The Resilience of the Black American

WSJ 8/6/2020

Taxpayer-funded institutions are now adding their voices to the movement against “systemic racism”—the invisible legacy of slavery and discrimination that supposedly determines the destiny of black Americans. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture last month posted a graphic on its website outlining the “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness & White Culture in the United States.” The document maintained that “white people and their traditions, attitudes and ways of life have been normalized over time” and “we have all internalized some aspects of white culture—including people of color.”

From the sounds of it, these “assumptions” are the types of things that would be debilitating and deleterious to minorities should they adopt and practice them in their lives. Assumptions such as “hard work is the key to success,” “the nuclear family . . . is the ideal social unit” and “plan for [the] future” are offered as examples of “white dominant culture.” In fact, the qualities attributed to “whiteness” are the same principles and values that have empowered blacks in America to succeed despite lingering discrimination and bigotry. The museum removed the graphic after a public outcry, saying “it’s not working in the way we intended.”

The whiteness graphic is merely one of hundreds of capitulations to the demeaning and disabling message of racial grievance merchants, who claim that any and all failures of black Americans are attributable to so-called systemic racism. Institutions that had once been trusted to provide steppingstones to achievement have jettisoned the principles of personal responsibility and self-determination.

The stories of men and women for whom oppression triggered resilience and success have been redacted from politically correct, grievance-based histories such as “The 1619 Project.” The mission of the Woodson Center, and the “1776 Project,” is to rescue those inspiring examples of achievement against the odds—both historical and current.

The Golden 13 in March 1944.

PHOTO: U.S. NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

If you asked young black students today who the Golden 13 were, few would be able to identify the group of determined African-American servicemen who won a noble victory in an era in which blacks were prohibited from becoming naval officers. At the insistence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a crop of 16 college-educated black cadets were chosen for line-officer training in 1944.

To ensure their failure, the normal training period of 16 weeks was reduced to eight weeks for the black cadets. When they realized that someone in the Navy wanted them to wash out, the cadets covered up the windows of their barracks and studied all night. When they were tested, the entire group passed with high marks. Disbelief in the chain of command that an all-black cadet class could achieve higher scores than an all-white one meant that the black sailors had to suffer the indignity of retaking their tests. Again, all 16 passed, but the Navy offered commissions to only 13.

This grit and determination to succeed has been repeated over and over again. You can find it the bestselling book and award-winning movie “Hidden Figures”—the story of the three black female mathematicians who played a critical role in astronaut John Glenn’s 1962 mission to orbit the earth aboard the Friendship 7.

Three years ago, I attended a talk by the book’s author, Margot Lee Shetterly. The reaction to her presentation underscored the thirst within the black community for inspiring messages of success against all odds. The 1,000-seat auditorium was filled to capacity with a predominantly African-American audience. People were standing in the balcony and along the walls. Hundreds milled in front of the building after the fire marshal determined that the building’s capacity had been reached. The 100 books that the organizers had brought to the venue were sold out well before the presentation began. Even the local bookstores couldn’t scrounge up a copy. During the question-and-answer session, some in the audience lamented not having heard about Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan earlier. Children raised their hands excitedly to learn more.

“Hidden Figures” is but one of thousands of black American stories demonstrating that the most powerful antidote to disrespect isn’t protest but performance and the most potent answer to repression is resilience. Sadly, these sentiments are off-message for black elites, liberals in academia and cable-news talking-heads, who prefer the narrative of black victimization by “whiteness.”

Those who attribute all failure of blacks in America—academic, occupational and even moral—to an all-purpose invisible villain of “institutional racism” are betraying those they purport to represent. Those who shake their fists and proclaim that a change in white America is a prerequisite for black achievement are embracing a version of white supremacy. This debilitating dynamic is exacerbated by the guilt among white liberals, who approach the black community with a combination of pity, patronage and pandering.

