Stephen Miller TKOs Jim Acosta
Rich Lowry writes: When Donald Trump’s policy adviser Stephen Miller stepped to the podium of the White House briefing room on Wednesday to defend a plan for reducing levels of legal immigration, Jim Acosta of CNN was aghast and let everyone know it.
Put aside that Acosta believed it was his role as a reporter to argue one side of a hot-button political issue (this is how journalism works in 2017). The exchange illustrated how advocates of high levels of immigration are often the ones who—despite their self-image as the rational bulwark against runaway populism—rely on an ignorant emotionalism to make their case.
At issue is the bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia to cut legal immigration by half. The legislation would scale back so-called chain migration—immigrants bringing relatives, who bring more relatives in turn—and institute a merit-based system for green cards based on the ability to speak English, educational attainment and job skills.
Offended by the idea of putting a priority on higher-skilled immigrants, Acosta wanted to know how such a policy would be consistent with the Statue of Liberty. When Miller pointed out that Lady Liberty was conceived as a symbol of … liberty and the famous Emma Lazarus poem added later, Acosta accused him of “national park revisionism”—even though Miller was correct.
Stephen Miller is living rent free in Acosta’s head. pic.twitter.com/WR2AMEmDGW
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) August 3, 2017
At the dedication of the statue in 1886, President Grover Cleveland declared that the statue’s “stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression until Liberty enlightens the world.” His soaring oration did not include the admonition that so-called comprehensive immigration reform would henceforth be considered the only acceptable immigration policy for the United States.
Lazarus’ poem was added in a plaque in 1903. The words are not, as Acosta and so many others believe, emblazoned on the statue itself—the plaque is now displayed in an exhibition within the pedestal.
All of this might seem pedantic, but the underlying debate is over the legitimacy of reducing levels of immigration and whether it is appropriate to craft a policy mindful, above anything else, of the national interest. Miller clearly has the best of this argument.
One, making 21st policy in accord with late-19th century poetry makes no sense. We don’t ask, say, whether the naval appropriations bill is in keeping with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Building of the Ship” (“Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great!”)
Two, the cap on refugees in the Cotton-Perdue bill of 50,000 a year is in the ballpark of recent annual refugee numbers. We actually admitted fewer than this in the late-1970s and early-2000s, and the Statue of Liberty still stood … (more)
Source: POLITICO Magazine
CNN’s Jim Acosta claims victory in briefing beef with Stephen Miller: ‘He couldn’t take that kind of heat’
“I think what you saw unfold in the briefing room is that he [Miller] really just couldn’t take that kind of heat and exploded before our eyes,” Acosta said in an appearance on CNN Wednesday night, hours after the face-off.
Miller spoke to members of the White House press corps about a revised bill from Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas that would implement a merit-based point system for immigrants applying for legal permanent status. President Trump endorsed the immigration plan during a ceremony at the White House earlier Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »
National Review Editor Rich Lowry explains the meaning of a likely contested convention for the GOP in 2016, who and what the delegates are and looks back on the history of convention fights. Sign up for the National Review newsletter here.
What Would an Alternative to Trump’s Crude Muslim-Immigration Proposal Look Like?
Mark Krikorian writes: Donald Trump has again succeeded in setting the terms of political debate, this time by calling for a temporary halt to the admission of all Muslims from abroad, whether as immigrants or as visitors (“nonimmigrants” being the technical term). Everyone’s outraged, of course, but this is a topic that needs to be addressed head-on.
“Large Muslim populations, continually refreshed by ongoing mass immigration, are a problem. Polling suggests between a quarter and a third are not attached to the principles of the Constitution, supporting things such as sharia law over U.S. law and the use of violence against those who insult Islam.”
First of all, it’s important to underline that Congress can exclude or admit any foreigner it wants, for any reason or no reason. Non-Americans have no constitutional right to travel to the United States and no constitutional due-process rights to challenge exclusion; as the Supreme Court has written multiple times, “Whatever the procedure authorized by Congress is, it is due process as far as an alien denied entry is concerned.”
