Archive for the ‘Scum and Villainy’ Category

The Harper’s Magazine Letter

July 13, 2020

I am not very impressed with the open letter calling for the end of cancel culture that is appearing in Harper’s Monthly.  This is unexpected. When I first heard that a number of prominent liberals had signed an open letter advocating freedom of speech and thought and calling for an end to the increasing tendency to ostracise people who hold whatever opinions are deemed racist this week, I might have thought it would be something I could get behind. After all, I am a free speech fundamentalist. As far as I am concerned, there is no subject too dangerous to discuss. There are no opinions so repugnant that they should be censored.

So, what is my problem with this open letter? Well, to start with, it begins dishonestly. Look at the first paragraph.

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

What has Donald Trump to do with the intolerant climate that has set in? The most he has done is call out the media on its dishonest and biased reporting. How has the Right been intolerant? Have conservatives been trying to get people fired for disagreeing with them? Most conservatives in the last few decades have been heavily influenced by libertarian ideas. There haven’t really been any prominent conservatives calling for censorship or canceling people. Even if there were, conservatives haven’t been in much of a position to cancel anyone. Leftists control the media, academia, the federal bureaucracy, even many large corporations. The left has won the culture war. They own the culture. If there has been a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity, it is entirely on the left. All right-wing demagogues can do is plead for tolerance.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

All of this is very true, except that it is all being done by the radical and not so radical left. Mainstream conservatives have little enough power to censor. Anyone on the radical right has absolutely no power at all. being isolated from public fora. The writers of this letter are trying to spread the blame around for developments that are entirely the fault of their own ideological allies. Leftists are responsible for the free exchange of ideas and information being more constricted. It is the left that has developed an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. It is dishonest to pretend that this is not the case.

And this leads to the other problem I have with this letter. Let’s look at the final paragraph

This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

These are all fine sentiments, but I have to wonder where these people were when all this political correctness madness began? Where are they when conservatives were being canceled and de-platformed? They didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the restriction of debate by an intolerant society then. Some were even cheering the outrage mob on. I didn’t start seeing letters defending the right to free expression until the leftist outrage mobs started turning on their fellow leftists for being insufficiently woke.

While I appreciate the newfound commitment to free expression in at least a few people on the left, I am not going to take it very seriously until I see them defend the free speech rights of conservatives. They can begin by not calling people on the right racists and Nazis. Better still, I’d like to see them defend the free speech rights of actual racists and Nazis. It is easy enough to defend the rights of people you agree with, more difficult to defend the rights of people you disagree with, but only someone who is truly committed to freedom of expression would defend the rights of people who express ideas everyone else finds despicable. I’d like to see the people who signed display that level of commitment. Actually, I’d like to see that level of commitment from everyone. Maybe this letter will be a step in that direction.

You Say You Want a Revolution

June 17, 2020

I think that everyone agrees that the death of George Floyd was a heinous act of murder and that the officer responsible, Derek Chauvin, ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. This is a literal no-brainer. I would also like to think that everyone agrees that looting and rioting are bad things, unlikely to have positive results. Somehow, this is not as obvious. There seem to be a fairly large number of people who have been taking to social media to excuse, justify, and encourage the rioters.

These people don’t really seem to be all that concerned with Black Lives. They don’t seem to care much about the Black lives that are destroyed when Black neighborhoods are burned down. Instead, they seem to be most interested in living out some role-playing fantasy of revolution. Since these people are fools who don’t have any idea of what they are leading the country into, I am going to explain just what living in a country where the people have decided they would rather kill each other rather than live in peace is really like.

Is this what you want?

Wars, revolutions, and civil disturbances are interesting to read about in history books. Movies and books make war and revolution exciting, glamourous, even romantic. Who wouldn’t want to be like Luke Skywalker or Katniss Everdeen, leading the good fight against the Evil Empire? Real life is very different. In real life, civil conflict is not exciting and glamorous. It is frightening, ugly, and brutal. Just look up some of the places in the world where the people have decided that they prefer to kill each other than living in peace. Here is a shortlist of recent examples; Syria, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, The Congo. There are many more. Look up the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Mexican Revolution for just a few, not so recent examples. You do not want to be living in a country that has torn itself apart. Trust me, you really don’t.

Let me give you an idea of what it is like to live in a country where people have decided it is better to resolve their disputes violently rather than peacefully. Let’s imagine you are living in America about ten years from now.

