Nationalist and Conservative Content Under Ongoing Attack

Those familiar with Alex Jones, know that his biggest crime was neither hate speech, nor being loose with his facts, nor being “hateful.” What made Jones intolerable to the tech giants is his allegiance to President Trump and, more generally, his opposition to globalism. 

If you review which content creators have been banned, shadowbanned, or demonetized, you will find sites banned across all ideologies and niches for failing to adhere to U.S. laws governing free speech. But once you pass beyond U.S. law to “hate speech,” the vast majority of big tech censorship seems only to afflict conservatives and nationalists. The cancel campaign is unrelenting and the net is cast wider than ever.

When big tech decides to suppress information that might run counter, say, to the mainstream anti-Trump leftist narrative as propagandized by ABC Nightly “News,” they have plenty of support from the leftist activist community. The current “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign has released a chilling set of “recommendations” to Facebook, their latest target, that includes the following:

Establish and empower permanent civil rights infrastructure including C-suite level executive with civil rights expertise to evaluate products and policies for discrimination, bias, and hate . . . submit to regular, third party, independent audits of identity-based hate and misinformation with summary results published on a publicly accessible website . . . find and remove public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism . . . create an internal mechanism to automatically flag hateful content in private groups for human review . . . ensure accuracy in political and voting matters by eliminating the politician exemption.

Any one of these measures should terrify anyone hoping to preserve any sort of open public square. Put a commissar into Facebook to monitor content? Allow outside content auditors? Censor “climate denialism”? Monitor private groups? Prevent politicians from uttering campaign rhetoric? This is tyranny. But the American Left is incredibly powerful because they use their institutional power via unions, academia, and the press to pressure corporate advertisers.

It isn’t as if the major corporations don’t already support much of the leftist agenda. They want immigration to access cheap labor, just as they want to be able to outsource jobs to find even cheaper labor. If the Left is engaged in calling people opposed to what they want racists, why not join them? And why not boycott Facebook, or any other monopoly platform, until they comply with these demands? It’s not as if the American Right has the institutional clout to defend free speech. 

Go with the flow. It’s profitable.

In November 2019, YouTube banned Red Ice (still available on BitChute), a channel that took positions that offended many people, especially leftists, but they relied on facts and logic and sourced their material more responsibly than many surviving, popular platforms. Of course, defending Red Ice does not require agreeing with everything they espouse. They can be defended on principle. They did not violate U.S. law, and more to the point, the biases they displayed, and the criticisms they offered, would not have earned them banishment if they had been voiced from the opposite point of view.

This bears repeating, especially now. How many memes survive and go viral that describe white people and Western Civilization as racist and oppressive? There are writers for the New York Times (Sarah Jeong and Nikole Hannah-Jones among the most infamous) who have described white people in terms that are far more offensive and incendiary than anything that Lana Lokteff ever said on Red Ice. And they write for “America’s newspaper of record”! If these women were white, writing this way about nonwhites, they would be marginalized. If they broke out, they would be banned. Overnight.

In an interview conducted shortly after her deplatforming, Lokteff had this to say about internet censorship: “The best course of action is to talk about everything out in the open, more talking. If an idea is harmful or just awful, best to talk about why that is and air everything out from every angle. The best argument wins. The truth should not fear any inquisition. If we do not, that is what creates desperate people doing radical things to be heard.”

The Latest Wave of Online Censorship

The latest major big tech deplatforming occurred June 28, when YouTube banned Stefan Molyneux, one of the original progenitors of the Intellectual Dark Web. Whatever else may be said about Molyneux, he is intellectually honest. He explored topics that are utterly taboo because he believed they merited public discussion and he was willing to stick his neck out to have that conversation. It is perhaps his honesty as well as his ability to broach these subjects with grace, dignity, and compassion, that made his banishment signify a new threshold for the big tech censors. Molyneux, with 1 million subscribers and major breakout potential, was a threat

And so he was silenced.

In a brief statement released on his Twitter page, Molyneux described what’s happening right now:

The book burning is underway. Myself and many other dissidents and other anti-communists, intellectuals, and speakers have also had channels destroyed across a wide variety of platforms, within the span of only one hour, in what I assume is a highly coordinated effort to silence us. The goal is to remove the middle, to remove those of us who are looking for peaceful solutions, rational solutions, philosophical solutions to social differences, to take us out so that there is no center to society and everyone can gravitate to the extremes wherein the tinderbox of violence can be lit.

Molyneux goes on to urge his followers to not give up on peaceful solutions to social differences. He claims it is not too late and that there “is still incredible technology that we can use to further the rational and philosophical discussion of issues within society and I’m begging you, please, stay in the conversation.”

Big-tech censorship is consistent with what the major television networks have been doing. For anyone who bothers even to peruse alternative media, this is all an insult to their intelligence and integrity. The problem for big tech and network television is that alternative media proliferates at a rate far too fecund for them to censor all of it. Still, big tech is big enough to contain it, and at least for now, they are doing a very good job of that.

What the leftist establishment denies—from the corporate boardrooms to big tech to mainstream media—is that truth cannot and will not be permanently suppressed. Leftist ideology, however cultivated, does not constitute reality. Ultimately, objective truth governs reality. Only by allowing freedom of speech as expressed in the U.S. Constitution, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, can truth emerge from vigorous, often unpleasant debate.

Great America

What the Zeitgeist Has Wrought

The knowledge that one is merely a bystander to History—or worse, born guilty and existing as an impediment to the progress of History—is soul-crushing.

We are tasting the bitter fruits of more than a half-century of the “zeitgeist”—the Marxist theory of history—reigning supreme in our public schools. This pedagogy replaced the “Great Man” approach, which teaches that history is catalyzed by individuals of unusual personal strength and rare attributes. 

“Great Man” history studies bravery, wisdom, uncommon prudence, unparalleled fortitude (and sometimes unsurpassed vice) alongside historical events, with biographies and diaries featured prominently in history class. The underlying assumption is that uncommon virtue and personal excellence are what make great men and women, and the actions of these unique people are what move and shape history.