Black Americans must refuse to surrender to incompetence, self-devaluation and self-marginalization. Every day at my office, I pass a wall with a photograph of a group of slaves from 1861. The photo is titled “Strength” and features the quotation: “The strongest people in the world are not those most protected: They are the ones who must struggle against adversity and obstacles and surmount them to survive.”

The Golden 13 and the women of “Hidden Figures” embodied this maxim. As Ms. Shetterly declared at her book signing: “These are the kinds of stories that change your life. You see people doing these amazing things and you internalize it, you normalize it, and it completely changes your inner landscape and what you believe is possible.”

Mr. Woodson is founder and president of the Woodson Center.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-resilience-of-the-black-american-11596734835?mod=opinion_lead_pos6

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The GOP’s ‘D’oh!’ Moment

Why Republicans can’t seem to think politically straight is not only frustrating, but incomprehensible.

WSJ 7/31/2020  by Kimberley A. Strassel

Senate Republicans experienced their “D’oh!” moment this week, and better late than never. If even Homer Simpson can experience moments of clarity, maybe the GOP can yet do a virus economy—and itself—some good.

As Congress spent another tortuous week nonnegotiating a fifth virus-relief bill, it finally dawned on Republicans that they are being played for fools. Democrats don’t want a bill; they want to win an election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—who may go down as one of Washington’s greatest cynics—knew exactly what she was doing in May, when she cooked up the $3 trillion monstrosity known as the Heroes Act. If the GOP said no to her outlandish demands, Democrats would brand them as uncaring, unable to lead, unworthy of controlling Washington. If instead she bludgeoned them into swallowing her spendathon, Democrats would wave the win as proof they should control Washington. Heads Democrats win; tails Republicans lose.

 

The GOP did its mightiest to aid this strategy, by having no alternative of its own. By May, Congress had spent nearly $3 trillion on the virus, and Republicans had plenty to pack into a message: The bills provided generous aid to the unemployed, small businesses, families, vital industry, schools, states, renters and health providers. The goals were to stave off economic collapse, provide a lifeline during a national shutdown, lay the groundwork for reopening. All that was accomplished—not that you hear Republicans noting it. The bills, moreover, provided a cushion to deal with lingering needs; as Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson recently noted, more than $1 trillion of those original packages has yet to be spent or obligated.

 

Instead of making these points, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled the GOP was open to tacking Democratic demands on to the Republican priority of liability protection for businesses and organizations. The White House rolled out Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who invited Mrs. Pelosi to dictate the GOP bill. Instead of putting together a plan focused on pro-growth economic policies, the Senate GOP cobbled together a hodgepodge of its own spending demands—money for schools, aid for farmers and, yes, $1.75 billion for a new FBI building. Cue a revolt by fiscal conservatives and party infighting—and two weeks of headlines about Republican “chaos.”

 

All the while, Democrats have broadcast—in plain English—that they have no intention of letting legislation succeed. Mrs. Pelosi this week described the two bills as a “giraffe” and a “flamingo” and said they were “not mateable.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer won’t even try, refusing to engage in regular order—to bring a bill to the floor, to hold amendments and votes, and to send a rival product to a House-Senate conference. Democrats have a plan—blame Republicans for the bill’s failure and, by laughable extension, the nation’s economic woes.

And so it was encouraging to see Mr. McConnell acknowledge reality and move to put the GOP back on offense. Stepping back from talks on a big bill, the Senate GOP tackled the most pressing deadline—the Friday expiration of federal enhanced unemployment benefits. Sen. Johnson proposed renewing these benefits at about two-thirds of lost wages, or roughly $200 a week. This would allow the federal government to continue providing some aid, though not the current, crazy $600 a week that is discouraging so many from returning to work. Senate Republicans asked for unanimous consent on that plan, and Democrats blocked it. That means Democrats own the expiration.

Not that the press will put it that way, which is why it is also encouraging that Mr. McConnell now intends to put a legislative version of that unemployment extension on the floor next week and put Democrats on record voting it down. The only way to expose Democratic cynicism and intransigence is to beat the public over the head with proof—something the GOP failed to do with policing reform. A GOP vote would force Democrats to explain why two-thirds of regular pay is not enough—especially given prior Democratic proposals that set virus sick leave and family medical leave at two-thirds regular pay. When Democrats vote it down, Mr. McConnell needs to bring it up again. And again.

