Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.
Patriotism and Freedom — A Libertarian Defense of National Sovereignty
Philip Vander Elst
Three quarters of a century ago, when Britain was fighting for her life and the freedom of Europe, no important body of opinion would have questioned the value of patriotism or the importance of preserving and cherishing our nationhood as a focus of resistance to Nazi totalitarianism. Pride in our heritage, our sense of connection with the past and with the achievements of our forebears, were not only second nature to millions of people in the Britain of 1940, but were widely shared throughout the English-speaking world and helped to mobilise opinion against Hitler. Men and women in the United States and the British Dominions drew strength and inspiration in these years of crisis from their common historical and cultural roots, and these were celebrated in literature and song, on the screen and printed page, from one end of the world to the other. Penguin Books, to cite a typical example, published two anthologies during this period — Portrait of England and Forever Freedom — which are a treasure trove of prose and verse celebrating our Island story. They sing the praises of our countryside and institutions, our traditions and people, in the words of Shakespeare and Milton, Emerson and Whittier, Burke and Jefferson, and countless others.
Today, however, such sentiments strike a jarring note and are generally ridiculed by so-called “liberal” opinion as outdated, narrow-minded, and even (in the eyes of some) “racist.” We are told, instead, that the nation-state is an anachronism, and that truly enlightened people should embrace, as a long-term objective, the supranationalist vision of world government. In the meantime, it is argued, rather than clinging nostalgically to the idea of national sovereignty, the preservation of peace and international co-operation requires, in the case of Europe, continued progress towards the establishment of a single supranational European State. To quote the words of Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian), written in the 1930s, and prominently displayed in the Visitor Centre of the European Parliament building in Brussels:
National sovereignty is the root cause of the most crying evils of our time and of the steady march of humanity back to tragic disaster and barbarism. . . . The only final remedy for this supreme and catastrophic evil of our time is a federal union of the people.
This paper accepts none of these assertions. It will argue, on the contrary, that the drive to abolish national sovereignty and create a European State, and the ideal of world government, represent a betrayal of the liberal internationalist tradition and are a serious threat to the long term survival of freedom and democracy. True internationalism does not, like the European Union, seek to create new structures of State power to rule over previously independent nations. Rather, it embodies and expresses a spirit of generous sympathy and co-operation between sovereign countries, based on mutual respect for each other’s traditions, institutions, and liberties. Far from requiring the destruction of patriotism, liberal internationalism recognises the vital role it plays in binding together and sustaining free societies. This paper will also argue that the widespread belief that nationalism is the “root cause” of war and “the most crying evils of our time,” is historically inaccurate, philosophically confused, and politically naïve. And finally, to counter the common charge that “Brexiters” and other opponents of European integration are anti-European xenophobes, this paper will argue that contrary to decades of propaganda from the E.U. and its supporters, the true glory of Europe, and the secret of her creativity and dynamism as a civilisation, has lain in decentralisation and diversity rather than in size and empire.
The Link Between Patriotism, Nationhood, and Internationalism
To begin to understand the libertarian internationalist case for patriotism and national sovereignty, travel back in time to a political meeting on an autumn day in late Victorian England. There, in a speech at Dartford, in Kent, on 2nd October 1886, Lord Randolph Churchill emphasised the liberating role Britain had played in European history since the 16th century:
The sympathy of England with liberty, and with the freedom and independence of communities and nationalities . . . is of ancient origin, and has become the traditional direction of our foreign policy. . . . It was mainly English effort which rescued Germany and the Netherlands from the despotism of King Philip II of Spain, and after him from that of Louis XIV of France. It was English effort which preserved the liberties of Europe from the desolating tyranny of Napoleon.
And, “In our own times,” he concluded
. . . our own nation has done much, either by direct intervention or by energetic moral support, to establish upon firm foundations the freedom of Italy and of Greece.
Had he not subsequently died at such a tragically young age, Lord Randolph could have completed his 1886 summary of Britain’s liberating role in European history by noting that together with her allies, and under the leadership of his own son, she freed the European continent from the scourge of Nazism and Fascism in 1945.
Some years before that speech of Lord Randolph Churchill’s in Dartford, a similar note was struck by an older Victorian contemporary, J. R. Wreford (1800-1881), who wrote a famous poem containing these memorable lines:
Lord, while for all mankind we pray,
Of every clime and coast,
O hear us for our native land,
The land we love the most. . . .
Here, then, we have two typical expressions of 19th century British patriotism — a speech and a poem — both of which testify eloquently to the fact that love for one’s own country in no way implies a lack of regard or sympathy for the cultures, institutions, patriotic loyalties or interests of other nations, just as our love for our families does not prevent us developing good relationships with our friends and neighbours, or indeed with strangers. That this should be the case ought not to surprise us, despite all the politically correct globalist and pro-E.U. propaganda about the supposedly “selfish” and “bigoted” nature of “nationalism.”
