Category Archives: Education

The state of free speech on the American university campus.

A conservative author and filmmaker  spoke at Yale last night and I went to here him speak. I expected a large crowd, and I expected some amount of disruption, if not outright violence.

The crowd was rather small – maybe 75 of us, and there were no demonstrations of any kind.

Aa very good lecture, but painful to hear because of the subject matter dealing with the history of racism and fascism in America .

I sat in the second row so I had a good seat, and I had a copy of a picture of myself and the speaker’s brother who we had met last year in St. Petersburg Russia. I had hopes of giving him the picture should the occasion arise. Standing in the doorway at the front of the small lecture hall, and just to the left of the speaker was an obvious plain clothes body guard. I don’t know how many others there were, but there was a New Haven or Yale Police officer close by as well.

As he was closing out the QA session, and I was anticipating the next question, the speaker abruptly said “thank you all for coming” and then very quickly exited the hall along with the guard who covered his exit. As quickly as I could I exited the same door in hopes of catching him and giving him the picture of me and his brother – he was nowhere to be found.

So I went outside to wait for my wife to pick me up. Out front was a armored Suburban obviously waiting for the speaker, so I decided to hang around for awhile. The young Yale student who was the MC was there, so I showed him my card and the picture, and explained to him a bit and asked if he could give the picture to the speaker . He told he would see what he could do and asked me to wait outside and took the picture back inside.

A bit of time passed and I could look back up into the building exit and I saw the speaker’s entourage ready to exit to the street. It seemed they had waited until the crowd dissipated,  then my guess is they did a security sweep of the hallways on their way outside. They paused at the door and eyes were going everywhere sweeping the street scene and accessing the threat.

My young guy, the master of ceremonies at the event,  had the picture, and I could see he was trying to get the attention of the speaker, but they scurried across to the limo  as quickly as they could and got him out of the area very quickly.

The man is obviously a target. It was refreshing to hear him speak so much truth about Fascism & racism in this country, but it was sad to see that speaking such truth puts such speakers in mortal danger.

Such is the state of free speech on the American university campus.

Don Johnson – March 2018

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Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real Problems?

I am including in total this article from Imprimis, the monthly publication of Hillsdale College. 

As prelude, here is a response to President Trump’s State of the Union address by Joy Reid of MSNBC. The Reid comment and Professor Wax’s article  directly relate to one another, and to what many of us are experiencing in todays leftist culture of hateful smear in lieu of thoughtful discussion and dialogue. Can you relate to any of his?  Please feel free to comment on how this mode of “free speech” may have effected you.

Reid’s Tweet reads:
“Church … family … police … military … the national anthem … Trump trying to call on all the tropes of 1950s-era nationalism. The goal of this speech appears to be to force the normalization of Trump on the terms of the bygone era his supporters are nostalgic for.

Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real Problems?

imprimis.hillsdale.edu

Amy Wax
University of Pennsylvania Law School


Amy WaxAmy L. Wax is the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she has received the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. She has a B.S. from Yale College, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She is a former assistant to the United States Solicitor General, and her most recent book is Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century.


The following is adapted from a speech delivered on December 12, 2017, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with plenty of lip service being paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.

The op-ed, which I co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego Law School, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9 under the title, “Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture.” It began by listing some of the ills afflicting American society:

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

We then discussed the “cultural script”—a list of behavioral norms—that was almost universally endorsed between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These norms defined a concept of adult responsibility that was, we wrote, “a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.” The fact that the “bourgeois culture” these norms embodied has broken down since the 1960s, we argued, largely explains today’s social pathologies—and re-embracing that culture would go a long way toward addressing those pathologies.

In what became perhaps the most controversial passage, we pointed out that cultures are not equal in terms of preparing people to be productive citizens in a modern technological society, and we gave some examples of cultures less suited to achieve this:

The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.

The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large.

