Today is Martin Luther King Day. It is a day we should all acknowledge. Martin Luther Kingforced mid-twentieth century America to come to terms with the contradictions between our Constitution and the realities of racial segregation. The Jim Crow order of the pre-Civil Rights era was both immoral and incompatible with American values. America is a better country today, for all of us, as a result of Martin Luther King’s efforts.
But this is a new century, with new ideas on the far, radicalized left, like critical race theory (CRT).
Martin Luther King would have rejected critical race theory (CRT). King’s objective was a colorblind society. Reread some key passages from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
MLK’s objective was not to make everything about race and racial grievance, but to move race and history to the background. Each individual should be judged on individual merits, or—as King said—“by the content of their character”.
Critical race theory, a mindset now in vogue in our media, cultural, and academic institutions, is the polar opposite of that. Critical race theory says that race must always be at the forefront of everything.
That is more or less what Bull Connor and the Klansmen said. One thing I’ve long observed: At their extremes, the far left and the far right tend to reach similar conclusions and take similar actions.
Martin Luther King asked us to put aside race and deal with each other only as individuals and fellow human beings. That is why he belongs to all Americans.
The radical Black Lives Matter movement, on the other hand, will never belong to all Americans, just as the Ku Klux Klan will never belong to all Americans.
Hawley had a February fundraising event scheduled at a Loews Hotels location in Orlando. Then a left-leaning Florida attorney, Daniel Uhlfelder, got wind of it and decided to incite an Internet mob. Uhlfelder turned to thecesspool known as Twitter. Twitter, as most of us know, breeds Internet mobs like your shower curtain breeds mold.
It didn’t take long. The management at Loews Hotels quickly caved, and declared themselves in breach of their contractual obligations to Hawley.
What to make of all this? Democratic Party politicians and attention-whoring attorneys are going to do what they’re going to do. No mystery there.
Likewise, the publishing industry is mostly inhabited by people who discovered, lo and behold, that there are only so many ways to make a living with a degree in English literature. Publishing industry insiders lean left; and that has been the case for decades.
But what about corporate executives outside of publishing—those in “real” industries?
I speak from experience and direct observation here. What corporate executives most care about, at the end of the day, is making money. They all know that in most cases, mobs and agitators can interfere with business. An occasional controversy may rejuvenate the career of an actor or a rock star. A car company or a restaurant chain, not so much.
As some of you may know, I worked at Toyota (on the corporate side) for about 15 years. During that time, I sat in on numerous meetings regarding various “corporate citizenship” programs. At the end of the day, these initiatives are all about marketing, not substance.
Let me give you a concrete example: corporate diversity sourcing initiatives.
Every company under the sun is now touting its use of minority-owned suppliers. You’re thinking: big companies making purchases from minority-owned, “mom and pop” businesses in the Bronx, or southern Louisiana. Isn’t that nice?
Guess again. What it really means is: A wealthy minority businessperson (usually a businessman) forms a shell company. He agrees to serve as the agent, or distributor, for businesses that aren’t minority-owned.
The larger company does business directly with the shell company owned by the minority businessman (who is already a millionaire, in most cases). The millionaire owner of the shell company takes a healthy cut off the top. The larger company tells consumers and shareholders about the wonders of its minority supplier outreach program!
It’s all a big PR game, essentially. Ditto for corporate responses to leftwing mob actions, like the ones that are tripping up Josh Hawley of late.
Toyota, while I was there, was no den of leftwing communists and anarchists. On the contrary, it was a conservative Japanese company, with American managers from the Midwest, who also leaned conservative.
Toyota, though, had several run-ins with the leftwing mob. In 2001, Jesse Jackson shook Toyota down over a RAV4 ad. Toyota had intended the ad to be “hip”, and appealing to younger, more diverse consumers. Jackson spun the ad as “racist”. This made no sense, as Toyota’s explicit aim was to appeal to minority consumers—not insult them.
Jackson threatened a boycott, and Toyota paid homage (and wrote some large checks) to Jesse Jackson’s shakedown racket, aka the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The problem went away. It was basically like paying off the mafia.
And Loews Hotels is paying off the mafia, too—the mafia of Daniel Uhlfelder, and whatever mob he is capable of stirring up online. For all we know, the management of Loews Hotels may be conservative by inclination, as well. But they don’t want to remain the object of Daniel Uhlfelder’s venal, self-serving smear campaign.
I understand how corporate executives can be tempted to give in to such pressure. Toyota’s run-in with the money-grubbing Jesse Jackson made the company hyper-cautious for years about anything involving race. For companies that sell to the retail market, the potential downsides of being targeted by the mob are simply too great.
But yielding to the whims of mobs, time and again, has a cumulative cost. This doesn’t just mean Toyota writing checks to Jesse Jackson, or Loews Hotels canceling a contract with Josh Hawley that would have benefited both parties. When leftwing mobs are given carte blanche (as happened over the summer, with the Black Lives Matter riots), rightwing mobs will eventually decide to employ the same tactics. That’s what we discovered on January 6th.
It’s a bad way for a free society to function—or rather, not function.
This will likely be a trend for the foreseeable future, though, especially with the Democrats in control of our government. Conservative speakers and Republican events will be “canceled” at the instigation of howling mobs and unscrupulous agitators like Daniel Uhlfelder. There will be backlashes and counter-backlashes.
Like I said, it’s a bad way for a free society to function.
Vincent Z. Mercogliano, a staff writer for the USA TODAY Network, seems befuddled, and more than a little indignant, at the decision of NY Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo to close his Twitter account and (gasp!) open an account at Parler:
“In his latest stunt, the 25-year-old defenseman deactivated his Twitter account — which, had he done quietly, I wouldn’t be writing about it.
