Archive for the ‘What’s Happening’ Category

Who’s the Nazi

July 15, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, a brave man named T. J. Helmstetter bravely confronted a Nazi who was eating a meal in a restaurant and found himself thrown by the pro-Nazi owners of the restaurant. The brave man then bravely took to Twitter to complain, before making his account private because apparently there is a large population of Nazis and Fascists infesting social media who believe in the Fascist idea that you shouldn’t harass strangers in restaurants just because they are wearing a hat you don’t like.

Okay, here is what really happened according to the Washington Post.

A public relations contractor who previously worked for the Democratic National Committee said that he was kicked out of Hill Country Barbecue Market after he confronted a diner wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat on the Fourth of July.

Around 8:30 p.m. — after President Trump had given his speech at the Lincoln Memorial as part of his “Salute to America” program but before the nighttime fireworks display — T.J. Helmstetter headed to Hill Country, a Penn Quarter restaurant that has been one of his favorite stops. In a text-message interview Friday, Helmstetter said that he, his partner and three other people found the place packed when they arrived.

“We had just walked in when I saw the guy sitting by the bar with the MAGA hat,” Helmstetter wrote. “I said, ‘Hey, are you from D. C.?’ ”

The man said no, and Helmstetter said he responded, “We don’t tolerate racism in this city.” The comment, according to Helmstetter, prompted the MAGA cap wearer’s companion to get up and jab her fingers into his chest. “I’m sure I said more things then, don’t remember what,” Helmstetter texted.

Did he curse at the woman?

“I’m from New Jersey, I’m sure I did. I might have said get your f—ing hands off of me or something like that,” he texted.

That’s when a Hill Country manager told Helmstetter, but not the target of his ire, to leave. On Twitter, Helmstetter said that Hill Country “chose to protect the Nazi’s right but not mine” to dine at the restaurant. Helmstetter then walked outside and called a Hill Country manager, who supported his staff’s decision to boot him.

In the cold accounting of Twitter, Helmstetter’s comment was getting “ratioed,” meaning his tweet had received more negative replies than likes. By Friday afternoon, before Helmstetter made his account private, his tweet had garnered nearly 2,300 likes compared with nearly 5,000 comments, many of them negative. Critics said Hill Country made the right call; they considered Helmstetter the aggressor and the intolerant one.

So no, Mr. Helmstetter wasn’t confronting a Nazi. He was bothering people who were minding their own business and trying to enjoy a meal. Wearing a MAGA hat does not make a person a racist who wants to bring back Jim Crow. Maybe they think America was great when you could have a meal in a restaurant without having some jerk decide that you should be made a pariah because he does not like what he assumes are your political opinions. Maybe they think America was greater when we did not call people we disagree with Nazis or Fascists, or when prominent people in the media did not tacitly endorse violence against supposed Fascists. Maybe America was better when you didn’t have to watch every word, for fear of losing your job or business for using the politically incorrect word for describing someone, and you could practice your religion without being called a bigot or having late-night comedians make fun of your beliefs. Making America Great Again could have all kinds of meanings, and I would venture to say that almost everyone wearing one of those hats does not want to bring back the bad things about our past, but restore the good things, like not calling people Nazis at the drop of a hat.

But if there is any confusion about just who the Nazis are out there, I will try to help make things clearer. If you believe it is your public duty to harass people who are minding their own business, you might be the Nazi. If you believe you should confront people at every opportunity, you might be a Nazi. If you believe violence against public figures, especially the president is ever appropriate, you might be a Nazi. If you denounce President Trump as a racist and anti-Semite, even though he is the most pro-Israel president we have ever had and is always bragging about the record low unemployment figures of Blacks and Hispanics during his administration, you might be a Nazi. If you even think of sending death threats to an eight-year-old girl because of her hilarious imitation of Alexandria Occasional-Cortex, you are definitely a Nazi. If you believe that smashing store windows and beating up people is a good way to promote your political viewpoint, you are a Nazi.

You may not share the precise political ideology of the Nazis and Fascists who took over Germany and Italy, but if you find yourself doing any of the above, then you are copying their methods and it is their methods that made them odious. You can have all sorts of ideas and opinions that others may dislike. but that is your business. It is when the ideas become actions that it becomes other peoples’ problem. A man wearing a MAGA hat in a restaurant is not a problem. A jerk trying to make him take it off is a problem. You can hate people all you want and that is your problem. When you act on that hate and performs acts of violence, even against people who really are Nazis and Fascists, then it becomes everyone’s problem, and you are the cause of the problem.

Maybe we should try confronting each other a little less and try talking to each other instead. Maybe if Mr. Helmstetter had simply talked to the man he would have learned that he was not a Nazi, but a decent human being. Maybe it’s worth trying.

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Kaepernick Scolded Nike Folded

July 8, 2019

Nike was planning to sell flag-themed shoes starting the week of the Fourth of July, but mediocre former athlete Colin Humperdinck told them the shoes were offensive and asked Nike to pull them. Nike did the reasonable thing and immediately complied with Pumpernickel’s idiotic request because Nike doesn’t want to make any money. They just want everyone to know how woke they are. Here’s the story from the New York Post.

Nike quietly scrapped a plan to sell an American flag-themed sneaker after Colin Kaepernick said he found the image offensive, a report said.

The sneaker company’s Air Max 1 USA featured an early version of the American flag in celebration of the July Fourth holiday and was scheduled to go on sale this week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After sending the sneakers to retailers, the company asked to have them back.

“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag,” a Nike spokeswoman told the paper.

Kaepernick reached out to the company after images of the sneaker bearing the Betsy Ross flag were posted online, the Journal said.

The former NFL quarterback said the image was offensive because of its connection to slavery.