“Nor is this merely hypothetical; Muslims account for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population but account for about half of terrorist attacks since 9/11. That means Muslims in the United States are about 5,000 percent more likely to commit terrorist attacks than non-Muslims.”
What’s more, while the president doesn’t have the authority that Obama has claimed, to let in anyone he wants for any reason (under the guise of “parole”), he does have the statutory authority to keep anyone out, for any reason he thinks best. From 8 USC §1182:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate (emphasis added).
So in considering Trump’s statement, the question is not whether it would be lawful but whether it would be good policy. (Barring the return of American citizens from abroad simply because they’re Muslims is ridiculous and illegal, but it doesn’t seem that Trump actually said that, despite the media’s trumpeting of that point.) As usual, Trump is playing the part of your crotchety Uncle George holding forth on politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. But the reason his careless and sloppy immigration commentary resonates is that no one else in public life is willing to address issues that worry — and, at this point, frighten — people. If “respectable” politicians refuse to even talk about the real problems caused by mass Muslim immigration, then a larger and larger share of the public will turn to carnival barkers unafraid of elite disapproval.
“Muslims account for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population but account for about half of terrorist attacks since 9/11.”
Under current trends, the United States will admit about 1 million new Muslim-origin immigrants over the next decade, plus hundreds of thousands of Muslim guest workers and foreign students. In addition, something like 50,000 young people from Muslim immigrant families turn 18 in the United States each year.
Many of these individuals are productive citizens who pose no threat to our republic. Iman the supermodel, television’s Dr. Oz, Fareed Zakaria, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent — whatever their merits or lack thereof, their Muslim origins pose no threat to us. Some are even politically conservative American patriots, such as our own Reihan Salam.
“So what to do? A strictly religious test for immigrants or visitors, as Trump seems to suggest, while perfectly legal with regard to foreigners seeking entry, would obviously run against the grain of American political culture, and rightly so.”
But large Muslim populations, continually refreshed by ongoing mass immigration, are a problem. Polling suggests between a quarter and a third are not attached to the principles of the Constitution, supporting things such as sharia law over U.S. law and the use of violence against those who insult Islam. Nor is this merely hypothetical; Muslims account for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population but account for about half of terrorist attacks since 9/11. That means Muslims in the United States are about 5,000 percent more likely to commit terrorist attacks than non-Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »
Cuckoo Bananas ‘Star Wars’ Fans Issue Death Threats to National Review Writer and Fox News Contributor Katherine TimpfPosted: November 25, 2015
Death Threats for Mocking ‘Star Wars‘
“A lot of people are clearly a lot of upset. But guess what? I’m not apologizing. Why? Because the all-too-common knee-jerk reaction of apologizing for harmless jokes after overblown hysteria is ruining our culture. This political-correctness obsession threatens free speech, and I absolutely refuse to be a part of it.”
Andrea Towers reports: Not everyone is excited about seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters this holiday season.
Nice that he at least gives an exact time! pic.twitter.com/K8DlC0C42R
— Katherine Timpf (@KatTimpf) November 25, 2015
I told a joke on a satire show at 3am a month ago so yes I actually am surprised I’m being threatened with murder https://t.co/4UWyUCQl3K
— Katherine Timpf (@KatTimpf) November 25, 2015
Last month, Fox News contributor Katherine Timpf jokingly insulted fans who were excited for the newest trailer during a guest stint on the late-night political comedy show Red Eye w/ Tom Shillue. Now, Timpf has revealed she’s recieving death threats for her comments.
“You people are crazy. You Star Wars people are crazy. Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars…You’re not really branding yourself in a way that makes me want to join your life-threatening club.”