The GOP meantime also has an opportunity to rethink and put together proposals sharply tailored to economic growth. Then bring them up again, and again. Hammer home that Democrats are blocking economic revival. (You can bet that is what Mr. Schumer would be doing to Republicans right now, were the situation reversed.)

 

If Republicans allow this election to become a contest over which party can spend more taxpayer dollars, they will lose. Better to treat it as an opportunity to present true competing visions—between a GOP that has a plan for a bigger and better economy, and a Democratic Party that wants a vastly larger entitlement state. Yet making that contrast first requires Republicans to get there themselves. Get a plan, make the case.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-gops-doh-moment-11596149323?mod=opinion_featst_pos3

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No guarantee we can save the country

The unvarnished truth. So much in this article. The urgency for those who love America is great. We need to act. We need to speak. We need to work to keep ours a country of law and the constitution. No other country has ever been as great as the United States of America. I hope we can save the country. mrossol

WSJ 7/31/2020. by Andrew A Michta

Czesław Miłosz, a future Nobel Prize-winning poet who had just defected from Poland, began work in 1951 on a book called “The Captive Mind.” Even as Stalinist totalitarianism tightened its grip on Eastern Europe, many Western European intellectuals lauded the brave new world of Soviet communism as a model for overcoming “bourgeois forces,” which in their view had caused World War II. Living in Paris, Miłosz wrote his book, which was published in 1953, to warn the West of what happens to the human mind and soul in a totalitarian system. 

Miłosz knew from experience, having lived through the Communist takeover, how totalitarianism strips men and women of their liberty, transforming them into “affirmative cogs” in service of the state and obliterating what had taken centuries of Western political development to achieve. Totalitarianism not only enslaved people physically but crippled their spirit. It did so by replacing ordinary human language, in which words signify things in the outside world, with ideologically sanctioned language, in which words signify the dominant party’s ever-changing ideas of what is and is not true.

 

Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, nationwide protests, which quickly turned to riots, have been hijacked by the neo-Marxist left, morphing into an all-out assault on American cities and institutions. This assault is underpinned by an audacious attempt to rewrite history that turns specific past events into weapons not only to overpower political opponents but also to recast all of American history as a litany of racial transgressions.

The radicals have turned race into a lens through which to view the country’s history, and not simply because they are obsessed with race. They have done so because it allows them to identify and separate those groups that deserve affirmation, in their view, and those that do not. What is taking place is the resegregation of America, the endpoint of which will be the rejection of everything the civil-rights movement stood for. 

What is driving the radical protesters and rioters—who are enabled and manipulated by the “digital intelligentsia” in the press and an expanding segment of the political and business classes—is contempt for the freedom of anyone who fails to comport with their image of a just society. In authoritarian systems those in power seek to proscribe certain forms of political speech and social activity. Totalitarians claim unconditional authority to reach deep into each person’s conscience. They prescribe an interpretation of the world and dictate the language with which citizens are permitted to express that interpretation. Authoritarian regimes leave largely untouched the private civic sphere of human activity; totalitarians destroy traditional value systems and reorder the culture. That is why they are harder to overthrow. 

The ill-named progressivism that has inspired shrill demands to dismantle police forces and destroy statues is only a small manifestation of a massive project aimed at the re-education of the American population. The goal of this project is to negate the story of the American republic and replace it with a tale anchored exclusively in race categories and narratives of oppression. The nature of this exercise, with its sledgehammer rhetoric that obliterates complexities in favor of one-dimensional “correct” interpretations, is as close to Marxist agitprop as one can get. 

