Category Archives: 1st Amendment

GoFundMe Shuts Down Drive To Fix Protest Organizer’s Teeth After Alleged ‘Antifa’ Attack, Donations Refunded | The Daily Wire

Seems crazy how the MSM and their “teammates” are censoring things they don’t like.  I am not sure how to respond except to try and let people know.  free speech seems to be unAmerican.  mrossol


Reluctant, but Supporting Trump

Donald Trump can count at least one new supporter in this year’s election. “I had a close friend who’d been a business partner of Trump in the ’90s,” the critic and historian Fred Siegel tells me. “Trump ripped off a quarter of a million dollars from him. He told me this when we were discussing the election” four years ago. “Trump just said, ‘So, take me to court.’ I couldn’t vote for him.” Mr. Siegel couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton either, so he “slept through” the 2016 election. Next month he’ll be wide awake—though not woke—and will vote for Mr. Trump.

Joe Biden needn’t worry too much, perhaps. Mr. Siegel, 75, has only twice backed a winning presidential candidate since he reached voting age. But while he’s no bellwether, he does make an energetic case for the incumbent.

Mr. Siegel, a professor emeritus at New York’s Cooper Union and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, says he overcame his distaste for Mr. Trump for three reasons. First, foreign policy: “Crushing ISIS, pulling us out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving our embassy to Jerusalem, and making fools of those people who insist that the Palestinian issue is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Second, by his “ability to withstand a prolonged coup attempt by the Democrats and the media,” which started with the Steele dossier: “If I’m saying what I find impressive about Trump, it’s that he’s survived. He has an extraordinary amount of arrogance, egotism, and self-confidence.”

Mr. Siegel’s third reason goes to the heart of his own political philosophy. He sees the president as a champion of “bourgeois values,” under threat from the “clerisy,” Mr. Siegel’s word for the dominant elites who “despise” those values. He regards Mr. Biden as a “captive” of this clerisy, and running mate Kamala Harris as the “embodiment of it.”

“I don’t want to see her as president,” Mr. Siegel says of Sen. Harris. “I don’t want a San Francisco Democrat who’s likely to impose elements of the Green New Deal, which she sponsored but lied about sponsoring on television. If Biden wins, she will be president in short order. I don’t know how long Biden will last.”

In Mr. Siegel’s view, “hard work, faith, family and autonomy” have enabled America to thrive, and Mr. Trump stands for these values, even if he doesn’t always exemplify them. “The elite is largely detached from the middle class,” Mr. Siegel says. “The two major sources of wealth in the last 20 years have been finance and Silicon Valley. Neither of them has much connection to middle-class America, or Middle America.” Mr. Trump is “in favor of manufacturing jobs, which are often middle-class.” The president also “recognizes the ways in which China is a threat to the survival of middle-class life in America, directly and indirectly.”

Mr. Siegel takes heart from Mr. Trump’s hostility to political correctness. “Wokeness is a force that undermines the middle class,” he says, “and you couldn’t have had wokeness without an elite contempt for the values of the middle class.” Middle Americans see political correctness “as a threat to the democratic republic they grew up in, where people could speak their mind.” I ask Mr. Siegel to define political correctness: “The inability to speak the truth about the obvious.”

As we sit on his porch in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park, his opinions—unfashionable in a borough where Mrs. Clinton outpolled Mr. Trump by more than 60 points—cause passersby to turn their heads. When he offers examples of political correctness that annoy him, a young man walking by the house looks startled. “Why can’t you say ‘Wuhan virus’?” Mr. Siegel exclaims. “Why can’t you say there are two genders?” The young man scuttles past as if singed, and Mr. Siegel says, with palpable sadness, that people don’t stop to talk to him on his porch as much as they used to. Word has got around that he is “a Trump supporter, so fewer people schmooze with me.”

Mr. Siegel is the author of several books, including “The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A. and the Fate of America’s Big Cities” (1997) and “The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class” (2014). Just out is “The Crisis of Liberalism,” a selection of his recent political essays, published by the small, independent Telos Press.

He started as a man of the left, and still describes himself as a protégé of Irving Howe, the democratic socialist literary critic. “Howe died young,” Mr. Siegel notes—in 1993, at 72. He was a doctoral candidate at the University of Pittsburgh in 1968, studying the political economy of tobacco in Virginia, when he cast his first vote. But he sat out the 1972 election. “I voted for Humphrey. I did not vote for McGovern or Nixon. I worked for McGovern as a spokesperson in Western Pennsylvania, and I was stunned to discover that he thought Henry Wallace had been right about a lot of things. Lightbulbs went off.”