Here are the offensive shoes

 

Why would anyone care what Colin Kaeperdick thinks on any subject, or care if he is offended? It should be obvious by now that his refusing to stand for the national anthem had nothing to do with protesting police misconduct. This was only his way to distract attention away from his unremarkable performance as a quarterback and to express his hatred for the country which made him a millionaire for throwing a football. Why doesn’t Colin Kaepernick leave this country if everything about the United States is so hateful and oppressive? He certainly has the resources needed to live anywhere in the world. Why stay?

How could anyone be so ignorant as to believe that the “Betsy Ross” flag represents slavery or White supremacy? Don’t they teach history in schools anymore? I guess not, or if history is taught, it is history based on Marxist ideology. Yes, slavery existed in the newly formed United States, and all over the world, at the time the first flag was created, but there is nothing about the symbolism of that flag that, in any way, represents slavery.

 

 

The red, white and blue colors are derived from the British Union Jack, and the thirteen stars and stripes represent the thirteen colonies that became the first thirteen states. There is nothing that could possibly be understood as referring to slavery in this design. On the contrary, the ideals which this flag represented led, eventually, to the abolition of slavery in the United States and throughout the world. Colin Kaepernick should bless this flag rather than condemn it, for the ideal which it represents is the reason a person of his skin color is a free man in America and not a slave.

If we are to erase every flag, symbol or statue from the past because it was created at a time in which slavery existed, if we must forget the accomplishments of every great man because he lived in a time that slavery was legal, then we are not going to have much of a history. History, for us, is going to have to begin today and everything that happened before is a shameful story of oppression and misery, best forgotten, or understood as merely the prologue of our enlightened present.

Maybe this is the goal. Totalitarians always seem to want to erase the past of the countries they take control of. From the French Revolution’s Republican Calendar to the Khmer Rouge’s declaration that the year they seized power was the Year Zero, to Mao’s attempt to destroy three thousand years of Chinese culture in his Cultural Revolution, totalitarian socialists seem to be fond of the idea of destroying everything that has happened before to make way for a glorious new future, unhampered by the baggage of past oppression. It never really works. History is the collective memory of the human race and if we dismiss the past, we are likely to make the same mistakes our ancestors did, without their excuse that they couldn’t have known any better. All these attempts to tear out the old society root and branch, and replace it with utopia, always end in the same sort of tyranny that they were intended to replace.

Perhaps they also believe that a people disconnected from their own heritage are easier to control. Whatever the reason, the would-be totalitarians here in America seem to be intent on conducting their own cultural revolution, albeit so far a nonviolent one. They want us to regard our own history as something shameful and evil, something to get away from. The very idea of the American nation seems hateful to them.

Well, we shouldn’t let them get away with it. There is nothing to be ashamed of in the history of the United States. No, we are not a perfect country. There are no perfect countries in this world. Yes, Americans have done shameful things, even committed crimes and atrocities. That is inevitable given that we are human beings and evil is the common heritage of all of us who have descended from Adam. Yet, given all these caveats, I can say without reservation that the United States has been a force for good in the world. No nation was ever founded on nobler ideals and no nation has ever tried harder to put those ideas into practice, both here and abroad. The United States of America was not founded by a tribe of barbarians invading a decaying empire, as were the nations of Europe, or by a warlord who built an empire by murder and plunder as were the great empires of ancient times. Our nation was founded by some of the greatest men who have ever lived, who wrote boldly in our founding document;

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

and who announced in our constitution that it was “We the People” who were to be the rulers and not a king or emperor. We have not always lived up to those noble ideals. We are still a work in progress. But, we have never stopped advancing toward the goal, and hopefully never will.

Our flag, whether the fifty-star flag or the Betsy Ross flag is a symbol of freedom, not of slavery. It is a flag to be proud of, not ashamed of. It is the likes of Colin Humperdinck and the executives at Nike who should be ashamed of themselves for their ignorance.

The Lesson They Should Learn

July 3, 2019

If there are any doubts that the political thugs calling themselves Antifa are the closest thing we have to actual fascists in this country, the recent assault on reporter Andy Ngo in Portland, Oregon should resolve them.  Robby Soave at Reason.com writes about the attack.

Andy Ngo, a photojournalist and editor at Quillette, landed in the emergency room after a mob of antifa activists attacked him on the streets of Portland during a Saturday afternoon demonstration.

The assailants wore black clothing and masks, and were engaged in a counter-protest against several right-wing groups, including the Proud Boys. Ngo is a well-known chronicler of antifa activity, and has criticized their illiberal tactics on Fox News. He attended the protest in this capacity—as a journalist, covering a notable public event.

According to Ngo, his attacker stole his camera equipment. But video footage recorded by another journalist, The Oregonian‘s Jim Ryan, clearly shows an antifa activist punching Ngo in the face. Others throw milkshakes at him:

Throwing milkshakes at right-wing politicians is a tactic of British progressive activists that recently traveled to this side of the Atlantic. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.) was hit with one earlier in June. The tactic has its defenders in mainstream left-of-center media as well: Vox‘s Carlos Maza tweeted “milkshake them all” after a British activist hurled a milkshake at Nigel Farage.

Portland police have claimed that some of the milkshakes thrown by the antifa activists on Saturday contained quick-dry cement. That may or may not be true. What is true is that an antifa mob beat up a journalist—one who is harshly critical of them, to be sure, but who posed no physical threat to them and was only there to document their activities—on a public street. This is indefensible, and yet there are tons of progressive-leaning people currently defending it, or at the very least rationalizing and making light of it.

Antifa, of course, rejects the notion that violence should only be used in response to a physical threat. The group believes that the very existence of far-right people, groups, and ideas is a kind of provocation that justifies violence—against the far-right, and against their enablers.