But by indicating that it was an apparent protest of the company’s decision to ban Donald Trump, then following it up with a puzzling Instagram post — in which he wrote, “If they let Parler back up at some point I will be on Parler. Until then I will not be using social media apps” — it called extra attention to him and brought on a slew of questions.”
Notice Mercogliano’s use of the dismissive word “stunt”. Everything that famous—or wannabe famous—people do on social media is a “stunt” in one way or another. That’s what the combination of celebrity and social media has always been about, since the very beginning.
Mercogliano then chides DeAngelo for his embrace of the evil, wicked, very dangerous Parler app—which the tech giants have temporarily crushed through collusion, anyway:
“DeAngelo has been a vocal Trump supporter, so him being upset by Twitter’s decision to boot the outgoing president was no surprise. For me, most of the questions centered around DeAngelo’s decision to align himself with Parler.
I hadn’t heard of Parler, a social network, until a couple days ago, but it’s been in the news since Wednesday’s shocking invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Some planning for the appalling attack apparently took place on Parler, with Google subsequently removing the app while calling it a “public safety threat”
This is, of course, the new party line. If you have an account on Parler, you seek to overthrow the new Democratic Party order that begins on January 20, and establish a Fourth Reich in the United States.
I don’t use Parler myself, not because I object to its existence, but because social media isn’t my thing. But I know several people who do use it. One is a 74-year-old retiree who has never owned a firearm, or thrown a punch in anger in his entire life. The other is my 52-year-old high school classmate. She’s 5’1″ tall, a hundred bounds soaking wet. She runs a dog training service in South Carolina. In high school, she was a mild-mannered wallflower.
The Dangerous People of Parler? The ones I know, at least, are not exactly the fearsome malefactors that inhabit the fevered leftwing imagination.
To his credit, at least Vincent Z. Mercogliano refrained from trotting out the “white supremacist” bogeyman. But his remarks indicate that he, like most of the journalistic class, is woefully out of touch with the average American.
The man and woman on the street wants nothing to do with Twitter. And we’re appalled at the Big Tech conspiracy to censor Parler, even if we personally want nothing to do with that, either.
With only days left to his presidency, President Trump made a trip to the US border, and the much-debated “wall”.
President-elect Joe Biden (cue cringe) has already announced that he will undo President Trump’s tighter immigration/border controls.
But what does this mean—for you, the American taxpayer, the American worker?
In short: Biden and the Democrats plan to open the borders as much as possible. No one, either right or left, disputes that.
But few talk about the Democrats’ motivations. This isn’t rocket science: The Democrats realize that open borders will preserve and expand their power.
Let me explain. Most just-arrived immigrants are poor. They therefore will be amenable to the big-government, redistributive policies of the Democratic Party when they first come to the United States.
Yes, most new, impoverished immigrants are predisposed to be Democratic voters. That was true of my Irish ancestors who emigrated here in the late 1800s. It is also true of immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, and the Honduras who walk across our southern border today.
The Democrats know this. Every new immigrant from a poor country is a likely Democratic voter.
Open borders and the tyranny of numbers
So why not open the border? you might ask. Why not just let everyone in?
That’s a reasonable question—and many good-hearted people ask it.
After all, there are millions of people in Latin America and Mexico who simply want better lives for themselves and their children. The vast majority of them are decent people.
I know: I’ve spent time in both Mexico and Latin America. The average person down there is just as nice as you or me. (Probably nicer than me, actually.) And as human beings, they are no less valuable.
So why not open the borders, then?
In a word: math. The problem with open borders is the tyranny of numbers.
The population of Latin America is 652 million. That is almost twice the current population of the United States.
If we open our borders, our country will be flooded with millions of people who have no assets, and no immediate prospects for producing any. They will inevitably be forced to rely on our social welfare programs.
That is something that’s changed, since the arrival of my Irish forebears. In the twenty-first century, every advanced country has a complex welfare state. When someone comes here with nothing, they’re entitled to food stamps, medical care, and public education.
If that involves only a handful of people, then a nation like the United States can absorb the costs.
But what about a few hundred thousand each year? What about a few million? Ten million?
Do that for very long, and sooner or later, you run out of money—even with the Democrats printing money as fast as they can.
The working class pays for “open borders”
There are four main groups of Americans who are for open borders:
Young liberal college students who are still supported by their parents (and therefore have no grounding in economic realities)
Big business executives and tech CEOs.
Democratic Party politicians and hacks.
Mega-wealthy Hollywood and music celebrities
Notice I didn’t say: “the American working class.”
Why is that?
That’s because the financial burden for open borders will inevitably fall on the middle-class (and working-class) taxpayers. It won’t impact the livelihoods of Mark Zuckerberg, Nancy Pelosi, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
It will impact you.
In short, “open borders” is an income redistribution plan. It means business and political elites forcing the American middle and working classes to subsidize mass, low-wage immigration that will benefit the Democratic Party and big business. (Mass immigration lowers wages for big business, by flooding the labor market with low-wage workers.)
That’s why you often hear movie stars, tech CEOs, and Democratic Party politicians calling for open borders. You seldom hear plumbers, waitresses, short order cooks, and auto mechanics—the American middle class, the working class—pushing for open borders.
Because they know what it means to them: higher taxes, crowded schools and hospitals, lower wages.
But what about…?
But what about the impoverished masses of Latin America?
That’s a good question. There may be actions we can take that will help the people of Latin America help themselves.
At the end of the day, though, the only longterm solution for Latin America is for Latin Americans to stay put and make Latin America better.
Or, to paraphrase President Trump: Make Latin America Great Again. (“MLAGA”?)
I know, that isn’t what some of you wanted to hear. You have blinders: the only solution you can see is open borders.
But again, I’ll return to the tyranny of numbers. There are almost twice as many people in Latin America as there are in the United States.