It is well documented that American universities today, more than ever before, are dominated by academics on the left end of the political spectrum. How should these academics handle opinions that depart, even quite sharply, from their “politically correct” views? The proper response would be to engage in reasoned debate—to attempt to explain, using logic, evidence, facts, and substantive arguments, why those opinions are wrong. This kind of civil discourse is obviously important at law schools like mine, because law schools are dedicated to teaching students how to think about and argue all sides of a question. But academic institutions in general should also be places where people are free to think and reason about important questions that affect our society and our way of life—something not possible in today’s atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy.

What those of us in academia should certainly not do is engage in unreasoned speech: hurling slurs and epithets, name-calling, vilification, and mindless labeling. Likewise we should not reject the views of others without providing reasoned arguments. Yet these once common standards of practice have been violated repeatedly at my own and at other academic institutions in recent years—and we increasingly see this trend in society as well.

One might respond, of course, that unreasoned slurs and outright condemnations are also speech and must be defended. My recent experience has caused me to rethink this position. In debating others, we should have higher standards. Of course one has the right to hurl labels like “racist,” “sexist,” and “xenophobic” without good reason—but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Hurling such labels doesn’t enlighten, inform, edify, or educate. Indeed, it undermines these goals by discouraging or stifling dissent.

So what happened after our op-ed was published last August? A raft of letters, statements, and petitions from students and professors at my university and elsewhere condemned the piece as racist, white supremacist, hate speech, heteropatriarchial, xenophobic, etc. There were demands that I be removed from the classroom and from academic committees. None of these demands even purported to address our arguments in any serious or systematic way.

A response published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, our school newspaper, and signed by five of my Penn Law School colleagues, charged us with the sin of praising the 1950s—a decade when racial discrimination was openly practiced and opportunities for women were limited. I do not agree with the contention that because a past era is marked by benighted attitudes and practices—attitudes and practices we had acknowledged in our op-ed!—it has nothing to teach us. But at least this response attempted to make an argument.

Not so an open letter published in the Daily Pennsylvanian and signed by 33 of my colleagues. This letter quoted random passages from the op-ed and from a subsequent interview I gave to the school newspaper, condemned both, and categorically rejected all of my views. It then invited students, in effect, to monitor me and to report any “stereotyping and bias” they might experience or perceive. This letter contained no argument, no substance, no reasoning, no explanation whatsoever as to how our op-ed was in error.

We hear a lot of talk about role models—people to be emulated, who set a positive example for students and others. In my view, the 33 professors who signed this letter are anti-role models. To students and citizens alike I say: don’t emulate them in condemning people for their views without providing a reasoned argument. Reject their example. Not only are they failing to teach you the practice of civil discourse—the sine qua non of liberal education and of democracy—they are sending the message that civil discourse is unnecessary. As Jonathan Haidt of NYU wrote on September 2 on his website Heterodox Academy: “Every open letter you sign to condemn a colleague for his or her words brings us closer to a world in which academic disagreements are resolved by social force and political power, not by argumentation and persuasion.”

It is gratifying to note that the reader comments on the open letter were overwhelmingly critical. The letter has “no counterevidence,” one reader wrote, “no rebuttal to [Wax’s] arguments, just an assertion that she’s wrong. . . . This is embarrassing.” Another wrote: “This letter is an exercise in self-righteous virtue-signaling that utterly fails to deal with the argument so cogently presented by Wax and Alexander. . . . Note to parents, if you want your daughter or son to learn to address an argument, do not send them to Penn Law.”

Shortly after the op-ed appeared, I ran into a colleague I hadn’t seen for a while and asked how his summer was going. He said he’d had a terrible summer, and in saying it he looked so serious I thought someone had died. He then explained that the reason his summer had been ruined was my op-ed, and he accused me of attacking and causing damage to the university, the students, and the faculty. One of my left-leaning friends at Yale Law School found this story funny—who would have guessed an op-ed could ruin someone’s summer? But beyond the absurdity, note the choice of words: “attack” and “damage” are words one uses with one’s enemies, not colleagues or fellow citizens. At the very least, they are not words that encourage the expression of unpopular ideas. They reflect a spirit hostile to such ideas—indeed, a spirit that might seek to punish the expression of such ideas.