Thus, George Washington is remembered as a great man who, upon winning the Revolutionary War, refused to entertain even a suggestion that he be crowned king of the United States of America. His countrymen thought him deserving of a crown, but he refused the idea, thinking them deserving of self-rule and freedom instead. Washington’s modesty, humility, and prudence changed the course of history and enabled the United States to be a true republic. Had it not been for his special virtue, his country might have become just another monarchy complete with an aristocracy, titles, and all the rest.

Though horrendously out of fashion, the Great Man theory of history is still operative today, tolerated only outside the realm of the official Marxist historical narrative taught in public schools. Fawning biographies of industrialists like Steve Jobs or Howard Hughes remain, but the greatness of these men is only allowed to explain economic changes or improvements in our standard of living. Stories of true justice and geopolitical change are reserved for groups of the aggrieved and oppressed, beginning with indigenous peoples, through women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, and finally the transgender and nonbinary rights movement of today. This “zeitgeist” enjoys total dominance in the nation’s schools. 

Perceived Helplessness

Marxist history teaches children that consequential historical events are brought about by large groups of people engaging in civil disobedience, unrest, or violence, usually featuring the Democratic Party as the savior of the oppressed group, with the passing of landmark democratic legislation as the capstone of each particular chapter of history. Thus, the public school student of today could be entirely forgiven for believing that history is simply a series of movements by aggrieved groups, and “historical events” are simply those public agitations sufficiently deserving of notice and legislation by the Democratic Party, the great Keeper of History. There is no “1978 taxpayer’s revolt history month,” for example. Only mobs agitating for leftist policy outcomes need apply. 

The more aggrieved and therefore in need of official Democratic Party (and increasingly corporate) sponsorship the group happens to be, the better. This is why transgender and nonbinary Americans, though very small in numbers, receive more attention and support than groups like the Tea Party or California farmers. The salient fact is not the size of the group or even the nature of the group’s grievance: it is the perceived helplessness of the group without the sponsorship of the Democratic Party. 

The Left’s monopoly on history will crack, and the American child’s innate desire to matter and to sacrifice for the greater good will find an alternate path to glory, far from the madding crowd.

On the surface, the zeitgeist theory offers a more democratic view of history—instead of a few great, mostly white, aristocratic men, history now remembers groups of people who did great things together. Indeed, the true merits of the Civil Rights Movement or the Women’s Suffrage Movement are the reason the group history narrative is so powerful. Yet alongside the benefits of teaching history as a series of things otherwise ordinary people achieved together, there are significant downsides. 

For example, one convenient aspect of the Marxist approach is that the group can be absolved from any wrongdoing perpetrated by its individual members, such that the personal problems and vices of Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Sanger, or Malcolm X are expunged from history entirely. The focus is on the good the group did together, not the bad character traits individual group members may have had. Separately, they are sinners with imperfections and peccadilloes. Together, the movement is innocent, pure, and without stain. 

This teaches children that group action is the only means to be pure, just action can only be found in the mob, and the sole means of forgiveness for one’s mistakes is membership in an entitled group. For what imperfect individual can stand alone and suffer the unforgiving gaze of historical scrutiny?

How could Frederick Douglass possibly measure up to the Civil Rights Movement? How could the flesh-and-blood version of Joan of Arc survive in comparison with the Woman’s Rights Movement?

Compulsory Mis-education

The most unfortunate consequence of the dominance of zeitgeist theory, therefore, is the opportunity it affords public schools to brainwash millions of kids into thinking that great acts of heroism, achievement, or virtue are only possible in a group. And, when only groups espousing the Democratic Party’s particular zeitgeist are remembered in history classrooms, it doesn’t take many decades before the public has simply forgotten that there was ever any virtue to aspire to outside of the mob.

The Marxist view of history ensures that children—who are hardwired to need heroes and who naturally look for virtuous paths to follow—aspire only to mimic liberal heroes, and they identify only with those appointed heroes who share their skin color, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic group. If they don’t happen to spring from a so-called oppressed circumstance, then shame is their badge of honor. 

The scores of wealthy white women virtue signaling on Instagram since the start of the BLM protests are neither spontaneous nor novel; rather, they are the fruit of an education system purposely designed to render American kids as useful to radical Leftist causes as possible. 

The death of George Floyd inspires a cry for justice in every person who watches the video of his horrific death; yet rather than volunteer to heal racial strife in one’s own community, among one’s own friends or family, or in one’s own local school district, the overwhelming instinct is to become a part of a large group agitating for justice, and to prove one’s membership in this clan by immediately parroting any and all slogans passed among the group’s members. 

Even when agitating for justice requires members of the group to do absolutely nothing and have no part in any real action, still people will choose this over acting alone. 

The message was clear from the start: privileged whites were not welcome in the actual BLM movement, but were expected to stay in their homes, blackout their Instagram profile pics, and “listen” to the voices of color around them. Even when the Left is telling white Americans that the only thing they are allowed to do to help the cause of justice is to remain completely silent and watch as members of other races “make history,” the old public school training that virtue, justice, and change are only achieved via membership in a large group is so strong that millions of people are brainwashed into believing that sitting at home while doing and saying nothing is indeed “making history.” 

Worse, they feel they have contributed to the cause of justice by posting on social media and remaining completely silent while their cities and neighborhoods are burned to the ground.

Sham Justice Cannot Last

The silver lining, if there is any, is that the support for BLM and the civil unrest of the last several weeks may be viewed as the American public’s attempt to participate in history, right wrongs, and exhibit virtue, in what is, truly, the only way many of them have ever been taught possible. The instinct to join the mob, though misdirected, is born of good intentions. Yet at some point, the invitation to sit on the sidelines of history, ashamed, guilty, and silent will induce despair. The knowledge that one is merely a bystander to History—or worse, born guilty and existing as an impediment to the progress of History—is soul-crushing.

Today there is no script available to individuals who aspire to be great men and women on their own account. If there can be no lives of consequence outside of mob history, then many ambitious and talented Americans will revolt against the zeitgeist narrative and seek alternative—and not always salutary—means of distinguishing themselves. 