Whilst it is true that human sympathy and feelings of solidarity are naturally strongest when they reflect a sense of common interest and identity rooted in shared values and a common heritage, it does not mean that they remain confined within those limits. We first develop our sense of connection with others within those “little platoons” about which Edmund Burke, the father of British Conservatism, waxed so lyrical in the 18th century — that is, within our families, localities, and regions. But then, by a natural process of experience and discovery, we go on to perceive our links with a wider community and learn to identify with the country and nation whose language and culture plays such a key role in shaping our minds and lives. If, in addition, we have grown up in a liberal democracy like Britain, we also learn to identify with other societies which share our commitment to liberty and the rule of law — especially if, like Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the United States, they are linked to us historically as former colonies. Human sympathy, in other words, grows naturally out of a widening circle of association, and the very fact that we love our country and are proud of its achievements and traditions, helps us to appreciate the patriotic sensibilities and feelings of other nationalities, and can bring out the best in us rather than the worst.
Patriotism Is a Noble Sentiment Compatible with Other Loyalties
As British Conservative philosopher and statesman, Arthur Balfour (1848-1930), put it long ago in his 1913 lecture on “Nationality and Home Rule”:
The sentiment of nationality is one of a group of such sentiments for which there is unfortunately no common name. Loyalties to a country, a Party, a constitution, a national sovereign, a tribal chief, a church, a pact, a creed, are characteristic specimens of the class. They may be ill-directed; they often are. Nevertheless it is such loyalties that make human society possible; they do more, they make it noble. To them we owe it that a man will sacrifice ease, profit, life itself, for something which wholly transcends his merely personal interests. Therefore, whether mistaken or not, there is in them always a touch of greatness. But it has to be observed that the kind of loyalty we call patriotism, though it expresses a simple feeling, need have no exclusive application. It may embrace a great deal more than a man’s country or a man’s race. It may embrace a great deal less. And these various patriotisms need not be, and should not be, mutually exclusive.
It is therefore no coincidence, that this Scottish and British patriot should have felt a generous sympathy for the national aspirations of the Jews after centuries of suffering and exile. It is not strange that he should have lent his name to that famous declaration of 1917 (the “Balfour Declaration”) promising British support for the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.[i] Nor is it surprising, as that quote from Lord Randolph Churchill revealed, that patriotic 19th century liberal England openly defended and supported the emerging liberal and national movements in Italy, Greece, and Belgium, as an earlier England had fought side by side with the Dutch against the imperial armies of Philip II of Spain in the latter half of the 16th century. It was patriotic empathy, a belief in liberty, and a sense of reverence and gratitude for her matchless heritage, which moved the poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) to participate in Greece’s struggle for independence from the tyranny of the Ottoman Empire. That was the spirit which inspired such famous lines as these, from his poem, “The Isles of Greece”:
The mountains look on Marathon –
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persian’s grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
Not only, then, is it absurd on a theoretical level to regard patriotism and loyalty to the nation-state as the chief cause of hatred and conflict between peoples and countries, but it is also historically illiterate. With the exception of tribal conflicts within primitive communities and continents, more wars have been caused by religious and ideological divisions and by the dynastic ambitions of powerful monarchs and princes than by the forces of popular nationalism. The wars of the Middle Ages in Europe, for instance, were usually either family quarrels between contending monarchs related to each other by blood or marriage, or struggles for power between these monarchs and their rebellious barons, or between the Pope, representing the Church, and the Holy Roman Emperor or some other secular ruler. Later on, the earthquake of the Reformation ushered in a century and a half of bloody religious strife between Catholics and Protestants, whilst Central Europe and the Balkans were the scene of a recurring conflict between Islam and Christianity, echoing in its fierce intensity the costly battles in Palestine between Christian and Saracen during the early Crusades.