“I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now,” Timpf shared on the original broadcast. “You people are crazy. You Star Wars people are crazy…”
- Video of Star Wars fan bashing National Review’s Kat Timpf goes viral
- Katherine Timpf: No Apology for Star Wars Joke
- Fox News commentator receives death threats for Star Wars joke
- Fox News Contributor Gets Death Threats For Mocking ‘Star Wars’ Fans
- ‘Go get ’em’! NRO’s Kat Timpf is ‘NOT SORRY’ for pissing off ‘totally insane’ Star Wars fans
- Fox News Contributor Gets Death Threats After ‘Star Wars’ Joke
“…Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive — people threatened my life. You’re not really branding yourself in a way that makes me want to join your life-threatening club.”
— Pundit Planet (@punditfap) November 25, 2015
Interesting that National Review and Playboy were founded at about the same time. https://t.co/yXjGLE9z7J
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) November 2, 2015
h/t , Twitter
The only Republican who does not want Paul Ryan to become the next House speaker, it seems, is Paul Ryan.
But the former vice-presidential nominee and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee may be changing his mind. After issuing a statement immediately following House majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the race reiterating that he will not seek the job, multiple sources tell National Review that Ryan is, at the very least, considering a change of heart.
“I’m told he’ll sleep on it,” says a source close to Ryan.
Two additional Republican sources say Ryan has in fact already made up his mind to jump in the race.
One House GOP source says they are hearing Ryan first needs to get his wife on board. Read the rest of this entry »
I step away from my gluttonous news watching for one day, and look what happens? I caught the tail end of this beautiful carnage on twitter, mid-evening, after Trump’s balls hit the fan. Fortunately, this clip was posted (and is circulating widely, I’m sure) before the ice in Trump’s glass melted and his keyboard’s return key had made it’s final Wednesday-night Twitter-frenzied return. Breitbart‘s Ian Hanchett has the story…
Ian Hatchet reports: National Review Editor and Fox News Contributor Rich Lowry stated that GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina cut other GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “balls off with the precision of a surgeon” on Wednesday’s “Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel.
“…look, Trump obviously attacks everyone, but she’s become a much bigger target. And I think part of what’s going on here, is that last debate…”
Lowry was asked if, as Trump had claimed, people said it was “sexist” to say Fiorina’s business career was a “disaster.”
He answered, “No, no one disputes that. And, look, Trump obviously attacks everyone, but she’s become a much bigger target. And I think part of what’s going on here, is that last debate. Let’s be honest. Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon, and he knows it, he knows it. He’s insulted and bullied his way to the top of the polls. No one was able to best him ever, except for this tough lady on that stage, and it must kill him. He must be simmering about it to this night.”
“…let’s be honest. Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon, and he knows it, he knows it. He’s insulted and bullied his way to the top of the polls. No one was able to best him ever, except for this tough lady on that stage, and it must kill him. He must be simmering about it to this night.”
— Rich Lowry
Host Megyn Kelly reacted by saying, “What did you just say?” And “You can’t say that.” Although, she laughed when her guest, Chris Salcedo, joked that Lowry needs to come out of his shell.
“What did you just say?” …You can’t say that.”
— Megyn Kelly
Lowry added that “all Trump does, more or less, is attack the other [Republican] candidates, and it’s been interpreted as strength and toughness. I think it’s becoming more and more clear that he’s just really thin-skinned, is part of this. And if I were Carly, the advice I would give her, laugh it off, shrug it off, take it very lightly, and stick to your business getting your message out there.”
“I think it’s becoming more and more clear that he’s just really thin-skinned, is part of this. And if I were Carly, the advice I would give her, laugh it off, shrug it off, take it very lightly, and stick to your business getting your message out there.”
— Rich Lowry
He concluded that the dispute between Trump and Fiorina shows that Fiorina is a real contender,continuing, “She is gaining on him, and she’s gaining on him in that outsider lane that we’ve talked about, and she’s gotten under his skin, clearly. Read the rest of this entry »
Dept. of shameless self-promotion: Things That Matter now out in paperback with a new section on the Obama years. http://t.co/MkdDBXr4t1
— Charles Krauthammer (@krauthammer) May 15, 2015
From our mailbox: Today, the National Review Institute, National Review‘s sister organization, opens it’s biennial Ideas Summit in Washington, D.C.