Why do American elites, who might be expected to favor preserving the nation that has elevated them, support the effort to dismantle it? Their thinking seems to be that the radicals destroying monuments and issuing wholesale denunciations of America’s past are wreaking destruction on ordinary Americans and their history, not on the elites and their ideology. Today’s elites as a rule do not believe they have any obligation to serve the public, only to rule it, and so they express little or no disapproval of college students toppling statues on federal land or looters raiding supermarkets. To criticize them would open elites to the charges of “populism” and “racism.”

 

Yet the elites are playing a dangerous game. Such “canceling”—of historical and living figures alike—increasingly mirrors what happened under communism in the Soviet bloc, where the accusation of being out of step with the party was enough to end one’s career and nullify one’s reputation. 

This is about more than statues and history. Those who control the symbols of political discourse can dominate the culture and control the collective consciousness. If you doubt this, ask yourself why there has been so little backlash from ordinary, nonelite Americans. Our sense of self has been progressively deconstructed. We feel in our bones the wrongness of the violence being visited on the nation but lack the language to speak against it. 

The resegregation of American society is fundamentally undemocratic and un-American. It envisions a social hierarchy based on DNA. It is also incompatible with individual freedom and constitutional government. Hence the drive to overhaul the U.S. Constitution, rewrite textbooks, and restructure museums by race and sex quotas.

Democracy cannot survive in a society in which winners and losers are adjudicated arbitrarily according to criteria beyond individual control. Any society built around the principle of skin color will become a caste system in which accident, not merit, will allocate value and benefit. Civil society will be buried once and for all. 

The current radical trends carry the seeds of violence unseen in the U.S. since the Civil War. The activists ascendant in American cities insist on the dominance of their ideological precepts, brooking no alternative. Such absolutism forces Americans away from the realm of political compromise into one of unrelenting axiology, with one side claiming a monopoly on virtue and decency while the other is expected to accept its status as perpetually evil, and thus assume a permanent penitent stance for all its real and imagined misdeeds across history. 

Only when the state creates a space for an unbiased debate over history can a discussion truly take place unhindered by ideology and dogma. Only then can a society move toward a consensus on a shared understanding of its past and how its collective memory should be shaped. The U.S. is roiled by spasms of violence and intolerance today because government at all levels—public education systems, states that allow universities to promulgate speech codes and “safe spaces,” court decisions that define constitutionally protected speech as, in effect, everything but political speech—has abdicated its duty to protect the public space. Children are rampaging through the cities because the adults have left the room.

America is in the throes of a destructive ideological experiment, subjected to a sweeping and increasingly state-sanctioned reordering of its collective memory, with the increasingly totalitarian left given free rein to dominate public discourse. Miłosz, who died in 2004, would see an American mind bloated by a steady diet of identity politics and group grievance served up by ideologues in schools nationwide. These ideologues have nearly succeeded in remaking our politics and culture; ¨, by credentialed bureaucrats, and by politicians shaped in the monochrome factories of intellectual uniformity that are America’s institutions of higher learning. 

 

American society is faced with a stark binary choice. Either we push back against the unrelenting assault of the neo-Marxist narrative, or we yield to the totalitarian impulse now in full view in our politics. It is no longer enough to wait for the next election, or to pin our hopes on a “silent majority” that will eventually stop the madness. There may be no such majority. If there is, its members may no longer be able to articulate what they see unfolding around them. It is hard to call things by their proper names in a society whose elites insist on calling looters and arsonists “protesters,” national monuments “symbols of racism,” and the victims of looting and arson the beneficiaries of “white privilege.” The challenge is massive, but it starts with the simple act of calling things by their proper names.

Mr. Michta is dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-captive-mind-and-americas-resegregation-11596222112?mod=opinion_lead_pos5

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How Chinese Officials Hijacked My Company – WSJ

Why we want to do “joint business” with China is beyond my comprehension.  mrossol.

WSJ 8/1/2020 by Steve Saleen

President Trump said last month that talks for a phase 2 trade agreement with China were on the back burner. If they resume, it is more important than ever that any deal protect American companies and their intellectual property from theft by China. My experience doing business in China shows the lengths to which the Chinese government will go to steal American intellectual property.

