Category Archives: Western Civilization

The Case against Revolution with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Another very thoughtful discussion about the real threat facing America today. Yes, we have problems. Yes, we need to come together to find solutions. This is what Americans have done for 244 years. But Black LIves Matter is calling for an overthrow of the institution of America. All serious Americans, regardless if your political party need to stand up against this attack – and it is an attack on the essence of this great nation.

mrossol

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King’s Moral Vision Is a Threat to the Woke

WSJ 7/2/2020. Letters to the Editor.

There is a common theme between the discussions of morality and moral law in Daniel Henninger’s “Smiley Face Liberalism” (Wonder Land, June 25) and “Notable & Quotable: Dr. King” (June 25). Mr. Henninger speaks of the left’s erasure of “even the idea of a functioning consensus about morality,” concluding that in a society untethered to a shared moral baseline, no one today has moral authority. The latter quotes a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful and timeless “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in the context of the recent kerfuffle at UCLA, where lecturer W. Ajax Peris is under investigation for having the temerity to read King’s letter aloud in class, in which King used the n-word twice.

One suspects UCLA’s microaggression monitors have little real concern about their exquisitely sensitive students hearing Dr. King’s meaningful, historical use of a word that is heard in almost every gangsta-rap song today. Rather, it is King’s message about the foundation for a moral code that is most threatening to leftist academia’s relativism, i.e., that “just” laws must be rooted in natural law, eternal law or the law of God. As with the writers of our Declaration of Independence, which refers to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” King declared there must be a fixed touchstone or standard against which to determine what laws are moral and just, or not. Otherwise, laws can be declared just or unjust arbitrarily, as it suits the ideology of the loudest or most powerful voice in the conversation. One can only wonder how King himself would have fared if he read his letter verbatim today in a class of those offended UCLA students.

Ed Grysavage    St. Augustine, Fla.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/kings-moral-vision-is-a-threat-to-the-woke-11593717917?mod=opinion_major_pos17

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America Doesn’t Need a New Revolution

I have not heard one single American politician enunciate the argument any clearer than this amazing woman. mrosso

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

 

Outrage is the natural response to the brutal killing of George Floyd. Yet outrage and clear, critical thinking seldom go hand in hand. An act of police brutality became the catalyst for a revolutionary mood. Protests spilled over into violence and looting. Stores were destroyed; policemen and civilians injured and killed. The truism “black lives matter” was joined by a senseless slogan: “Defund the police.”

Democratic politicians—and some Republicans—hastened to appease the protesters. The mayors of Los Angeles and New York pledged to cut their cities’ police budgets. The Minneapolis City Council said it intended to disband the police department. The speaker of the House and other congressional Democrats donned scarves made of Ghanaian Kente cloth and kneeled in the Capitol. Sen. Mitt Romney joined a march.

ILLUSTRATION: DAVID KLEIN

Corporate executives scrambled to identify their brands with the protests. By the middle of June, according to polls, American public opinion had been transformed from skepticism about the Black Lives Matter movement to widespread support. Politicians, journalists and other public figures who had denounced protests against the pandemic lockdown suddenly lost their concern about infection. One Johns Hopkins epidemiologist tweeted on June 2: “In this moment the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus.”

Although I am a black African—an immigrant who came to the U.S. freely—I am keenly aware of the hardships and miseries African-Americans have endured for centuries. Slavery, Reconstruction, segregation: I know the history. I know that there is still racial prejudice in America, and that it manifests itself in the aggressive way some police officers handle African-Americans. I know that by measures of wealth, health and education, African-Americans remain on average closer to the bottom of society than to the top. I know, too, that African-American communities have been disproportionately hurt by both Covid-19 and the economic disruption of lockdowns.

 

Yet when I hear it said that the U.S. is defined above all by racism, when I see books such as Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” top the bestseller list, when I read of educators and journalists being fired for daring to question the orthodoxies of Black Lives Matter—then I feel obliged to speak up.

“What the media also do not tell you,” I tweeted on June 9, “is that America is the best place on the planet to be black, female, gay, trans or what have you. We have our problems and we need to address those. But our society and our systems are far from racist.”

America looks different if you grew up, as I did, in Africa and the Middle East. There I had firsthand experience of three things. First, bloody internecine wars between Africans—with all the combatants dark-skinned, and no white people present. Second, the anarchy that comes when there is no police, no law and order. Third, the severe racism (as well as sexism) of a society such as Saudi Arabia, where de facto slavery still exists.

