Studying Jefferson should be a guiding star.
Jamie Gass and Will Fitzhugh write: “Students of reading, writing, and common arithmetick . . . Graecian, Roman, English, and American history . . .,” Thomas Jefferson advised that democratic education “should be… able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens.”
Mid-April marks the 275th anniversary of Jefferson’s birthday. Given his world-changing achievements, this milestone is worthy of recognizing – and of being taught in our public schools. His contributions to the American civilization are incalculable; he was a revolutionary, statesman, diplomat, man-of-letters, scientist, architect, and apostle of liberty.
Rather than forcing a titan like Jefferson to conform to our era’s often Lilliputian-style narcissism, we should study history by entering the past with imagination and humility.
In drafting the Declaration of Independence, the most elegant and universally quoted political document in history, Jefferson displayed his greatest talents. He powerfully combined literary language and self-evident truths to shape the legal and political future of the United States.
The first member of his family to attend college, Jefferson loved books and classical learning. He could read six languages, including ancient Greek and Latin, while his 18th-century education taught him timeless principles.
Jefferson’s trinity of great thinkers – Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke – embodied what’s been called the Enlightenment’s “science of freedom.”
But his favorite writer was the ancient Roman historian Tacitus – a brilliant chronicler of warped, tyrannical emperors. Jefferson’s liberal-arts-centric education instilled in him a vigilance for liberty, which made him ever wary of threats to his republican experiment in ordered self-government.
Legal scholar David Mayer effectively summarized Jefferson’s strict federalism: “constitutions primarily [served] as devices by which governmental power would be limited and checked, to prevent its abuse through encroachments on individual rights…” Jefferson despised the corruptions of kings, standing armies, banks, and cities, which he identified with the Roman and British empires. Read the rest of this entry »
White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority.
Shelby Steele writes: The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trumppresidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos.
Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.
All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?
America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.
“When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy.”
White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.
White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.
“White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.”
It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.
“To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having ‘no name in the street’ as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.”
When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.
This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Read the rest of this entry »
Jon Stewart has been a major cultural and political commentator for the past 16 years. He liked to take down the powerful—at least, when his head wasn’t shoved up Uncle Sam’s ass.
As “The Daily Show” host ends his run, reminisce with Reason TV the top five ways Jon Stewart was full of shit.
Approximately 5 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Daniel Greenfield writes: What is Islam? The obvious dictionary definition answer is that it’s a religion, but legally speaking it actually enjoys all of the advantages of race, religion and culture with none of the disadvantages.
“Islamist organizations have figured out how lock in every advantage of race, religion and culture, while expeditiously shifting from one to the other to avoid any of the disadvantages.”
Islam is a religion when mandating that employers accommodate the hijab, but when it comes time to bring it into the schools, places that are legally hostile to religion, American students are taught about Islam, visit mosques and even wear burkas and recite Islamic prayers to learn about another culture. Criticism of Islam is denounced as racist even though the one thing that Islam clearly isn’t is a race.
Islamist organizations have figured out how lock in every advantage of race, religion and culture, while expeditiously shifting from one to the other to avoid any of the disadvantages.
“Islam is a theocracy. When it leaves the territories conquered by Islam, it seeks to replicate that theocracy through violence and by adapting the legal codes of the host society to suit its purposes.”
The biggest form of Muslim privilege has been to racialize Islam. The racialization of Islam has locked in all the advantages of racial status for a group that has no common race, only a common ideology.
Islam is the only religion that cannot be criticized. No other religion has a term in wide use that treats criticism of it as bigotry. Islamophobia is a unique term because it equates dislike of a religion with racism. Its usage makes it impossible to criticize that religion without being accused of bigotry.
By equating religion with race, Islam is treated not as a particular set of beliefs expressed in behaviors both good and bad, but as an innate trait that like race cannot be criticized without attacking the existence of an entire people. The idea that Islamic violence stems from its beliefs is denounced as racist.
“By equating religion with race, Islam is treated not as a particular set of beliefs expressed in behaviors both good and bad, but as an innate trait that like race cannot be criticized without attacking the existence of an entire people. The idea that Islamic violence stems from its beliefs is denounced as racist.”
Muslims are treated as a racial collective rather than a group that shares a set of views about the world.