As of now, the public school system and the Left have cornered the market on virtue and justice. But their picture of justice is a sham, and their narrative of how history happens is incomplete; for no matter how moving the sight of millions of people marching together to achieve a common good is, the course of history inevitably is composed of more than those few episodes which are politically expedient for the Democratic Party. 

Despite the spirit of the age, the personal virtue and uncommon excellence of great men and women of all races will continue to change history and chart the course of the nation. The Left’s monopoly on history will crack, and the American child’s innate desire to matter and to sacrifice for the greater good will find an alternate path to glory, far from the madding crowd.

Great America

It’s Not Left vs. Right,
It’s Big vs. Small

Global corporations make token payments to anti-racism activists in the United States while funding the Chinese Communist Party’s racist dictatorship and sowing the destitution that causes unrest at home.

The primary contradiction in our society, the fault line that defines our politics and economy, is not Left versus Right. It’s big versus small.

Anyone surprised to see corporate America (an anachronism in itself) kowtowing to cultural Marxism is trapped in the old Left-Right map that tells us “capitalists oppose Marxists.”

But today’s landscape is dominated not by capitalists but instead by corporatists—and by any objective assessment, corporatism and socialism are birds of a feather.

Take John Kenneth Galbraith, the darling economist of the 1950s and ’60s. He posited a triumvirate of big business, big labor, and big government efficiently managing American society for endless affluence. No need to worry about a cold or hot war with the Soviet Bloc. In the “New Industrial State” he envisioned, the bureaucracies of Soviet Communism and Western corporatism would converge.

A half-century earlier, G. K. Chesterton noted little difference between (nominally capitalist) corporate bureaucracy and socialist bureaucracy. Insofar as a socialist society “was criticized as a centralized, impersonal and monotonous civilization, that is an exact description of existing civilization . . . [T]he unification and regimentation is already complete . . . Capitalism has done all that Socialism threatened to do. The clerk has exactly the sort of passive functions and permissive pleasures that he would have in the most monstrous model village . . . exactly the tastes and virtues he could have as a tenant and servant of the state.”

Centralized ownership of property and the means of production are hallmarks both of corporatism and Marxism. Both corporatism and socialism stand in opposition to a truly humane and free society founded on faith and privately owned, widely distributed property.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis believed the consolidation of ownership pursued by Wall Street financiers was the socialist’s best friend. 

“Just as Emperor Nero is said to have remarked in regard to his people that he wished that the Christians had but one neck that he might cut it off by a single blow of his sword, so they say here: ‘Let these men gather these things together; they will soon have them all under one head, and by a single act we will take over the whole industry,’” Brandeis observed.

We are closer to that beheading now than many realize.

Small Business on the Brink

Small business startups are at a historic low. The Kauffman Foundation, citing its own research and U.S. Census data, reports the number of companies less than a year old as a share of all businesses had declined by nearly 44 percent between 1978 and 2012. MIT researchers found the four largest companies in the average industry had a significantly larger share of sales in 2012 than they did in 1982.

The consolidation of the financial industry coincides with consolidation in other industries. Small regional banks have been the prime lenders to small businesses, and as these banks get swallowed up or regulated out of existence, the independent businessman goes down with them.

Self-described progressives tend to be happy with this development. They profess to be for the little guy, but that does not include the owners of little businesses, a group that tends to be conservative. As opposed to small businesses, big corporations readily fall in line with the leftist social justice orthodoxies.

The long list of large companies giving millions to the Black Lives Matter movement is just the latest manifestation of the Left’s long-running alliance with corporatism and distrust of small holdings.

Historically, progressives and reformist liberals regarded small business as the enemy. They regarded monopoly as an inevitability, and the regulated monopoly was their preferred economic model. Gabriel Kotko documents how Progressive Era regulation served to entrench rather than dislodge big business and big finance.

The first generation of progressives considered the corporation to be more modern, efficient, and therefore more desirable than the small independently owned shops and workshops, which they saw as backward and dirty. There was more than a whiff of racist, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant bias to their ideology. 

Should it ever come time to pay reparations, present the bill to these companies.

Robert Moses, a product of the Progressive Era, sacrificed “dirty” neighborhoods in pursuit of his “scientific” urban planning. In the same vein, sanitary chain stores would replace the filthy mom-and-pop butcher shops and grocers.

Popular postwar historian Richard Hofstadter sneeringly dismissed small businessmen, farmers, populists, and other critics of concentrated financial and corporate power as backward, mentally ill racists and proto-fascists yearning for a past when WASPs were supreme. When Hillary Clinton smears half of Americans as deplorable and Nancy Pelosi says Make America Great Again really means “make America white again,” they are echoing Hofstadter. 

The civil rights advances of the 1960s helped cement the stereotype of small shop owners as grubby racists who should be replaced by more enlightened corporate chains. (Ironically, many black small business owners were displaced by their better-capitalized and now integrated competitors, despite Martin Luther King’s exhortation to support black-owned enterprises.) 

Corporate Woke Hypocrisy

Now we have global corporations showcasing their concern for social justice when, in fact, it is these same companies that are responsible for creating the problem in the first place.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon kneels in front of a bank vault. Tim Cook has Apple donating to organizations that challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration. General Motors CEO Mary Barra says her company is as focused on social injustice as it is on the bottom line.

But Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Detroit outsourced entire industries to China. They can end the income inequality, lack of opportunity and other inequities they decry by bringing those jobs, many of them once held by black Americans, back to the United States.

Tim Cook sees “deeply rooted discrimination . . . in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive.” Yet Apple’s offshore tax avoidance schemes starve “underserved school systems” of the resources he then wants the rest of us who can’t hide our money offshore to pay.

“We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor, and life,” says Cook. Yet Cook should not be counted as a “person who gives this country their love, labor, and life” because he has given those things to the Communist Party of China.  He has handed over money and technology to our enemies that never would have existed were it not for the people of the United States of America.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra lectures us about the “unconscionable list of black Americans who have lost their lives” but she ignores the unconscionable list of black Americans who have lost their livelihoods thanks to her “global supply chains.” Flint, Michigan used to be Buick City. Now, GM’s Buick SUV is made in China.

Barra strikes a courageous pose, writing, “We stand up against injustice—that means taking the risk of expressing an unpopular or polarizing point of view, because complacency and complicity sit in the shadow of silence.”