Evidently, the police were unwilling to prevent this sort of violence, perhaps because of Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler’s “hands-off” approach to violent protests in his city. Whatever the reason, Portland is getting a reputation as a place in which far-left Antifa activists can act with impunity against anyone who could be remotely considered a conservative, even a gay, Asian reporter.

A lot is being said about this incident, and I just want to point out that this is just what the Fascists did to gain power in Germany and Italy. Far-right groups, like the Nazis, would provoke fights with far-left groups like the Communists, and the authorities would ignore any crimes committed by the Fascists because they seemed to be the lesser evil. The threat of Communist revolution was held to be a great enough threat to justify ignoring Fascist violence. The resulting breakdown of law and order discredited those authorities and prompted people to support Hitler and the Nazis, since they seemed to be the only party that could maintain order. Despite the fact that the Nazis were responsible for much of the street fighting, the sight of the Brownshirts marching in ordered columns impressed the German people.

In like fashion, these far-left Antifa activists are provoking fights with alleged far-right activists and the authorities in Portland are ignoring crimes committed by Antifa on the grounds that they are the lesser evil than the Fascists and racists. The only difference that I can see is that the Weimar Republic faced a real danger of Communist subversion, funded by the Soviet Union, while Fascism and White supremacy are non factors in American politics, outside of the fevered imaginations of the left.

The lesson that those authorities who turn a blind eye to Antifa violence is the same, however. Those decent Germans who supported the Nazis as the lesser evil eventually learned, to their cost, that the lesser evil is still evil and that one totalitarian government was very much like another. Those Germans who winked at Nazi lawlessness would have done better to uphold the integrity of the Weimar Republic against all the extremists. Those authorities, like Mayor Wheeler and Antifa’s media cheerleaders, need to learn that their violence is not justified, even if their targets really were racists, and still less since their targets are simply mainstream conservatives.

I do not think that there is a very high probability that the Antifa thugs will gain any political power, although the Democratic Party’s increasing disdain for political and constitutional norms and tolerance for political violence is worrisome. I think that if the sort of violence and incivility represented by the Antifa and Trump opponents in Portland and elsewhere becomes the new norm, then an exasperated American people will turn to any strongman who promises to restore order, by any means necessary. Then, these supposed fighters against an imaginary Fascism will learn what it is like to face the real thing.

Condemned to Repeat the Past

June 22, 2019

The philosopher and novelist George Santayana has famously said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” No where could that be more true than in Denver, Colorado where an avowed Communist has won election to the city council by promising to impose Communism by any means necessary. Here is the story from the American Mirror.

Candi CdeBaca won a runoff race last week against former Denver city council president Albus Brooks, and she did it by promising to implement communist policies “by any means necessary.”

CdeBaca was among three candidates that unseated incumbents in the Tuesday runoff, preliminary results show, and she’s already drawing comparisons to Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who unseated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district in 2018.

The upset victory, and two other incumbent defeats, marks the most significant shift in city leadership in over 30 years, and Valverde contends it “began a movement” toward more progressive policies once the new members are sworn in this week, The Denver Channel reports.

One might think that a candidate expressing support and promising to deliver Communism, a political and economic system responsible for the death of at least one hundred million people world wide, with the oppressive tyrannies in history would be absolutely toxic to voters, at least as toxic as a candidate espousing Nazism. Why is that not the case? Are people really that unaware of Communism’s horrifically bloody and repressive history or of the history of the twentieth century? What are they teaching in the schools that has large numbers of young people so ignorant?

Harris poll conducted for Axios on HBO published Sunday found 55 percent of American women between the ages of 18 and 54 would prefer to live in a socialist country like Venezuela than the U.S. More broadly, the four in 10 Americans said the same.

Candi CdeBaca explains the need for Communism.

“I don’t believe our current economic system actually works. Um, capitalism by design is extractive and in order to generate profit in a capitalist system, something has to be exploited, that’s land, labor or resources,” CdeBaca alleged.

“And I think that we’re in late phase capitalism and we know it doesn’t work and we have to move into something new, and I believe in community ownership of land, labor, resources and distribution of those resources,” she continued. “And whatever that morphs into is I think what will serve community the best and I’m excited to usher it in by any means necessary.”

When we are talking about Capitalism, we are talking about the system that has made the world wealthy on a scale undreamed of in previous ages, a system that has lifted millions out of poverty. Look at this chart from Human Progress.

Notice how the world’s wealth has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution and exponentially since the arrival of modern Capitalism. For millennia, economic growth all over the world was very slow or nonexistent. It was Capitalism that changed that. All the various forms of Socialism, including and especially Communism would return us to the bad, old days of slow or no growth.

But Capitalism might benefit the the wealthy one percent, ignoramuses like Candi CdeBaca might argue, but it only promises misery for the great masses of exploited people. Not so fast, here are some more charts from Human Progress.

Contrary to what is often said, the rich may be getting richer, but the poor are not getting poorer. For most of human history, the overwhelming majority of the population lived in poverty with barely enough to eat. Not only is the number, not just the proportion but the overall number in an expanding population, of people living in extreme poverty is declining. For the first time ever, the number of people living in extreme poverty is a rapidly declining minority.

All this is very well, but can we really give credit to Capitalism. Well, yes. Let’s do some comparisons. We’ll start with North and South Korea. They have the same ethnic background, speak the same language and have the same culture. After the Korean War, both countries were equally poor. If anything, one might expect the more industrialized North to prosper.

 

North and South Korea

 

They began to diverge right about the time that South Korea began embracing democracy and the free market. Since then, South Korea has become democracy with one of the world’s largest economies, while North Korea remains a basket case.

What about East Germany and West Germany? Same language and culture, different results. Capitalist West Germany experienced an economic miracle in the decades after World War II. Communist East Germany’s economy was stagnant. In fact, the legacy of Communism has caused the former East Germany to lag behind the West.