I had a similar conversation with a deputy dean. She had been unable to sign the open letter because of her official position, but she defended it as having been necessary. It needed to be written to get my attention, she told me, so that I would rethink what I had written and understand the hurt I had inflicted and the damage I had done, so that I wouldn’t do it again. The message was clear: cease the heresy.

Only half of my colleagues in the law school signed the open letter. One who didn’t sent me a thoughtful and lawyerly email explaining how and why she disagreed with particular points in the op-ed. We had an amicable email exchange, from which I learned a lot—some of her points stick with me—and we remain cordial colleagues. That is how things should work.

Of the 33 who signed the letter, only one came to talk to me about it—and I am grateful for that. About three minutes into our conversation, he admitted that he didn’t categorically reject everything in the op-ed. Bourgeois values aren’t really so bad, he conceded, nor are all cultures equally worthy. Given that those were the main points of the op-ed, I asked him why he had signed the letter. His answer was that he didn’t like my saying, in my interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, that the tendency of global migrants to flock to white European countries indicates the superiority of some cultures. This struck him as “code,” he said, for Nazism.

Well, let me state for the record that I don’t endorse Nazism!

Furthermore, the charge that a statement is “code” for something else, or a “dog whistle” of some kind—we frequently hear this charge leveled, even against people who are stating demonstrable facts—is unanswerable. It is like accusing a speaker of causing emotional injury or feelings of marginalization. Using this kind of language, which students have learned to do all too well, is intended to bring discussion and debate to a stop—to silence speech deemed unacceptable.

As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, we can make words mean whatever we want them to mean. And who decides what is code for something else or what qualifies as a dog whistle? Those in power, of course—which in academia means the Left.

My 33 colleagues might have believed they were protecting students from being injured by harmful opinions, but they were doing those students no favors. Students need the opposite of protection from diverse arguments and points of view. They need exposure to them. This exposure will teach them how to think. As John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”

I have received more than 1,000 emails from around the country in the months since the op-ed was published—mostly supportive, some critical, and for the most part thoughtful and respectful. Many expressed the thought, “You said what we are thinking but are afraid to say”—a sad commentary on the state of civil discourse in our society. Many urged me not to back down, cower, or apologize. And I agree with them that dissenters apologize far too often.

Democracy thrives on talk and debate, and it is not for the faint of heart. I read things every day in the media and hear things every day at my job that I find exasperating and insulting, including falsehoods and half-truths about people who are my friends. Offense and upset go with the territory; they are part and parcel of an open society. We should be teaching our young people to get used to these things, but instead we are teaching them the opposite.

Disliking, avoiding, and shunning people who don’t share our politics is not good for our country. We live together, and we need to solve our problems together. It is also always possible that people we disagree with have something to offer, something to contribute, something to teach us. We ignore this at our peril. As Heather Mac Donald wrote in National Review on August 29: “What if the progressive analysis of inequality is wrong . . . and a cultural analysis is closest to the truth? If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable ‘hate speech,’ then it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.” In other words, we are at risk of being led astray by received opinion.

The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner. We should return to doing that on our college campuses and in our society at large.

Our Broken Obama Military Can’t Even Manage to Toss Out Traitors

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Please read this commentary —

https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/10/02/draft-n2389301

Edit —

And please read Senator Rubio’s remarks —

https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/10/04/sen-rubio-wants-commie-west-point-officer-drummed-army/

End Edit —

An excerpt from the commentary —

“ …

I don’t enjoy saying that – it gives me no pleasure to have to wonder whether the Army I served in both in active and reserve status for close to 28 years is broken. And it’s not just the Army. The Marines and the Special Ops community, well, they seem to be holding on to the standards the rest have forgotten, but the Navy and the Air Force – they’re broken too. Our military – in terms of strategy, equipment, and leadership, is in crisis. American troops will die if we don’t fix it.