Just don’t expect her to risk expressing an unpopular or polarizing point of view inside the People’s Republic China. Rather, Cadillac sponsored a propaganda film celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Sitting in the shadow of Apple and GM’s silence is their complacency and complicity in the enslavement and extermination of the Uyghur people. A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, “Uyghurs for sale,” found slave labor from the CCP’s concentration camps in Western China are working in factories supplying 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, GM, Gap, Nike, Samsung, BMW, Sony, and Volkswagen.

Uyghur Genocide, Corporate Profit

The Chinese Communist government has facilitated the mass transfer of more than 80,000 imprisoned Uyghur Muslims from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country between 2017 and 2019.

The Uyghurs transferred out of Xinjiang typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo ideological training outside working hours, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances.

Watchtowers, barbed-wire fences, and police guard boxes ring a factory in eastern China that manufactures shoes for Nike. Uyghur workers are unable to go home for holidays.

Uyghur workers were transferred directly from one of Xinjiang’s “re-education camps” to another factory supplying sportswear multinationals Adidas and Fila.

Several Chinese factories making components for Apple or their suppliers are also using Uyghur labor.

When the CCP is not conscripting Uyghurs for its export industries, it’s erasing this ethnic minority from the face of the earth. The party forces intrauterine birth control devices, sterilization, and abortion on hundreds of thousands of Uyghur women.

“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” Joanne Smith Finley of Newcastle University in the U.K. tells the Associated Press. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

Nothing says “systemic racism” like genocide.

So where are the calls to defund China?

Global corporations make token payments to anti-racism activists in the United States while funding the CCP’s racist dictatorship in China and sowing the destitution that causes unrest at home.

Should it ever come time to pay reparations, present the bill to these companies.

Great America

Compared to What?

The Gene McDaniels principle on police shootings.

The late Gene McDaniels came up as a jazz singer but in 1961 he scored pop hits with “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” and “Tower of Strength,” co-written by Burt Bacharach. McDaniels went on to write “Compared to What,” performed in fine style at the 1969 Montreaux jazz festival by Les McCann on piano and vocal, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, Donald Dean on drums, Benny Bailey on Trumpet and Eddie Harris on tenor saxophone. As this group confirms, jazz can indeed rock out, but there’s more to it.

In this tune, McDaniels tackles issues from materialism (“possession is the motivation”) to the Vietnam War (“folks don’t know just what it’s for” ) to King Tut (“he did it now”), and after each verse comes the refrain: “trying to make it real compared to what?” 

Today, in the quest for reality on the prevailing issue of police shootings, some like comparisons are in order. 

Through a Washington Post database, conservative commentator Larry Elder learned that U.S. police in 2019 killed nine unarmed African Americans. On the other hand, that same year police killed 19 unarmed whites, and “more cops are killed each year than are unarmed black suspects.”

According to the FBI, 89 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019, and of those, “48 officers died as a result of felonious acts.” Of the slain 45 officers, 45 were male, three were female, 40 were white, seven were black and one was Asian. “Offenders used firearms to kill 44 of the 48 victim officers,” the FBI explains, including 34 slain with handguns, seven with rifles, and one with a shotgun. 

Six of the victim officers were conducting traffic stops, and four were performing investigative activities. Three officers were involved in arrest situations and attempting to restrain offenders. Two of the officers were slain in an ambush and one was serving a court order. On the suspect side, 36 of the assailants had prior criminal arrests and 12 offenders were under judicial supervision. 

To make it real, compare that to the nine unarmed African Americans killed by police officers in 2019, this in a nation of more than 300 million people. Compare also what could be the worst police shooting of all time, which did not even take place in the United States.

In the run-up to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, thousands of students assembled in Tlatelolco Plaza to protest the dictatorship of Mexico’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional, in power since the 1920s. On October 2, 1968, as NPR recalled, “police officers and military troops shot into a crowd of unarmed students” and thousands fled as “tanks bulldozed over Tlatelolco Plaza.” 

Eyewitnesses described “the bodies of hundreds of young people being trucked away. Thousands of students were beaten and jailed, and many disappeared.” Estimates of the casualties range as high as 3,000 and “under an authoritarian regime, no formal investigation into the killings was ever initiated.” 

Unlike Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, and Garrett Rolfe, charged with the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s in Atlanta, no one has ever been held accountable for this mass murder of unarmed students by Mexican police and soldiers. Television journalists like Jorge Ramos, essentially a Mexican government mouthpiece, tend to stay quiet on this mass murder but like to get vocal about injustice in the United States. To take this guy seriously, as Gene McDaniels put it, you’d have to be “some kind of nut.”

In America, critics of the police tend to ignore murder sprees such as the 18 homicides in a single day in Chicago. As ABC News noted, “between 6 p.m. on May 29 and 11:59 p.m. on May 31, Chicago police responded to at least 73 incidents in which 92 people were shot, including 27 who were killed.” Police were responsible for none of the shootings.

Last year, 89 police officers were killed in the line of duty, including 48 by felonious acts and 44 slain with firearms. Seven of the slain officers were African Americans and 40 were white. As Gene McDaniels asked, try to make it real, compared to what?

Great America

The Hubbub About ‘The Boogaloo’ Is the Worst Kind of Fake News

Meanwhile, let’s keep pretending Antifa doesn’t exist.

As self-described Marxists and anarchists rampage through American cities, threaten lives, destroy historic monuments, burn churches, and terrorize the public, the Department of Homeland Security’s crack analysts have emphasized the real threat: Hawaiian shirts and cartoon frogs.

Politico reports that the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC), a DHS Fusion Center for Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, warned of the threat of “Violent adherents of the boogaloo” ideology, which the outlet headlined as “far-right extremists.”

That headline caused the Department of Homeland Security to object to Politico’s mischaracterization of its sharp intelligence assessment, tweeting out,

Another work of fiction by @politico. The @DHSgov intel bulletin does NOT identify the Boogaloo movement as left-wing OR right-wing. They are simply violent extremists from both ends of the ideological spectrum.