One more. Taiwan and China. Before the economic reforms beginning in the 1980’s, the People’s Republic of China was actually poorer than North Korea, while the little island of Taiwan was experiencing phenomenal economic growth. China has been doing very well lately, but Taiwan’s per capita GDP is still much higher. Taiwan is a democracy while China remains a Communist state, albeit one that has made its peace with the somewhat free market. I would rather live in Taiwan than mainland China.

The science is settled, the facts are clear, the verdict is in and Candi CdeBaca doesn’t know what she is talking about. Our current economic system works very well. It is not a perfect system, nothing in this world is perfect, but our free market system has liberated millions of people from poverty and tyranny. Despite its faults, Capitalism works and socialism does not. We learned this fact with many examples in the twentieth century. Will we have to relearn it in the twenty-first? Are we condemned to repeat the bloody past because we cannot learn from the tragedies of others? What are they teaching in our schools?

Buttigieg and Jefferson

June 15, 2019

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and one of the hundred or so Democratic candidates for president expressed his concerns about Thomas Jefferson’s legacy in a recent interview with Hugh Hewitt.

HH: It’s an interesting part of the book. Let’s go to policy now. A very blunt question, because you talk about going to every Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Indiana when you were running statewide. Should Jefferson-Jackson dinners be renamed everywhere because both were holders of slaves?

PB: Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jefferson’s more problematic. You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong.

HH: Yes.

PB: And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the founder fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that. Then, we’d better look for ways to live out and honor that principle, even in a symbolic thing.

 

I think we ought to cut Thomas Jefferson and the others some slack. These people did not invent the institution of slavery. Slavery in some form has been present in every civilization in history. They did not introduce slavery into the British colonies or inaugurate the trans-Atlantic slave trade. That had been done centuries before their births. For the founding fathers, slavery was simply a part of the cultural background. They were as much a product of that background as we are of ours, and could be no more expected to question the basic assumptions of that background then most of us question the basic assumptions of our our culture and society.

It is, in fact, rather remarkable that some of the founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington did come to see that slavery was wrong. They were among the first to realize this. With the exception of the Quakers, no one questioned the institution of slavery before the late eighteenth century. Shouldn’t men like Jefferson and Washington get some credit for realizing an institution that was a integral part of the culture they grew up in was unjust and ought to be abolished?

It is easy for us in the twenty-first century to say they ought to have freed their slaves. It was not as easy for them to actually free their slaves. Slaves were valuable property and made up a considerable portion of a slave owner’s wealth. For a master to free his slaves without compensation might have meant consigning himself to poverty and a lower social position. There have never been many people willing to impoverish themselves for their stated principles. Also, many southern planters, such as Jefferson, were deeply in debt. Even if Jefferson had wanted to free his slaves, he could not necessarily act on such a desire. Not only did he require the income from labor of their slaves to continue payments on their debts, but slaves were often used as collateral. Jefferson’s creditors might have had something to say to him if he had freed his slaves.

It is not certain whether a master who freed his slaves was actually doing them much of a favor, considering the racist nature of southern society. In many slave-owning societies, such as ancient Greece and Rome, there was no racial or ethic distinction between master and slave. A freed slave could take his place as an equal to any free man, with only a slight social stigma about his former status. This was not the case in America, either before or after independence. There, a former slave’s dark skin, forever marked him as a member of an inferior caste. Most slaves were uneducated and illiterate, with experience only in unskilled farm labor. After Nat Turner’s Rebellion, many states actually made it illegal to teach slaves to read and write. There really wasn’t much of a demand in the job market for free Black unskilled farm workers. Moreover, slave owners did not want really former slaves giving ideas about freedom, by example to their own slaves and freed slaves were often compelled to leave their homes and states.

A general emancipation of the slaves would also have been difficult. It may be offensive to modern sensibilities, but the slave owners would have had to be compensated for the loss of their property, otherwise they would not have agreed to emancipation Compensating the slave holders would have been a strain on the young nation’s finances. Then, there would be the vexing problem of what to do with the freed slaves. It would be too much to expect that former slaves and their former masters would live together in a state of equality and harmony. It is more likely that the former slaves would continue be oppressed, holding the lowest positions in society and the economy, as indeed really happened, for the most part, after the slaves were freed after the Civil War.

Instead of condemning the founding fathers for failing to end slavery, perhaps we ought to give them credit for what they did do. The northern states abolished slavery during and after the American Revolution. They included a provision in the constitution banning the trans-Atlantic slave trade twenty years after ratification. The Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in the territories north of the Ohio River, making slavery a regional issue as the nation expanded west. Most of all, Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words in his Declaration of Independence;

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

sounded the death knell for slavery in America and throughout the world. No nation whose founding documents averted that all men are created equal could truly regard slavery as simply part of the natural order of things. No matter what excuses apologists for slavery might make, the Declaration of Independence that founded they own nation spoke against them.

The generation that fought for independence and created the republican system of government we still enjoy to this day was truly the greatest generation. They accomplished more than anyone would have a right to expect. It is not reasonable to condemn them for failing to end an evil that had existed since the beginning of history. They did what they could and most of them, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, expected their successors to continue to limit slavery until it died out. It is not their fault that succeeding generations of American leader leaders failed to continue the momentum towards eventual emancipation.

I will concede Greg Buttigieg one point, though. It is inappropriate for the modern Democratic Party to hold Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraisers. Both Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson favored small, decentralized government and the concerns of the common man over the elite, two positions anathema to the contmporary Democratic Party. I would recommend the Democrats hold Marx-Lenin Days as more representative of the Democratic Party’s ideology.

Hound Them From Restaurants

May 7, 2019

Freedom of speech is no longer a priority in academia if this article in Campus Reform is any indication.

