Category Archives: 1st Amendment

Current Elitist Threats to Our Republic

 MARK HENDRICKSON – The Epoch Times 9/6/2019

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”—Ronald Reagan

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”—H.L. Mencken

“There are men [and now women] in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”—Daniel Webster

“As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”—Abraham Lincoln In speaking of potential threats to our liberty, Lincoln warned of ambitious individuals of the type described by Mencken and Webster— people seeking power to impose their own private, elitist vision on the American people.

Honest Abe said that our best defense against such lust for power was to uphold and abide by the Constitution and laws. Only by such jealous protection can we protect our rights and liberty from being subverted.

The four quotes above are cited because our system of government and law—indeed, our very rights and liberty—are under assault from many quarters within our society.

Various Americans who believe that they know the “right” path forward for our country crave the power to force their plans upon us. It’s clear they’re willing to trample the Constitution, our laws, and our traditions, if that’s what it takes to achieve their goals.

The most obvious collective movement in this direction is the radical and messianic agenda of the democratic socialists. But in this article, I would like to focus on four instances of specific ways in which our system is under attack.

Supreme Court

Last month, five U.S. senators—Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), all Democrats—launched an ugly attack against the conservative members of the Supreme Court.

Essentially, the senators have issued a twofold threat—first, to make life miserable for justices who vote contrary to the desires of the Democratic Party, and second, to attempt to restructure the Supreme Court itself unless the conservative justices change the way they vote on cases.

In seeking to intimidate and control what cases the court hears and what decisions the justices render, the senators are committing aggression against the hallowed principle of the separation of powers. They also are acting with rank hypocrisy, saying they want to “reduce the influence of politics” on the court, while at the same time trying to coerce the court to rule in accord with their political agenda.

National Popular Vote

The National Popular Vote initiative seeks to bypass the constitutionally mandated Electoral College by awarding a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide rather than in their own state. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia (all, not coincidentally, governed by Democrats) have enacted such legislation.

How ironic that those who howl in protest about “disenfranchisement” whenever a state or municipality purges its voter rolls of dead people and duplicate registrations have no compunctions about disenfranchising a majority of actual voters in their own states.

Consider, too, a recent decision rendered by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: The judges ruled that electors can vote for whomever they want for president, regardless of any state laws requiring them to cast their vote for the candidate who received a majority of votes in that state. Such a policy would be an invitation to graft and corruption.

Both the National Popular Vote and the recent court decision make a mockery of our principle of representative government.

FBI?

You might think that it would be impossible for presidential electors to be bought off. After all, we could have the FBI monitor their finances, right? But what if the FBI itself has become politicized and lawless? What if its top officials have decided that, for the good of the country, they need to abandon impartiality and instead actively intervene to decide who should be president of the United States? That’s where we are in the post-Jim Comey era.

I won’t belabor former FBI Director Comey’s transgressions here. They’ve been widely documented and discussed elsewhere. (The Wall Street Journal article “Jim Comey’s Higher Virtue” provides a useful overview.) However, it’s plain that the American republic is in jeopardy when its top law enforcement officers believe they are above the law and entitled to act as kingmakers.

Federal Reserve

Just as the machinations of Comey show the dangers of “the deep state,” so do the candid remarks of another powerful, unelected wannabe kingmaker: William Dudley, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In an amazingly brazen opinion column on Bloomberg.com on Aug. 27, Dudley floated the notion that the Fed might be justified in adopting policies designed to prevent the reelection of President Donald Trump.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve system is already regarded in many circles as the secondmost powerful person in the country. That’s already a troubling anomaly in a country based on a democratically accountable representative government.

To suggest that the Fed act to tilt the election of the most powerful person in the country—the president—toward the candidate of its preference is an egregious affront to our system of government.

All Americans need to be alert to what is going on around us, even though much of the actual plotting is taking place behind closed doors. Partisan and ideological zealots seek to ride roughshod over the constitution and laws that have kept Americans free for over 200 years. I’m not asserting that these are evil people. They simply are in the thrall of the three meta-errors that pervade progressivism: an unjustified faith in government competence, an exaggerated confidence in what human willpower can accomplish, and the self-delusions of good intentions.

But even if they are not inherently bad people, they are very dangerous.

Their attempts to undermine our democratic republic’s principles make Reagan’s warning exceedingly timely: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Mark Hendrickson, an economist, recently retired from the faculty of Grove City College, where he remains a fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith & Freedom. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

The American republic is in jeopardy when its top law enforcement officers believe they are above the law.

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The statue of the 16th U.S. president Abraham Lincoln is seen at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on Nov. 19, 2013.