Special segments of the Summit will be LIVE streamed on the Corner for free — watch Rich Lowry and Jeb Bush, Jim Geraghty and Marco Rubio, John Fund and Carly Fiorina, and Heather Higgins and Bobby Jindal discuss why the future is conservative, and more!
First live stream starts today at 4:25 p.m. EST with Jeb Bush. Don’t miss it!
Full schedule is below. Click on the event to watch.
Thursday, April 30
Rich Lowry writes: …His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.
The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).
“If tourism were the key to empowering and eventually liberating the Cuban people, the country would be a robust democracy by now. About a million Canadian tourists go to Cuba every year. In total, more than 2 million tourists visit annually, and yet the Castro regime is still standing.”
The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.
After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.
“The Cuba embargo is condemned as a relic of the Cold War. But the root of the matter is the Cuban regime that is itself a relic, an inhuman jackboot left over from the era when people actually professed to believe in workers’ paradises.”
Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies. Read the rest of this entry »
Rich Lowry, Special Report, 10-28-2014
President Barack Obama styles himself a wit, and some of his best material lately has to do with his abuse of his powers.
“Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,” Obama told a crowd on the Georgetown Waterfront on July 1. “So sue me.” Hilarity ensued.
He cracked them up in Austin last week. “You hear some of them,” he said, referring to Republicans, “‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job?”
He must have killed in a private meeting last month with activists who were pushing him to waive more immigration laws. According to POLITICO, the president resorted to one his favorite comic riffs: “You’re not going to get me impeached, are you?”
One can only imagine the comedic possibilities in his 9-0 defeat in the Supreme Court in June for his blatantly abusive recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board or any of the court’s other recent unanimous rebukes of his executive overreach.
It takes a truly blithe spirit to play the constitutional deformation of his office, and the ensuing congressional reaction, for laughs…(more)
Crackpot Climate Scientist’s Defamation Suit Against Combative Mark Steyn, National Review a Go, Says JudgePosted: January 31, 2014
Good summary, except the Washington Times buried the lead. Here it is:
“Mr. Steyn is representing himself after firing the magazine’s legal team over a dispute related to how the judge was handling the case.”
Often not the most advisable way to go, in court. But, who knows. Maybe he’s a better advocate than his former legal team. Steyn’s been around the block with frivolous lawsuits and harassment. We wish Mr. Steyn luck. I hope National Review turns around and sues the snot out of Michael Mann. See the Washington Times for the full article, but here’s a sample:
A climate change scientist’s defamation suit against National Review writer and frequent Rush Limbaugh fill-in Mark Steyn will proceed, a judge decided earlier this week, ruling against the magazine’s attempt to dismiss the case.
The case stems from Mr. Steyn’s written reference to Michael Mann’s climate change data as fraudulent, according to news website Raw Story.
“the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data.”
At the time of the suit, several months ago, National Review editor Rich Lowry didn’t appear too worried.
Rich Lowry writes: If you don’t know who “they” are, you haven’t been watching the news or reading the papers.
Usually, it takes winning the GOP presidential nomination for a Republican media darling to experience such an onslaught of gleefully negative press coverage. John McCain was the straight-talking maverick right up until the moment he effectively clinched the nomination in 2008 — immediately triggering a thinly sourced New York Times report insinuating an affair with a lobbyist.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has gotten his disillusioning out of the way early, if he needed it. An occupational hazard of a certain kind of Republican is wanting to be loved by the wrong people. If the past week hasn’t cured Christie of that tendency, nothing will.
Rich Lowry writes: Robert Gates has roiled the Beltway with perhaps the least surprising bombshells ever to appear in a tell-all Washington memoir.