It is true that the bulletin does not refer to “adherents” as “far-right.” But this is only because the report attempts to construct an ideology essentially out of thin air, based entirely on a set of internet memes largely created by activist trolls. The DHS report warns that violent Boogaloo extremists frequently wear Hawaiian shirts and may display images of “Pepe the Frog,” an internet meme of a sad frog that became popular with some elements of the Right.

From Memes to “Menace”

The term “Boogaloo” refers to an online meme about the potential for a second American civil war. The term is derived from the 1984 break-dancing movie, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” and the subsequent movie meme which appends the mocking term “electric boogaloo” to derivative or uninspired sequels. Boogaloo memes often take the form of hypothetical discussions about what one would do “when the boogaloo”—meaning when civil war—begins. Boogaloo memes are often sharply fantastical or couched in video game language, referring to “equipment drops” or “leveling up.”

It is of course possible, even likely, that some individuals participating in this internet subculture could attempt to actualize such fantasies. Law enforcement should be careful and take such threats seriously. But this is not the same as being a “movement,” let alone a coherent ideology. 

For one thing, fear of a second civil war is no longer an extreme idea. A recent Rasmussen poll revealed substantial numbers of Americans, on both the Right and the Left, are concerned about the prospect of civil war with just over a third (34 percent) of those polled saying they believe such a national catastrophe is likely within the next five years.

Despite DHS’s tweet insisting that its Boogaloo bulletin was intended to be nonpartisan, the reality is that the report relies almost entirely on biased reporting which attempts to portray the Boogaloo internet phenomenon as an overarching and coherent far-right movement posing a dire threat.

Substandard Sources

A look at the sourcing of the Boogaloo bulletin shows that the document, like other of Homeland Security’s NTIC products, cannot withstand objective scrutiny.

One of the NTIC bulletin’s primary sources is the Tech Transparency Project, a project of the Campaign for Accountability (CfA), which is a left-leaning nonprofit that “almost exclusively targets” conservative politicians and organizations for opposition research and dubious ethics complaints. One of CfA’s board members, Nick Hayworth, has been described as “Obama’s Opposition Researcher” while other CfA leaders have ties to groups founded by long-time Democratic “dirty tricks hitman” David Brock.

Such sources can be useful in any intelligence product, but the NTIC’s inordinate dependency on it as a major source betrays an unprofessional standard within Homeland Security’s NTIC unit.

Not only does the Tech Transparency Project’s article directly link the “Boogaloo” to the far-right, but this purported intelligence source deliberately blames President Trump personally for the threat, saying that he “inspired” and “energized” the Boogaloo adherents with tweets about the lockdown.

Other substandard sources for the NTIC report include Buzzfeed—infamous for releasing the Steele Dossier disinformation package that kicked off the debunked Russian collusion narrative against the president—and Vox, another heavily politicized site known for its explainer on a non-existent bridge between Gaza and the West Bank.

Given NTIC’s choice of sourcing, it is hard to believe that the Boogaloo bulletin’s release was intended to do anything other than achieve the exact interpretation that Politico provided, despite DHS’ social media protest to the contrary.

This incident yet again reflects a ongoing trend of politicized members of the intelligence community citing left-wing opposition research designed for political attacks upon the president, compiled into sloppy and sensationalist reports devoid of professional intelligence or analytical integrity, which are then leaked to a compliant media outlet to trumpet those extremist and unsubstantiated claims as authentic products of the nation’s “nonpartisan” security and intelligence bureaucracy.

“Imaginary” Antifa? 

The leaked report to Politico whitewashes the organized criminal activity waged by Antifa which, as an avowed Marxist and anarchist entity, seeks to overthrow the U.S. Constitution. It also comes at a time when the president is attempting to spur federal law enforcement into action to target Antifa—which has a coherent ideological base and ties stretching back to domestic and international terrorism for over 60 years—for its role as violent agitators in the ongoing protests, despite claims by certain sympathetic lawmakers that Antifa is “imaginary.”

Meanwhile, some government officials, aided by the media, continue to lie about the role of Antifa in the protests. D.C. District Attorney Karl Racine claimed no local rioters had ties to Antifa, despite one arrested individual having been profiled by the Washington Post as an Antifa leader, according to independent journalist Andy Ngo, who recently testified before Congress on the Antifa threat.

The Department of Homeland Security is inverting reality. Its National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium wants people to believe that a nebulous group of Hawaiian shirt-attired individuals known for sharing Boogaloo and frog memes is an organized insurrectionist movement that threatens public safety, human life, and the Constitution, while simultaneously insisting that a highly developed and organized Marxist-anarchist network devoted to all those evils doesn’t really exist at all. 

Great America

Will Justice Roberts and the Justice Department Go Kid Gloves Against Google?

Just as the Justice Department has gone all in to stop Google’s IP theft, they must do the same with Google’s search monopoly and other anti-competitive practices.

It’s no exaggeration to say Google received carte blanche from the Obama Administraion to violate federal antitrust, privacy, and intellectual property laws. It’s been reported that more than 400 meetings took place between the White House and Google employees, and that 55 former Google employees, lawyers, and lobbyists worked for the administration. Clearly, Google’s roots are deeply embedded in D.C.

Thankfully, President Trump and Attorney General William Barr largely have put a stop to Google’s crony influence, but the company is trying to use its considerable power and influence to fend off possible accountability from the nation’s judicial branch.  

The Department of Justice is in the middle of an antitrust investigation against Google, and the Supreme Court is about to hear a case addressing Google’s possible intellectual property theft.  

Google’s pending Supreme Court plea will try to overturn an appeals court decision, which found the company violated U.S. copyright laws to create Android. Google does not deny taking thousands of lines of code from Oracle but it has tried to invent a legal theory to make that code uncopyrightable.   

As Allum Bokhari at Breitbart noted, several Google-funded think tanks—including the American Antitrust Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge—all filed amicus briefs arguing Google had the right to take the code. Fortunately, the Trump Justice Department ignored these paid interest groups and filed an amicus brief against Google, noting that all these paid “policy arguments are unpersuasive.” 