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australia to protect free speach

Hear, hear!  Well done, AUS!!

== = = =

RICHARD SZABO  – The Epoch Times

The Australian government is setting up a task force to protect the freedom of expression at universities countrywide, amid concerns of foreign influence by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The University Foreign Interference Task Force will bring together representatives from universities, national security organizations, and the Department of Education, federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan said in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra on Aug. 28.

The new initiative will safeguard freedom of speech and academic freedom for all Australian university students and staff, Tehan said.

“Universities are at their strongest and most relevant when they provide a platform to a diversity of views and provide freedom from the pernicious threat of groupthink,” Tehan said.

“What is the value in freedom of speech if people are too afraid to say what they think? The sense that some students and staff at universities are self-censoring—out of fear they’ll be shouted down or condemned for expressing sincerely held views and beliefs, or for challenging widely accepted ideas—should concern us all.

“The test of our commitment to free speech is whether we are willing to tolerate the speech of others, especially those with whom we most disagree. We must foster the ability to listen to others’ viewpoints and encourage an environment where disagreement does not involve verbal attacks or threats.”

The task force will develop “bestpractice guidelines” to deal with foreign interference, against a November deadline. The team also will update the national Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) survey questions to seek student feedback as to whether they feel encouraged to voice “non-conformist opinions” and have freedom of expression on campus.

“I believe universities want to know if students and staff are afraid to discuss certain topics,” Tehan said. “It is only through diversity of thinking, perspective, and intellectual style that we get innovation and problem-solving. This is the kind of thinking that universities are there to encourage, [and] I ask the sector to also seek the views of their staff on this matter.”

Concerns About Chinese Communist Influence

Tehan’s announcement of the task force came on the same day that Charles Sturt University ethics professor Clive Hamilton expressed concerns that Australian universities are failing to set boundaries for foreign influence.

“We have yet to see one Australian university draw a line in the sand and make it clear that it is willing to take the pain in defense of our political freedom and free speech on campus,” Hamilton said at a public presentation held at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane on Aug. 28.

“A principle is worthless unless we are willing to make a sacrifice for it. Unless we are willing to make that sacrifice soon in defense of our political freedom, Australian universities will live under the ever-darkening shadow of Beijing,” he said.

Hamilton suggested that universities hadn’t acted sooner because they rely on revenue from China and are influenced by Beijing’s United Front groups that exist in part to protect the CCP’s image abroad.

“Corporatization of the tertiary sector and the extraordinary dependence of many universities on revenue from China, coupled with a sustained and highly effective influence campaign directed at senior university execu- tives by various United Front bodies, has meant that many vice-chancellors and other senior executives have lost sight of the actual meaning of academic freedom,” he said.

Hamilton said UQ Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj backed the appointment of Brisbane Chinese Consul-General Xu Jie as an adjunct professor of language and culture at the university on July 15, for a 2 1/2-year term without pay.

He said the Chinese consulate website had uploaded a story, which has since been removed, stating that UQ’s adjunct professorship is given to “very few scholars who play unique roles and make significant contributions … and to date are only given to a very few.”

“While defending the decision to appoint the consul-general, professor Hoj reassured us by saying professor Xu would not be doing any teaching,” Hamilton said. “Well, he is of sufficient authority to be a professor. Why can’t he give some lectures?”

Hamilton noted that UQ previously appointed then-Consul-General Zhao Yongchen as an adjunct professor in language and literature in 2014, and that Zhao gave a lecture at the university in 2015 on “China–Australian cooperation.”

Hamilton also pointed out that Hoj had recently been endorsed by Hanban, the Beijing-backed authority that oversees the controversial Confucius Institutes, which are hosted by universities around the world.

“In 2015, UQ news announced that professor Hoj had been honored by the Hanban as the outstanding individual of the year,” he said. “This prestigious award, as UQ called it, was in recognition of his contribution to the global Confucius Institute network. China’s last Vice Premier Madame Liu Yandong presented the award herself.”

Hamilton cited a recent example that illustrated the concerns regarding foreign interference, when several students who erected a mosaic wall on the UQ campus to show their support for the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong found their work had been damaged by pro-Beijing sympathizers who claimed to be protecting the Chinese consulate.

“A university security guard confronted a few men who were tearing down a Lennon Wall and then refused to show student IDs,” Hamilton said. “When the guard indicated that if they did not, he would call the police, the leader of the three men said, ‘I don’t care if you call the police, I will call the ambassador.’”

The test of our commitment to free speech is whether we are willing to tolerate the speech of others, especially those with whom we most disagree.