You wake up early to go to work. It used to be about a thirty-minute commute into the city to the office, but that was before the Uprising and the fighting. These days you never know how long it will take if you can make it at all. There hasn’t been much fighting in this part of the country lately. Just the usual terrorist bombings and attacks by the Resistance forces hiding out the country. The government says they have the situation under control and the Resistance is losing. They have been saying that a lot.

On the way to work, you have to veer into the next lane to avoid the crater left by the bomb that went off last month. They say the Resistance was targeting a military convoy. If so, they must have set the timer wrong because the bomb took out three cars full of people going to work, just like you. You saw the explosion from a distance. You were late to work that day because it took the emergency responders three hours to clear away the wreckage. They had to be careful. Sometimes the Resistance plants second bombs to kill the people trying to save the victims.

You are stopped twice at military checkpoints. Each time you show your ID to the soldiers and explain that you are on your way to work. You try to keep calm and not act suspiciously. Under the State of Emergency, the police and military have the power to detain anyone they suspect of aiding and supporting the Resistance for seventy-two without charges. Each time, the soldiers check your ID against the online database and let you pass. It is getting harder to move around these days. You are lucky to be working in the same county you live in. If you lived in another country they would be checking your ID more closely and asking if you really need to cross a county line to work. It is very difficult to cross a state line these days. You would need to demonstrate a legitimate need to travel to receive your travel permit. This is all very inconvenient, but if it helps stops the terrorists, maybe it is worth it.

At work, you overhear some of your co-workers talking about politics and recent events. That can be dangerous. Expressing sympathy for the Resistance could get you a visit from the police if you are lucky. If not, you could simply disappear one night. No one really knows what happens to the people who disappear, though there are stories. Maybe they are shot and buried out in the country. Maybe they are taken to work camps in North Dakota. Who knows? Its also not safe to show too much support for the government. The Resistance has been known to assassinate people who speak out against them. You are just glad you have no close family in the police or military. More than one cop or soldier has come home to find the mutilated corpses of his family waiting for him, murdered as a lesson or in retaliation. It’s best to stay quiet and mind your own business.

You have to stop at the grocery store on your way home. There is not much on the shelves and what little there is, is terribly expensive. War and terrorism play havoc with supply chains. You also have to stop at a gas station to refuel. You hate to do this since gasoline is over $10 per gallon, after the refineries in the Gulf were blown up. Before you can pull in, you are stopped by policemen. They ask you to get out of your car so they can search it. It seems that the Friends of the Earth have taken to leaving car bombs at gas stations to fight global warming or something. Its strange, but last winter was the coldest you can remember. Maybe that was because you couldn’t afford heating though.

 

At home, you turn on the television. the President is giving a speech about the recent capture of a major Resistance leader. He looks old. He has been president for a long time, almost nine years. The Uprising began right after the last election. Resistance fighters seized control of several American cities and declared themselves to be the Socialist Republic of North America. Fighting broke out all over the country. The Capitol was bombed while Congress was meeting and the twenty surviving members of Congress voted unanimously to suspend the constitution and grant the president emergency powers. The President ordered the military to take back control of the cities by any means necessary. The Uprising was crushed but the Resistance lived on. The fighting has continued to the present day.

The power goes out abruptly. This is a regular occurrence. Maybe a power line was cut or a transformer blown up. Maybe no one has the time to keep up maintenance on the infrastructure anymore. You decide to go to bed early. As you lay in your bed, you hear the distant sound of gunfire. The Resistance has emerged from their hiding places and is fighting the military. You hope the fighting doesn’t spread to your neighborhood like it did last year. Its hard to get any sleep in the basement, hoping no one decides to loot or burn down your apartment building. With that thought, you drift off to sleep.

Does this sound like fun or exciting to you? Is living in a country that is fighting itself likely to improve anyone’s life? And keep in mind that that was a fairly optimistic scenario with the government was mostly intact and fighting limited to terrorism and guerrilla war. I can imagine worse scenarios. Imagine how bad it would be to live in a country with no functioning government, just rival gangs or militias fighting it out all over the country. Or imagine if different factions of the US military took different sides in a civil war. How would you feel watching a race-based militia doing door to door, dragging out your neighbors who happen to have the wrong skin color and shooting them in the street? How would you like fleeing for your life from such a militia with nothing but the clothes on your back? Do you think you would enjoy living in a refugee camp because your home was bombed?

Revolution is not exciting or romantic. It is terrible. You do not want to be living in the middle of a civil war, yet that seems to be the way our country is heading. We have got to decide to step back from the cliff. No matter how bad you think the president is, or how much you think the Republicans or the Democrats are screwing things up, the alternative is far, far worse. You say you want a revolution. You have no idea what you are wishing for.