It is therefore not only untrue to portray nationalism as the inevitable or principal source of division and armed conflict in the world; it is also unfair, since some wars have actually been provoked by attempts to suppress rather than advance the cause of national self-determination. As one modern historian and critic of European integration, professor Alan Sked, has pointed out:
. . . nationalism has many advantages: it reconciles classes; smoothes over regional differences; and gives ordinary people a sense of community, pride, and history. European nationalists are themselves seeking precisely those benefits from “The European Ideal.” It is therefore ironic that they should blame nation-state nationalists exclusively for war. For a strict account of modern European history would show that it was largely the refusal of supranational, dynastic states — the Ottoman, Habsburg and Napoleonic empires — to allow for national self-determination which brought about wars. Likewise, in the 20th century, it was the Kaiser’s bid for world power . . . and Hitler’s racial mumbo-jumbo which led to world conflict. In short, it has been the apparent redundancy of the nation-state and the yearning for continental power-bases which in previous centuries has more than once led to the negation of “European Civilisation.”[ii]
Tyranny, Not Nationalism, Is the Common Factor Behind Most Wars
Here we come to the real heart of the matter, which is that the chief cause of hatred and war is not the existence of national diversity and sovereignty, but what the Bible describes as “fallen” (or in secular language, imperfect) human nature. “Out of the heart come evil thoughts,” said Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 15:19), so when flawed human nature is tempted and corrupted by excessive concentrations of power, the inevitable results are as disastrous for international relations as they are inimical to peace and freedom within individual countries. What this suggests, then, is that the true lesson of history, as professor Sked’s analysis implies, is that it has been the appetite for power and dominion of tyrannical rulers and oligarchies, which has been the common factor behind so many wars. Furthermore, the bloodiest of these conflicts have been those where that predatory desire for power has been reinforced by intolerant and aggressive ideologies that have had nothing to do with patriotism or nationalism in the ordinary sense.
The millions who died, for instance, in the great European and world conflagrations of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and in those of our own more recent and terrible 20th century, were the victims of revolutionary Jacobinism, Bonapartism, National Socialism and Communism — of movements and ideologies which transcended ordinary national loyalties and appealed instead, or as much, to race, class, hero-worship, or utopianism. Consequently, the second great lesson they teach us is precisely the opposite one to that drawn by European federalists and other advocates of supranationalism and world government. Far from being the key to opening the Pandora Box of war, national sovereignty and loyalty to the nation-state is one of the essential pillars of a free and peaceful international order, since it represents an institutional structure and a focus of sentiment which is decentralised, and therefore an effective obstacle to the construction of transnational totalitarian power blocs and ideologies. Moreover, by inculcating a love of country in the hearts of men and women, patriotism and a sense of shared nationhood helps to motivate people to defend their inherited rights and freedoms, and so mobilises powerful emotional forces against actual and potential oppression. What else saved Britain in 1940, motivated the Resistance movements in Nazi occupied Europe, and eventually defeated Hitler? What else motivated the people of Poland to resist Soviet and Communist tyranny when their country lay imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain during those long and dark years between 1945 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989?
Whilst it may be understandable that many sincere advocates of the European ideal of “ever closer union” fail to see the link between patriotism and freedom, and pride themselves on what they believe to be their superior motivation and knowledge of history, it is nonetheless ironic that they seem unaware of the degree to which their supranationalist vision of a European State disregards the insights of one of the greatest of all European political philosophers, Charles de Montesquieu (1689 – 1755), who drew attention to the way in which, unlike Asia, the geography and topography of Europe erected natural barriers to despotism because they favoured the physical dispersal of nations, and therefore the decentralisation of power. As he put it in his famous treatise, “De l’Esprit des lois”:
In Asia they have always had great empires: in Europe these could never subsist. Asia has larger plains; it is cut into much more extensive divisions by mountains and seas . . . in Europe, the natural division forms many nations of moderate extent, in which the ruling by laws is not incompatible with the maintenance of the state. . . . It is this which has formed a genius for liberty, that renders every part extremely difficult to be subdued and subjected by a foreign power.
It is hard to imagine, reading those words, that Montesquieu would have failed to welcome Britain’s historic 2016 Referendum vote to leave the European Union, with its encouragement to other European citizens to resist the illiberal goal of ever closer European integration.
Sovereignty, Liberty and the Problem of Mass Immigration
The connection between national sovereignty and liberty is highly relevant to the perennially vexed and controversial issue of immigration. Politically correct “liberals” always imply that the desire to restrict immigration is morally suspect or reprehensible because it supposedly stems from a xenophobic dislike of foreigners, and is therefore bigoted and racist. Even when political pressures force them to acknowledge people’s legitimate concerns about the impact of mass uncontrolled immigration on schools, hospitals, housing, and transport, they do so reluctantly, always wanting to change the subject to the need for more government action to create jobs and improve public services. Yet whilst it is obviously important to combat racists and welcome the positive contributions made by so many immigrants to our economies and societies, there is a strong and principled moral and libertarian case for acknowledging the right of individual countries to control their borders and the flow of migrants seeking to cross them.
In the first place, it should be obvious that a country’s right to control its borders and restrict immigration is an essential component of its national sovereignty. If it is not allowed to determine who is or is not permitted to cross its frontiers and settle within them, or become one of its citizens, it cannot maintain its distinctive national character or preserve its political independence. Consequently, if we value an international system in which political power is decentralised, we should recognise that mass uncontrolled migration threatens its institutional and cultural foundations, and should therefore be curbed.