Let’s try another metaphor: I’ll double the number of people who currently live in your household. Then I’ll move that additional number of people into your house/apartment/condo with you. You’ll be responsible for feeding, clothing, and sheltering them. Oh, and for educating their kids, too.
That’s “open borders” in a nutshell.
El Norte can’t save Latin America. Only Latin Americans can save Latin America. The sooner both Latin Americans and US citizens recognize that, the better for everyone.
In a matter of days, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will begin opening the borders. They will be cheered on by leftwing Hollywood celebrities and liberal tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg.
But remember: the Democrats and the Mark Zuckerbergs get the benefits of open borders.
I can’t say that I was ever a fan of Limp Bizkit, exactly. But I didn’t mind them, circa 2000.
Their second studio album, Significant Other, made a big splash in 1999 and 2000. I listened in, from time to time.
The album’s breakout hit was “Break Stuff”. This song is basically lead singer Fred Durst’s ode to his own bad moods and antisocial tendencies.
The song “Break Stuff” was dark and edgy. But in that fin de siècle moment of 1999 and 2000, darkness was still mostly escapism, and not our daily reality.
Then 9/11 happened in late 2001. Then the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the political divisions of the Obama/Trump years.
The public appetite for songs like “Break Stuff” evaporated overnight. That song was released a little more than 20 years ago, but two decades can bring a lot of changes to a culture.
Nowadays, “Break Stuff” would be decried as inciting violence. People would declare that the song “triggered” them. College kids who were still in diapers in 1999 (or not yet born) would run for their safe spaces and therapy dogs.
Also on Significant Other was the song “Nookie”. The intersectional feminists would have a field day with this one in 2021. Patriarchy!Objectification of women! Rape culture! There would be long-winded debates about whether or not the word “nookie” was a cisgendered term.
Limp Bizkit’s music was not high art, by any means. It was gimmicky, cheesy, and disposable.
Nevertheless, it was indicative of a carefree moment in our culture…right before our culture became gloomy, uptight, and constantly angry: the end of the happy-go-lucky 1990s, and the beginning of the humorless 21st century.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no one’s idea of a rightwing ideologue or a Trumpist, has called Twitter’s recent ban of Donald Trump’s account “problematic.”
In a statement issued by an official spokesperson, Merkel said, “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance. Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended.”
Donald Trump’s administration will pass into history in a few short days. But the problem of Big Tech censorship precedes the Trump era, and it will be with us afterward.
This is a question that goes beyond conservative vs liberal. It is a question of freedom of speech, versus allowing a handful of tech bosses and their employees to determine the bounds of acceptable expression for everyone else.
Opinions vary widely about the outgoing American president. That’s the way it is. There will be no consensus about the Trump years, at least not for a long time.
But freedom-loving people everywhere should be alarmed at the power these unelected tech bosses now wield over online speech—and, by extension, all of us.
More than 30 years after he vacated the presidency of Chile, few Americans remember the name of Augusto Pinochet.But Augusto Pinochet used to be in the news all the time.
Pinochet was, in many ways, the anti-Hugo Chavez. Whereas Hugo Chavez plunged a prosperous Latin American nation (Venezuela) into Marxist misery, Augusto Pinochet did the opposite: He saved the ailing nation of Chile from a similar Marxist fate. But he didn’t do it democratically, or without bloodshed.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Pinochet came to power in a 1973 coup d’état. He established a military government. He persecuted, imprisoned,and sometimes executed his political opponents.
Seventeen years later, in 1990, he oversaw the restoration of democratic governance in a restored Chile. Augusto Pinochet’s rule was filled with contradictions.
The Chilean general election of 1970
It all started with the Chilean general election of 1970. A Marxist politician named Salvador Allende, running under the banners of the Chilean Socialist Party and the Popular Unity Coalition, won the presidential race. Salvador Allende thereby became the first openly Marxist politician to be elected head of state in a liberal Latin American democracy.
This was during the Cold War, which framed everything in those days. It is quite likely that the Soviet Union and Cuba provided Allende’s presidential campaign with several hundred thousand dollars of aid, and additional logistical support. But for the most part, Allende won the election of 1970 by getting the most votes.
Allende took office in 1970 and implemented Marxist economic policies. The results were as expected: economic and social chaos in Chile. Before long, Chile was a complete basket case.
Enter Augusto Pinochet, and a group of military officers. In September 1973, Pinochet and his fellow officers carried out a coup d’état, which culminated in the shelling of the presidential palace, La Moneda.
Salvador Allende took his life with a handgun.
Oh, and given that this was during the Cold War, the CIA almost certainly assisted the coup plotters, though the extent of the CIA’s involvement is still disputed.
Once in power, Pinochet lowered the hammer on the socialists who had mucked things up. He restricted leftwing, Marxist political activity, and banished far-left politicians from all levels of government. He dissolved the Chilean parliament.
An undemocratic economic success
Pinochet was, in many ways, the archetypical Latin American strongman. Pinochet’s stated objective was to “save the country from communism.” To do this, he was more than willing to resort to undemocratic methods.
Economically, though, Pinochet’s time in office was an unbridled success. He dismantled Allende’s system of state Marxism, liberalized trade, and stabilized the Chilean currency.At a time when left-leaning Latin American countries were suffering from poverty and hyperinflation, Chile was set on an upward trajectory of economic prosperity.
“The first country in the world to make that momentous break with the past—away from socialism and extreme state capitalism toward more market-oriented structures and policies—was not Deng Xiaoping’s China or Margaret Thatcher’s Britain in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan’s United States in 1981, or any other country in Latin America or elsewhere. It was Pinochet’s Chile in 1975.”
Using undemocratic—often brutal—methods, Pinochet accomplished his aim of “saving the country [Chile] from communism”.