Hell, they already have. … “

______________

And now my comments:

A tough and very sad commentary by an Army veteran.

I had occasion a few years back to attend an author event at West Point – dinner and the author talk to cadets. To my left at the dinner table was a West Point professor, a major. In conversation I offered a comment that West Point must place much emphasis on history, in particular American history. The major told me, as I recall – and I hope I remember wrong, that there was minimal emphasis on history at the Academy. I was …shocked to hear this.

Over the roughly 70 years of the Communist run in the 20th century, over 100,000,000 people died at the hands of this government sponsored reign of terror in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba and elsewhere. How is it possible that future leaders of our military could not be taught this huge lesson of history?

Will the military academies revamp their programs and their testing to assure that each cadet learns the lessons needed to understand why they are sending young warriors to battle in places like Normandy, Vietnam and Korea. General Eisenhower insisted that soldiers and local German citizens tour the Nazi death camps and take as many pictures as possible. He did this so that history would remember what happened, and why so many liberating soldiers, sailors and airmen died in snuffing out this Satanic evil that had captured most of Europe. Will future cadets be required to view, read and study these atrocities in depth — including the Communist atrocities?

Unfortunately, there aren’t the vivid pictures and testimonies of the record of Communism.

This man, now a commissioned officer and leader of men must be drummed out of the corp. quickly. And he needs to be drummed out with much humiliation and publicity lest we see repeats of the Ft. Hood massacre.

 

Don Johnson – October 2017

France: The Cost of Liberation

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
Ronald Reagan

The cost of regaining freedom was enormous. Paid for by thousands of American, British, Canadian and Free French soldiers, sailors and airman.

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The Myth of American Innocence–a review of drivel


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https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/08/unlearning-the-myth-of-american-innocence  (Read for yourself.)

I’ve had this Guardian article in my sights for some time now, but have been holding off until after our month long stay in Paris with a trip to Normandy and Omaha Beach.

The author punches all the buttons of self-hate/America-hate that many such as her have developed in their cloistered world.

She talks of her winning a writing fellowship that took her to Turkey where she apparently was able to validate her theme of “the myth of American innocence.”  Reading her article multiple times leads me to think she remains in her academic-journalism bubble, and this article has the flavor of yet another entry in a writing contest.

She writes of a view of America and Americans she claims is held by foreigners (non-Americans). But she offers no ticket stubs of travel to nations other than Turkey, where she apparently has taken up permanent residence —  although I see from her book that she has also traveled to other predominantly Muslim countries such as Egypt and Iran.  Others of us who have traveled to many other nations and have friends and family in places such as; Norway, Hungary, France, Czech Republic, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand and elsewhere perhaps have a different experience of how America and Americans are viewed.

Muslim nations have long held anti-Western animosities, often resulting in wars of  invasion to forcefully conquer and displace Christianity and Judaism – indeed Western civilization — with Islam.  So it’s not surprising that Ms. Hansen would find herself  indoctrinated with the world view of the Islamic nations she has chosen to reside in. What she has apparently deprived herself of is the rich heritage of Western Civilization that Islam would seek to displace. 

So in keeping with Ms. Hansen’s anti-American screed, let’s take a tour of how some other peoples view American and Americans — beginning with Vietnam.

The Vietnam War was a long and hard fought war waged in support of an ally and an effort to stem the spread of communism in that part of the world. Ms. Hansen talks of communism, but has no grasp of what it really was (is) – she writes:   “I knew that communism had gone away, but never learned what communism had actually been (“bad” was enough).”   Not that she will ever read this review, but let me inform her and others – communism in the 20th century is credited with taking the lives of some 100 million people over a period of 70 some years. And it was aggressively on the move during the era of the Cold War and the very hot Vietnam campaign of that war.  I have a friend that grew up under communism in Hungary, and in fact was wounded in the 1956 rebellion against that tyranny.