A professor claimed Sunday that “vile little sh*tlords” who belong to free speech-themed clubs on campus should lose their jobs and be chased out of restaurants.

University of New Brunswick professor Matthew Sears made the assertion on Twitter in response to the San Diego synagogue shooting Saturday.

“We should name every white supremacist,” Sears said. “Name every writer, blogger, YouTuber, and politician that inspires them. Plaster their faces in public. Fire them from their jobs. Hound them from restaurants. Expose them and those that fuel them for the hateful pathetic wretches they are.”

This is an understandable reaction to a recent shooting at a synagogue, and even a staunch free speech advocate might not particularly like defending the free speech rights of the viler racists and anti-Semites, though it is understood that even the vilest among us have the right to speak out. Professor Sears, however, takes it further.

The professor lumped campus free speech activists into this group in a subsequent tweet.

“And that includes every vile little shitlord in a campus ‘free speech’ club who spends his time platforming white supremacist trolls under the banner of ‘free speech,’ and every grifting liar that goes on about campus ‘censorship’ and the ‘marketplace of ideas,'” Sears stated in a since-deleted tweet.

When lawyer Robert Barnes shared this latter tweet with his own followers, appearing to disagree with the professor’s opinion, Sears said “there’s a difference between free speech, and those who use ‘free speech’ as a deliberate strategy to put hateful and discredited ideas into the mainstream and give them academic credibility. But you know that, you liar.”

The professor told Campus Reform that, when he speaks of campus free speech activists, he means merely those who “invite bigoted provocateurs like Richard Spencer and Milo Yannopoulos,” but Sears has previously advocated for the harassment of a far more mainstream and high-profile figure.

After U.S. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders got kicked out of a restaurant in June, the professor tweeted “forget ‘respectability politics,’ forget the ‘politics of division,’ forget ‘civility.’ Let’s denormalize these folks and their ideas every single chance we get, including throwing them the hell out of restaurants. Like we should have done *from the very beginning*.”

Sears also suggested in April 2018 that a “Make America Great Again” hat was “the functional equivalent of a [Ku Klux] Klan hood or Nazi banner.”

“I suppose I reject the notion that civility is the ultimate goal, especially in the face of what are some pretty outrageous human rights abuses, such as what we see along the US-Mexico border,” Sears said, when Campus Reform asked about his Sanders tweet. “If someone like Sanders provides cover and routinely lies for someone like Trump, even if he is the most powerful person on earth, I fail to see how mouthing off to them in restaurants is beyond the pale. Yes, this could go both ways. But appeals to civility often only manage to maintain the status quo, and benefit those in power.”

So it is not just the people who just about everyone disagrees with who should be harassed, but really everyone who is to the right of Professor Sears, and even those who might agree with most of his positions but who happen to think the other side has the same free speech rights. Professor Sears evidently does not value freedom of speech as something good in itself, but only as a method to effect desired change. Speech which opposes change and social justice ought not to be allowed. People who opposed change are beyond the boundaries of decent behavior and do not deserve to be treated decently. It is acceptable to hound them out of restaurants.

I wish that people like Professor Sears would understand that both sides have fists and guns and both sides can hound the other from restaurants if that sort of becomes acceptable behavior. If harassing people with opinions we do not like becomes commonplace, people like Professor Sears may be surprised to discover that they are not in the majority. They may not like to be the ones fired from their jobs and hounded out of restaurants.

These people do not seem to understand that we do not support freedom of speech and, if not civility, some sort of mutually acceptable boundaries in expressing disagreement with one another, not because we want to be goody-goodies or because we want to tolerate hate and racism, but because the alternative is so much worse. As long as we are talking to, or even shouting at, one another, our differences can be resolved. If we give up talking to start persecuting and harassing the other side, the situation can only escalate as each side remembers grievances and injustices inflicted by the other side. It is only a short step to actual violence to resolve political differences. Petty harassment can escalate to street fighting between factions, assassinations and outright civil war. We don’t want that to happen. We also don’t want a nation weary of political violence to turn to a strongman who promises peace and security at the expense of freedom. It may be ironic that people like Professor Sears, who claim to be fighting Fascism are creating the conditions that would allow a Fascist dictator to seize power.

When political violence takes the place of political debate, it is rarely the people with the best ideas who win out. More often, it is the people who can muster the largest mobs, who have the most guns, and who are the most ruthless who win. In the history of revolutions, more often than not, it is the faction who is most ruthless and cruel, most willing to use violence against the innocent, most extreme in their positions and least willing to compromise with either their opponents or with reality who gain the power in the end. It is the thugs most willing to use the guillotine and the gulag, who end up running things. The intellectuals and professors who first agitated for revolutions usually end up in the gulag or up against a wall, devoured by the revolution they helped create. Professor Sears might want to think about that before he sends out more tweets promoting political harassment.

The Democratic Electoral College

April 27, 2019

The Electoral College has been under attack quite a lot recently. This method of electing the President of the United States is increasingly being assailed as an archaic and undemocratic provision of the Constitution which desperately needs to be replaced by a more democratic national popular vote, in which the candidate who wins a majority of the popular vote, throughout the nation, is elected president.

I think that electing the president by a national popular vote would be a bad idea for a number of reasons, not least because it would not, in fact, be more democratic. This may seem like a paradox, but we need to consider just what democracy actually is, and why it is a desirable form of government.

First, I have to commit a sort of political heresy and suggest that democracy is not actually the end all and be all of all good government. The essential purpose of government is, as Thomas Jefferson stated in his immortal Declaration of Independence, to secure the inalienable rights given to us by our Creator. Any government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. The best way to create a government that actually secures those rights and has that consent is for the government to have at least a democratic element in its constitution. At some point, the citizens ought to be consulted about policies. More democracy, however, is not necessarily better and even a democratic government can be tyrannical. If it is possible for 51% of the people to vote away the rights and property of 49% of the people, then that government is every bit as tyrannical as the rule of a dictator. Indeed, it would be preferable to live under the rule of a king or dictator who respects the rights of the people, than a democratically elected president who does not.