That has made it impossible for the left to deal with ex-Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali or non-Muslims from Muslim families like Salman Rushdie. If Islam is more like skin color than an ideology, then ex-Muslims, like ex-Blacks, cannot and should not exist. Under such conditions, atheism is not a debate, but a hate crime. Challenging Islam does not question a creed; it attacks the existence of an entire people.
Muslim atheists, unlike all other atheists, are treated as race traitors both by Muslims and leftists. The left has accepted the Brotherhood’s premise that the only authentic Middle Easterner is a Muslim (not a Christian or a Jew) and that the only authentic Muslim is a Salafist (even if they don’t know the word).
The racialization of Islam has turned blasphemy prosecutions into an act of tolerance while making a cartoon of a religious figure racist even when it is drawn by ex-Muslims like Bosch Fawstin. The New York Times will run photos of Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” covered in dung and pornography, but refuses to run Mohammed cartoons because it deems one anti-religious and the other racist. Read the rest of this entry »
Joel B. Pollak reports: The implosion of The New Republic, pending its move to New York and re-establishment as a “digital media” company, has consumed much of the political commentariat in recent days. The change is deeply mourned by former editors and writers for the publication, many of whom resigned in protest. However, the shift mirrors that of other publications that shifted further left in recent years, only to stumble into commercial failure.
Former publisher Marty Peretz lamented in 2013 that the magazine he sold to Facebook guru Chris Hughes–a key social media operative in Barack Obama’s rise to power–had moved in a nakedly partisan direction, away from its traditional center-left liberalism: “The magazine wasn’t supposed to be a White House siphon….The magazine now seems to live in a space where those ‘little insurrections of the mind’ are unwelcome. It is akin to the atmosphere in many colleges and universities: There are prevailing orthodoxies but they aren’t recognized as such. Mr. Obama himself is the main one. Read the rest of this entry »
For TownHall.com, Kurt Schlichter writes: Conservatism is the Ramones at CBGB – loud, fast and alive. In contrast, liberalism is the headliner at a state fair concert. It’s Foghat, serenading its anesthetized fans as America slow rides into decline.
“Liberals want to see themselves as punks. They aren’t. They are sad conformists.”
Back in the 70s, the Ramones put a steel-toed boot into the behind of a fat, flabby rock ‘n roll world that has lost its way. That’s what conservatives are doing today to American politics and culture. And the dinosaur rockers of the status quo hate it.
“Everything about liberalism is stodgy, everything is old, everything is about control.”
But some things have changed. Back in the 70’s, it was alienated young people leading the way, yet today’s Millennials support the very liberal status quo that keeps them down. What’s pathetic is that they are so eagerly complicit in their own serfdom.
Dead-end jobs, innovations like Uber sacrificed to protect established Democrat corporatist allies, and tons of student debt for their degrees in Feminist Interpretive Dance – you Millennials have been, and will be, fooled again. And again and again.
Look at ancient Hillary Clinton, that improbable Millennial heroine. She’s the Bachman Turner Overdrive of American politics, out there literally taking care of business – especially the businesses who take care of her by paying her hundreds of thousands a pop to come talk to them. Read the rest of this entry »
Wayne Dupree writes: Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman are heros. Their strength and conviction to free blacks from slavery are a testament to what happens when individuals think more of their community than themselves and are willing to risk everything for a cause greater than themselves.
In comparison, modern black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson Jr. and Al Sharpton are tiny and self-serving. They don’t serve black Americans or champion freedom and liberty for all. They champion liberal politics and ideology, and that’s odd; liberals want to see blacks tucked neatly into the roles of their design.
Liberals can’t abide a black person who leaves the black plantation of poverty and handouts to stand on his own two feet; they treat with contempt a black man who turns his back on their free money to work hard to make a good life for himself and his family. How dare these dissidents show the black community what they can do with their lives if they walk away from poverty and work to better themselves?
Too many liberals think they have the black race all sewed up, and it just paralyzes them to hear of black conservatives.
For Ricochet, Jon Gabriel writes: The Ouroboros is an ancient image showing a large serpent consuming its own tail. Venerated by Greeks, Egyptians and Norsemen of yore, it serves as an apt metaphor for modern American liberalism.
The Democratic coalition was largely built on grievance politics. For decades, progressive leaders divided Americans into subgroups based on race, gender, class, age and sexual orientation. Political leaders were the first to stoke this fire, but educators soon joined in, as did the media, NGOs, big business and popular culture.
This coordinated strategy finally bore fruit with the arrival of the Obama era. Democrats had finally convinced the majority of American voters that Republicans are rich, old, white males who couldn’t possibly care about the poor, the young, women or non-whites.