Then Pinochet gave the country back to the people. At the end of 1988, Pinochet agreed to a referendum on whether he would serve yet another term in office. He lost the referendum, 56 to 44.
Pinochet left office the following year, per the agreement he had made. He died peacefully in Santiago in 2006, at the age of 91.
America is at a disastrous crossroads today, as Chile was in the early 1970s. Millions of Americans believe that the 2020 US presidential election was rigged, stolen. But that is not the primary crisis before us. America has weathered election skullduggery before, after all.
But we have never weathered anything like the Democratic Party majority that will assume power on January 20, 2021. Despite the historic deficits we already face, Joe Biden and the Democrats plan to spend at least $11 trillion more. The Manhattan Institute has called the plans “breathtakingly irresponsible”.
The Manhattan Institute is right. At the very least, we will have high inflation and an economic contraction. In a worst-case scenario, the Democrats will bring about a partial or complete collapse of the American economy. The current Democratic Congress, filled with Marxists or quasi-Marxists like Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Warnock, will be the most left-leaning legislators to ever pass federal laws in America.
The January 6th siege of Capitol Hill was provoked not just by anger over the election, but by a frantic desire to ward off the economic disaster described above.
The Capitol Hill siege was an unmitigated disaster, though. Doomed from the outset, it had absolutely no chance of success. The only outcomes—aside from the destruction of public property—were to bring about a handful of unnecessary deaths.
Oh, and the brief occupation of Capitol Hill also gave the Democrats and the progressive left a new narrative: that they are heroes fighting a “white supremacist” insurgency. Since the Capitol Hill siege, Big Tech has lost all sense of restraint, banning anyone with a substantial conservative platform from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Leftwing journalists and activists are calling for even stricter speech codes, yet more deplatforming drives, and the implementation of an unforgiving “cancel culture”.
Amid this seemingly hopeless situation, there are many Americans who would like to see Donald Trump play the role of Augusto Pinochet, even if they’ve never heard of the Chilean strongman.
This would require not a motley band of civilian Capitol Hill occupiers, but the collusion of substantial elements of the US military. This doesn’t seem to be in the cards. But there are many Americans who would like to see it happen—even if they won’t say so explicitly.
Most of this sentiment is predicated on the supposition that the November election was stolen. I won’t take that possibility off the table. But I’d like to present you with another possibility: the historically left-leaning Democratic government we now face represents the will of a slender majority of Americans.
Is it really so hard to believe?America has spent 50 years stewing in a toxic mixture of cultural nihilism, creeping socialism, and divisive identity politics. The educational emphasis on cultural and racial guilt began in the early 1970s, when I started school. By the mid-1990s, it dominated the teaching of American history. There is not an American who has graduated high school in the last two generations who has not been taught America’s crimes—both real and imagined—ad nauseam.
By contrast, how many American students graduate high school with a knowledge of the economic consequences of Marxist policies in China, Russia, and Eastern Europe? How many Americans even learn the basics of economic theory?
Given this deficit of knowledge and ideological skew, is it really hard to believe that millions of Americans were willing to vote for Joe Biden, Raphael Warnock, and Jon Ossof, as atonement for the politically incorrect tweets of Donald Trump?
I don’t find it hard to believe. Almost no one in my social sphere could properly be termed a “radical”. I don’t know a single Antifa bomb-thrower. I do, however, know plenty of Americans whose primary takeaway from the election is that Kamala Harris will be “our first woman of color to be vice president”. I know otherwise sensible people who haven’t taken the time to learn the details of the Democratic Party’s spending plans, but who are quite giddy over the fact that Raphael Warnock will be “the first African-American to represent Georgia in the Senate.”
Let’s face it: Identity politics has become the opium of the American people. At the same time, most Americans are economically illiterate.
But what about the Trump-as-Pinochet scenario?
Let’s get back to the Pinochet scenario: Donald Trump colludes with a handful of generals, and establishes a military government. He rids our educational system, government, and national media of radical leftwing elements.
Oh, and he shuts down Twitter and CNN. Facebook, too, while he’s at it.
There are, no doubt, plenty of Trump supporters who fantasize about such an outcome (even if they dare not say so out loud).
There are also plenty of you on the left who are waiting for me to advocate this. You’re salivating, in fact.
Yet another gotcha! moment. Yet another Twitter mob, yet another deplatforming. Off with his head!
But here’s the punchline: I don’t want that to happen. I think the best thing for us, the harsh medicine we really need, is not a Donald Trump-as-Pinochet scenario, but the inauguration of Joe Biden and his radical Congress on January 20th.As so many Americans seem to want.
The punishment we asked for…
As Oscar Wilde observed: “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” But you don’t recognize the punishment until it lands on your head. There are too many Americans who simply won’t understand the disaster before us until it actually happens…to them and their loved ones.
This is especially true of the suburban-dwelling “latte liberal” faction. Right now, they are busy patting themselves on the back, because they’ve just elected “the first woman of color vice president,” and “the first African-American to represent Georgia in the Senate.”Whoopdeedoo. As if both Harris and Warnock weren’t going to be just fine, anyway.
Wait until runaway inflation hits. Wait until their husband, or wife, or young adult child, is thrown out of work because the Democrats have crashed the economy. Wait until their son or daughter becomes the victim of urban violence in another “woke” city that has defunded the police.
In short, there are many “woke” suburbanites who are going to have to suffer, at a very personal level, before they “get it”.
Ideas—like elections—have consequences
It isn’t necessarily their fault. In the late 1960s, America decided to accept anti-American, anti-western guilt as our primary cultural and educational leitmotif.
This was always based on ideology and wishful thinking, not reality.
Ideas—just like elections—have consequences. The bill is going to come due, one way or another. The question is: which ordeal do you prefer: violent revolution? Or economic collapse, followed by the inevitable reappraisal of our national priorities and assumptions?