It reflects a failure and a bias of American education that the author grew up with such an extremely shallow knowledge of a history that occurred so  close to her lifetime. But, being a journalist, shouldn’t she have felt an obligation to self educate herself on the facts of communism? The information is there in abundance, especially in this day of the internet.  Perhaps her journalistic career at the New York Times Magazine (left wing), Vogue (women’s issues), Bookforum (book reviews)  and the Baffler (left wing) haven’t afforded her the opportunity or motivation to research topics she pontificates in this article.

Continuing with Vietnam, the war was won militarily and politically in 1973 by the American and South Vietnamese forces, and a peace treaty was signed in Paris which divided the nations along the DMZ. The peace treaty also included provisions for American material support of the self defense of South Vietnam against future aggression for the North.   

However, in 1975 the Democrat controlled US congress reneged on US treaty obligations and cut off all funding for the South Vietnam. This was a huge green light, and within months the North Vietnamese rolled into the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon.  

The alleged anti-American view the author attributes to other nations is expressed in part in her words:

American exceptionalism did not only define the US as a special nation among lesser nations; it also demanded that all Americans believe they, too, were somehow superior to others. How could I, as an American, understand a foreign people, when unconsciously I did not extend the most basic faith to other people that I extended to myself? This was a limitation that was beyond racism, beyond prejudice and beyond ignorance. This was a kind of nationalism so insidious that I had not known to call it nationalism; this was a self-delusion so complete that I could not see where it began and ended, could not root it out, could not destroy it.”

This excerpt shows a lack of understanding and misdirection of what is meant by “American Exceptionalism.” American Exceptionalism can, and should, be summarized by a few simple words – liberty and opportunity. It is through these simple words, put into practical application throughout American history, that the United States of American has become the greatest civilization the world has ever seen. Dr. Walter Williams summarizes it thusly:

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I don’t think this view of Ms. Hansen reflects the view of the many thousands of Vietnamese refugees that fled tyranny and almost certain death at the hands of the communist North Vietnamese conquers. You can get a feel for them in watching the documentary The Lucky Few at https://youtu.be/S9svL4j9xCc. I’ve talked with the Skipper and the Chief Engineer of that small American ship – USS Kirk — that rescued  some 30,000+ refugees, and have seen the lifelong bond and love exchanged between the crew of that ship and the refugees they rescued.

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The picture above is the Captain of the small US Navy destroyer USS Kirk and two of the 33,000 Vietnamese refugees that ship is credited with saving. The one on the right was so grateful to America that she added  Kirk as the middle name of her daughter.
GodBlessAmerica

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The same is true of the many (40,000+) Hungarian refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution who have contributed so much to American life.   I have written much on this —  read my article “Immigration & Assimilation – A Hungarian Model” at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/immigration-assimilation-a-hungarian-model-2/ to get the flavor of these people – and in particular the story of my friend Adam von Dioszeghy. I have written a book “Budapest at War“ at http://www.blurb.com/b/8107619-budapest-at-war where I document a portion this man’s life and experiences through three wars; as a child in World War II, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and as a US Naval officer with three combat tours to Vietnam.  This man, when called up in the draft in the early build up to Vietnam, served willingly and with gratitude to the nation that had provided him liberty and opportunity. This book is a culmination of a personal tour  Adam gave us through the streets of Budapest where these events took place in his life.

The picture below is of Adam von Dioszeghy standing beside the stature of President Ronald Reagan in the Freedom Plaza near the Hungarian Parliament. Hungarians give much credit  to President Reagan and the United States for the freedoms they gained when Communism was finally defeated.  Similar statues are in Warsaw and Gdansk Poland in recognition of Reagan’s and America’s bringing liberty to Poland.
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So tell me again how much America is disliked by foreign nations.