As President Obama assumed power, his Alinskyite past served as the template for a renewed politics of envy, personal grievance and payback. The One Percent must be punished for their wealth. Traditional marriage supporters are hateful bigots on the wrong side of history. Mitt Romney gave old women cancer and locked the younger ones in binders. “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” and “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
As one blogger notes, “Barack Obama thinks his job is to lead the mob, not the country.”
Kurt Schlichter writes: If you’re a conservative, you don’t need to silence the opposition.
In fact, we conservatives want liberals to talk, to make buffoons of themselves, to prove their folly. We want liberals to expound upon their ridiculous ideas, to show the world exactly what they’re about. Nancy Pelosi? Give that tiresome woman a microphone. Chatty liberals are the best advertisement for conservatism.
But liberals just can’t have conservatives speaking. We’ll tell the truth, and that’s why liberals need to shut us up.
Their traditional intimidation tactics are wearing out. Calling someone a “racist” used to be a devastating moral indictment. Liberals’ promiscuous employment of the word first turned it into a cliché and then into an ironic punchline.
I know, saying that out loud is racist. And sexist. And cisgender heteronormative, whatever the hell that means.
So now liberals have stepped up to formal governmental repression. Take the IRS scandal – or ex-scandal, in the eyes of the mainstream media. The Obama administration, at the urging of red state Democrat senators who are about to lose their seats because of their track records of failure, are doing everything they can to turn the taxman loose on the organizations that are pointing out their track records of failure.
David French writes: Last weekend AEI’s Arthur Brooks published an interesting piece on happiness in the New York Times’ Sunday Review. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but this observation (taken from the comprehensive work of the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey) was particularly interesting and runs counter to perceptions fostered by pop culture:
For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.
Fascinating. While I’ll let others comment on the happiness of conservatives, let’s address liberal men. Why are they so much less happy?
A core component of modern leftism is its comprehensive attack (and accompanying redefinition) of masculinity. This attack poisons how men experience their own nature, relationships, and purpose.
Just as there are timeless truths, there are also timeless falsehoods.
Here are a few of the latter that I’ve recently encountered, but there are, of course, plenty more. Some libertarians may not agree with me (at least at first) on all of them.
1) The free market creates scarcity and higher prices. In any economic system—socialist, interventionist, or free market—the quantity of a good will typically not be enough to satisfy demand when the price is zero. In a free market, in which people trade their legitimate claims to those resources, prices will tend to rise or fall to the level where the quantity supplied equals the quantity demanded, and in that way prices help us to cope with scarcity. Not only that, the free market, via a system of profit and loss, gives entrepreneurs an incentive both to supply more of scarce resources and to discover alternatives to them. (But not all “trade” is conducted this way. See No. 4 below.)
2) The free market means the government gives businesses special privileges. This is a very common belief based on the idea that pro-market means pro-business. But the free market is free precisely because it denies special legal privileges to any person or group. People sometimes define “privilege” as any advantage a person or group may have over others. Certainly such advantages exist today and would exist in a free market—you may be born into a wealthy family or have superior drive and resourcefulness—but these advantages are consistent with the absence of privilege in the libertarian sense, as long as you acquired such advantages without fraud or the initiation of physical violence against the person or property of others.
3) The pre-Obamacare healthcare industry was a free market. Actually, it was a highly interventionist market, as John C. Goodman explains. Similarly, the failures of the housing and financial markets were hardly the result of “free-market policies,” and the same could be said for practically every other sector of the American economy. The free market is free of legal privileges and discrimination; it is whatever happens in the absence of aggression and within certain “rules of the game”—for example, private property, freedom of association, and the rule of law. Again, it’s not pro-business, pro-consumer, or pro-anything if that means using political power to intentionally help some and hurt others.
Roger L Simon writes: I have no idea if Republicans will end their circular firing squad and unite sufficiently to right our country, but one thing seems abundantly clear from the events of the last weeks, including Tuesday’s election in which Terry McAuliffe barely eked out a victory over the unexciting Ken Cuccinelli. Liberalism in our country is in a more precarious position than ever. It may not even really exist.