The very best thing for America may be to allow the leftwing radicals of the Democratic Party free rein.
“The Green New Deal?”
“Medicare for all?”
“$2K stimulus checks?”
“Why stop there? Why not send out $5K stimulus checks? We can always print more money…until we can’t.”
Let them spend us into oblivion. Let the economy collapse. Let the woke suburbanites discover the meaning of reality. In 2024, we can gently remind them that this was what they asked for.
Yes, the rest of us will have to suffer along with them. But that’s the way it works in a democracy. When 81 million of us exercise poor judgment at the ballot box, all of us have to suffer.
The way out of this mess will not be pleasant. But does anyone really believe that a Pinochet option would be easier for America, or any less traumatic?
This moment of crisis brings both danger and opportunity.
Using Wednesday’s events at Capitol Hill as a pretext, the titans of Big Tech have shown themselves in recent days to be the closet totalitarians that we always suspected they were.
Two conservative Twitter accounts I follow–those of Lisa Boothe and Allie Beth Stuckey— report that they have lost thousands of Twitter followers overnight, as Twitter censors have arbitrarily deleted thousands of accounts.
This is probably just another case of censors protecting us from “violence”. As you can see, both Boothe and Stuckey are very dangerous-looking characters. They are almost as fearsome-looking as Ashli Babbitt, the young woman gunned down by DC police earlier this week at Capitol Hill.
A green light to censor
We can all agree that the President of the United States is, in theory, at least, the most powerful person in the world. If Twitter and Facebook will unilaterally close the accounts of the President of the United States because they don’t like what he says, how much of a chance do you think you have against the tech overlords?
This is not going to get better in the near future. We are now less than two weeks away from the beginning of the Biden administration, and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and their peers believe that they have a green light to do whatever they want. In the short term, at least, they probably do.
The dual nature of a “crisis”
The Sino-Japanese character for crisis, 危機 ,contains two elements. The first of these, 危 ,means “danger”. The second element, 機 , means “opportunity”.
I was never comfortable with the idea of so much expression on the Internet being controlled by a few companies run by a handful of people. This was always a recipe for trouble, the particular circumstances of our present culture war aside.
The Internet before social media (up until about 2005) was wild, free, and diverse. There were always mechanisms in place to deal with genuinely evil content—actual incitements to violence, child pornography, etc. We had laws before we had speech czars at Twitter and Facebook.
What we did not have on the Internet before social media was the constant fear that any partisan statement with a conservative spin could be used as a pretext by a Twitter mob or a Facebook censor to shut you down. Although I’ve referred frequently to Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, most of the corporate censors at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are low-level employees in their twenties and thirties. Most Twitter mobs are comprised of “woke” twentysomethings.
This is the crowd that is now deciding what you can say on the Internet, and what you can’t….every single time you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
That’s the danger. Here’s the “opportunity”. If you’re a writer, blogger, or other creative professional, take this as a cue to create your own platform. Build your own website. If you really miss the social aspect of social media, then join forces with a handful of likeminded creators, and build something together.
I’m not saying you have to recreate Twitter. How about a WordPress blog? That’s how many of the Internet’s great group blogs got started.
“Organic reach” on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube has been abysmal for years, anyway. A few years ago, Mark Zuckerberg decided that he wanted creators to pay for traffic on Facebook, rather than getting it organically (for free). This was unrelated to the present political troubles. This was simply a matter of Zuckerberg wanting musicians, writers, and bloggers to pay for every fan engagement on his site. Every creative who still uses Facebook as a marketing platform does so with paid ads. And this has been the case for at least three or four years.
Twitter, meanwhile, has been so useless for content creators, for so long, that it isn’t worth discussing. The Golden Age of YouTube for non-corporate content creators ended about four years ago.
The solution: build your own platform, and patronize independent platforms
If you’re a content creator/influencer seeking an audience, build your own platform, either by yourself, or with a handful of other creators who share your goals, vision, and values.
If you’re an online “lurker”—someone who mostly consumes content— find independently run blogs to start visiting on a regular basis. Most will allow you to chime in with comments of your own.
Obviously, I would be flattered if you made Edward Trimnell Books one of your online daily stops. But if this blog and this proprietor are not to your taste…no worries! Find other ones that fit your needs. There are plenty of them online. But whatever you do, don’t hang out on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) or Twitter anymore.
The only way to break the iron grip of social media is to stop using it. This is a task for content creators and consumers alike.
Let Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and their employees have Facebook and Twitter. We’ll take the rest of the Internet.
Lee McCabe is on the run from the law, mafia hitmen, and rural meth dealers. A gun-blazing chase through the badlands of Kentucky.
While emphasizing that Wednesday’s actions at the US Capitol were “doomed to fail” (basically the same point I’ve been making), Tucker Carlson notes that those events will surely be used by the left as a pretext for more crackdowns in the near future.
So…look for more crackdowns on free speech—on social media, on the Internet in general, in the workplace, at the university. And with the Democrats back in power, some of these crackdowns will likely come from the government.
Carlson dubs this “the Romanov program”.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the historical context: By the dawn of the 20th century, it was clear that the rule of the Romanov Dynasty in imperial Russia was failing. The last Czar, Nicholas II, had numerous opportunities for democratic reform. Russia might have evolved into a constitutional monarchy, as Great Britain had already become.
But Nicholas II was unimaginative and autocratic by nature. Instead he chose to crack down on his population.
Then WWI strained the Russian imperial system even further. When things were at their most unstable in Russia, the Germans smuggled in an exiled Bolshevik revolutionary named Vladimir Lenin. Russia did not reform, but descended into the even worse tyranny of the Soviet Union.