The fact that the Obama Administration—Google’s best friend—even filed a brief against the company’s IP theft shows just how flagrant those copyright violations were. Nevertheless, Google is now hoping that Chief Justice John Roberts will betray the Trump White House again. Roberts indicated he would ask the court to consider procedural questions, which could potentially let Google get away with its massive intellectual property theft, even if the court finds Google is culpable. 

Yet the concern over Google intellectual property theft is bipartisan.  

The Supreme Court case is not the only trouble plaguing Google. The Trump Justice Department is also expected to file antitrust charges against Google this summer, which is long overdue. Evidence strongly suggests that the Obama Administration dropped antitrust action against Google in 2011-12 in exchange for technical and advertising support for Obama’s reelection in 2012 and thereafter. Google now has a monopoly in search, streaming video (YouTube), web browsers (Chrome), and a duopoly in advertising with Facebook and smartphone systems with Apple—due in large part to political favors granted to them by the Obama Administration.  

While the Justice Department’s progress is very welcome news, its case against Google may not be as strong as it needs to be. According to Peter Hasson at the Daily Caller, the Justice Department is leaning against taking on Google’s search monopoly, even though it controls a whopping 92 percent of the market. As Ann Coulter quipped, “it would be like Teddy Roosevelt saying, ‘We’re doing a big antitrust investigation of Standard Oil, but we aren’t touching their oil monopoly.’”   

Instead, the investigation appears to be focused on Google’s abuse in the ad-tech market. This is a severe problem, as displayed by Google’s recent threats to demonetize conservative sites like the Federalist. However, as The Information recently reported, “some critics worry that the focus on ad tech, which is largely invisible to consumers, will fail to stem Google’s outsize influence as a digital gatekeeper. Through its search platform, it controls how billions of consumers get information.” Indeed, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt said days after the 2016 election that Google needed to focus on “how people get their information, what they believe, what they don’t,” as the “project for the next decade.”  

 Letting Google’s search monopoly go unchecked allows them to continue to control the web and the battle of ideas. Just as the Justice Department has gone all-in to stop Google’s IP theft, they must do the same with Google’s search monopoly and other anti-competitive practices.

 

Great America

The Wisdom of Markets

Education, like food, is essential for human existence. Leaving either up to a government monopoly, which has absolutely no incentive to improve the quality of its product, can have pernicious consequences on consumers and, indeed, all citizens.

Those invested in the primacy of traditional public schools–notably the teachers unions, bureaucrats and others who financially benefit from the current set-up–insist that the government is best suited to be in charge of educating our nation’s children, and that any individual or group that pushes for school privatization is greedy, and looking to “get rich off the backs of kids.” One of their stock-in-trade mantras is that education is too important to leave to the whims of the market.

To show how ludicrous this argument is, let’s compare education to food. Both are essential to life. But imagine that you could only get your food from the government supermarket. Worse, you would be restricted to the store in your zip-code and what food you buy no matter how rancid the meat, how overripe the fruit, or how incompetent the store employees are. Some well-to-do families could bypass low-quality stores and pay a steep price to shop at a privately-run market. But families without means don’t have that option, and are stuck with their lousy zip-code mandated grocery store. While studies that have shown that private markets offer higher quality food than the government stores, the government grocery establishment–most notably its employee unions–rigidly fights to maintain its monopoly.

The biggest bugaboo for the government grocery store monolith is supermarket choice. The cartel’s zealots insist that vouchers and other choice plans siphon precious resources, and that the best way to make existing stores more effective is to throw more taxpayer money at them. They will then point out how hard their employees work, and that any attempt at supermarket choice shows disrespect for their dedicated clerks. And as George Mason University economics professor Don Boudreaux points out in his excellent essay on the subject, “Some indignant public-supermarket defenders would even rail against the insensitivity of referring to grocery shoppers as ‘customers,’ on the grounds that the relationship between the public servants who supply life-giving groceries and the citizens who need those groceries is not so crass as to be discussed in terms of commerce.”

The good news is that more and more people are seeing through the education establishment’s vapid talking points. Late last year, a poll by Real Clear Opinion Research found that 68 percent of registered voters said they support school choice and just 22 percent were against. Importantly, the numbers varied little across sub-groups: 69 percent of 18-24 year-olds were in favor as were 68 percent of 55-64 year-olds; 68 percent of whites were in favor, while 71 percent of blacks supported the concept.

A survey conducted by Beck Research found very similar results. Released in January, the poll reveals that nationally 73 percent of Latinos and 67 percent of African-Americans back “the broad concept of school choice,” as do 75 percent of millennials.

It’s important to note that both polls were taken before the coronavirus reared its ugly head. There is no doubt that the favorable numbers have increased, very possibly significantly. In fact, one recent poll showed that 40 percent of families are more likely to homeschool or virtual school after experiencing the lockdown.

Education, like food, is essential for human existence. Leaving either up to a government monopoly, which has absolutely no incentive to improve the quality of its product, can have pernicious consequences on consumers and, indeed, all citizens.

This article originally appeared in the California Policy Center.

Great America

H.L. Mencken: Misfit In 21st-Century America

By virtue of the unsettling, bracing originality of his ideas, Mencken is rendered as inaccessible to the American reader today as an alien from deep space.

H.L. Mencken, a contrarian polemicist and the consummate critic, who wrote prolifically and prodigiously from 1899 until 1948, may no longer seem relevant, but the fault would not be his.

Mencken was a well-read bon vivant with a taste for Teutonic philosophy and a fidelity to immutable truth. He was also a brilliant satirist and a writer whose facility with the English idiom and grasp of intellectual history remain unsurpassed.  

How can a phenom like Mencken appeal in our age, The Age of the Idiot? 

He can’t. He should, but he can’t.

Henry Louis Mencken cannot appeal to the bumper crops of humorless, dour “dunderheads” America is now siring. He cannot resonate with those who are afraid to question received opinion, who cannot conjugate a verb correctly, use tenses, prepositions and adjectives grammatically and creatively, or appreciate a clever turn-of-phrase.

How could Mencken, author of The American Language (1919), be relevant in an America in which the rules of syntax are passé, pronouns are politicized and neutered, torrential prolixity is in, concision and precision are out, and “editors” excise nothing, preferring to let mangled phrases and lumpen jargon spill onto the page like gravy over a tablecloth?   

