Is truth irrelevant?

(The following is a guest post by Thomas Sowell, a national treasure.)


It is amazing how many people seem to have discovered last Wednesday that riots are wrong — when many of those same people apparently had not noticed that when riots went on, for weeks or even months, in various cities across the country last year.*

For too many people, especially in the media, what is right and wrong, true or false, depends on who it helps or hurts politically. Too many media people who are supposed to be reporters act as if they are combatants in political wars.

Someone once said that, in a war, truth is the first casualty. That has certainly been so in the media — and in much of academia as well.

One of the most grotesque distortions growing out of this carelessness with the facts has been a removal of Abraham Lincoln’s name and statues from various places, on grounds that he saw black people only as property.

Such criticisms betray an incredible ignorance of history — or else a complete disregard of truth.

As a lawyer, Abraham Lincoln knew that there was nothing in the Constitution which authorized him or any other president to free slaves. But he also knew that a military commander in wartime can legally seize the property of an enemy nation. Defining slaves as property gave President Lincoln the only legal authority he had to seize them during the Civil War. And once they were seized as property, he could then free them as human beings.

But, if the Emancipation Proclamation had based its action on defining the slaves as human beings, with a right to be free, the Supreme Court of that era would undoubtedly have declared it unconstitutional.

Millions of human beings would have remained slaves. Would ringing rhetoric be worth that price?

As for the claim that Lincoln did not regard black people as human, he invited Frederick Douglass to the White House.

Gross distortions of history, in order to get Abraham Lincoln’s name removed from schools tells us a lot about what is wrong with American education today.

Many schools are closed because of the coronavirus and the teachers unions. And many schools in minority neighborhoods failed to teach children enough math and English, back when they were still open. So it is incredible that school authorities have time to spend on ideological crusades like removing names and statues from schools.

Such criticisms betray an incredible ignorance of history — or else a complete disregard of truth.

Unfortunately, too many American educational institutions — from elementary schools to universities — have become indoctrination centers. The riots that swept across the country last year are fruits of that indoctrination and the utter disregard for other people’s rights that accompanied those riots.

At the heart of that indoctrination is a sense of grievance and victimhood when others have better outcomes — which are automatically called “privileges” and never called “achievements,” regardless of what the actual facts are.

Facts don’t matter in such issues, any more than facts mattered when smearing Lincoln.

Any “under-representation” of any group in any endeavor can be taken as evidence or proof of discriminatory bias. But those who argue this way cannot show us any society — anywhere in the world, or at any time during thousands of years of recorded history — that had all groups represented proportionally in all endeavors.

In America’s National Hockey League, for example, there are more players from Canada than there are players from the United States. There are also more players from Sweden than from California, even though California’s population is nearly four times the population of Sweden.

Californians are more “under-represented” in the NHL than women are in Silicon Valley. But no one can claim that this is due to discriminatory bias by the NHL. It is far more obviously due to people growing up in cold climates being more likely to have ice-skating experience.

This is one of many factors that produce skewed statistics in many endeavors. Discriminatory bias is among those factors. But it has no monopoly.

Yet who cares about facts any more, in this age of indoctrination?


Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

* Felipe’s note: Last year’s widespread, leftist riots were scarcely reported in the mainstream media, so if you get “informed” by CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc., it’s why you are ignorant of them.

The erosion of citizenship

Today many condemn the idea of nationalism by connecting it to race hatred (e.g., white nationalism). But historically, the modern nation-state has proven uniquely suitable to preserving individual rights.

The American nation in particular was successful in uniting individuals of different races, ethnic backgrounds, and creeds into one people based on shared principles, a unique physical space, and a common national story.

Our nation is the best example in human history of positive nationalism.

The key to this benign nationalism is American citizenship, based on an understanding of American exceptionalism and formed by the American melting pot. But today, our citizenship is eroding and, along with it, American nationalism in the positive sense is disappearing.

American citizenship is eroding in three ways.

First, we are blurring the line between mere residents and citizens. We have between 45-50 million non-native-born residents in the United States today — the largest absolute number we’ve ever had.

There’s no legal problem with the 30 million of them who have green cards or have acquired citizenship — although even 30 million is a challenge for the American melting pot to assimilate and integrate.

But we also have, according to a recent Yale and MIT study, about 20 million people who are here illegally. In regard to them, the classical ingredients of American citizenship — the right to leave or enter the country as one pleases, for example, or to vote in elections, or to reside here as long as one pleases — are being blurred.