“Chinese Virus” is not Racist

March 22, 2020

No, it is not racist to refer to the coronavirus or COVID-19 as the Chinese virus or the Wuhan virus. Calling it the Kung Flu might be racist and is certainly inaccurate, considering we are not dealing with a strain of influenza, but it is funny. This pandemic had its start in Wuhan, China, and it is commonplace to name a new form of a disease by its origin. As David Mastio, the Deputy Editor of USA Today’s editorial page, and no Trump supporter, explains;

But many of the reports left something out: just how common and innocuous geographic names are for diseases.

Here are a few:

And disease names don’t have to come with a foreign flavor. Lyme disease is named for a town in Connecticut. Norovirus is named for Norwalk, OhioRocky Mountain spotted fever!

And then there is the issue of facts. The Spanish flu was most likely misnamed; we don’t know where it came from. But we do know that the novel coronavirus now sweeping the world emerged from a city called Wuhan in central China.

I suppose that if COVID-19 had first emerged from Hoboken, New Jersey it would be popularly named the Hoboken virus or the American virus. Would that be racist? Is referring to rubella as German measles racist or anti-German? No sensible person would maintain such a ridiculous notion. Why is Wuhan or the Chinese virus somehow racist? Why are so many in the media jumping on this bandwagon? I can only think of two reasons.

The government of the People’s Republic of China has been very eager for the rest of the world to forget that the coronavirus originated in China. China’s leaders would especially like for people to forget that the pandemic could have been easily managed had they managed the minimal level of transparency expected in a good global citizen. Instead, they tried to cover up the problem to protect the Party’s reputation. Now, they are trying to blame the United States by promulgating a bizarre conspiracy theory, while insisting that “China virus” is racist. Our elite media seems all too eager to repeat Chinese Communist propaganda points, whether because they are that eager to find some way to blame Trump or they admire China’s authoritarian government, I don’t know.

Or maybe they just despise their fellow Americans. The idea among our betters seems to be that if the president refers to the Chinese virus, it will lead to attacks against Asian-Americans. Already, the media is breathlessly reporting on a handful of incidents of insults and violence against East Asians. According to our elite, those of us who are benighted enough to live in flyover country are so racist and ignorant that any mention of the China virus will drive us into a frenzy of hate and will cause us to form mobs to hunt down every Chinese we can find and murder them, just as mobs of Europeans murdered Jews during the time of the Black Death. Well, in a nation of over 320 million people there are going to be a few cases of people behaving badly, especially in California. Contrary to what our betters on the coast might believe, the United States of America is not a nation of haters. We do not form mobs to kill “foreigners” at the drop of a hat. There are not KKK rallies being held on every street corner, and Trump’s supporters are not White supremacists. We are better people than they believe us to be and I wish they would stop projecting their own bigotry on to us.

It is certainly appropriate to refer to the coronavirus as the Chinese virus. I cannot say that I am very much troubled if the Chinese leadership or their allies among our own leaders are upset by the use of that term. To be honest, I am more than a little irritated at the Chinese, or to be more accurate, at the Chinese communist government for their negligence which led to our present crisis. I have already been upset by the Chinese government’s totalitarian disregard for the basic civil rights of their own citizens, the near genocide of the Uighurs, the occupation of Tibet and the bullying way in which they have been leveraging their economic power to supplant the democratic values of free nations with their own authoritarian values. The Chinese virus is simply the last straw. The People’s Republic of China has shown that it is not a friend to the United States or to the free world. It is time we take their threat seriously. We can begin by assigning the blame for the coronavirus pandemic where it belongs and not allowing them to bully us into denying the obvious truth.

Pocahontas Fight Heap Big Lies

February 3, 2020

Elizabeth Warren, aka Pocahontas, the Pale-Faced Indian, has a plan to combat the rampant disinformation on social media and the Internet. This is a growing problem since the lies that are spread unchallenged over the web keep people from making the right decisions like voting for Democrats.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday released a plan to fight disinformation and to hold tech companies accountable for their actions in light of the 2016 election.

“Disinformation and online foreign interference erode our democracy, and Donald Trump has invited both,” Warren said in a Tweet Wednesday. “Anyone who seeks to challenge and defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election must be fully prepared to take this on – and I’ve got a plan to do it.”

Warren proposed to combat disinformation by holding big tech companies like FacebookTwitter and Google responsible for spreading misinformation designed to suppress voters from turning out.