The men who drafted the constitution were as aware of the dangers of a tyranny of the majority as much as of the dangers of tyranny from other sources. This is precisely the reason they included such undemocratic features as an unrepresentative Senate and the Electoral College. The founding fathers were more concerned with preserving liberty than with creating what we would call democracy.

So, what is democracy anyway? Democracy can be defined as:

1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
2. political or social unit that has such a government.
3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
4. Majority rule.
5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
Democracy is more than simply holding regular elections. Dictatorships have often held elections. Democracy is a system in which the people govern themselves and play a role in the decisions made by the state. Democracy works best in small communities, the city-states of Ancient Greece or the traditional town meetings of New England. The larger a community is, the less likely it is to be truly democratic, even though it may possess the trappings of democracy such as free elections and elected representatives. A nation, like the United States, with three hundred and twenty million that spans across a continent with an enormous diversity in geography and population cannot really be very democratic at all. It can only be ruled despotically. We may be governed by a democratic sort of despotism, but it is despotism, none the less.
Why do I say this? Because one person out of three hundred million has effectively no voice. Small numbers of people are always diluted or drowned out by the whole and the only way for anyone to have any influence is to organize a large number of people, which invariably takes time and money some people do not have. The individual really has no voice on the national level no matter how democratic the forms of the government might be.
Also, with such a large and diverse population, it is impossible for the national community as a whole to come to any real consensus on policy. Even if the majority makes the decisions, there is a minority of many tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions who feel the policies have been imposed upon them. This is even more the case if the people holding the majority and minority positions live in different regions. It is simply not possible for any government on such a large scale to take into account the opinions of every, or even most people when making decisions.
Consider this map of the 2016 election results by county
I think that it would be fair to say that the red and blue regions are roughly equal in population. Considering that Hilary Clinton won more popular votes than Donald Trump, it is likely that the blue regions slightly outnumber the red regions. If that election had been based on the popular vote Hilary Clinton would now be president. If we switched to electing presidents by popular votes, any candidate would find it easier to campaign in the smaller, more densely populated blue regions rather than travel out to the more sparsely, but wider, red regions. The issues and policies of the blue areas would take precedence over the issues and policies of the reds. Electing the president by a national popular vote would be more democratic in one sense, the majority would be electing the president, but it would be less democratic in a more important sense, large portions of the country would feel themselves ruled by a government not of their choosing and not concerned with them. It would not be long before they began to feel as though they were merely colonies of the coasts. How long before they decided to separate?
If democracy in a large, diverse nation is impossible, should we split the country into smaller, more manageable pieces? Well, in a way we already have. When the founding fathers drafted the constitution, each of the former colonies was meant to be a sovereign state within the larger United States. This is why they are called states, a term normally used to indicate a sovereign, independent political entity, and not provinces. The idea expressed in the constitution was that each state was to be independent, sovereign, and in control of its own affairs, with the government of the United States handling those affairs which concerned all the states; diplomacy, war, coinage, etc.
Over the centuries for various reasons, good and bad, the country has become more centralized, with the federal government gaining more and more power, at the expense of the sovereignty of the states, to the point that the states have almost mere administrative appendages of the federal government. There may be advantages to a more centralized national government, but it is going to be less democratic. Replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote will be one more step on the road to making the states irrelevant, and the nation less democratic. We need to be decreasing the power of the federal government increasing the sovereignty of the states if we want to live in a truly democratic country in which the ordinary citizen has some influence on public policy. I would even take this a step further and suggest that some of our larger states; California, New York, Texas, among others, ought to be split up to create smaller, more manageable units.
If we really want to live in a democracy, we need to be making our politics smaller and more local. Abolishing the Electoral College is a step in the wrong direction.

Mike Pence Threatens Taylor University

April 23, 2019

I think the PJMedia’s article says it all.

Enraged Students at Christian Taylor University Left ‘Physically Shaking’ after Mike Pence Chosen for Graduation Speech

Here are some excerpts from the article describing what the controversy is all about.

On Thursday, the evangelical Christian school Taylor University announced it had invited Vice President Mike Pence to give its 2019 graduation speech. A tremendous uproar ensued, with students and alumni reporting that the decision made them “sick” and expressed support for “hate” and “harmful bullish*t.” The school told PJ Media it would not yield to pressure and was still proud to have Pence speak at graduation.

“Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration’s policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear,” Alex Hoekstra, a former staffer for President Barack Obama and a 2007 Taylor University graduate, said in the petition.

Others proved more angry and visceral.

“I have never been made to feel so physically ill by an email before. Taylor University, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Claire Hadley, who graduated from Taylor in 2015, began in a long Facebook post. “I am physically shaking. The fact that the school who claims to love and support me, and each of it’s [sic] students and alum, would invite such a vile individual to speak on the most important day of the year??”

“VP Pence is no friend of mine. He does not support me. He does not support equality,” Hadley declared. “He does not uphold the values that are at the very core of the church, my own faith, and I would hope, of this University. He is rooted in hate. To stand beside President Trump would have been enough to put him on my watch list.” She argued that Mike Pence “only values you if you fit in his very narrow, white, straight, box.”

“Taylor University, I feel personally attacked,” she concluded. “Please, I’m begging you. Don’t do this.”

Lindsey Snyder, a 2014 graduate, said she emailed Taylor University President Lowell Haines. “This invitation gravely concerns me, because whether intentional or not, it is politicizing Taylor University, aligning the school with the current administration,” she reported writing. “Many current and former Taylor students are adamantly against some of Pence’s stances and will no doubt feel unsafe at their own graduation. Even if it was someone less controversial than Pence, having a political figure speak at commencement alights unnecessary and grievous conflict.”