Our current rulers—of both parties—were threatened by Wednesday’s citizens’ revolt. (Which, I reiterate, I did not support, as it was doomed from the outset to tragedy and failure.) Our leaders saw the revolt as an assault on the status quo, of which they are each a part. This is why so many Republicans—Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and now, Mike Pence—have closed ranks with Democrats against President Trump.
But the larger question is: Why are so many citizens so angry right now?
America has reached the peak of a culture war, brought on by two primary changes: institutional leftism and globalization gone awry.
Revolutionary leftism took hold in our institutions following the 1960s. The basic tenet of this leftism is: America is a fundamentally flawed, racist, horrible, guilty nation. America must be broken down and built back up again with a revolutionary agenda in mind.
And, of course, a cadre of leftwing politicians, journalists, academics, and business leaders will tell us exactly that we need to do.
As a college student in the 1980s, I saw the first wave of this institutional change. I had college professors who denounced America at every turn, and sought to constantly instill cultural and racial guilt in their students. Most of these professors were then 40-something ex-student activists of the 1960s.
Thirty years after my college days, there are no more conservatives, or even moderates, in education, media, and the unelected organs of government. “Political correctness” aka “wokeness”, has become a secular religion.
The second change dates back to the early 1990s, and the end of the Cold War. I was in my early 20s when the Berlin Wall fell. This was the beginning of the “New World Order”. At that time, the term carried an air of optimism. Many years would pass before it acquired its present, more sinister connotation.
Pundits told us that the entire world would soon become one big, prosperous, liberal democratic village. Traditional differences and conflicts between peoples were a thing of the past. The “global village” would make national boundaries obsolete, if not irrelevant.
Thirty years later, things haven’t worked out as planned. Much of the world has not changed. Iran is no more hospitable to western values in 2021 than it was in 1990.
Many places have gotten not better, but worse. Mexico seemed to be on an upward trajectory in the early 1990s. Today Mexico, and most of Latin America, are beset by endemic poverty and violence, fueling mass outward migration toward our southern border.
Globalization has meant cheap labor and higher profits for corporations. For many ordinary Americans, though, it has brought unemployment, lower wages, and crowded, dangerous urban environments.
Nevertheless, our leaders tell us that globalization cannot be challenged—or even paused. The gates must remain wide open.
These are complex issues that require candid, rational debate. The answers and outcomes should not be decided by a small number of elites.
What we get, too often, though, is the response, “Shut up, and do what we tell you,” from our leaders in government, corporations, the media, and education.
Which brings us to President Trump. President Trump captured the imaginations of millions of Americans by openly challenging the globalist, left-leaning establishment that now runs all of our major institutions.
Trump was, in many ways, temperamentally unsuited for high office. The day-to-day mechanics of his management style left much to be desired. Those criticisms are certainly fair.
But President Trump was the first politician with a substantial platform who addressed the concerns of millions of Americans disaffected by the leftward/globalist tilt of our institutions. He was the first leader who did not call disaffected Americans stupid, xenophobic, or “racist”—as Obama did with his “clinger” remark of 2008.
President Trump will soon fade from the scene. Regardless of what he says today about running again four years from now, the reality is that Trump will be 78 years old in 2024. Though he will be with us for some time yet, his heyday has likely passed.
But the frustrations that he channelled will not go away. As Tucker Carlson pointed out, Ashli Babbitt, who was killed by DC police Wednesday, did not fit the profile of a “radical”. She was an attractive, married young woman, who by all appearances had a sunny disposition, and much to live for. She was also a patriot: a 14-year USAF veteran.
Millions of Americans have lost complete trust in our left-leaning institutions. Some, like Ashli Babbitt, feel that actions like this week’s Capitol Hill revolt are their only remaining option.
This is not normal. Nor can it be banished with the left’s blanket dismissal for everything they don’t like: “white supremacy”.
There are, indeed, contradictions and pernicious ideological trends in our institutions that must be addressed. As Nicholas II learned, crackdowns eventually backfire on despots. What was true in 1917 is just as true in 2021.
The woman shot to death by DC police yesterday has been identified as 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt. Babbitt was a 14-year Air Force veteran. She was married, and a resident of San Diego.
Babbitt was also a Trump supporter, and a participant in yesterday’s mass revolt at the US Capitol. Her social media accounts indicate that she was a true believer not only in President Trump, but—like millions of Americans—the argument that the 2020 election was stolen. Make of that what you will.
Whatever your feelings about the transparency of the 2020 election, there is one lesson we can all agree on: Mass partisan anger in the public square often has deadly results, and seldom produces positive outcomes. Look at the BLM riots over the past summer. They accomplished nothing. Nor did yesterday’s action.
Since political street fighting is a young person’s game, it is usually the young who lose their lives in such battles. Ashli Babbitt should not have been involved in the action at the the US Capitol yesterday. She should have been doing something else, anywhere else. She should have died not in 2021, but in 2071 or 2081. She should have had many decades of life before her.
The media will not canonize Babbitt, as it canonized the ex-felon George Floyd (who once held a gun to the belly of a pregnant woman while committing a robbery). Nor will the media spend much time asking why it was necessary for the DC police to gun down a young woman who doesn’t look particularly threatening, based on her photos.
The left, being mostly irreligious, has attempted to give us numerous secular saints: not just George Floyd, but—in recent days—Stacey Abrams. Yesterday Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan tweeted an image of a Stacey Abrams prayer candle.
I will therefore refrain from coopting the left’s slogan, “Say her name.” But I will say this: Remember Ashli Babbitt, and remember that she should not have lost her life yesterday.
Remember that just as disputed elections have consequences, so do public outbursts of political anger, like we saw yesterday. All of us, on all sides, need to find better ways to resolve our differences.
The Daily Kos and other leftwing publications are giving a group of romance writers kudos for raising money for Democratic candidates in Georgia.