“I will push for new laws that impose tough civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating this kind of information, which has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote,” Warren said in a release.

According to Warren, we need to control the information that voters have access to protect their right to vote. That seems to be rather an Orwellian statement. Warren goes on.

“The stakes of this election are too high — we need to fight the spread of false information that disempowers voters and undermines democracy,” Warren said. “I’ll do my part — and I’m calling on my fellow candidates and big tech companies to do their part too.”

Great Chief Pocahontas protect braves and squaws from heap big lies

I am sure that I am not the only one who suspects that politicians and government agencies might not be entirely evenhanded and unbiased when it comes to determining what is fake news and disinformation. Authoritarian governments have typically punished the bearers of news that might make them look bad in much the same way as Warren proposed, even if, or especially if the information is entirely accurate. The old Soviet Union did not permit any news, such as airplane crashes, nuclear power plant failures, or the level of crime, that might lead anyone to suspect that the Soviet system wasn’t as perfect as the government claimed. I am sure that the government of China has not bothered to tell its people the full extent of the dangers of the coronavirus.

But aside from such concerns, and the equally obvious question of whether Senator Warren’s proposal is compatible with the First Amendment, there is a more fundamental issue here, who is responsible for deciding what is disinformation? Are we, the American people, responsible adults who are capable of deciding for themselves what sources to trust, or are we ignorant children who need someone like Senator Warren to sort it out for us? The essential premise behind censorship or government control over information is that it is for the protection of the people, who are unable to decide for themselves what might be false or harmful information. For this reason, the Roman Catholic Church used to promulgate an Index of Forbidden Books, a list of books deemed dangerous for laypeople to read lest they come to question the faith. For the same reason, the church discouraged the private reading of the Bible. People needed guidance from the clergy since they were obviously too ignorant to decide matters of faith for themselves. The kings and emperors of old all routinely employed censorship to protect their subjects from dangerous ideas, like maybe kings and emperors were not really needed all that much. The Nazis burned and banned un-German books, to keep the master race from being defiled, and the Communists kept the workers from reading anything which might give them the false impression that they were not living in the Workers’ paradise.

This reasoning is justified in an authoritarian polity, in which the government takes a paternal interest in the physical and spiritual welfare of its subjects. It is antithetical in a democratic polity in which the people’s representatives make up the government. It is not up to Senator Elizabeth Warren, or anyone else in the government to tell us what is disinformation. It is up to us, the people to educate ourselves to learn how to tell the difference between trustworthy and untrustworthy information, and if we are not willing to do this, if we would rather the likes of Senator Warren do our thinking for us, rather than thinking for ourselves, then we do not deserve to be free.

This, then, is part of the larger question of what sort of country we want to live in. Do we wish to be free citizens in a free republic in which we get to decide who to trust and how to live or do we want to be serfs in a country in which our alleged betters decide such things for us? Elizabeth Warren, and really the whole pack of Democratic candidates, seem to be in favor of the latter course. I prefer to be free.

Hitler and Bernie

January 19, 2020

I may be breaking my own rule about comparing American politicians by posting this meme.

Separated at birth?

In my defense, I am not posting this because I believe that Bernie Sanders is anything at all like Adolf Hitler. I simply wish to point out that if you wish to call yourself a socialist, like Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, and so many other Democrats are doing these days, you are putting yourself in really bad company.

Of course, the standard line taken by the left is that Hitler was not a socialist at all. Certain, Hitler’s party was called the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, but that was only disinformation, a lie designed to beguile the masses into supporting Hitler instead of real socialists. Very well, then, but what about Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and others. All these men called themselves socialists, and all of them were mass-murdering dictators, like Hitler. Either all of these tyrants were lying, or there really is some link between socialism and mass murder.

I am sure that Bernie Sanders and the other Democratic Socialists do not intend to become mass murderers. The essential basis of every form of socialism, whether democratic or otherwise, is that a small group of elite planners based in Washington or Moscow can organize an economy, or an entire society more efficiently and justly than the decisions made by millions of free people acting in their own interests. In other words, these planners know how to run your life better than you do yourself. The problem is that any plan, no matter how enlightened, is not going to command universal support. There are always going to be people who want to do their own thing and not what the planners want them to do, so some level of coercion is always needed. If a square peg won’t fit into a round hole, it must be pounded in. If the peg’s edges are ground away, or a few million people need to be killed, it’s all for the best of causes.