“As a Taylor alum, I am severely disappointed,” Abi Perdue Moore wrote on Facebook. “For this and other policies marginalizing members of the lgbtq+ community (not to mention students of color), you do not have my support. Do not invite this speaker to campus; do not burden the university with the cost of security and transportation; do not send the message that Taylor is a place where only straight/cis/white men are valued as leaders and disciples.”

First of all, I am not aware that Mike Pence only values straight/cis/white men as leaders and disciples. When did he ever say anything that might possibly suggest this? When did Vice-president Pence ever express hatred for anyone? It is true that as a Christian, Mike Pence upholds the Christian doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman, but that is not the same as calling for discrimination or violence against gays. As Tyler O’Neil, the writer of the article puts it;

Indeed, Vice President Pence stands for traditional Christian morality and upholds people’s religious freedom to abide by such values. This means he believes marriage is between one man and one woman, and that biological sex is more real than gender identity. He disagrees with LGBT activism, but that does not mean he disrespects — much less “hates” — LGBT people.

Yet LBGT activists have conflated disagreement with violence. When bakers, florists, and photographers gladly serve LGBT people but refuse to use their creative talents to celebrate a same-sex wedding or a transgender identity, activists accuse them of discrimination and violating LGBT people’s civil rights. Activists demand that Christian schools and charities should have to hire employees who identify as LGBT, and celebrate their identities. When they heard that Mike Pence’s wife was teaching at a Christian school, outrage ensued.

Americans have the freedom to live by their beliefs, however. Christian organizations should not be forced to violate their beliefs by endorsing LGBT identities and relationships. They should treat everyone with respect, but respect does not involve the endorsement of a person’s ideas.

Precisely. If there is anyone motivated by hatred, it would be these left-wing activists who simply cannot live and let live.

Second, why are these people so afraid of Mike Pence, or really of any conservative speaker? What do they imagine Mike Pence is going to do, use his Christian Jedi mind powers to turn everyone in the audience into a violent, homophobic bigot? Pull out a concealed weapon and start shooting down LGBTWTF students and students of color? Call for a good, old-fashioned fag drag?

Since Mike Pence is not the demagogic hater they imagine him to be, he will most likely give a bland, uncontroversial graduation speech, congratulating the graduates and wishing them well for the future. Nothing for anyone to be afraid of.

Which brings to my third point. It is easy to make fun of these people who object to Mike Pence’s speech as fragile snowflakes too afraid to listen to opposing opinions, but that is missing the point. These people’s aim is to prevent Mike Pence, or really anyone who does not think like them from being able to speak in public. They want to delegitimize and censor opposing viewpoints. This kind of speech and thought control is antithetical to most Americans so they have to claim to be somehow harmed by such speech to justify censoring it. They play the victim in order to bully people.

Last, these graduates of a Christian college don’t seem to have much knowledge of Christian doctrines and beliefs. Mike Pence’s position on homosexuality is closer to traditional Christian doctrine than their position. Scripture and centuries of Christian tradition holds that sexual relations between two people of the same sex is sinful. This does not mean that Christians are to persecute the homosexual or fail to treat them with the respect due to our fellow human beings and sinners, but it also means that a Christian cannot support same-sex marriage or homosexuality as simply a harmless sexual preference. To do this is to ignore fundamental Christian teachings on marriage and sexuality. It is true that Christ ate with sinners, but he also called upon them to repent. He did not tell the adulteress that adultery was acceptable or the tax collector that extortion was acceptable. He forgave them their sins and told them to sin no more. A truly Christian approach to the issue of homosexuality demonstrates a greater degree of love and tolerance than the activists are willing to extend to people like Mike Pence. But, then, it never really was about tolerance or even social justice.

 

 

Erasing Michael Jackson

March 21, 2019

In the wake of the release of the Leaving Neverland documentary, which tells the story of two victims of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, there has been an effort to erase the singer from history, making him into an unperson. The latest attempt has been a decision by the producers of The Simpsons to take an episode featuring Jackson’s voice permanently out of circulation.

The Simpsons is pulling an episode featuring Michael Jackson’s voice, co-creator James L. Brooks told the Wall Street Journal yesterday. “Stark Raving Dad,” which featured Jackson as the voice of a mental patient who believes that he is actually Michael Jackson, is, or has been, one of the show’s most beloved installments, coming in 10th in the Ringer’s 2017 ranking of its best episodes. But after the broadcast of Leaving Neverland, in which two men describe in detail how Jackson allegedly molested them when they were children, Brooks said that taking the episode out of circulation was “clearly the only choice to make.”

Brooks told the Journal that “Stark Raving Dad,” in which Homer is committed to a mental institution, was “a treasured episode” for him, but it’s already been removed from Simpsons World, the online portal that offers access to every—now every other— episode of The Simpsons, and Brooks said that “the process has been started” to remove it from syndication and future physical media editions. “I’m against book burning of any kind,” Brooks said, “but this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”

I don’t know about this. It’s true that they have every right to pull any episode they want. They don’t have to broadcast, stream, or sell DVDs of any episode of the Simpsons at all, if they don’t want to, and yet this sort of airbrushing  the past bothers me. It feels somehow Stalinist.

This is why I oppose toppling statues of Confederate generals, covering up pictures that display the Ku Klux Klan, renaming cities that were named for slave holders, consigning old movies to oblivion because they don’t meet contemporary standards of race relations. How are we supposed to learn from the past, if we don’t know anything about the past?