A second and related argument is that liberal democracies cannot preserve their sovereignty, cultural unity, political institutions, and liberties, if they open their doors to too many migrants whose cultural affiliations, beliefs, and values are fundamentally at variance with those of a free society. This truth is particularly relevant to the vexed and politically sensitive question of mass migration from the Muslim world, especially within the context of the global rise and spread of radical militant Islam.
As the annual reports of international human rights monitoring organisations like Freedom House (based in New York) regularly reveal, most of the Islamic world is blighted by religious intolerance, sectarian violence, and political tyranny. Despite some welcome progress in some countries in recent years, women remain largely second-class citizens, freedom of thought and speech is non-existent or heavily restricted, and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities are generally trampled under foot. Some two million Christians, for example, have been driven out of their Middle East homelands over the past 20 years [iii]. But the greatest victims of all, of Muslim violence and intolerance, have been other Muslims. According to a 2007 study by American Harvard-trained scholar and Middle East expert, Daniel Pipes, and Professor Gunnar Heinsohn of the University of Bremen (where he heads the Raphael-Lemkin Institute for Comparative Genocide Research):
. . . some 11,000,000 Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, or 0.3 percent, died during the sixty years of fighting Israel, or just 1 out of every 315 Muslim fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent of the 11 million who perished were killed by fellow Muslims. [iv]
To highlight these facts, and the difficulties they pose for European countries struggling to control immigration from the Muslim world, is not to indulge in “Islamophobia,” but to draw attention to a genuine problem widely acknowledged by liberal Muslims and human rights activists.
In March 2007, for example, a brave group of Muslim writers and intellectuals came together at a “Secular Muslim Summit” in St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.A., and issued a freedom manifesto called “The St. Petersburg Declaration.” This declared amongst other things that:
We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamophobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights. . . . We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid structures of orthodoxy. . . . [v]
In a similar vein, the liberal Muslim Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society declares in its mission statement that:
We believe that Islamic society has been held back by an unwillingness to subject its beliefs, laws, and practices to critical examination, by a lack of respect for the rights of the individual, and by an unwillingness to tolerate alternative viewpoints or to engage in constructive dialogue. [vi]
Against this background, is it really “racist” or illiberal for Western governments to seek to limit the entry into their countries of large waves of migrants which, because of the places and cultures so many of them come from, will inevitably include a potentially growing minority of Muslims who advocate sharia law, do not recognise freedom of conscience or speech, treat women as inferior beings, and feel no loyalty or attachment to their non-Muslim host communities? Even if one ignores the growing threat of Islamist terrorism, and the ease with which its practitioners and supporters can now enter Europe in the guise of economic migrants or asylum seekers, are not existing and settled Muslim immigrant communities as threatened by the rise of radical Islam as the rest of us — especially young liberated Muslim women seeking higher education and a choice of husband and career?
The Link Between National Sovereignty and Personal Freedom
The libertarian case for national sovereignty concludes, finally, with the observation that since peace, harmony, and wealth creation primarily depend on the voluntary co-operation and enterprise of private individuals, organisations, and businesses, that is, on all the myriad relationships, activities, and institutions of civil society outside the State, a peaceful and harmonious world requires that the coercive power of government be kept to a minimum, and maximum scope be given to personal initiative, effort, and creativity. That may seem a utopian dream given the frailty of human nature and the prevalence of so many false ideas and ideologies, but such a world is more likely to become a reality (at least in part) if its existing free societies retain (or regain) their sovereignty and independence, trading freely with each other and co-operating, on an inter-governmental basis, in defensive alliances and the pursuit of common solutions to regional and global problems. In such an international environment of competing tax systems, centres of power, and legal jurisdictions, connected to each other by free trade and travel, and all the panoply of modern communications, private individuals and independent institutions will always have more room to breathe, and greater freedom of action, than if they are imprisoned within a world of monopolistic supranational regional power blocs, or worst of all, some monopolistic system of global government.
The single most important historical fact about the 20th century is that more people, 170 million of them, died in internal repression under tyrannical rulers and governments, than in all its wars combined.[vii] Bearing this in mind, no true friend of liberty should have any hesitation in opposing the misguided idealism of those who believe that abolishing national sovereignty will lead to a better world.
[i]Readers who may question the moral legitimacy of the Balfour Declaration and Zionism in general, should read my web paper, In Defence of Israel: key facts about the Arab-Israeli conflict (32 pp.), available at http://www.themoralliberal.com/topics/authors/tml-contributors/philip-vander-elst.
[ii] Professor Alan Sked, Good Europeans? (London: the Bruges Group, Occasional Paper 4, November 1989).
[iii] For more details see: op cit, In Defence of Israel, p. 26.