Spending a month in Paris recently, with a visit to Normandy, the American Cemetery  and the small village of Sainte Mere Eglise gave me a taste of the gratitude the French feel for America.
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The picture below is one of two stained glass windows in the church at Sainte Mere Eglise where you can see Paratroopers of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Division depicted.

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Then there is this sculpture seen as you enter the town square. Looking closely you see two hands reaching skywards toward the paratrooper. And you see the chains broken away from those outstretched hands.
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And on the church, some 73 years later, you see the parachute draped around the church steeple where it got tangled – and in effigy is the American soldier dangling precariously above the German soldiers below (he survived).  
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In the visitors center at the American Cemetery I heard testimonies from French citizens such as one which I paraphrase  “these soldiers came from thousands of kilometers away and died by the thousands for us, and they didn’t even know us.”   

So tell me again Ms. Hansen, how much America is disliked by foreign nations.

Ms. Hansen writes much of white American Christianity, and its detriment to humanity, blacks in particular.  She culls out author James Baldwin in particular as someone who has had a good deal of influence in her thinking and her world view. It’s good to have role models, and I also have read James Baldwin in years past. But here again it seems Hansen falls very short as a journalist.

In singling out one man’s experience as a black in America, she rightfully shows how he eloquently presents what the typical experience has been for most blacks in American history.  However, she very well could have developed a more balanced view on the opportunity that American liberty provides – even under the most unlikely circumstances of life.

I speak here of  Condoleezza Rice, a black woman raised in the harsh poverty of segregationist Alabama. Included in Rice’s resume: – accomplished concert pianist, National Security Adviser to President George W Bush,  Secretary of State under President Bush, author, Provost and professor at Stanford University.

I speak of Dr. Benjamin  Carson, raised in the slums of Detroit and Boston by a illiterate single mother. Carson became a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins and is now the  Secretary of Housing and Urban Renewal.

I speak of Dr. Thomas Sewell, raised in the slums of New York City and on his own at 17 with no job, no money, no education and very little prospects for the future. Sewell became a prominent economist and a syndicated commentator  on economic, social, cultural and political issues. 

I speak of Charles Payne, a financial commentator at Fox Business News.   Payne grew up poor in Harlem in a single parent home. He founded  ‘Wall Street Strategies’ and is its chief executive officer and principal financial analyst.

And there’s many more …

Ms. Hansen should expand her knowledge of successful blacks beyond her selected few (actually she singles out only one). 

Hansen writes of American patriotism, actually mocking it  …

“ … Mostly what I remember of that war in Iraq was singing God Bless the USA on the school bus – I was 13 – wearing little yellow ribbons and becoming teary-eyed as I remembered the video of the song I had seen on MTV.

‘And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free’

That “at least” is funny. We were free – at the very least we were that. Everyone else was a chump, because they didn’t even have that obvious thing. Whatever it meant, it was the thing that we had, and no one else did. It was our God-given gift, our superpower.

At the risk of repeating myself (but repetition can be a good teacher) , perhaps our world savvy journalist should travel to the small French town of Sainte Mere Eglise, the first town liberated following the allied landings at Normandy during World War II. I just came from there, and can say with pride I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
  This little town bristles with memorabilia expressing gratitude and thanks to those American soldiers that brought back liberty to their Nazi (real Nazis) occupiers. The small church where a paratrooper had his Parachute hung up on the church steeple now has two stained glass windows depicting those soldiers.

On entry to the village square you see this sculpture pictured here:

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Looking closely we see profound symbolism — the parachute descending from above … two hands reaching up to that parachute … broken chains falling away from the hands … the church … and a defunct and obsolete symbol of war – the machine gun.

Travel beyond New Jersey and Turkey might lend a bit of realism to Ms. Hansen’s idea of how much of the world views American and Americans.

She writes of racism in America and the western nations, and quotes Baldwin:

“ … But I have always been struck, in America, by an emotional poverty so bottomless, and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep, that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable, organic connection between his public stance and his private life.