Should we be surprised? Not really.
The romance writing field is among the most lily-white and privileged of literary spaces. There is no Ta-Nehisi Coates or Octavia Butler in romance fiction.
And maybe that’s a credit to African American writers—and readers. The romance genre has recently given rise to cringeworthy subgenres like “alien abduction romance” and “reverse harem”. Such things are overwhelmingly the concerns of white women with tepid sex lives, and too much time on their hands.
That romance fiction deals almost exclusively with the neurotic sexual fantasies of a small subset of white women doesn’t make romance fiction evil, mind you—merely odd. But this is the era of self-conscious “wokeness”. White people of a progressive bent are convinced that they can’t brush their teeth in the morning without reflecting on their white privilege.
The white guilt of romance writers has led to noisy calls for more “diversity” within the romance writing community in recent years. But this is a solution in search of a problem. Most of the bestselling romance fiction is now self-published on Amazon. There are no gatekeepers anymore. Every American, of every race, is free to write and read as much reverse-harem alien abduction romance as they care to.
But again, the fact that only a small subset of white women find this appealing is “problematic” for some.
Another thing about romance fiction: It is extremely competitive. Romance readers are voracious, but romance writers churn out an endless volume of heavy-breathing, bodice-ripper tales about hunky aliens and steamy menages. There is no such thing as writer’s block when your sexual fantasies are the theme of every story you type.
Romance writers have so much output to sell that they habitually attempt to cannibalize other genres on Amazon, in their quest for untapped virtual store space. Rare is the fictional genre on Amazon that hasn’t been overrun with books featuring bare-chested male characters, the staple cover art trope of romance novels of all shades.
When I hear the term “cowboy novel”, I think of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. Search for “cowboy novel” on Amazon, though, and your first results will be something like Saddled and Spurred, by Lorelei James.
A few years ago, Amazon cracked down on romance writers who were slipping their books into the mainstream science fiction and fantasy categories. But romance fiction, like kudzu in Alabama, is relentless. It eventually works its way into every category in the book world. There are likely “home plumbing maintenance” books on Amazon nowadays with titles like Plumbed, Primed, and Ready, featuring improbably buff, bare-chested male plumbers on their covers.
This toxic combination of hyper-competition and political correctness creates pitfalls for the unwary, and opportunities for the unscrupulous. Last year, romance writer Courtney Milan saw a way to use the race issue as a way to get a leg up on her competition, and draw attention to herself. Milan combed through the novel Somewhere Lies the Moon by fellow author Kathryn Lynn Davis, looking for pretexts for offense. Lo and behold, she found some.
Somewhere Lies the Moon is set in 19th century China. The book portrays women in the China of that time as submissive. The book also contains descriptors like “bronze skin” and “almond eyes” to depict the physical characteristics of some Chinese characters.
Now for the reality check. Due to cultural mores in China during the 19th century, women in that time and place were generally forced into submissive social roles. Even Mao was appalled at the latent misogyny in traditional Chinese culture. Female gendercide is still a major problem in China (as well as in India). That may all be unpleasant; but noting it does not make one “racist”.
Likewise, there are only so many ways to describe skin tone, and certain physical attributes. I’m a middle-age white dude with pasty skin the color of mayonnaise, and a bald head that looks like the shiny, egg-shaped dome of a spaceship. Deal with it. “Almond eyes” and “bronze skin” may be unoriginal forms of description, but they’re hardly hate speech.
Yet on these slim pretexts, Courtney Milan (who, based on a perusal of her Twitter feed, has a mouth like a sewer) publicly denounced Davis’s book as “a fucking racist mess”.
Well, Courtney Milan, bless her heart, is a self-serving opportunist. The worst thing is, the “romance community”, being self-consciously white and woke, didn’t see through Courtney Milan’s self-serving ploy. On the contrary, the Romance Writers Association (RWA) took her nonsense seriously. This snowballed into a massive drama fest, which culminated in the cancellation of the RWA’s RITA awards program in 2020. (This was before COVID hit, by the way.)
We should therefore not be surprised to find that Courtney Milan and other like-minded romance writers are busily supporting Democratic Party candidates in Georgia and elsewhere. Courtney Milan, at least, should be a perfect match for the Democratic Party of today.
Contrary to the mindless chatter on Twitter, and the fatuous pronouncements of Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, “defund the police” has no chance of success in the real world, with real people involved.
The latest trends in leftwing identity politics tell us that law enforcement is a scheme cooked up by white supremacists for the purpose of oppressing minorities. The facts on the ground tell us something else. Law enforcement exists in some form, in every society larger than a tribal village.
There are reasons for this. A certain percentage of the strong will always attempt to victimize the weak. Until human beings are perfect, and all evil is banished from our natures, order in society must ultimately be maintained by the threat of force.
That leaves you with two choices: order by professional law enforcement agencies (which are accountable to the voters) or order by criminal gangs, which are accountable to no one but themselves.
There is no third choice. No serious person believes that “social workers” are a serious deterrent to an individual intent on rape, robbery, or homicide.
The drive to defund the police was spearheaded by leftwing radicals and hoodlums. It was then enabled by cowardly politicians, mostly of the Democratic Party.
That said, there are no doubt some basically benevolent folks out there who might warm to the idea in their most expansive moments. Defunding the police—and convincing everyone to join hands and sing kumbaya—is a nice idea…if you are willing to completely ignore the darker side of human nature.
There is the world as it actually is, and there is the world as we wish it might be. As the people of Portland have discovered, there is always a price to be paid when our elected officials (and the voters who elect them to office) fail to distinguish between the two.
Ideological teachers are at it again: This time, Homer and The Odyssey are under attack. A teacher in Massachusetts reported on Twitter that she was “very proud to say we got the Odyssey removed from the curriculum this year!”