[iv]For full details go to http://www.danielpipes.org/4990/arab-israeli-fatalities-rank-49th.
[vi]Ibid for further details.
[vii] For fuller details, see: R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (Transaction Publishers, USA, 1996), and The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press, U.S.A., 1999).
Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit . . .
Donald Trump the Scrapper
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
It’s not a fluke that Donald Trump became the nominee of the Republican Party. He’s an opportunist who took advantage of a separation in loyalty between Republican voters and elected Republicans. Republican voters have stopped trusting elected Republicans.
Eric Cantor is the quintessential example. He rose to the second-highest position of leadership in the House, but he seemed more attuned to lobbyists than constituents, and so he lost a primary election. And Eric Cantor proved the voters correct by cashing in. He didn’t wait to finish his term. He immediately became the vice chairman of the investment bank Moelis & Company with a salary of $3.4 million.
It’s not obvious how his lawyer’s training fits him for such a position. Apparently the bank is interested in using his connections within Congress and his knowledge of how the system works — he’s become a lobbyist.
As the Obama administration went on, and as the midterm elections continued to swell the number of Republicans and deplete the Democrats, Republican voters watched as elected Republicans made a pretense of opposition. The telltale surrenders always came during the budget battles. Republicans caved because they were afraid of being blamed for a government shutdown.
Every “wise” political observer in the elite media, including conservatives, always said the Republicans couldn’t avoid being cast as cold-hearted villains. The national debt has risen to almost $20 trillion because President Obama has pushed for increased spending and the Republicans have failed to restrain him.
Republican accommodations on illegal immigration allowed Donald Trump to rally voters to him. Republican voters are frustrated that “sanctuary cities” exist.
Trump was the only candidate brash enough to raise the issue.
I believe many elected Republicans are afraid of being called racists if they dare to oppose illegal immigration, and I suspect they are also acquiescing to wealthy donors who benefit by depressed wages for unskilled and semi-skilled labor.
Jeb Bush’s comment that entering America illegally was “an act of love” was probably fatal to his campaign for president, as its appeasing quality is obvious.
It’s necessary to understand the constant pressure and the daily harassment Republicans face from an army of hostile media and the debased and unscrupulous methods of Democrat operatives. Too many Republicans in Washington have lost heart. They don’t believe they can win, so they make the most of their circumstances and become comfortable with the perks of office.
There’s been a failure of Republican leadership. Too many Republicans have surrendered before the aggression of grievance politics.
Even in Stillwater, Minnesota, in a social group I’m a member of — a group that has nothing to do with politics — the pervasive influence of grievance politics can be felt. In the Twin Cities there have been two shootings by police of black men that Black Lives Matter has protested.
The leader of our group spoke to us about “white privilege,” implying that the justice system is pervasively racist. I opposed his comment but was hard-pressed, as the most recent victim, Philando Castile, appears completely innocent and had previously been stopped by police while driving many times. I persevered, but I don’t believe I changed anyone’s mind.
Later I remembered the purpose of “stop and frisk” police policy is to protect the vulnerable in high crime areas, and it’s effective in suppressing violence. The police should be aggressive in high crime neighborhoods. Of course Black Lives Matter isn’t protesting the shooting deaths of black children who innocent bystanders of the drug warfare in black neighborhoods of Chicago.
With the recent assassinations of police officers across the nation it’s understandable how the officer in this instance made the wrong split-second, life and death decision, but the sympathy rightly goes to the victim.
The left is very good at presenting victims, and the media cherry-picks stories that feed the grievance narrative. The idea is easily introduced that the police are oppressing blacks, and too many Americans agree. The answer to the charge is complex and must rely on facts that aren’t easy to convey in a heated argument.
The issue devolves to the question of crime and violence in black neighborhoods. The left blames social injustice and racism. The right points to failed social policy, fractured families, absent fathers, and self-aggrandizing black leaders, such as Al Sharpton, who would rather inflame grievance than encourage reconciliation.
The left stokes furious emotion, while the right replies with reasoned argument. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the self-righteous, browbeating assault of Democrats using grievance arguments.
Donald Trump’s success among Republican voters is not hard to understand. He has been courageous. He’s not afraid of being called a racist.
Donald Trump is not a perfect candidate, but he is the nominee. As we conservatives advance our principles and arguments we should emulate his courage. The dreadful prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming president should be clarifying. *
The Program of Our Annual Dinner Has Been Set
Jigs and Jo Ann Gardner will give a PowerPoint presentation based on their book Gardens of Use & Delight, which is about their transformation of a derelict farm in the wilds of Cape Breton Island into a beautiful farm and landscape, concentrating on the way the practical problems they faced changed them from socialists into conservatives.