Did anyone believe that President Barack Obama was passionately committed to the Afghanistan war that he escalated at the same time he announced a withdrawal date?
Is there anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton in 2008 calibrated her position on the Iraq War based on the state of play in Anbar province rather than the Iowa caucuses?
Does anyone consider Vice President Joe Biden a thoughtful policy maven with a long history getting stuff right?
Before going any further, let’s stipulate that there’s something a little unseemly about the Gates book project. Gates has always seemed among the most old-school and stand-up of our political elites, yet even he reverted to the all-too-typical play of keeping notes for his memoir, to be published as soon as possible upon leaving office.
Make sure to check out Rich’s latest piece on this subject, “The Great Equalizers.”
Rich Lowry writes: At the end of the day, the root of President Obama’s mendacity on Obamacare was simple: He didn’t dare tell people how the law would work. He couldn’t tell people how the law would work.
Forthrightness was the enemy. It served no useful purpose and could only bring peril, and potentially defeat. It had to be banished. Instead of candor, Obama made the sale on the basis of dubious blandishments and outright deceptions.
If this is the only way to pass your signature initiative—and a decades-long goal of your party—it ought to give you pause. But Obama was a natural at delivering sweeping and sincere-seeming assurances that weren’t true. This kind of thing is his métier.
If he were awoken at 3 a.m. and told he had to make the case for nationalizing the banks by denying he was nationalizing the banks, he would do an entirely creditable job of it, even without a TelePrompTer. The salesmanship for Obamacare represents in microcosm the larger Obama political project, which has always depended on throwing a reassuring skein of moderation on top of left-wing ideological aims.
All politicians are prone to shaving the truth, giving themselves the benefit of the doubt and trying to appear more reasonable than they are. Obama has made it an art form. Bad faith is one of his signal strengths as a politician, and makes him one of the greatest front men progressivism has ever had.
Rich Lowry writes: For all these years, they’ve hidden the truth about the Kennedy assassination.
It didn’t require a conspiracy. It just took repeating a falsehood until it was accepted as conventional wisdom. The myth about the Kennedy assassination is that President John F. Kennedy, at great personal risk, traveled to Dallas a.k.a. the City of Hate, and was somehow murdered by an atmosphere of intolerance. The truth is that he was shot by a communist.
Our culture is surreally obsessed with taking offense
A few weeks ago, the host of ABC’s late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live aired a bit where a six-year-old boy recommends killing everyone in China. Kimmel and the network have been apologizing ever since. Over the weekend, protesters besieged ABC studios around the country. They want Kimmel fired or, failing that, more apologies.
The bit was part of a routine called “Kids Table,” where Kimmel talks to cute five- and six-year-olds, and hilarity ensues. In the offending episode, Kimmel asked the kids what to do about our debt to China, and one boy chirps, “Kill everyone in China.” Kimmel laughs and jokingly calls it “an interesting idea,” before returning to it later when, with mock seriousness, he asks the kids whether the Chinese should be allowed to live.
In the 2012 campaign, the president hid his progressive agenda. But he wasn’t happy about it.
Rich Lowry writes: President Obama’s harshest critics believe that he has always been hiding something. They believe that he is even further left than he has governed. They believe that he has kept himself under wraps to avoid running afoul of American political realities.
They might be surprised to learn that none other than the president of the United States agrees with them. The evidence for this is in the latest campaign book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, authors of Game Change and the sequel about 2012, Double Down.
In the fall of 2011, they recount, “All too often, Obama felt as if he were driving with his foot on the brake.”
In a strategy meeting with his political advisers, Obama brought up climate change as an example of his undue caution. According to Halperin and Heilemann, the president said: “Maybe I should just come out and say what I really feel about this. Maybe I should just go out and say what I think about everything.”