Yes, Odysseus is reviled as a symbol of white supremacy and the patriarchy in American classrooms nowadays. Such is the tragicomic state of American education in the 21st century,
This is not an isolated incident, either. For over a decade now, “woke” educators have been attacking classic literature for flimsy reasons related to leftwing identity politics. In 2018, a Seattle English teacher tweeted that he’d “rather die” than teach The Scarlet Letter. Then he went on a mini-rant against “misogyny” and “slut-shaming”.
Let’s call it like it is: Many of the new breed of teachers are full of the stuff that covered the floors in the Augean stables. Among the authors they’re attacking (in addition to the above) are Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Hemingway…and even Steinbeck. So this isn’t a matter of teachers rebelling because they don’t want to teach The Collected Sayings of David Duke. This is a matter of teachers rebelling because they don’t want to teach the English literary canon.
Not so long ago, things were different. I attended school in the 1970s and 1980s. I had plenty of teachers who voted Democrat, and plenty who were “liberal” by the standards of those times. What I did not have were “woke” lunatics at the lectern. The teachers of today are not, by and large, the conscientious educators I grew up with—especially not in the humanities fields.
What happened? For at least a generation now, the teaching of the humanities has attracted a disproportionately leftwing crowd. There aren’t many conservatives (or even moderates) teaching subjects like history or literature anymore. This is a problem from the universities on down.
It is also a problem that is too big for a single blog post (even one of mine). But here is something that you can do on the local level: Pay attention to what teachers in your local public school district are teaching your kids.
You don’t have to live in San Francisco or Seattle to find leftwing ideologues indoctrinating kids. I live in a very “red” part of the country—Southern Ohio. A few years ago, I learned that my local public school was using Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (a far-left political screed by a socialist historian) as a primary text for an American history class.
Our society spends a lot of time patting teachers on the back. And as anyone with teachers in their Facebook feed can attest, teachers expend a lot of time and effort patting themselves on the back.
It’s time to praise teachers a little less, and scrutinize them a little more. The education of youth is, as they will tell us, an important endeavor. It should not be left to far-left ideologues with innumerable axes to grind.
Hey, folks. We have an election coming up in just a few days—four, to be exact.
The GOP and Democratic Party visions for the next four years are radically different.
If you’re a reader of this blog, then you already know my feelings about the matter. I won’t rehash old arguments again in this post. (And if you don’t know where I stand, poke around a bit; it will become clear enough.)
Unless you have a loved one in intensive care (or some similar personal emergency of a life-or-death nature) virtually nothing you have on your plate over the next 4 days is as important as casting your vote.
I’ve been watching politics since 1976, and voting since 1988. Not every election in my lifetime has been critically important. This one is.
It’s okay if you’re distracted by the election.
With four days left, you might find your thoughts drawn repeatedly to the upcoming election. You might be thinking about politics more than usual.
That’s perfectly all right. Politics are important. While US politics have generally tended to be moderate, there are historical examples of politics affecting real people’s lives in major ways. You should give politics at least some of your attention.
I have never understood people who become emotionally invested in say, professional spectator sports, and then claim that political outcomes don’t matter. They do. A lot more than the outcomes of the World Series and the Super Bowl.
I’m mostly an optimist. I firmly believe that whatever the result on November 3, life will go on. But the next four years will be very different, depending on next Tuesday’s results. Make no mistake about that.
Don’t obsess; but don’t tune out, either. If this all feels like a matter of great significance, well…that’s because it is.
There’s a new trend in bars that cater to college students on dates in South Florida. The protocol is laid out on posters, which are displayed prominently throughout the participating drinking and dining establishments:
If a young woman feels “unsafe” or “uncomfortable” on a date, she can order a special drink called an “Owl Shot”. Then, depending on how she responds when the bartender brings her drink, one of the following measures will be taken:
‘Neat’: Bar staff will escort you to your car
‘On the rocks’: Bar staff will call a ride for you
‘With lime’: Bar staff will call the police
This lockdown procedure might be useful in that rare instance in which a young woman finds herself on a date with the twenty-first-century equivalent of Ted Bundy. But if that’s truly the case, then the “Owl Shot” will probably be inadequate. (The posters are right there for men to see, too, after all.)
This is something I’ve written about here before, of course: the wussification of American youth. I don’t necessarily blame the youngsters, mind you: They’ve been bred and raised to be Eloi, food for the Morlocks who lurk just beyond the reach of hovering parents and educators, or—in this case—officious bartenders in South Florida.
Granted, extraordinary situations do exist. Once in a while, an evil or deranged person starts a fire, or commits mass murder, or turns threatening on his date. But hyper-vigilant, preemptive measures like the “Owl Shot” send a message to young adults: Be afraid. Be very afraid. Always.
And then we wonder why so many members of Generation Z are suffering from chronic anxiety. They have been raised to be terrified of the world, almost since day one. Excepting some very extreme circumstances, an unpleasant date is a situation that two college-age adults should be able to navigate on their own, without secret intervention codes passed to the wait staff.
Nor is this a men’s rights thing. Let’s face it, some guys are dicks. But the Owl Shot, like our current obsession with #MeToo, and real or imagined sexual harassment, sends a very mixed message about feminism. On one hand, we’re told that women should lead men into combat, and should lead our nation. On the other hand, we’re told that women are chronic, hapless victims who can’t make it through a garden-variety date-from-hell without calling for help from the nearest bartender.
A college-aged Gen X woman, circa 1990, always knew how to deal with the boorish date: She would tell the guy to get lost, throw a drink in his face, or—if the circumstances were sufficiently extreme—knee him in the balls.
That last one, it stops a guy in his tracks every time, a lot more effectively than an Owl Shot. Sometimes the old school approach really is the best approach.