I came to the U.S. in 2006, having lived in the Netherlands since 1992. Like most immigrants, I came with a confidence that in America I would be judged on my merits rather than on the basis of racial or sexual prejudice.

There’s a reason the U.S. remains, as it has long been, the destination of choice for would-be migrants. We know that there is almost no difference in the unemployment rate for foreign-born and native-born workers—unlike in the European Union.

We immigrants see the downsides of American society: the expensive yet inefficient health-care system, the shambolic public schools in poor communities, the poverty that no welfare program can alleviate. But we also see, as Charles Murray and J.D. Vance have shown, that these problems aren’t unique to black America. White America is also, in Mr. Murray’s phrase, “coming apart” socially. Broken marriages and alienated young men are problems in Appalachia as much as in the inner cities.

If America is a chronically racist society, then why are the “deaths of despair” studied by Anne Case and Angus Deaton so heavily concentrated among middle-aged white Americans? Did the Covid-19 pandemic make us forget the opioid epidemic, which has disproportionately afflicted the white population?

 

This country is only 244 years old, but it may be showing signs of age. Time was, Americans were renowned for their can-do, problem-solving attitude. Europeans, as Alexis de Tocqueville complained, were inclined to leave problems to central authorities in Paris or Berlin. Americans traditionally solved problems locally, sitting together in town halls and voluntary associations. Some of that spirit still exists, even if we now have to meet on Zoom. But the old question—“How can we figure this out?”—is threatened with replacement by “Why can’t the government figure this out for us?”

The problem is that there are people among us who don’t want to figure it out and who have an interest in avoiding workable solutions. They have an obvious political incentive not to solve social problems, because social problems are the basis of their power. That is why, whenever a scholar like Roland Fryer brings new data to the table—showing it’s simply not true that the police disproportionately shoot black people dead—the response is not to read the paper but to try to discredit its author.

I have no objection to the statement “black lives matter.” But the movement that uses that name has a sinister hostility to serious, fact-driven discussion of the problem it purports to care about. Even more sinister is the haste with which academic, media and business leaders abase themselves before it. There will be no resolution of America’s many social problems if free thought and free speech are no longer upheld in our public sphere. Without them, honest deliberation, mutual learning and the American problem-solving ethic are dead.

America’s elites have blundered into this mess. There were eight years of hedonistic hubris under Bill Clinton. Then came 9/11 and for eight years the U.S. suffered nemesis in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the financial crash. After that we had eight years of a liberal president, and the hubris returned. Sanctimonious politics coincided with deeply unequal economics.

Through all this, many Americans felt completely left out—of the technology boom, of the enterprise of globalization. I never thought I would agree with Michael Moore. But at an October 2016 event, he predicted that Donald Trump would win: “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest [middle finger] ever recorded in human history.” I still think that analysis was right. Mr. Trump wasn’t elected because of his eloquence. He was elected to convey that middle finger to those who had been smugly in charge for decades.

But you can’t give the middle finger to a pandemic, and 2020 has exposed the limitations of Mr. Trump as a president. Yet when you look at the alternative, you have to wonder where it would lead us. Back to the elite hubris of the 1990s and 2010s? I can’t help thinking that another shattering defeat might force sane center-left liberals into saying: That wasn’t a one-off; we’ve got a real problem. They’ll be in the same position as the British Labour Party after four years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and two election defeats, when eventually the moderates had to throw the leftists out. One way or another, the Democratic Party has to find a way of throwing out the socialists who are destroying it.

 

The Republicans, too, have to change their ways. They have to reconnect with young people. They have to address the concerns of Hispanics. And they have to listen to African-Americans, who most certainly do not want to see the police in their neighborhoods replaced by woke community organizers.

We have barely four months to figure this out in the old American way. To figure out how to contain Covid-19, which we haven’t yet done, because—I dare to say it—old lives matter, too, and it is old people as well as minorities whom this disease disproportionately kills. To figure out how to reduce violence, because the police wouldn’t use guns so often if criminals didn’t carry them so often. Perhaps most pressing of all, to figure out how to hold an election in November that isn’t marred by procedural problems, allegations of abuse and postelection tumult.

Who knows? Maybe there’s even time for the candidates to debate the challenges we confront—not with outrage, but with the kind of critical thinking we Americans were once famous for, which takes self-criticism as the first step toward finding solutions.