One might object that unlike all of the true socialists, Hitler preached hate against people of other races, especially Jews. True socialists, like Lenin and Mao, may have used excessive force, but surely their intentions were good. They only wanted to create truly just societies. The means may have been bad, but the ends were good, while the ends of Hitler and the Nazis, the deliberate extermination of entire populations were wholly evil. Maybe, but Hitler did support policies that many people, especially progressives, even Bernie Sanders might view as good. Take a look at the National Socialist party platform.

9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

10. The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all Consequently we demand:

11. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.

12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

13. We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).

14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.

15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.

16. We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.

17. We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.

18. We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, Schieber and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.

20. The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school [Staatsbuergerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.

These seem to be policies that any good progressive could stand behind. I suspect that many Germans eventually supported Hitler because he seemed to be providing hope in desperate economic times, rather than his anti-semitism, although we must not discount the level of German resentment against the Jews, made worse, perhaps, by the depression.

Still, people regarded as truly socialist also preached hatred against groups of people, not race-based hatred, to be sure, but class-based hatred. Historically, socialists have excoriated class enemies as bourgeois capitalist exploiters, grasping landlords, kulaks, or billionaires not paying their fair share, as fervently as Hitler ever attacked the Jews and other inferior races. The socialists have seldom attacked individuals for their misdeeds, which might be somewhat justifiable, but people who belong to the wrong class. In Lenin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China, being the grandson of a factory owner or a landlord was to be guilty of enjoying class privilege even if that particular person had never exploited anyone at all. There is more than an echo of such thinking in the contemporary leftist or socialist obsession with White, male privilege. I do not see that there is very much difference between persecuting someone because of their race and persecuting someone because of the misdeeds of their relatives. Either way, it is making use of a perceived enemy to mobilize people.

To be clear, none of what I have written is meant to imply that Bernie Sanders or any other self-proclaimed Democratic socialist is anything at all like Adolf Hitler, nor would electing Sanders result in any like the Nazi state. What I am saying is that Bernie Sanders has a lot of the same furniture in his mental attic as some of the worst people in history and that socialism, no matter how benevolent the intentions of its proponents might be, sooner or later always ends in tyranny.

Then again, considering that some of Bernie Sanders’s supporters don’t have a problem with Stalin’s gulags and are promising violence if Bernie isn’t elected, there may be a closer parallel between Sanders and the likes of Hitler or Stalin than I would like to believe.

Over the Edge

December 26, 2019

While I was writing on how close we, as a country are, to stepping off the edge of a cliff into the abyss of political confusion, the Democrats in the House of Representatives took us a step closer by voting to impeach Donald Trump. This attempt at removing the president from office is foolish because there is no conceivable way that the Democrats will get the sixty-seven votes needed to convict the president and remove him from office. Given that at present there are fifty-three Republican Senators, it is unlikely that even a majority of the Senate will vote to convict. The most likely outcome of this farce is that the Senate will vote to acquit Trump with at least one or two Democratic Senators defecting. Trump and his supporters will announce that he has been vindicated of any wrongdoing, and Trump will campaign on the basis that the impeachment was nothing less than a coup by the swamp he had been trying to drain. Trump will make the 2020 election between himself as the tribune of the people fighting against the deep state elite which tried to unseat a duly elected president on specious charges and he will win, if not by a landslide, then by a comfortable margin. Already, the Republicans are setting records in fundraising.

If the only outcome of the Democrats’ attempt to impeach the president was to reelect the president they are trying so desperately to get rid of, it would not be a serious matter, more amusing than anything else. This impeachment is a serious matter, however, because of the dangerous precedent, the Democrats are setting. This attempt at impeaching the president is not motivated by any particular wrongdoing discovered. The Democrats have been stating their intention to impeach Trump even before his inauguration. The telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky is only a pretext. This impeachment, unlike previous presidential impeachments, was done solely for political purposes, to undo the results of the 2016 election. Politics did play a role in the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to be sure, but these two men actually did commit violations of the law. Donald Trump is a victim of a witch hunt, an unceasing pursuit to impeach him for anything. The impeachment of Donald Trump could best be described as an attempted coup.

Since this impeachment is being done simply to remove a president the Democrats do not like, what is there to stop the Republicans from retaliating by impeaching the next Democratic president? Some Republicans are already threatening to do so. Why shouldn’t they, since those are the new rules? And, what is to stop the Democrats from replying in kind against the next Republican president? Do we really want to have a situation in which every president from here on out is impeached the instant the opposition party takes control of Congress? What happens if a president really does commit a serious crime or abuse of power? Would anyone take an attempt to impeach him seriously? Why should they, if the last five times the president was impeached were simply politics? What happens if a president impeached on specious grounds in convicted, and simply refuses to leave the White House? Half the country might back him in the ensuing constitutional crisis.