Not for nothing did one wag say that the history of ideas is the history of words. And since Mencken was, first and foremost, a man of ideas (and hence, words)—no discussion of Mencken and his ideas is complete without a reference to English, the language he deployed with such verve and vim. 

Thus, when “a few newspaper smarties protested” Mencken’s verbal virtuosity, Mencken tartly noted, in his Preface to A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949): “Thousands of excellent nouns, verbs and adjectives . . . are still unfamiliar to such ignoramuses. Let them . . . leave my vocabulary and me to my own customers, who have all been to school.” 

Written at a considerable level of abstraction, for a prosaic people that, by Mencken’s estimation, “cannot grasp an abstraction,” a Mencken essay is certain to furrow the brow of the above-average American reader, writer, and editor these days. Unlike the tracts disgorged by Conservatism, Inc., the least complicated of Mencken’s editorial writings would place excessive demands on the unsupple minds of young activists, who are busy striking a selfie on social media or running to CPUKE conferences.

Indeed, ideas are in retreat; and the incremental and steady “closing of the American mind” is on the march. By virtue of the unsettling, bracing originality of his ideas, Mencken is rendered as inaccessible to the American reader today as an alien from deep space. 

While Mencken’s libertarian acolytes and admirers focus on his disdain for the state as the leitmotif of his writings—Mencken’s war on the “dishonest, insane, intolerable and tyrannical” U.S. government was, arguably, the least controversial thread in his voluminous oeuvre

Mencken’s grasp of government as a predatory, “regimenting” force that fleeces the citizen without flinching; that could and does “safely strip [the individual] to his hide”; a “gang well-nigh immune to punishment”—these, nowadays, are the most acceptable of Mencken’s thoughts.  

What would make Mencken an outcast to the turgid minds dominating the current marketplace of ideas is his disdain for the “intellectually underprivileged” American electorate, whom he called the “boobs.” As Mencken saw it, Boobus Americanus, so easily and reliably “impressed and enchanted” by the political scoundrels, was largely to blame for why nowhere in the world was government more secure than in the United States. Americans were simply the “most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag . . . ” 

“A glorious commonwealth of morons,” Mencken called America. “The American moron’s mind”—this “mob-man’s” mentality—is that of a “violent nationalist and patriot,” to whom ideas are a menace, and who would always opt “to keep his Ford, even at the cost of losing the Bill of Rights.”

These are all Mencken’s words, not mine. 

It was Mencken against America, then, to paraphrase the scholar Thomas W. Hazlett. And it would be Mencken against America today.

More so than his anti-statism and strong, spare prose—so different from today’s insipid, anemic, meandering commentary—Mencken shattered every conceivable totem and taboo of American life. It is this so-called anti-Americanism that would make Mencken unpalatable and unemployable in our times.

In a word, being a man of ideas is what would render Mencken a misfit among his countrymen. For, as Mencken saw them, Americans were congenitally and “implacably hostile to” the very things that made him tick: “novel ideas and points of view.” “Everything American,” mocked Mencken, is characterized by “a great distrust of ideas” and “a harsh fidelity to a few fixed beliefs,” most of which Mencken derided. 

Let me count the ways.

American exceptionalism? Not on your life—except as the “greatest show on earth . . . a show which lays chief stress upon . . . the exquisitely ingenious operations of master rogues . . . clowns in constant practice.” 

“American values”? Aren’t those fit for export? Should not America be making the world over in its image? 

Are you fit to be tied? Mencken’s conviction was that the “average American” is a narrow-minded chauvinist, who is wont to conflate “differentness” with “wrongness” and immorality. By extension, America’s habitual manner of dealing with “foreign nations, whether friend or foe—is hypocritical, disingenuous, knavish, and dishonorable.”   

Christianity? Not too long ago, gingerly cleaving to Edward Gibbon’s scholarship, this essayist pondered whether Christianity might be considered the Social Justice movement of its day. How subtle was that compared to Mencken’s reference to Christianity as a “mob religion” that “paves heaven with gold and precious stones, i.e., with money”! 

Nevertheless, in his day, Mencken was seen as merely following his métier as an acidic critic; today, his heretical words on most subjects would have earned Mencken a rebuke from a prissy, Fox-empaneled gaggle of schoolmarms, called upon to expatiate about Mean Man Mencken. 

On second thought, today, Mencken would have been silenced by “cancel culture.”

Mencken’s views on “monogamous marriage” and the military broke the American mold as well.  

The married man ends up “making machiavellian efforts to avoid kissing the everyday sharer of his meals, books, bath towels, pocketbook, relatives, ambitions, secrets, malaise and business: a proceeding about as romantic as having his boots blackened.” Find me a conservative radio mouth or TV anchor who would forgive the Maestro for that uproariously funny quip. 

The American military? The “military caste,” bemoaned Mencken, in the Minority Report, did not originate as a party of patriots, but as a party of bandits.” More crucially, Mencken mocked the mighty American military’s fighting prowess. Who gets away with that today? 

From the riffs of outrage coming from the Democrats and their demos over “our democracy” betrayed, infiltrated, even destroyed—you’d never know that a rich vein of thinking in opposition to democracy runs through Western intellectual thought. It’s at its best in Mencken’s diatribe against the democratic doxology. Mencken was withering about a political dispensation that teaches that “all moral excellence, and with it all pure and unfettered sagacity, resided in the inferior four-fifths of mankind.” 

Of course, Mencken was not merely politically impolite or incorrect. Rather, he pulverized every politically protected group conceivable: soldiers, sainted farmers and their subsidies, Jewish money-lenders, blacks, and Anglo-Saxons. Mencken would have infuriated with this verdict about the Anglo-Saxon: He is “the least civilized of white men and the least capable of true civilization.” His blood is “running thin,” and “he fears ideas almost more cravenly than he fears men.”  

Rest assured, too, that for his use of racial epithets, the country’s professional racism-spotters would proceed against Mencken with all their sinecured mediocrity. This, even though, by the Baltimore Sun’s telling, Mencken did “more to help black writers—including the likes of W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and James Weldon Johnson—get into mainstream print than any other white magazine editor of his day.” 