The dinner will be held at the Lowell Inn in downtown Stillwater on Thursday, November 10. We will be gathering together at 6:30 p.m. I will be sending a letter to our membership soon with a more detailed announcement.
The date has been set with the occasion of the presidential election in mind — we will be able to celebrate or commiserate as the case may be.
We have a wonderful time year after year with each other. Please consider coming. *
The following is a summary of the August/September 2016 issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “Donald Trump the Scrapper,” considers how a division between elected Republicans and Republican voters led to the nomination of Donald Trump.
Herbert London, in “The Road to War,” points out that the West is already in a world war with radical Islam and that only America has the ability to lead; in “The New America,” he writes that the director of the FBI’s decision not indict Hillary Clinton’s obvious transgressions has diminished the rule of law in America; in “Brexit Revisited” he sees the British vote to leave the E.U. as a positive assertion of “sovereign will, independence, and democratic zeal.”
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “Orlando Highlights the Failure of Government to Identify and Monitor Potential Killers,” points out that the FBI has repeatedly failed to act effectively even though they identified and investigated men who later carried out a terrorist attacks — he questions whether FBI procedures are adequate; in “Free Speech Is Under Attack — Both at Home and Abroad,” he makes the case that if we lose the right to free speech other rights are sure to be lost also.
Paul Kengor, in “The Preferred Enemy Is Always to the Right,” shows that the radical Left in American blamed Christian Conservatives for the shooting in Orlando, not militant Islam; in “Hillary Clinton’s Church Problem,” he points out that the United Methodist Church — Hillary Clinton’s Church — has recently reaffirmed traditional marriage and discouraged abortion; in “Trump vs. Reagan: What Is a Conservative?” he provides a good definition of conservatism and applies it to Donald Trump’s professions.
Mark Hendrickson, in “Signs of the Times: Telling Statements and Factoids,” gleans items from the news which epitomize why the nation is such a mess; in “Nineteen Freedoms Fraying Away,” he cites egregious instances of government arrogance and abuse; in “Why Should Ethan Couch Get a ‘Mulligan’ for Manslaughter?” he explores the discovery of a novel legal defense: “affluenza.”
In “What Has the Great Society Wrought? — Poverty and Broken Families,” Timothy S. Goeglein compares the vision and rhetoric of the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson with the dismal reality of big government intervention.
Philip Vander Elst, in “Patriotism and Freedom — A Libertarian Defense of National Sovereignty,” makes the case that — in the context of the vote by the British people to leave the E.U. — far from being the principle cause of war, nationalism has been the primary bulwark for peace, freedom, and civility.
David Hein, in “Ronald Reagan and George C. Marshall: A Cold War Affinity,” shows how President Reagan’s foreign policy added to the Marshall Plan proposed by President Truman’s secretary of state. Both Reagan and Marshall put their faith in fostering in postwar Europe liberty, market freedoms, democracy, strong property rights, and the rule of law as a means to check the Soviet Union.
In “Letters from a Conservative Farmer — Rituals of Hospitality,” Jigs Gardner reveals the quirky social strategy behind the courtesy of serving guests tea and cookies as practiced by old-time Cape Bretoners.
In “Writers for Conservatives, 60: A World War II Trio,” Jigs Gardner presents three histories that read like novels by the novelist/historian Len Deighton.
The whole expanse of the blue sky mixes
With the trees in the park where the people
Come for these few days of the season as
This is the time of the cherry blossoms
It’s the singularity of the pink
Flowering that touches the heart with a
Color that points the year because now is
When we celebrate the lifting of the
Winter cold and the returning of warm
Breezes and the stirring of growth with a
Strengthening sun and it’s natural to
Rejoice and cherish the moment of the
Cherry blooms because it may rain and the
Blossoms may separate and so vanish.
It’s quite natural
when the sun strengthens again
when the cherries bloom
for people to rejoice and
create a ceremony.
It’s ornate on the hill overlooking
The valley just below the historic
Courthouse and the memorial for those
Of the First Minnesota who died at
Gettysburg with its thick layering of
Brown paint on its carriage and with its dense
Coating of black the cannon seems a bit
Unreal but I’m impressed by its size and
Its design because there’s nothing graceful
About it because it’s meant for slaughtering
Soldiers and perhaps it’s the distance in
Time and from a battlefield that creates
A ceremonial vibe but to me
It represents ruthless brutality.
The bronze statue of
the union soldier with his
bayonet fixed is
advancing and concealing
the terror he must have felt.
The blooming crabapple tree is peaking
And its blossoms are streaming in the wind
While other flowering trees and hedges
Are opening and creating such a
Captivating sight as I’m driving in
Town and I’m wondering why this slice of
Nature affects me so as mosquitoes
And wood ticks are as natural as the
Cherry blooms as common as a bout of
Frenzied thinking my mind endures and so
Maybe it’s better not to question but
To appreciate the periodic
Appearance of beauty on the earth as
It blooms and then vanishes in the wind.