                             .  .  .  .

All of the western nations have been caught in a lie, the lie of their pretended humanism; this means that their history has no moral justification, and that the west has no moral authority.

                                             …

White Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any colour, to be found in the world today. … “

Again, Ms. Hansen shows an abysmal lake of knowledge of history, both world and American history.

Slavery was common throughout world history throughout the world, including in the wide spread British empire, and the British colonies in the American South. 

However, in the early 1800s, largely through the heroic lifelong struggle of William Wilberforce, a white Christian Englishman and member of Parliament, the slave trade,  slavery and the very philosophical and scientific rational for slavery was abolished in the British Empire – did you get that Suzy Hansen? A white Christian man.

Slavery was abolished in the United States much later, at the price of some 600,000+ lives lost, mostly young white Americans. And the motivation for the American anti-slavery abolitionist movement was – ready Ms. Hansen? White American Christian men and women who viewed slavery as a grave sin.

Predictably Ms. Hansen throws in the obligatory attack on capitalism with this … “No matter how well I knew the predatory aspects of capitalism … “  Yes, we know that capitalism has its flaws and excesses. Though not explicitly stated in this article, one could get the impression  that Ms. Hansen would prefer a state controlled economy. But all that would do would be to consolidate all of capitalism’s flaws  and failings under a single unaccountable and tyrannical government. That’s called socialism, of whatever strip. And it has been a failure, most often catastrophic,  wherever and whenever tried in history – Venezuela being the most recent and visible failure.

Ms. Hansen, as a journalist and historian,  also fails to recognize that the American style of free market capitalism has brought more liberty, prosperity and wealth to more people around the world than any other form of economic system. China, where there was widespread poverty and famine in recent decades has become an economic juggernaut in recent years by introducing a form of capitalism into its still autocratic communist political system.

I will conclude this review of drivel with another excerpt from Hansen’s article and a few concluding comments on American Exceptionalism.

“ … American exceptionalism had declared my country unique in the world, the one truly free and modern country, and instead of ever considering that that exceptionalism was no different from any other country’s nationalistic propaganda, I had internalised[sic] this belief. Wasn’t that indeed what successful propaganda was supposed to do? I had not questioned the institution of American journalism outside of the standards it set for itself – which, after all, was the only way I would discern its flaws and prejudices; instead, I accepted those standards as the best standards any country could possibly have. … “

Wow … quite an indictment, not only of American Exceptionalism, but American journalism as well, calling it ‘nationalistic propaganda’.  Journalism by its very nature is often biased and non-objective – witness the very biased anti-Trump reporting and commentary of the New York Times. But for the most part it has done a credible job in presenting news and opinion. But I would not use the very broad brush that Ms. Hansen uses here to slam American Journalism as a whole.

To supplement the daily dish of news and commentary we get from journalists, print or media, it is good to read good substantive and well researched history books. I wonder if Ms. Hansen delves much into this rich world.

One such book I would recommend is “The Miracle of Freedom – 7 Tipping Points the Saved the World” by Chris and Ted Stewart. I’ve read this book several times and have written a review of it at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/the-miracle-of-freedom-the-american-baseline/

A major point this book makes is the rarity of freedom. The authors point out that in all of human history, in all places and at all times, a very small fraction of people have ever lived in what many of us know as freedom. And, of that small percentage (<4%) most have lived in the relatively recent lifespan of the United States of America with its constitution,  and nations who have adopted similar forms of representative governments. That coupled with the Condoleezza Rice book – Democracy – which I mentioned above give much credence to the claims of those who view the history of the United States as one of American Exceptionalism. 

Ms. Hansen’s view of America, American history and American Exceptionalism, I must say is very wrong — ignorant of history — much off target —  and very damaging.

Don Johnson – September 2017



Just Thinking: thoughts concerning: Atheism, Creation, Evolution, Intelligent Design

http://www.blurb.com/b/7687777-just-thinking
Click on the image below to take a look.