Dan Tehan, Minister of Education, Australia

RICHARD SZABO/THE EPOCH TIMES

Charles Sturt University Ethics Professor Clive Hamilton (R) at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, on Aug. 28, 2019.

ROHAN THOMSON/AAP IMAGES VIA AP

Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan at the National Press Club in Canberra, on Aug. 28, 2019.

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femimist professor under fire

WSJ  8/31/2019   THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW with Camille Paglia

When Camille Paglia was an “obnoxious adolescent” of 15, she had what she describes as “this huge fight with a nun” in upstate New York. Ms. Paglia, 72, remembers the incident with a clarity that suggests a lifetime of unresolved umbrage.

“We were released from school for religious instruction on Thursday afternoons,” and teen Camille posed a question: “If God is infinitely forgiving, I asked the nun, is it possible that at some point in the future he’ll forgive Satan?” The nun—a doctrinaire Irish Catholic without any of the “pagan residue” of Ms. Paglia’s Italian culture—“ turned beet red. She was so enraged that she condemned me in front of everybody for even asking that question.”

That was the day Ms. Paglia left the Catholic Church. It was not the last time she asked an awkward, even incendiary, question. Such provocations are the stock-in-trade of this most free-spirited of America’s public intellectuals. Ms. Paglia is a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has been a tenured— and occasionally embattled— faculty member since 1984. This April, mutinous students demanded her firing over public comments she’d made that were not wholly sympathetic to the #MeToo movement, as well as for an interview with the Weekly Standard that they called “transphobic.” That denunciation, with its indignant dogmatism, is particularly slapstick, since Ms. Paglia describes herself as “transgender.”

The protests were unsuccessful, largely thanks to a robust defense of Ms. Paglia by the university’s president, David Yager. “Artists over the centuries,” he wrote in an open letter to students, “have suffered censorship, and even persecution, for the expression of their beliefs through their work. My answer is simple: Not now, not at UArts.”

Over lunch at a Greek restaurant, Ms. Paglia tells me she belongs to the “pro-sex, free-speech wing of feminism,” which she says had its heyday in the 1990s. That was the decade in which she herself emerged from academic obscurity. In 1990 she published her first book, “Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson,” an erudite yet pugnacious account of the competing roles of male and female in Western civilization. It was rejected— she never tires of saying— by seven publishers and five agents before Yale University Press picked it up.

The book vaulted Ms. Paglia into the American imagination as a bluestocking gone deliciously rogue. The same year, she published an op-ed article lauding the pop singer Madonna as “the true feminist,” who “exposes the puritanism and suffocating ideology of American feminism, which is stuck in an adolescent whining mode.” The op-ed incensed the “prudish” feminist establishment. Ms. Paglia has since soured on Madonna, who she says was “once refreshingly sane in her teasing affection for men” but has now undergone a “collapse into rote male-bashing.”

Ms. Paglia laments that the “antisex and repressively doctrinaire side of feminism is back again— big!” She calls it “victim feminism” and complains that “everything we’d won in the 1990s has been totally swept away. Now we have this endless privileging of victimhood, with a pathological vulnerability seen as the default human mode.” Everyone is made to cater to it—“in the workplace, in universities, in the demand for safe spaces.”

As a teacher of undergraduates, Ms. Paglia despairs at how “bad it is for young people, filled with fears, to be raised in this kind of a climate where personal responsibility isn’t spoken of.” Since her own youth, she says, college students have devolved from rebels into skittish supplicants, petitioning people in authority to protect them from real life. Young adults are encouraged to look for “substitute parent figures on campus, which is what my generation rebelled against in college. We threw that whole ‘in loco parentis’ thing out.”

There’s an undeniable irony in hearing a septuagenarian, from a generation that was famously preoccupied with youth, deplore the state of today’s young people. “Our parents were the World War II generation,” Ms. Paglia says, “so they had a sense of reality about life.” Children now “are raised in a far more affluent period. Even people without much money have cellphones, televisions, access to cars. They’re raised in an air-conditioned environment. I can still remember when there was no air-conditioning.” She shudders as she sips her cold beer, adding that she suffered horribly in the heat.

“Everything is so easy now,” Ms. Paglia continues. “The stores are so plentifully supplied. You just go in and buy fruits and vegetables from all over the world.” Undergrads, who’ve studied neither economics nor history, “have a sense that this is the way life has always been. Because they’ve never been exposed to history, they have no idea that these are recent attainments that come from a very specific economic system.”