I can do without
the mosquitoes and wood ticks
but it is my choice
to overlook the pests and
be enamored with beauty.
Supposedly a dog’s nose is hundreds
Of times better than ours and when looking
About I see the people who’ve mastered
Their dogs walking together side by side
While other pairs aren’t so harmonious
And I wonder how the walk would go with
The dog in charge because he’s not wedded
To straight lines going from here to there he’s
Nosing the delectable enticements
Of the earth and we’re oblivious and
We require such pitiful restraint of
Our creatures — how well would you do if we
Put a leash on you and dangled tempting
Aromas out of reach and marched on home?
Are we really the
bestest of friends or are we
and parsimonious as our
doggies obey commandments?
His smile and youth are very appealing
As the uniform and the cocked hat could
Indicate anyone going to a
World War and his name is Billy Spargo
And he looks like any teenager does
Though I know on a bombing raid over
Germany he was killed because my dad
Told me as they were friends in Australia
And the burst of tears surprises as dad
Said he died because the Allies needed
A show of strength — the smile disintegrates
Distance and time and decades later my
Dad mourned and as my dad has also died
The story of the photo is passing.
Once the people go
the stories of their photos
go along with them —
we are left with artifacts
but the memories are gone.
The eagle sways and drifts in currents of
Air skimming and unconcerned about the
Direction of the wind as it’s hunting
And following the movement of fish in
The water as the buffeting of wind and
The adjusting of wings and tail feathers
Comes as naturally as breathing and
If it chose instantaneously it
Would drop and strike with its talons to crush
And tear with a mighty grip and so death
Happens suddenly in the world and as
A symbol for comprehending eyes the
Eagle is a magnificent image —
Everything I know could instantly end.
There’s night and day and
spring summer fall and winter
there’s youth and aging
and my preoccupations —
just temporarily so.
Letters from a Conservative Farmer —
Photos on My Wall
I have photographs and printed cuttings and a couple of reproductions of paintings by Eakins and Sheeler on the wall beside my desk. The photos are of Jo Ann, our children, old friends, nothing surprising there. Nor, if you know my literary and historical interests, do the photos of Whitman, Cummings, Thoreau, William Carlos Williams, or the many photos of Lincoln surprise. A verse by Richard Burton which begins “Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause,” and Paul Horgan’s “Credo,” which ends “Work to the limit/Submit with courage” — these present no mysteries. There are, however, four photos whose presence is inexplicable. I have had them on the wall beside my desk wherever I have lived for the last 50 years. I know nothing of the people or the scenes beyond what I can deduce from their appearance. My guess is that they date from the 1880s to the 1920s. I do not know how I acquired them, but I can guess. I have been a haunter of second-hand bookstores and old curiosity shops since I was a boy, and I imagine I found them in used books or in trays of miscellaneous papers and trinkets.
One is a postcard. It has a title—“The Mill”—written in small white letters down in the left foreground, and in the opposite corner it says “J M Perry Madison Wis.” I must have picked this up as long ago as the mid ’50s when I was a graduate student at the University. In the left background there is a dam, 20 or 25 feet high, and next to it, filling the center background, is a large dark building, obviously the mill. Besides a loading dock on the right side of the mill stands a white horse hitched to what looks like the sort of closed wagon once used to deliver bottled milk. All this is at a distance of at least 50 yards. The foreground is the dirt road to the mill, intervening ground, and the millstream. It is the horse that makes the picture live, that gives it a reality it would not have without it, that makes the scene seem poignant to me, well over a century since the picture was taken.
That was a postcard, but the rest are simply photographs. The next one is the jolly one, as I always think of it. On top of a wide pile of dirt, characters are arranged from left to right: a teenaged boy holding a spaniel on his lap, a man ditto, two little boys, another man with a spaniel sitting up so he partly hides the man’s face. Standing some 15 feet behind them are two men. Everyone except one little boy is smiling. All are dressed in work clothes (one of the men in the rear wears a tie), the rough working class garb of the late 19th century. The little boys wear shorts and long, disheveled socks. Behind everything there are buildings indicating a street, and in the left background there is an open building such as one would see in a park as a bandstand.
The good humor of the characters in this photo is manifest; even the posing of the dogs is part of it. The whole thing seems impromptu, and I shall never know more about it than I can deduce from its appearance. But I like it — I like its spirit.