In 1976 he voted for “Gerald Ford, the man.” Ford was “moderately competent and unpretentious. Jimmy Carter was pretentious. I thought his religiosity was painted on.” His aversion to Mr. Carter persisted, and in 1980 he backed John Anderson, a liberal Republican running as an independent.

Mr. Siegel voted for Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan in 1984. “If anyone was going to make the Great Society work—and it was a mess by this time, a farrago—it was Mondale.” Mr. Mondale had “intelligence and knowledge,” but his defeat, and Reagan’s notable successes, made Mr. Siegel “rethink a lot of things.” A man like Mondale, he says, “would not be possible in today’s Democratic Party. There’d be no room for him.”

By the late 1980s Mr. Siegel had become “a centrist Democrat—part of a group that no longer exists.” Michael Dukakis was too liberal for Mr. Siegel, so he skipped the 1988 election. He became a fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, the think tank of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. He voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and advised—“but didn’t invoice”—Mrs. Clinton on her successful 2000 bid for Senate.

He didn’t vote in 2000 or 2004 and thinks George W. Bush “was a horrible president”: “The conduct of the Iraq war was extraordinarily inept. I supported the war initially, but I watched how it was being conducted, and I changed my mind.” The first time he voted for “the Republican Party as a party” was in 2008, by which time he had started to define himself as a conservative.

By 2012, when he voted for Mitt Romney, Mr. Siegel had developed an exceedingly low opinion of President Obama, whom he describes as “a faux intellectual with preacher’s cadences and an academic veneer.” In his opinion, “the worst thing” about Mr. Obama was “his effect on race relations. We couldn’t have the cold civil war we have now without Obama, because he, in a very cunning way, exacerbated all of our racial tensions.”

Under Mr. Obama, Mr. Siegel says, “racial grievance” took on a “new legitimacy, and it came from a president talking in asides, and saying things between the lines. He didn’t push back against anything, not even against the idea that Michael Brown said ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ in Ferguson [Mo.], which was just a fabrication.”

Yet Mr. Siegel traces the origins of the “present-day contempt” for the middle class back a century. He cites H.L. Mencken’s demeaning of the bourgeoisie, in the celebrated editor’s coinage of “booboisie.” Mr. Siegel has written extensively on Herbert Croly, the political philosopher and co-founder of the New Republic, as well as on the novelists H.G. Wells and Sinclair Lewis (who, in 1930, became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature). These three men, Mr. Siegel says, laid the foundation for an elite revolt against the American middle class that endures to this day.

“Croly’s idea was that the college-educated, the elite, should become a new aristocracy,” Mr. Siegel says. “Croly believed that the middle-class and their allies—latter-day Jeffersonians who advocated individual freedom and acted in their own self-interest—were impeding the path of the experts, who were ‘disinterested.’ ”

Wells and Lewis bolstered the view that the professional class was above the fray, giving the argument an almost aesthetic hue. “They thought the middle class was vulgar,” Mr. Siegel says. Mr. Siegel cites a passage in Lewis’s novel “Main Street” (1920), which he regards as “a sardonic sally at the small-town American middle class and its commercial culture.” In the passage, Carol Kennicott, a young woman from the big city trapped by marriage in small-town America, describes Americans as “a savorless people, gulping tasteless food, and sitting afterward, coatless and thoughtless, in rocking chairs . . . and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world.” In a word, deplorables.

Croly has been largely forgotten, Mr. Siegel says, because liberalism has been largely eclipsed. “Wokeism is not liberalism,” he says. “I don’t want to be unfair to liberals. I was very critical of liberals, but they were in favor of debate; they were in favor of empiricism, of open argument.” Wokeism, by contrast, is a “new secular revealed religion,” which involves no “investigation or empirical study.”

The eclipse of the old “Crolyite liberalism” began, Mr. Siegel says, in the 1980s and ’90s, with the eruption of postmodernism into American intellectual life. “There began to be an emphasis on ‘narratives’ and feeling, which undermined the Crolyite emphasis on empiricism and evidence.” Liberalism had already been weakened by Reagan’s victory in 1980. “There was questioning among liberals, and some self-doubt,” Mr. Siegel says. “But the questioning didn’t go far enough, and blame was placed squarely on Carter. He didn’t check all of Croly’s boxes, he wasn’t a natural, Ivy League aristocrat. He was a farmer”—in contrast with John F. Kennedy, an archetypal Crolyite president.