Where I live, in California, if you’re here illegally, you can de facto go back and forth across the border as you wish. In San Francisco, you can vote in some school board elections (the same is under consideration in some places in New England). And as we see with the DACA program, illegal residents can de facto live in the U.S. indefinitely.

We are becoming a country of tribes.

Some policies even discriminate against citizens. An illegal resident in California who is charged with a crime is not subject to federal immigration law to the full extent, whereas a citizen who flies into Los Angeles from overseas without a passport will be detained.

If you are in California as an illegal resident, you can obtain a driver’s license as citizens have in the past; whereas for citizens, starting next year, there will be an extra burden: to travel by commercial air, they will have to provide at least three sources of proof of citizenship to obtain a valid ID — given the apparent devaluation of the driver’s license.

People who come to the U.S. illegally and in great numbers usually do not have the degree of investment citizens do in our constitutional documents and are often unacquainted with our national story. Candidates from south of the border today fly into California’s Central Valley to campaign. Illegal residents vote in their home countries’ elections — and yet are unacquainted with political issues and candidates here in the U.S.

To avoid a fragmentation of society based on racial and ethnic chauvinism takes an extra effort to keep the melting pot working. We’re no longer making that effort. Indeed, we’re doing the opposite, encouraging diversity rather than unity.

Second, we’re becoming a country of tribes. The idea of multi-racialism — the notion that we’re of different races but we share a common culture — is eroding.

To avoid a fragmentation of society takes an extra effort. We are no longer making that effort. We are doing the opposite.

At many colleges and universities today, you can choose in advance the racial background of your roommate. Campuses have “safe spaces” that are reserved for people of particular races. There are dorms where students segregate according to race. Ethnic studies departments thrive by emphasizing racial exceptionalism.

Do we wonder why Elizabeth Warren chose to be a Native American, which, according to her own logic — the power of white privilege and systemic racism — would put her at a disadvantage? The answer is that she sought a careerist advantage. And Harvard was happy to comply. The law school bragged that she was its first “woman of color” faculty member.

I went to a grammar school that was about 90 percent Mexican-American. Some people who I went to first grade with later changed their names from Juan to John and dropped the accent on their last names. Now in their 60s, they’re changing back to Juan and adding back the accents.

Why? Because there is now a disadvantage in identifying as an un-hyphenated American, and an advantage to belonging to a tribe. And the danger is that this logic of tribalism leads to the kind of social breakup and civil discord that we saw in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Iraq.

Third, the middle class, which had been encouraged and celebrated since the time of the American Founding, is now under sustained attack.

Tribalism leads to the kind of social breakup and civil discord that we saw in Rwanda, Yugaslavia and Iraq.

A solid, property-owning middle class anchors the nation. Traditionally, its members show the sobriety and judgment to achieve autonomy. They don’t look to government for help. They stand as a barrier against both property redistribution and crony capitalism.

Today, America’s middle class is threatened. Homeownership is down to about 62 percent from 71 percent just over ten years ago. The percentage of a family budget that goes to housing has risen from 20-30 percent in the 1950s to 30-40 percent today, especially in coastal corridors.

Middle class wages, until an annual increase of three percent under President Trump, had been frozen for ten years. And we have an aggregate $1.6 trillion in student debt.

If the middle class continues to erode, we will become a nation of peasants and oligarchs. In California, more than one out of five people live below the poverty line — despite the fact that California has one of the highest number of zip codes of America’s most affluent people and the highest number of billionaires.

If you drive through Palo Alto, you’ll see people living in RVs because they can’t afford to buy or rent a home — and these are people working for Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Oracle, and Apple, with a total market capitalization of nearly $4 trillion.

Additionally, we are seeing a formal assault on the Constitution by our elites.

Almost every single Democratic candidate for president was in favor of abolishing the Electoral College, which is in the Constitution to ensure equal representation to people living outside big cities, and to prevent the splintering of the electorate into several small parties.

Consider the nullification of federal law through the creation of sanctuary cities, in direct defiance of the immigration statutes. (Of course, such nullification seems to go only one way. Otherwise, imagine how our elites would respond if the people of Provo, Utah, decided within their municipal jurisdiction to nullify federal handgun registration or the Endangered Species Act.)

We are seeing a formal assault on the Constitution by our elites.

There is also a growing academic attack on the mode of electing the U.S. Senate — “Why should North Dakota or Wyoming have the same number of U.S. senators as New York?” progressives ask, in their eagerness to make U.S. senators proportionally elected in the manner of House members.