Capitalism, she continues, has “produced this cornucopia around us. But the young seem to believe in having the government run everything, and that the private companies that are doing things for profit around them, and supplying them with goods, will somehow exist forever.”

Ms. Paglia asks me to note that it was “because of capitalism” that her forebears “escaped the crushing poverty of rural Italy,” emigrating to Endicott, N.Y., to “work in the Endicott-Johnson shoe factories, whose vast buildings, tanning pools and smokestacks dominated my childhood.”

The students who demand her firing, she argues, take prosperity for granted, are socially undeveloped, and know little about Western history. Who’s Moses?

Although she doesn’t use the phrase herself, you can call Ms. Paglia a feminist capitalist. “While I believe that boom-and-bust capitalism is inherently Darwinian and requires moderate regulation for the long-term greater good,” she says, “I insist that capitalism has produced the glorious emancipation of women.” They can now “support themselves and live on their own, and no longer must humiliatingly depend on father or husband.”

So why do young women feel victimized? Ms. Paglia cites the near-extinction of “body language” among the young and its impact on sexual relations on campus. The “loss of body language” starts in middle and high school, “where there’s total absorption in social media and projected images on Instagram, and so on. So they don’t know how to read each other, physically.” When they get to college, this social deficiency is exacerbated by the effects of “that stupid law, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, that was passed in 1984.” It effected a nationwide ban on alcohol sales to adults under 21.

“When I got to college,” Ms. Paglia says, “you could go out for a beer, you could talk with a drink in a public place, in an adult environment.” That’s how 18-year-olds away from home for the first time learned the “art of conversation, of looking at each other, reading facial expressions and body language.” After the ban on drinking, “instead of a nice group of people conversing and flirting, you got the keg parties at fraternities on campus, this horrible environment where women milled about with men in this huge amount of noise, with people chugging beers down.”

Ms. Paglia is distinctly animated now and—body language!— claps her hands for emphasis. “So almost immediately, by the late 1980s, you get this date-rape extravaganza, and the hysteria, and the victimage.” Ms. Paglia has urged a repeal of the drinking-age law but “cannot get any traction on this. No one will listen to me.”

By contrast to her flaming public persona, Ms. Paglia is positively conventional in the classroom. “As I constantly stress,” she says, “my base identity is as a hard-working, no-nonsense schoolmarm—like the teaching nuns of global Roman Catholicism.” Despite her avowed atheism, she confesses to keeping a Mass card of St. Teresa of Ávila in her den at home.

This fall semester, she will teach two classes, “Art of Song Lyric” and “Style as Art.” She asks me to “stress that I do not teach ‘my’ ideas in the classroom.” Instead, she teaches “broad-ranging” courses and considers herself responsible for her students’ “general education—in which there are huge and lamentable gaps, thanks to the tragic decline of public education in this country.” She recalls a “horrifying” example from her classroom a few years ago. She was teaching “Go Down, Moses,” the famous Negro spiritual. “The whole thing is about antiquity,” she says, “but obviously it has contemporary political references.” She passed out the lyrics and played the music, “and it suddenly hit me with horror— none of them recognized the name ‘Moses.’ And I thought: Oh my God, when Moses is erased from the West, what is left of Western civilization?”

Judging by last semester’s protests against Ms. Paglia, today’s college students seem better versed in the polemics of gender identity than in Judeo-Christian history. This prompts me to ask Ms. Paglia, perhaps intrusively, why she regards herself as transgender. “There’s no doubt whatever,” she responds, “that I have had a radical gender dysphoria since earliest childhood. Never once in my life have I felt female.” Nor did she feel male, “except when wearing my fabulous Halloween costumes as a Roman soldier, toreador or Napoleon.”

“This strange alienation from standard human life certainly helped sharpen my powers of social observation,” she says, “and eventually made me a writer.” Her many years of researching and writing “Sexual Personae,” she adds, “exorcised a lot of my accumulated hostility forward the gender system.”

These days, she says, “there is only one occasion when my old turbulence returns— when shopping for clothing.” When she was in college, styles were “gender-bending,” and she wore “Tom Jones shirts, flared pinstriped trousers, Navy pea coats and Beatles boots with Cuban heels.” No more. Now she makes an annual “pilgrimage” to the sprawling King of Prussia shopping mall outside Philadelphia.

“I cannot express too strongly my overwhelming sense of existential alienation and horror when confronted with those lavishly stocked stores,” she says. There is nothing she can identify with in the women’s department, or the men’s. “It is completely inconsequential that I have attained a certain status as professor and author of eight books. At King of Prussia, my identity is completely wiped out—erased!”

Mr. Varadarajan is executive editor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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