Liberalism as practiced in today’s America is a chimera, not actually an ideology but an alliance of interest groups controlled by elites for the preservation of their (the elites’) wealth and power. The interest groups often seem to be working against their own advantage by being so affiliated (e. g. African-Americans are in the worst shape in years under Obama), but not the elites who have been able to thrive. These elites are also able to appear altruistic to themselves and others while behaving in manners that are hideously selfish and atrocious to the common good. Liberalism is not so much an ideology in our society as it is a shield, a defense mechanism for a lifestyle.
This accounts, in part, for all the lying and bumbling in the face of the Obamacare debacle from the president on down to his hapless porte-paroles Jay Carney and Deborah Wasserman-Schultz (who apparently is so flummoxed she cannot pronounce the word “misled”). None of them ever knew what the healthcare legislation was in the first place in anything approximating serious detail. That would have been been too much of a bother when it was just a pose. It was never really about people’s health anyway — it was for show. Read the rest of this entry »
Kurt Schlichter writes: You Millenials voted for Obama by a margin of 28 percent, which will make it a lot easier for me to accept the benefits you will be paying for. We warned you that liberalism was a scam designed to take the fruits of your labor and transfer it to us, the older, established generation. Oh, and also to the couch-dwelling, Democrat-voting losers who live off of food stamps and order junk from QVC with their Obamaphones.
You didn’t listen to us. Maybe you’ll listen to pain.
So, let’s say you realized, that, try as you might, you’re not like the rest of them.
You’re different. You don’t instantly agree with them. Their assumptions are no longer yours. Maybe, secretly, they never were. But now, you find yourself the odd man out as they rant, they rave, they ridicule.
You realize–in a quiet, private moment–that you aren’t a liberal. What next? What do you do? Can you let go from the safety net of agreeable party conversation and follow your own path? It’s quite a leap. Anyone who has done it will tell you–it’s never easy. See: David Mamet.
And I know–I know–you’ve never considered, ever, that you might be a conservative. Because, for the longest time, being a conservative was met with edgy derision and mockery. The “typical conservative,” as identified by the media and those in entertainment, is a cloddish clown–a humorless scold devoid of contemporary cache and hip fashion. Some of them make you angry. Some make you laugh at their earnestness. Some… you just don’t get. They’re weird.
I get it. I was there, once, facing a new terrain of oddballs. It’s important to note, however, that this stereotype–although true in some parts–in the larger sense is false. And it is a stereotype created by a movement and it’s proponents in the media that has owned the narrative since I was in diapers (at least ten years). The idea that conservatives are somehow more intolerant and angry than liberals is a lie. Both have their fair share, but the nature of conservatives is “live and let live.” It’s a shame that a few of them still don’t get that part. But all in all, the oddballs are oddly cool. Read the rest of this entry »
To paraphrase Freud: Liberals, what do they really want?
Not the communism or socialism of the right’s fever dreams. They know that didn’t work. Today’s liberal agenda is more akin to the corporatist vision of the 1920s and ’30s—an economy in which the state directs the activities of the private sector to achieve ideologically desired ends. But even that description doesn’t quite get to the nub of it. Liberals today seek to create a stable, and what they perceive to be a socially just, society via rule by experts—in which most of the activities of society are micromanaged by technocrats for the economic and social benefit of the whole. In other words, social democracy without the messiness of democracy, like the European Union’s rule-by-bureaucrats-in-Brussels. This is the “fundamental transformation” that President Obama seeks to implement in this country…
The siren song of technocracy attracts members of both parties. Left-wing types tend to believe in issuing direct government commands. Think Nancy Pelosi or Mayor Bloomberg. Big government right-wingers prefer to induce “desirable” behavior through incentives. Think Newt Gingrich at his most utopian…
“Since technocrats believe their job is to protect us from ourselves, preventing people from getting hurt becomes the prime directive, the equality that matters most is equality of outcome—not opportunity—an unattainable goal, which conveniently means a technocrat’s work is never done.”
“…with the coming of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, the technocrats have broken ground for a full-bore, EU-style bureaucratic state…”
Obamacare is also a splendid vehicle for imposing liberal social values that technocrats favor. Thus, the next time the Democrats enjoy one-party rule, expect them to amend the ACA first to permit, then to mandate, abortion coverage. Indeed, Obamacare could easily become the vehicle for enacting many profoundly culture-changing policies, such as requiring employers to cover free in-vitro fertilization, not to mention sex reassignment surgery, and eventually assisted suicide…
“Once we turn our affairs over to the technocracy, bureaucrats even get to decide which of us has greater value and which of us can be kicked out of the lifeboat…”