Yes, Mencken helped all talent. Why so? For one, he was secure in his own talent unmatched. For another, Mencken toiled at a time when merit still mattered. Today, however, true talent is expunged—treated as a mortal threat to the gatekeepers and overlords of our slum-dog culture. Only in America, ventured Mencken, are such “third-rate men” in full control of the state and the “Kultur.” More so than in Mencken’s day, the mission of these “third-rate men” today, is to preserve the status quo by warding off “the menace of ideas.”

In Human Accomplishment, Charles Murray evaluates and assesses the events and the individuals, from 800 B.C. to 1950, to have inspired humanity and dragged it out of wattle-and-daub hovels. His verdict about cultural products in the “post-1950 West”: Hardly any of “the literature, music, and visual arts of the last half century has enough substance to satisfy, over time.”

Murray’s methodologically sound findings jibe with the case made here. It is that Mencken—whose career as an American man-of-letters was meteoric, and who made a good living regaling and enraging every segment of American society—would have perished in penury had he peddled his craft in the culturally more barren half of the 20th century. 

Not prone to hyperpartisan hysteria, this writer sees Mencken as the keenest and cleverest observer of American culture. Whereas Mencken marshalled exciting, irreverent and powerful thoughts and arguments; current commentary, by and large, serves up self-righteous, “pious piffle,” to quote Mencken on the cultural foot-and-mouth of his time. Right and Left, these “dull fellows” would rise on their hind legs in protest of Mencken’s systematic, analytical, and entertaining evisceration of the alpha-and-omega of American life. 

Were Mencken to submit a tract to most of the popular magazines or websites, conservative or liberal, he’d have been reprimanded by a millennial or Generation-Z “editor” for being mean-spirited. He would have been told, “Thanks, but no thanks, Henry. We’ll pass.”

And “Henry” would have replied to editorial detractors as he did back in the day: Your newspaper, young pipsqueak, is “trifling, ill-informed, petty and unfair. It is full of transparent absurdities. Its editorials are ignorant and without sense. It is written in English full of clichés and vulgarities—English that would disgrace a manager of prize-fighters or a county superintendent of schools.”

Amen.

Great America

Madonna of the Trail Defies Statue-Toppling Culture

The truth is, we will always be less than perfect, but we cannot let that or rage ever get in the path of attaining our constitutional ideals.

BEALLSVILLE, Pennsylvania—If you are driving too fast, you’ll miss her. It often happens at the pitch of the rolling Appalachian Mountain, where she has stood for nearly 100 years: the statue of a sturdy frontier woman holding a rifle in one arm and an infant in another, with another child clinging to her long skirt.

She is Madonna of the Trail. Constructed in 1927, the warm color of the algonite stone provides a telling portrayal of temperateness one imagines a woman protecting her treasure, and about to face uncertainty, would possess.

Her beauty does not lie in her features, as she is rather plain. Instead, it lies in the strength she emotes as a symbol of the American frontier woman, one of hundreds of thousands who often left behind a more quiet life with their husbands in exchange for what they hoped was economic opportunity.

Her expression shows that she knows such an exchange will come at a price.

She is one of 12 identical statues placed across the country in 1928-29 along two migration routes, the National Road and the Santa Fe Trail. People can view her towering, 10-foot likeness not only here in Pennsylvania but also in Maryland, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, California and Arizona.

As she is here, she is often overlooked or neglected. Attempting to pull over and walk around her statue was risky. The cars fly by at a blind spot on a curve and the arc of a hill. But looking at the strength portrayed in every inch of her construction and image, it’s unclear whether or not she’d care if you stop.

If you do stop, you’d best not whine about it.

A frontier woman probably would have thought it frivolous to honor her, as she is just trying to make a way for herself and her family.

The project to build all 12 monuments to highlight the courage of these women was spearheaded by the Daughters of the American Revolution to remind us that the Wild West was not just a place of stories but also families looking for a fresh start. Along the way, on a quest that included breathtaking vistas, hardship, lawlessness and finding a sense of place in the wide-open spaces of the American frontier, they might find gold.

We’ve come to a remarkable moment when our culture supports the destruction of monuments designed to capture a sliver of our history. Often, both the mob and the liberal media that chronicle these destructive actions are illiterate in their understanding of history.

When they first came for the statues of Confederate generals, it was considered justified. When they came for the statue of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Emancipation Memorial erected in 1876, honoring Abraham Lincoln and paid for by freed slaves, it was something else they wanted to express: hatred of America.

Activists dismiss any support for keeping the Emancipation Memorial. They claim that because Lincoln is standing over a kneeling slave with broken shackles around his wrists, it is racist.

“People tend to think of that figure as being servile, but on second look, you will see something different, perhaps. That man is not kneeling on two knees with his head bowed. He is in the act of getting up. And his head is up, not bowed, because he’s looking forward to a future of freedom,” Marcia Cole, a member of the Female RE-Enactors of Distinction, told local Washington station WJLA. She also said the shackle on the portrayed freed man’s wrist is attached to a broken chain.

The Madonna of the Trail monuments were built to evoke American exceptionalism, something many people still respect even though the drivers of our toxic political culture have found an abundance of manufactured reasons to decry it.

Were the men and women in history who set out to travel west perfect? Of course not. They were flawed—most of them poor or middle-class immigrants looking for a better life. Those who possessed wealth and power did much to undo the lives and traditions of the natives of western territories, but that does not mean we cast off or do not remember the history of what happened here, and everywhere the Madonnas stand.

Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist, once said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again.”

The drive along this stretch of U.S. 40, the National Pike, is graced with hundreds of American flags blowing gently from porches and flagpoles in front of homes and businesses. There is not a lot of wealth here. The houses are humble, mobile, and some have seen better days.

Alabaster mile markers dot the highway with “Cumberland-Wheeling” etched across the top as the miles peel away between each stretch.

The drivers of our culture seemingly strive to disavow our historical attempts to achieve true exceptionalism, because we have failed along the way. The truth is, we will always be less than perfect, but we cannot let that or rage ever get in the path of attaining our constitutional ideals.

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