There is a way to remove a president you don’t like. It is called an election. The Democrats would have done better to have prepared to make their case to the voters that Trump should be removed from office next November. Instead, they chose to take that decision away from us and to take the country a few steps closer to the edge. We really don’t want to go over that cliff.

 

No, America Does Not Need a Hate Speech Law

November 4, 2019

One of the best things about the Trump presidency is the way that the Leftists are finally taking off the mask to show off their totalitarian ideology to the world. There was a time when they felt the need to pretend to respect the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, while actually believing that freedom of speech, religion and the whole idea of checks and balances are archaic concepts that only get in the way of their efforts to create a socialist utopia that will be best for everyone, whether we like it or not. In the past few years, however, the Left has become more comfortable openly proposing censoring speech, confiscating wealth and guns, and punishing churches that do not change their doctrines per the latest diktats from the woke.

Let’s keep it.

In an oped piece in the Washington Post, Richard Stengel asserts that America needs a law against hate speech, that the first amendment guarantee of freedom of speech was designed for a simpler time and the government can and should step in to prevent the spread of hateful speech and false information.

When I was a journalist, I loved Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s assertion that the Constitution and the First Amendment are not just about protecting “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier. Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?

Okay, let’s stop right there. Are we now accepting advice on free speech from representatives of some of the most illiberal regimes in the world? Yes, our first amendment is an outlier. That is a good thing. America’s commitment to freedom of speech and thought is one of the things that makes America great. It is not a coincidence that the country that allows people to burn a Koran is one of the most successful nations in history while those countries that kill people who burn a Koran are, we might as well be blunt about it, shitholes.

It’s a fair question. Yes, the First Amendment protects the “thought that we hate,” but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw

 

That’s partly because the intellectual underpinning of the First Amendment was engineered for a simpler era. The amendment rests on the notion that the truth will win out in what Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas called “the marketplace of ideas.” This “marketplace” model has a long history going back to 17th-century English intellectual John Milton, but in all that time, no one ever quite explained how good ideas drive out bad ones, how truth triumphs over falsehood.

Milton, an early opponent of censorship, said truth would prevail in a “free and open encounter.” A century later, the framers believed that this marketplace was necessary for people to make informed choices in a democracy. Somehow, magically, truth would emerge. The presumption has always been that the marketplace would offer a level playing field. But in the age of social media, that landscape is neither level nor fair.

On the Internet, truth is not optimized. On the Web, it’s not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn’t always win. In the age of social media, the marketplace model doesn’t work. A 2016 Stanford study showed that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and an actual news story. Only a quarter of high school students could tell the difference between an actual verified news site and one from a deceptive account designed to look like a real one.

No, it is not a design flaw. The first amendment does not just protect the good guys. It also protects the bad guys. The truth does not always prevail over lies. The point of the concept of the marketplace of ideas is that we the people should be the ones to decide what is true and what is false, not some censor. Mr. Stengel believes that because we deplorables are just too stupid to determine what is true so we need someone to control what we see.

How do we define hate speech? Who decides what is hate speech? How do we ensure that whatever government agency is responsible for policing speech doesn’t simply define speech it happens not to like as hate speech? How do we ensure an honest debate of a contentious issue if one side is simply defined as hate? How could we discuss illegal immigration or gay marriage if the people who happen to believe that illegal immigration should be stopped are defined or that marriage should only be between a man and a woman are defined as racists or homophobes and their arguments labeled as hate? What if some future government defines dissent as hate? Does Mr. Stengel really trust any government enough to grant it the power to decide what is acceptable discourse?

Since World War II, many nations have passed laws to curb the incitement of racial and religious hatred. These laws started out as protections against the kinds of anti-Semitic bigotry that gave rise to the Holocaust. We call them hate speech laws, but there’s no agreed-upon definition of what hate speech actually is. In general, hate speech is speech that attacks and insults people on the basis of race, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation.

Somehow the definition of hate speech tends to morph from deliberate insults to ideas that offend certain privileged people. I am not sure that isn’t deliberate.

 think it’s time to consider these statutes. The modern standard of dangerous speech comes from Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) and holds that speech that directly incites “imminent lawless action” or is likely to do so can be restricted. Domestic terrorists such as Dylann Roof and Omar Mateen and the El Paso shooter were consumers of hate speech. Speech doesn’t pull the trigger, but does anyone seriously doubt that such hateful speech creates a climate where such acts are more likely?