There was, Mr. Siegel says, an ideological “hiatus” under Mr. Clinton, in which a party that had been “demoralized by the defeat of the technocrat Dukakis in 1988” recovered some of its mojo. But “postmodernism turning to wokeness was churning” in the 1990s. The 2000 election was “a trauma” for the Democrats, and Howard Dean’s unsuccessful candidacy for the 2004 nomination previewed “some of the craziness and hysteria that would come full-bore, on a broader scale, a decade later.” Wokeism achieved its apotheosis in 2014, in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting. “Ferguson allowed Ivy League grads to assert their ‘natural leadership,’ in opposition to lowlife cops and guys with pickup trucks—again, the deplorables.”

In Mr. Siegel’s understanding, wokeism holds that “the important truths are already known, and that the American aristocracy has to impose those truths on the country.” These are “given positions”—irrefutable and sacrosanct. Wokeism, he says, is a “perilous threat” to America and particularly to the First Amendment. “It says we don’t need debate. We don’t need free speech. We don’t need freedom of religion. We need to obey.” Mr. Siegel’s vote is his personal act of disobedience.

Mr. Varadarajan is a Journal contributor and a fellow at New York University Law School’s Classical Liberal Institute.


So you want federal ‘Expertise’ to decide for us?

Mitch McConnell’s short speech at the GOP convention [in August] didn’t receive a ton of attention, but in his understated way the Senate majority leader articulated one of the less obvious issues at stake in November.

“This election is incredibly consequential for middle America,” said Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and the only top congressional leader in either party who’s not from California or New York. Democrats prefer that “all of us in flyover country keep quiet and let them decide how we should live our lives,” he said. “They want to tell you when you can go to work, when your kids can go to school. They want to tax your job out of existence and then send you a check for unemployment. They want to tell you what kind of car you can drive and what sources of information are credible.”

Mr. McConnell was imploring voters to think twice before they turn government over to Democratic elites who don’t look to ordinary people for guidance but rather see longstanding traditions, existing institutions, popular opinion and the like as obstacles to overcome in pursuing their grand visions of how things should be.

In an influential 1945 essay titled “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek described two types of knowledge. One was “scientific knowledge,” by which he meant theoretical or technical expertise. The other was “unorganized knowledge,” which he defined as “the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place.” With respect to the second kind of knowledge, he observed, “practically every individual has some advantage over all others,” including the so-called experts. Hayek was explaining the overriding problem with centrally planned economies, which is that no matter how intelligent the people in charge, they’re not omnipotent and therefore can’t possibly know the ever-changing wants and needs of vast numbers of individuals in the marketplace.

A troubling trend in recent decades has been the transfer of decision-making authority to expert intellectuals. Environmental regulations and health-care mandates are two obvious examples. But there’s also the more general nanny state mentality emanating from liberals who tell you that politicians, bureaucrats and academics know better than you do how to live your life and raise your children. The result is fewer decisions made through democratic processes, and more choices determined by an intelligentsia that suffers few if any consequences for being wrong.

Experience tells us that the best way to raise children is with a mother and father in the home, and the most effective anti-poverty program in existence is getting married before having kids. Yet prominent commentators like David Brooks insist that the nuclear family is now passé and that the black underclass needs slavery reparations, not fewer fatherless households. Increases in violent crime have brought calls from the public for more policing, while professional activists call for decarceration and reduced funding for law enforcement. Low-income minorities want to choose where their children are educated, but elite organizations like the NAACP oppose charter schools.

The influence of the intellectual class on our politics is not a new phenomenon—a popular book in the 1960s by the psychiatrist Karl Menninger was titled “The Crime of Punishment”—but it has grown steadily. And given that liberals are far less skeptical of scientific knowledge—as seen most recently in their response to the pandemic—this trend is likely to accelerate if Democrats win back the White House.

In an interview with ABC News last week, Joe Biden criticized President Trump for not being more deferential to the scientific community. “This is about telling the American people the truth, letting the scientists speak, listening to the science . . . and stepping out of the way,” he said. “Let the experts go out and let the American people know what the truth is and what has to be done.” Some of us believe that it’s the job of the president, not the scientists, to decide what has to be done. And while decisions on a Covid response or any other issue should be informed by people with expertise, their views should be weighed against those of others and not accepted uncritically.

In his classic 1980 book, “Knowledge and Decisions,” Thomas Sowell expanded on Hayek’s insight and warned about the “grave implications” of these trends. The “locus of decision making has drifted away from the individual, the family and voluntary associations of various sorts, and toward government,” he wrote. “And within government, it has moved away from elected officials subject to voter feedback, and toward more insulated government institutions, such as bureaucracies and the appointed judiciary.”

On its surface, Mr. McConnell’s speech was a plea to support GOP Senate candidates in November. Underneath, he seemed to be saying that even if you can’t stomach four more years of Donald Trump, it would be a mistake to give Democrats—and the expert intellectuals they hold up as our betters—control of the White House as well as Capitol Hill.