Just kidding. The title of the following Rich Lowry NRO article is “Heckuva Job, Kathleen Sebelius”. But it wouldn’t surprise anyone, would it? Career success formula in the Obama era: Incompetence + Catastrophe + Taking Heat + Lying on National Television = Reward, Success, Promotion. Is Kathleen Sebelius following in the footsteps of Susan Rice?
Rich Lowry writes: Little did they know it, but Republicans fighting to defund or delay Obamacare had an ally in spirit in Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Her explanation for the Obamacare website is that she couldn’t possibly have been expected to make it work in the mere three and a half years since the law passed. She told the Wall Street Journal that the website ideally needed five years of construction and one year of testing, and instead had only two years of construction and almost no testing.
That means with the proper development time, Healthcare.gov would have had a flawless launch . . . on October 1, 2017. Had Senator Ted Cruz suggested a four-year delay in Obamacare as his fallback in the defunding fight, he would have been scorned as an unbending fanatic, although he might have been giving Sebelius the breathing room she needed.
Rich Lowry notes: The Democrats are perfectly content to have a shutdown because they assume Republicans will be blamed. They could be wrong – it will be a fluid situation and things could bounce in an unexpected way – but it’s not a bad bet. The media, as Mark Halperin said this morning, will take the Democratic line during a shutdown, and given that Republicans are the anti-government party, there will be a natural tendency on the part of the public to believe they are solely responsible. I still think that House Republicans could trump the Senate Democrats if they made the fight about the Vitter amendment, and then go into the debt-limit fight without having suffered a damaging defeat over the CR, but no one seems to know what will be the House’s next move.
Both have impeccable educational credentials; both made political hay of their ethnicity; both are similar in their approach to politics.
It says something about today’s political climate that both liberals and conservatives may find that latter comparison more offensive. Bear with me. Read the rest of this entry »
For Politico, Rich Lowry writes: The Navy Yard massacre won’t revive the gun debate in Congress for a simple reason. There is no gun control agenda this side of a total ban and confiscation that would have stopped Aaron Alexis.
The Toomey-Manchin bill could have passed Congress unanimously. The assault weapons ban could still be in place. Gun-controllers could have achieved their long-ago goal of barring the private purchase of handguns. And every step of his mayhem at the Washington Navy Yard would have been unimpeded. Read the rest of this entry »
The media tried to turn the Zimmerman trial into something it’s not: a racial metaphor.
By Rich Lowry
The George Zimmerman trial is the racial metaphor that failed. It has proved that none of the ideological baggage heaped on the case ever made any sense.
George Zimmerman is not a symbol of white America, or — to borrow the stilted phrase the New York Times used to refer to him in its reports — white-Hispanic America. The case is not about race relations. Incredibly enough, even the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family now says, “We don’t believe the focus was really race.”
To the extent that the entire episode has any larger meaning, it is a tale of the left’s desperation to indict contemporary America as a land of rank racism, different in degree, perhaps, but not in kind from 1950s Mississippi. That’s where Emmett Till, to whom Trayvon Martin has often been compared, was brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman.
Mentioning Martin in the same breath as Till is an offense against history and common sense.
When the national controversy over Martin’s killing first erupted, I thought it was wrong that Zimmerman wasn’t charged. I still think it was foolhardy of Zimmerman to get out of his car and trail Martin, and that if he had had the sense to leave the matter at his call to the police, a tragedy could have been avoided.
But that doesn’t make him a murderer. There was always a perverse wishfulness to the Zimmerman-haters: Look how rotten and backward this country is. Look at what white-Hispanics are capable of. Look at the corruption of our criminal-justice system. Look at this poor child murdered in cold blood.MSNBC tried and convicted Zimmerman, executed him by firing squad, then propped the body up at the defense table so it could do it all over again. Host Lawrence O’Donnell said Zimmerman shot “a black teenager to death for having done absolutely nothing,” and opined that “I believe what we have here is evidence of a police cover-up.” At a rally, another of the network’s personalities, the Reverend Al Sharpton, compared the injustice done to Martin to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ — and that may have been one of his cooler-headed moments.