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Excerpt:

“ … I remember those nights as a kid laying out in the backyard on a clear Montana night. Laying out in that mummy bag gazing in wonder at the night sky and … just thinking

How many stars are out there? How big is the universe? Does it have an end? If it has an end … then what’s beyond? How did it get there? How did I get here? How can there be something that has no end? Are there answers?

I think most of us have had such nights, and for many of us such wonder continues …

I’m one of those whose mind seems never to stop with the wondering … I just can’t shut it off — not that I want too.

So this is a collection of thoughts, conversations and writings that I’ve collected over the years. Thoughts and study that go back many, many years. The pages to follow come from my thinking and study on these issues, from my blog and from internet dialogs I’ve had with various people, mainly commenters like myself who seem to be passionate about the same questions and issues. Many have quite the opposite views as me, but that’s OK.

______________

In this short book I hold out the hope of showing that a world view centered around a designed and created universe is not only reasonable, but that such a view is the one that aligns with and makes sense with our everyday encounter with our universe and all that is within it — including you and me. Scientists of today as well as in years and centuries past have assigned the idea of “Rational Intelligibility” as an apt description of this world view.

This view of a designed and created universe is a minority view these days, not held by many who are the shapers of the modern world view of materialism which holds that everything we experience has come about through entirely natural means. In other words, Darwinian Evolution explains it all and we need seek no further for answers to the many mysterious and profound questions of life.

The popular purveyors of evolution such as Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking and others, dismiss our everyday encounters with design as — the “appearance” of design, but not real design, only an “illusion” of design — not the real experience of design experienced when you turn your television to your favorite show, or talk to your friend on your iPhone.

If you are uncertain, or you hold to a world view of materialism and evolution as holding the ultimate answers, I would encourage you to step back for a moment and take a deep breath — step out and take a risk to examine an alternative view. Examine the examples and thinking I give in the following pages, as well as seeking out your own examples. You can and should take this intellectual plunge initially in the privacy of your own mind — take whatever time is appropriate for you to stir those brain cells into a stirring of questioning. You will indeed take a risk in doing this … questioning your perhaps long standing beliefs … risking ridicule and censure, even from those close to you. It won’t be easy. … “

Click on the image below to take a look

http://www.blurb.com/b/7687777-just-thinking

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Asking the Right Questions:

Kinesin
(Click on the image or the following link)

Asking the Right Questions: My Visit to Brown University and MIT 

No – this was not my, AYFPs visit, but rather a fellow named Brian Miller.

Some excerpts:

“ … Several of the participants had never heard the evidence for design, so they were visibly struck by its weight and the enormity of its implications. The questions were particularly thoughtful, sincere, and relevant. They were also very common in such discussions, so I thought I would address each of them.  … “

“ … The students commented that they very much enjoyed the discussion, since they never hear the design perspective. And the vast majority wished to stay connected with the sponsoring groups for future conversations. If only all academics could learn to ask the right questions and demonstrate such open mindedness and such a desire for truth. … “

This article is quite fascinating. As the two excerpts point out, some (many?) students at these prestigious universities had never heard the design perspective as applied to biology and life. This is not surprising since the Darwinian evolutionists have had a censoring choke hold on such discussions for many years (see my article at: https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/ball-state-university-intelligent-design-my-7-disappointments/).

So it is quite refreshing that perhaps a toe-hold has been established in the land of Ivy League (I live just a short bus ride from Yale).

I have to wonder though if these events were actually sanctioned by Brown and MIT, or were they off campus and sponsored by some rebellious truth seeking students.    Dr. Miller refers to ‘sponsoring groups ‘ so perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part to think that Ivy has actually stepped up to taking a look at Intelligent Design – but it seems that some of the students are looking.

Dr. Miller has a BA in Physics from MIT and a PhD in Physics from Duke.

 

Don Johnson – March 2017