This insidious assault on the Constitution results from the fact that popular elections haven’t been going the Left’s way, and the Left believes that its superior moral agenda justifies using any means necessary.

Ancient authors from Plato and Aristotle to Petronius and Tacitus have suggested that affluence combined with leisure paradoxically creates a laxity that leads to the kind of societal and institutional disintegration we are currently seeing.

Another major ingredient of our current crisis is the failure of our education system to offer disinterested instruction, following from the post-1960s takeover by the Left of our colleges and universities.

The assault on the Constitution results from the fact that elections haven’t been going the Left’s way.

In response, we need to support colleges that continue to teach the principles and practices of liberty. We must support policies that recognize the distinction between citizens and non-citizens and that bolster the middle class. And we need to defend the Constitution, our last great hope to ensure American continuity and security.

***

(The author of the above is Victor Davis Hanson. He is the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College. This piece was taken from Imprimis, which is published by Hillsdale, a superlative institution of higher learning. Subscribing to Imprimis is free. I highly recommend it.)

Irredeemably stupid?

Those who are working overtime to delegitimize white Americans have coined a term that they use as a weapon — “white privilege.”

The propaganda is that being white is a racial privilege that elevates white Americans above other Americans and enables white people to oppress blacks. It doesn’t strike those who use the term as a weapon that these same “racist white people” are the ones who elected Obama president and put Kamala Harris in the Senate.

“White privilege” conveys the idea that white people have impunity. They can abuse, even kill, people of color without consequence. Yet, it is white officer Chauvin who is in jail charged with the murder of black George Floyd, while the two black Maryland teenagers who murdered 59-year-old white John Weed at the county fair for not giving them a dollar were sentenced by white female judge Julie Stevenson Solt to “anger management training” and “behavior modification” but otherwise unpunished.  Here is the report.

The story was covered locally.

But it was kept out of national news while white Americans were pumped full of guilt for their “racism.”

The story is more than the lack of justice for John Weed and his family. Unlike George Floyd’s relatives who benefited from millions of dollars in donations from white people, money did not pour into the coffers of John Weed’s relatives. Unlike George Floyd’s death, John Weed’s did not become a national sensation.

White supremacists did not riot, loot, and burn their way through black neighborhoods. You were never even told about John Weed’s brutal murder and the pass that white justice gave to the two black thugs who murdered him, spit on his body, and danced around it in glee. So much for “white privilege.”

The outcome of the November election will tell us if Americans are irredeemably stupid.

But judge Julie Solt did much more than deny justice to John Weed and his family. She denied justice in the abstract. Sentencing a murderer to anger management conveys that blacks have impunity from punishment for injurious consequences of their actions.

Obviously,  privilege lies with black Americans. They benefit from racial quotas in employment, promotion, and university admission. There are crimes that only whites can commit and only blacks can suffer. That black teenagers have no qualm about assaulting and beating to death a white man in public at a county fair is proof that blacks are aware of their impunity.

The response to rioting and looting by the mayors of Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York, Chicago and other cities have reinforced the belief of blacks that the racism of white people gives them impunity from their illegal actions. The kneeling of elected public officials before Antifa and Black Lives Matter, the imposition of stand-down orders to police, the absence of property protection against looting and destruction, the release without charges of looters, the public apologies made to the criminals by public officials, all of this clearly conveys to blacks the impression that they have impunity.

The impression of impunity that white liberals have given to blacks has obvious implications for public safety and law and order.  This is what you get.

The vicious propaganda in the United States against white people is as bad if not worse than the Nazi propaganda against Jews, and it will have the same result. Indeed, it already has. What is the difference between kristallnacht and the looting and burning of white businesses?  

Theaters, concert halls, and museums in downtown areas of America’s racially diverse cities have an uncertain future. People who live and work in downtown areas and use public transportation will find life increasingly risky. Indeed, cities could collapse as apparently is happening in New York.

What is the difference between kristallnacht and the looting and burning of white businesses?  

The propaganda against white Americans never lets up. We have the anti-white propaganda film, “The Long Shadow,” which defines “social justice” as prevailing over white people. This summer PBS has broadcast this indoctrination film in 50 cities, and a second wave is on its way. It is the kind of film that softens up white people to accept widespread looting and burning as  justified “peaceful protest” over George Floyd’s death, a death that they were never told occurred from Floyd’s overdosing on fentanyl, a dangerous opioid.

The demonization of white people in the United States has reached the point that the media, the universities, and the Democrat Party are anti-white. The Democrats have selected an anti-white “woman of color,” Kamala Harris, as their candidate for vice president. Harris has even called her running mate, Joe Biden, a racist, although she is now backing away from this accusation, accusing him only of being friends with racists in Congress.