Considering that the child abuse allegations against Michael Jackson are decades old, why is Michael Jackson being erased and boycotted now, ten years after his death.  That documentary didn’t really reveal anything about Jackson that wasn’t already known. Yes, a jury acquitted him of child molestation back in 2005, but I don’t think anyone who wasn’t a diehard Jackson fan seriously believed that Michael Jackson was innocent, considering his odd lifestyle in which he surrounded himself with children. Jackson all but publicly announced he was a pedophile.  So why now? Why didn’t these people sever all business relations with Jackson when he was still alive. Is it safer now that he is gone? Is there no more money to be made from his name?

This also brings up the question of how do we separate the artist from his art. I was never a Michael Jackson fan, but he did make good music. I love the music of Richard Wagner, but he wasn’t an especially nice person. Wagner was an anti-Semite who borrowed money from his friends with no intention of ever repaying them, while he was seducing their wives. Beethoven was extremely hard to get along with and was an alcoholic. Mozart was not quite the obnoxious man-child depicted in the movie Amadeus, but the portrayal was not entirely inaccurate. John Lennon abused his first wife, before abandoning her and their son. These artists made sublime music while being despicable human beings. How do their human failings affect our appreciation of their art? Can we listen to the music of a man who abused children without feeling somehow defiled? Does the art transcend the man?

I think this is a question that we each have to answer for ourselves. I would rather make that decision for myself, however, rather than have it answered for me.

 

 

What’s the Matter with Britain?

February 24, 2019

I am an Anglophile. I love Great Britain and particularly England. I am a great fan of English literature, English history, English culture, and the English language. Although I am a patriotic American, there are times when I when a certain regret over the misunderstandings of 1776 that led to our separation from the mother country. The world might be a better place if America, Britain, and the other English-speaking countries were all part of a globe spanning Anglo-American Empire.

But then, I read stories like this one in the Telegraph and am grateful that we did separate from Great Britain, and write a constitution that includes the first amendment. England seems to be even more in the grip of political correctness than we are and they have no first amendment to keep the Fascists from throwing thought criminals in jail.

A docker from Humberside has been investigated by police over a limerick he posted on Twitter after an officer claimed it constitutes a ‘hate incident’ against transgender people.

Harry Miller, 53, from Lincoln was contacted on Wednesday by a community cohesion officer following a complaint that had been made about the plant and machinery dealer’s social media posts.

Citing 30 potentially offensive tweets, the PC singled out a limerick Mr Miller had retweeted which  questioned whether transgender women are biological women. It included the lines: “Your breasts are made of silicone, your vagina goes nowhere.”

Even though no crime was committed, sharing the limerick online was recorded as a ‘hate incident’.

PC Mansoor Gul told Mr Miller: “I’ve been on a course and what you need to understand is that you can have a foetus with a female brain that grows male body parts and that’s what a transgender person is.”

After Mr Miller questioned why the complainant was being described as a “victim” if no crime had been committed, the officer told him: “We need to check your thinking”.

“I can’t believe what is happening in the UK in the name of transgenderism and, worse still, we’re not even allowed to think never mind talk about it,” Mr Miller said.

The married father of four was alerted to the investigation by his company directors after they were approached by officers trying to make contact with Mr Miller.

The complainant had managed to identify Mr Miller’s place of work, despite there being no reference to his business or his full identity on his Twitter account. As part of the complaint to police it was alleged the firm was an ‘unsafe environment’ for transgender employees because of Mr Miller’s comments on social media.

Let’s get this straight. Mr. Miller did not commit any crimes. He did not assault or even make any disparaging remarks to anyone in person. He did not even compose the allegedly offending tweet. He simply liked or retweeted tweets that someone found offensive. The only reason the police were involved was because it was a “hate incident” and they needed to check his thinking.

What is the matter with Britain? Why are they putting up with this petty tyranny over there? What has happened to the liberty loving English of the past, the people who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, who chopped off Charles I’s head for being an overbearing tyrant, who fought the good fight against Hitler? When did the British people become a herd of sheep?

What exactly is a “hate incident”? If a hate incident occurs whenever one person says something that another person does not like, than no one is safe saying anything at all. Any comment, no matter how innocent could be taken as offensive. In fact, such rules against “hate” cannot be applied objectively and even-handedly. They are almost always applied in favor of “marginalized” groups against less favored groups. If a White, cisgender, heterosexual, Anglican had complained about a hate incident, I doubt anyone would have cared, no matter how hateful the tweet.

Does anyone really believe that banning hate speech will actually eliminate hate? It seems to me that it would only succeed in driving it underground. The people who are silenced will not change their opinion. They will only have the additional grievance of being silenced, and if the silencing is not objective or even-handed, as in fact it cannot be, the censorship may have the effect of increasing resentment against any favored groups.

There is also the problem of what actually constitutes “hate”. All too often, hate is defined simply as an opinion someone doesn’t like, especially if there happens to be some truth in the silenced opinion. The tweet that Mr. Miller shared may have been crude and not very nice, but it does express a truth. Gender is a biological fact, not a matter of personal choice. It is not possible to change gender, no matter how strongly a person feels as though they are really the opposite gender. A transgender man is not a woman, no matter what hormones he has taken or operations he has had. By punishing such sentiments as hate speech, the authorities in Britain are in the position of punishing a man for speaking a truth anyone can see and coercing people to affirm a lie, they cannot really believe.

If truth or a widely shared opinion becomes “hate”, than this blurs the lines between unpleasant pr inconvenient truths and statements that really are hateful. Punishing hate speech might have the unintended effect of making real hatred more acceptable, not to mention putting both the dissident stating unpleasant truths and the hater in the same position as defenders of free speech and free thought.  In general, I think the best way to deal with hate is to have everything out in the open rather than to let in fester in darkness.

I guess it was just as well we had that disagreement back in 1776. I prefer to live in a country where free speech is protected by the first amendment. Maybe the US should annex Britain as our fifty-first state so the people there can have the benefits of the first amendment.


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