Ms. Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/america-doesnt-need-a-new-revolution-11593201840

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America’s Jacobin Moment

This coercive cultural turn threatens to devour what remains of America’s civic comity and push durable social progress on race and politics out of reach.

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We describe this as a Jacobin moment because it has the fervor and indiscriminate judgment of the revolutionary mind. The guillotine isn’t in use, but the impulse is the same to destroy careers, livelihoods and reputations. The wave of resignations, firings, disavowals and forced apologies at institutions large and small is moving so fast it is difficult to keep track.

This month editors at the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer lost their jobs after staff revolts over an op-ed and headline, respectively. Now the editor of Philadelphia Magazine, Tom McGrath, is resigning after the staff made racial demands. Critics pointed to stories they disliked from 2013 and 2015.

Economists have often been more resistant to ideological orthodoxy than other intellectuals. No longer. University of Chicago economist Harald Uhlig lost his contract with the Chicago Federal Reserve after tweets in which he argued that the Black Lives Matter movement “just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of #defundthepolice.” Mr. Uhlig said he favored the Democratic Party’s more moderate reform proposals. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, 13 years at the helm, rolled over without a peep.

Economists now want Mr. Uhlig stripped of his editorship of the Journal of Political Economy. New York Times political enforcer Paul Krugman tweeted that Mr. Uhlig is a “privileged white man” and he doubted his “objectivity” to edit the journal. Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan combed through Mr. Uhlig’s old blog posts and claimed to be outraged that Mr. Uhlig in 2017 criticized left-wing violence.

The purge is being felt across academia. One lecturer was suspended by UCLA’s business school for a blunt email rejecting a student request to make different rules for final exams for black students. Another is facing investigation after reading in class Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” It contains the n-word, so professors may now deny students a classic American document on moral opposition to unjust state power.

At MIT, a chaplain was forced out over an email that condemned George Floyd’s death but also noted his criminal record and said, “Many people have claimed that racism is major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

The purges have reached into left-wing circles beyond the media. David Shor, an analyst at progressive consultancy Civis Analytics, was pushed out soon after tweeting research from Princeton calling into question the efficacy of riots. The leadership of the Poetry Foundation resigned this month after an open letter denounced the foundation’s statement denouncing systemic racism for being too vague.

In the world of sports, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings cut ties with announcer Grant Napear after he was asked on Twitter his views on Black Lives Matter and replied that “ALL LIVES MATTER…EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!” The coach of Oklahoma State University had to publicly apologize after he was photographed on a fishing trip wearing a shirt bearing the logo of “One America News,” a pro-Trump network.

Entertainment is also being subject to new forms of regulation on artistic expression. HBO announced this month that it is temporarily scrubbing “Gone With the Wind,” the classic Civil War novel-turned-movie, from its video library. Mobs are pulling down statues of Confederate generals, but in San Francisco they also pulled down Junipero Serra, an 18th-century missionary and Catholic saint, and U.S. Presidents are targets (see nearby).

The purges also reach into local schools and governments. A Vermont principal was removed after posting on Facebook “I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter,” but “Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.” The mayor of the northern California town of Healdsburg resigned after doubting police reform was necessary in that community. She was excoriated and told local press that “my intention was to follow through with my term, but basically at what personal price?”

***

Some of the targets of these campaigns may have spoken or acted clumsily, but apologists for cancel culture can find reasons to stigmatize or banish anyone. For some, the destruction of social goods like academic freedom and political pluralism is merely collateral damage if the goal is seen as just. We doubt most Americans agree with this unforgiving and punitive approach to cultural change, but the revolutionaries are now in charge with a vengeance.

They won’t stop by themselves because their campaign is essentially about power and control, and they need new villains. But as they march through liberal institutions, they are also laying waste to liberal values of free speech, democratic debate and cultural tolerance.

Someone has to stop this, and first and foremost that means the liberal establishment. The leaders of universities, foundations, museums, the media and corporations need to draw on their remaining moral authority to make the case for a liberal society. There is a risk that anyone who speaks up, however reasonably, will become a mob target. But if one or two lead, perhaps others will follow.

Social comity in a polarized society will not be achieved through coercion and struggle sessions. If liberals won’t stop the Jacobin left, expect a political backlash and social fracture that will make Donald Trump’s Presidency look like a tea party.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-jacobin-moment-11592867349?mod=opinion_lead_pos1

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