My story began in 2016, when I entered a joint venture with the government of Rugao, a city in Jiangsu province with a population of 1.4 million. Rugao needed expertise to start an automotive manufacturing company that would create jobs.

I would bring experience, design, engineering and related technologies developed over my 40-year career in the automotive industry building race cars and high-performance street cars. My contributions to the deal were valued at $800 million, and I would maintain a majority stake in the new company along with my American partners. Rugao would bring $500 million in capital and $600 million in subsidized loans over three years to fund manufacturing sites and operations, and receive a minority stake.

The deal was a sham. It was a trap designed to secure my intellectual property, then use intimidation tactics and lies to nullify the agreement and seize control.

The first few years of the venture, named Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technologies, were relatively smooth. I contributed three well-designed, well-engineered vehicles, hired staff, set up supply chains and launched marketing. The Rugao government contributed some of the promised capital, but nowhere near the amount needed to get operations up and running at scale.

I would later find out that while I was busy fulfilling my end of the bargain, the joint venture applied for 510 Chinese patents for my designs, technologies, trade secrets and engineering developments. Most of the patent filings didn’t even list me as the inventor. With many of these Chinese patents approved, Rugao was ready to take over the joint venture and steal the intellectual property.

Rugao is now claiming the initial valuation of my contributions was based on false information. But the city government itself requested, verified and accepted the valuation, picking at the outset three separate firms to conduct independent appraisals. The government never contested any of what these reviews found. In the past three months, Rugao has demanded the valuation companies say their findings were based on false information.

You could ask Grace Yin Xu about this—if you could find her. Grace is a Chinese national who serves as the director of corporate affairs for Jiangsu Saleen. In the early stages of the deal Grace was a liaison between the joint venture and the valuation firms. Chinese law enforcement recently instructed Grace to say that my business partner provided false information and embezzled money. She refused to lie. She entered a government building in Rugao on the morning of June 22 and hasn’t been heard from since.

Rugao law enforcement also detained Frank Sterzer, our vice president of manufacturing, for intimidation on June 29. Frank, a German citizen, was released after six hours with no explanation for the detention after he managed to contact the German Embassy using a cellphone the police forgot to confiscate.

Though my colleagues refused to lie, the government has convinced one of the three evaluation firms to do so. The Shanghai Wanlong Asset Appraisal Co. issued a public statement denying it performed a valuation report at all, and the government used that statement to declare the reports were fabricated. The government has also levied bogus embezzlement charges against my partners and me over money used to fund vehicle development—payments the government knew about and approved before they were made.

China’s aggressive theft of intellectual property is well documented. In a 2019 survey of the CNBC Global CFO Council, 1 in 5 North American corporations said China had stolen their intellectual property within the past year. By one estimate this stealing costs the American economy $600 billion annually.

China can no longer go unchecked. The U.S.-China trade deal must include protections for American companies and consumers, who ultimately will pay the price for Beijing’s theft. The Trump administration should have the power to deny access to U.S. consumer and capital markets to foreign entities found to be directly benefiting from the theft of American intellectual property.

The U.S. should also deny thieves access to banking systems and require the Securities and Exchange Commission to judge whether a company’s use of stolen intellectual property is a material condition that should be publicly reported. In addition to blocking such goods from the U.S. market, Congress should pass legislation to block banks, investment companies and other financial institutions and stock exchanges from using asset valuation reports prepared by any Chinese asset valuation firms. These reports are easily manipulated by the Chinese government.

Such measures may not be enough to protect my 40 years of work and the brand I have built. But it isn’t too late for other American entrepreneurs whose livelihoods are at stake. Congress, and the Trump administration should send a clear message to China: If you want to be in the race, play by the rules.

Mr. Saleen is a retired race car driver and founder of Saleen Inc.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-chinese-officials-hijacked-my-company-11596233617?mod=hp_opin_pos_2

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I'm serious… usually. (Martin Rossol)