The problem with hate speech laws, besides being a dangerous abridgment on our freedoms, is that they don’t really work. Punishing someone for saying the wrong thing does not change his mind. It does not change the minds of the people who are frightened by his example into remaining silent. It very likely encourages hate by making the person who is being punished into a martyr. As this article from the Cato Institute points out, the Weimar Republic had what would today be called hate speech laws precisely to keep people like the Nazis from gaining power. It didn’t work.

 Leading Nazis, including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher, were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech. And rather than deterring them, the many court cases served as effective pubicrelations machinery for the Nazis, affording them a level of attention that they never would have received in a climate of a free and open debate.

In the decade from 1923 to 1933, the Nazi propaganda magazine Der Stürmer — of which Streicher was the executive publisher — was confiscated or had its editors taken to court no fewer than 36 times. The more charges Streicher faced, the more the admiration of his supporters grew. In fact, the courts became an important platform for Streicher’s campaign against the Jews.

I should point out that Der Stürmer was so venomously anti-Semitic that even many Nazis were disgusted by it and it was never an official publication of the National Socialist Party. Even so, prosecuting Julius Streicher for publishing what was clearly propaganda did not eliminate the problem. It only made his supporters more determined while inspiring the curious to investigate just to see what the controversy was all about. Der Stürmer probably gained more readers than if the German government had simply ignored it.

America does not need a hate speech law. What we need is more tolerance for other’s views. We need to develop thicker skins, not more chips on our shoulders. We need to regain the respect for free speech and free thought that made this country great. We need to be more like America rather than follow the bad example of others.

The 1619 Project

August 28, 2019

For some years I have felt that I have been living in a country occupied by a hostile enemy determined to erase every vestige of our country’s history and heritage. The people who influence our culture and politics, the academics, the news and entertainment media, and so many others, seem to be motivated by a simmering hatred of America and its people. This feeling has abated somewhat, with the election of President Donald Trump, who seems to be leading a sort of resistance against the Occupiers, but the Occupiers are not about to give up their power and they have been orchestrating a furious counter-revolution against President Trump, and the people who elected him.

After trying and failing to discredit and delegitimize President Trump by peddling false stories of Russian collusion, the editors of the NewYork Times have decided to discredit and delegitimize the entire United States of America with the 1619 Project, an audacious attempt to reframe our nation’s history by tying it to slavery.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Now, there is nothing at all wrong, in itself, with examining the history of slavery in the United States. Slavery has played a major role in American history, with an impact that can be felt to this day, more than one hundred fifty years after the institution was abolished. The New York Times, however, seems to be going farther than merely providing a historical survey. Judging from their decision to count the year slavery was introduced into what would become the United States and some of the excerpts they provide from the essays that will make up the 1619 Project, the editors of the New York Times, seem to be trying to link America incontrovertibly with slavery. The history of America is a history of slavery and the one thing that makes America exceptional among the nations of the world is slavery.

The premise of the 1619 Project is false. The essays and articles that will make up the 1619 Project may or may not be factually correct. I have no way to judge without reading them, but the central premise of the project is false. Slavery has been a major theme in American history, but the history of the United States cannot be solely defined by slavery and the United States is not exceptional because of slavery. America does have a unique and exceptional relationship with slavery, but this relationship does not exist because slavery is somehow unique to America or that slavery in America was worse than in other times and places. Slavery has existed in every culture since before recorded history. The transatlantic slave trade was in operation for almost a century before that fist slave ship appeared off the coast of Virginia. What makes America’s relationship with slavery unique and exceptional is that slavery contradicts America’s founding ideals in a way that is not true of most countries. Most nations were founded by warlords who conquered and enslaved entire populations. Think of William the Conquerer, Clovis, Charlemagne, Qin Shi Huang, and many others. In contrast, the United States of America was founded by some of the greatest and most enlightened men who have ever lived, men who could write the immortal words,

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.

These were the words by which our country was founded upon. These were the words that the Abolitionists used to demand the end of slavery. These were the words that Martin Luther King used to demand justice and equality for his people. No nation that was founded upon these words could ever be comfortable with slavery. The very fact that slavery and segregation were completely contrary to America’s founding ideals meant that these institutions could not endure in America. America’s true founding was in 1776, not 1619. America is a nation based on freedom, not slavery. The 1619 Project is fake history, propaganda, designed to mislead rather than inform the New York Times’s readers. 