If Democrats win, the likelihood of visibly impaired Joe Biden serving four years is slight. He will be succeeded by Harris, and many suspect that is the plan. Biden’s only function is to serve as the way to put an anti-white female of color into the presidency. What comes next? Gun confiscation and defunded police? An open season on white Americans? You might scoff, but this is already the case in sections of some cities.

A racially diverse political entity cannot exist in peace with equal rights and protection of law if one race is taught to hate another, or races are taught to hate one other. In the United States for many years blacks have been taught to hate whites. Blacks and whites are taught that being white is a privilege that prevents social justice. This privilege allegedly comes from whites as slave owners who have continued their dominance over blacks.

In the consciousness that has been created for blacks, whites were the only slave owners and blacks the only slaves. As the syllogism goes, slavery is racism. Therefore, white Americans are racists. This is the lesson in school and university classrooms, and it is the message of The New York Times 1619 Project.

This is not a formula for the success of our racially diverse society. Yet it is the formula that white liberals, white progressives and white leftists have created and institutionalized.  

Donald Trump is especially hated, because he was elected by the “racist white working class,” the “Trump Deplorables.” All propaganda organs are allied against Trump. If white Americans cannot see through the propaganda and put Democrats in control, they will have cut their own throats. The outcome of the November election will tell us if Americans are irredeemably stupid.

***

(The above was written by Paul Craig Roberts at the Institute for Political Economy. The column was also lightly trimmed and edited by me.)

Note: A tip of the sombrero to John Zimmerman, my high school buddy and retired airline captain for bringing this column to my attention.

A clueless generation

(The following was written by an asute Millennial, Alyssa Alhgren, and published on Alpha News, a website out of Minnesota or, as some know it, Little Somalia, due to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s being elected there, a disgrace.

(But this column has nothing to do with Omar. It has to do with the ignorant, spoiled-rotten generation known as Millennials.)

* * * *

I’m sitting in a small coffee shop trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism.

I put my phone down and continue to look around. I see people talking freely, working on their MacBook’s, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it.

Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times.

Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.”

Never saw American prosperity. Let that sink in. When I first read that statement, I thought to myself, that was quite literally the most entitled and factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth.

Now, I’m not attributing Miss Ocasio-Cortez’s words to outright dishonesty. I do think she wholeheartedly believes the words she said to be true. Many young people agree with her, which is entirely misguided. My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity. I know this first hand, I went to college. Let’s just say I didn’t have the popular opinion, but I digress.

Let me lay down some universal truths really quick. The United States of America has lifted more people out of abject poverty, spread more freedom and democracy, and has created more innovation in technology and medicine than any other nation in human history.

Not only that, but our citizenry continually breaks world records with charitable donations, the rags-to-riches story is not only possible in America but not uncommon, we have the strongest purchasing power on earth, and we encompass 25% of the world’s GDP.

The list goes on.

However, these universal truths don’t matter. We are told that income inequality is an existential crisis (even though this is not an indicator of prosperity, some of the poorest countries in the world have low income inequality).

We are told that we are oppressed by capitalism (even though it’s brought about more freedom and wealth to the most people than any other system in world history).

We are told that the only way we will acquire the benefits of true prosperity is through socialism and centralization of federal power (even though history has proven time and again this only brings tyranny and suffering).

Why then, with all of the overwhelming evidence around us, evidence that I can even see sitting at a coffee shop, do we not view this as prosperity? We have people who are dying to get into our country. People around the world destitute and truly impoverished. Yet, we have a young generation convinced they’ve never seen prosperity, and as a result, elect politicians dead set on taking steps towards abolishing capitalism. Why?

The answer is this, my generation has ONLY seen prosperity. We have no contrast. We didn’t live in the Great Depression, or live through two world wars, or see the rise and fall of socialism and communism.

We don’t know what it’s like not to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don’t have a lack-of-prosperity problem. We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it’s spreading like a plague.

With the current political climate giving rise to the misguided idea of a socialist utopia, will we see the light? Or will we have to lose it all to realize that what we have now is true prosperity?

Destroying the free market will undo what millions of people have died to achieve.

My generation is becoming the largest voting bloc in the country. We have an opportunity to continue to propel us forward with the gifts capitalism and democracy has given us.

The other option is that we can fall into the trap of entitlement and relapse into restrictive socialist destitution. The choice doesn’t seem too hard, does it?