The most poisonous interpretation of Zimmerman’s conduct — that he sought out and assassinated a black kid for being a black kid — was never plausible. Assassins generally don’t call the police before tracking down targets. But it looks positively ridiculous in light of all the evidence suggesting that right before Zimmerman fired, Martin was beating Zimmerman, not the other way around.
The prosecution had the odd habit of calling witnesses who contradicted its case against Zimmerman. One of them, a neighbor named John Good, testified that Martin was mounted “MMA-style” on top of Zimmerman, drubbing him in a “ground-and-pound.” A forensic witness called by the defense, Dr. Vincent Di Maio, testified that the muzzle of Zimmerman’s gun was against Martin’s clothing, which in turn was several inches away from Martin’s body — facts consistent with Martin being on top of Zimmerman.
Accounts differ on who was crying out for help that night. Martin’s family says it was Martin; Zimmerman’s family says it was Zimmerman. But Zimmerman is the one who had the injuries consistent with getting beaten up and being in distress.
All of this suggests that Zimmerman fired in self-defense. At this point, if he is convicted of second-degree murder as charged, he will be the one failed by the Florida criminal-justice system — not Martin.
Justice, in the sense of a deliberate, lawful judgment consistent with the facts, was never the driving passion of the Zimmerman-haters. They wanted a racial morality play. If Trayvon Martin had been shot by another black person, no one would have cared. Al Sharpton wouldn’t have made him a cause. Lawrence O’Donnell wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. No one outside his immediate family and friends would have ever known his name.
Trayvon Martin’s shooting was an ideologically useful tragedy, and so the vultures did their worst.
Harris-Perry set out to explain what is, by her lights, the failure to invest adequately in public education. She located the source of the problem in the insidious idea of parental responsibility for children.
“We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children,” she said, in the tone of an anthropologist explaining a strange practice she discovered when out doing far-flung fieldwork. “Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.” So long as this retrograde conception prevails, according to Harris-Perry, we will never spend enough money on children. “We have to break through,” she urged, “our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes once wondered, “Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?” Harris-Perry’s contribution falls into the former category, at least within her orbit of left-wing academia (she teaches at Tulane University, after stops at Princeton and the University of Chicago) and journalism (she writes a column for The Nation as well as holding forth on MSNBC).
“We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”
Her statement wasn’t an aside on live television. She didn’t misspeak. The spot was shot, produced, and aired without, apparently, raising any alarm bells. No one with influence raised his or her hand and said, “Should we really broadcast something that sounds so outlandish?”
The foundation of the Harris-Perry view is that society is a large-scale kibbutz. The title of Hillary Clinton’s bestseller in the 1990s expressed the same point in comforting folk wisdom: “It Takes a Village.”
As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”
This impulse toward the state as über-parent is based on a profound fallacy and a profound truth. The fallacy is that anyone can care about someone else’s children as much as his own. The former Texas Republican senator Phil Gramm liked to illustrate the hollowness of professions to the contrary with a story. He told a woman, “My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do.” She said, “No, you don’t.” Gramm replied, “Okay: What are their names?”
The truth is that parents are one of society’s most incorrigible sources of inequality. If you have two of them who stay married and are invested in your upbringing, you have hit life’s lottery. You will reap untold benefits denied to children who aren’t so lucky. That the family is so essential to the well-being of children has to be a constant source of frustration to the egalitarian statist, a reminder of the limits of his power.
The socialist president of France, François Hollande, proposed a small corrective to its influence last year. He inveighed against homework for schoolchildren. Work, he said, “must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and reestablish equality.” His education minister explained that the state should “support all students in their personal work, rather than abandon them to their private resources, including financial, as is too often the case today.”
The proposal went nowhere. If the Left wants to equalize the investments in children that matter most, it should promote intact families and engaged parents, even if it means embracing shockingly old-fashioned private child-rearing.
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 King Features Syndicate