Why are they doing this? A nation conceived in tyranny and dedicated to the institutions of slavery and segregation is a detestable nation. One cannot feel pride in being a citizen of such a country, only shame. One cannot love such a country, only despise it. Such a country is not worth defending. Its institutions are not worth preserving. Its borders ought not to be protected. In fact, the quicker such a nation is consigned to the dustbin of history, the better. This is what the left thinks about America. This is what they want their fellow Americans to think about America. 

This viewpoint, that America is a detestable nation founded on slavery and racism is already predominant in academia and among our supposed elite. The editors of the New York Times have decided that it is time to educate the deplorables about the true history of the nation they want to make great again. They need to realize that if America has ever been exceptional, it has not been exceptional in greatness but in iniquity. Other media outlets will follow the lead of the New York Times. It is, after all, the nation’s premier newspaper. Schools will teach this distorted history if they are not already. The New York Times has already provided a curriculum for use in the classroom. The hope is that the 1619 Project will become the consensus view of American history. 

Can a nation survive when its citizens are taught to despise it? We may find out unless we work hard to teach the true history of American freedom. 

Trump’s Tempestuous Tweets

July 19, 2019

It has become a familiar story. Once again President Donald Trump has used Twitter to express what was on his mind before thinking very deeply on whether the world needs to read those particular thoughts. Once again Democrats, the party of racism and national division have come forward to denounce Mr. Trump’s tweets as racist and divisive. Sadly, once again, too many Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have taken the opportunity to stab a fellow Republican in the back by echoing the criticisms of leftist extremists who hate them every Republican, even the ones they happen to be using at the moment.

Why do Republicans do this? They are always so quick to denounce their fellow Republicans for allegedly uncivil, inappropriate, or racist statements, that are only uncivil, inappropriate or racist by the definitions that progressives are using. Nothing any Democrat ever says or does is ever considered uncivil, inappropriate or racist by definition. Democrats always stand by each other no matter how vile their statements or actions are. It is as though Republicans are always agreeing to play the game in which their opponents set the rules and appoint the referees. Why not defend Trump by pointing out that what he tweeted was not racist, at least by the definition that normal people use for the word racism,

The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or

ability and that a particular race is superior to others.

which is notably different from the leftist definition

Any statement that might disagree with leftist orthodoxy on race, or really any subject.

Maybe we should look at what Trump tweeted before condemning him for racism.

 

 

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Where did he mention race? I don’t see any reference to anybody’s race at all. Trump’s tweets may be racist in the demented minds of the left, but then, they think everything is racist and should be disregarded.

I do have one problem with Trump’s tweets, though. These tweets were directed towards “The Squad“, that group of four extreme left-wing Democratic Congresswomen who manage to make Nancy Pelosi look like a moderate. The problem is that only one of the four is actually from another country, Ilhan Omar, from Somalia. The other three are native-born Americans, so they have no other countries to go to unless you count their ancestral origins. This makes the tweets factually inaccurate, as well as giving the tweets a somewhat xenophobic tone that perhaps might better have been avoided.

The Squad, or the Axis of Evil in American Politics

 

On the other hand, I believe Trump is stating a larger truth here. These four women, Colin Kaepernick, and many, many others of the left should be getting down on their knees and thanking God every day that no only do they live in the greatest and freest nation on Earth but also that they have been able to take advantage of opportunities that would not be available to them at any other time and place. These people have gained success in this country that simply would not be possible anywhere else in the world and they repay all the advantages the country that gave them so much with the worst kind of ingratitude and scorn.

They hate America. These are not patriots seeking to correct their country’s problems. These are people who despise their country. They believe America is flawed from beginning to end. The United States was founded on the principles of slavery and White supremacy. Its history is a history of genocide and oppression against people of color. Contemporary America is a mean country that builds concentration camps to house undocumented immigrants, permits the police to shoot African-Americans with impunity, and has an unjust economic system that takes from the poor to give to the rich. How could they not loathe such a horrible country? I would hate America too if I were as uninformed as they.

The question, then, is why are these people still here? Why do they continue to reside in a country that is so hateful to them? There are many places in the world where their talents could be put to good use. Why don’t they go there? Why doesn’t Ilhan Omar return to Somalia, if the United States is so oppressive? Why doesn’t Alexandria Occasio Cortez immigrate to Mexico or Venezuela? And, why do we put up with these ingrates, anyway? Why are we electing people who hate America to Congress where they can act to undermine the country and act as a fifth column for our enemies.

Trump is right. He may be obnoxious, xenophobic, or racist, but he is right about the Squad and leftists in general. If they truly believe America is a land of racism and oppression, they should go elsewhere.

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.


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