The third picture is of a man in his late 30s or early 40s and a boy in his mid- to late teens, both unsmiling, standing on top of a grave: a stone structure several feet long, two feet high and three broad. From the near end there is a raised stone five feet high with an unreadable inscription. The man is standing on its base, holding on to it, while the boy stands on the stone base behind it. Father and son, it seems, and from the clothing I would guess the time to be the early ’20s. There is a slight air of shabbiness about the man with his badly scuffed unpolished shoes, but with their ties and jackets and the boy’s high collar they have middle class pretensions. The boy makes a good impression, standing straight and tall, but the man — ah, I wouldn’t trust him for a moment.
The last picture is of a woman and a man sitting together a few feet from a wall with tall flowers in front of it. The woman, with an elaborate coiffure, wears a long dress and is sitting in a chair with a slight smile on her face. The man, wearing a suit, must be sitting on a high stool because the top of her head is only level with his bow tie. He sits relaxed, hands loosely clasped on his knee, and he gazes at the camera without expression. With his neatly combed dark hair, he seems younger than the woman.
So that is my little gallery. “The Mill” is no mystery, and perhaps because of its composition with the horse, it is my favorite. But the others are a mystery: Who took the pictures and why? What are their stories? They were caught on film in long ago moments, and all that remains now are their images and my inadequate impressions.
I guess that most of us, if we think about our lives, imagine them as narratives, continuous stories with some ups and downs, generally gathering coherence as we mature. Some of the story, we think, is vivid and dramatic, some is humdrum, but if we concentrate we are sure we can make a coherent narrative, a sort of memoir. I do not think so. I rather think that our lives in retrospect are a series of snapshots like those on my wall, each containing moments of our lives that are, in those instants, fully lived.
It is a mistake to think of the pictures on my wall as insignificant byblows, as chance occurrences beside the real flow of those lives — no, there is as much of their lives in these pictures as in any other record. We know that they live, that the scenes were real, that the horse stood patiently beside the mill, that the dogs struggled in the grip of the boys, that the flowers against the wall behind the couple would bloom. Those lives are caught for a moment, but life flows on around them, and they, too, will join the flow as soon as the picture is taken. Meanwhile, I honor those moments by their presence on my wall. *
The following is an excerpt from a satirical novel currently being written by Ray Sinneck, which he hopes to publish later this year. In this chapter, a fictional Sunday morning talk show host, Jesse Gutwell, conducts an interview with a transsexual named “Jo.”
We’ll be back in a minute with our next guest, Josephine Joseph, a transsexual who has found herself embroiled in four simultaneous lawsuits. But first let’s hear from our sponsors.
The broadcast cut to a sequence of three commercials. Then Gutwell came back on, seated with his next guest, who was dressed in a somewhat tight fitting skirt and with a copious layer of facial make-up. Gutwell began: “Good morning Ms. Joseph,” He thought his guest had the general appearance of a woman, but with a certain indefinable twist about her facial expression.
She quickly responded in a voice that came from a slightly lower register than might be expected for a woman:
Everyone calls me Jo.
OK Jo, why don’t you tell us how you became involved in all these lawsuits. It sounds like you have become a rather litigious force of nature.
Well, for most of my life I’ve identified with girls and women, and I eventually came to realize that I am a woman trapped in a man’s body. So I decided to transform into the woman I was meant to be in the first place. I am part way into the process. I’ve been taking hormones and working on my appearance, and I plan to have the sex-change operation to become fully female when I am ready. I also became a born-again Christian while all this was happening. I found Jesus, and He has helped me with all the challenges I have been facing.
Gutwell asked a clarifying question:
So you still possess male genitals, but in time you will have those surgically removed, is that right?
Yes, that’s right.
OK, then tell us about this first lawsuit against a baker who refuses to bake a cake for your planned wedding.
Well, my partner and future husband, Billy, and I, were excited to start planning our wedding, even though it is about a year off. We went to a bakery in my hometown and after hearing the story of our relationship, the owner said he could not in good conscience bake the cake we wanted. We asked for a cake with a plastic Jesus on top. He said he is an atheist and feels it would be a violation of his beliefs to provide such a cake. We have sued him on the grounds that he is discriminating against us because of our sexual orientation. He claims it is a religious liberty issue, but we don’t believe him. We think he’s just another intolerant bigot who won’t recognize that other people with alternative lifestyles deserve the same considerations as anyone else.
And is this because you would be considered a lesbian couple when you get married?
Yes and no. You see, Billy was born a female, but plans to have a sex change operation in the other direction and become a man. So after that occurs, we will be just another heterosexual couple, much like you and your wife, Mr. Gutwell.
“I see,” Jesse replied, his right eyebrow tickling his hairline.
On the date of our marriage, I guess we would technically be a lesbian couple, since I will look even more like a woman than I do now, except I will still have male genitals, and Billy will have begun the process of transforming into a man, but will still probably look more like a woman and will still possess female genitals. Nevertheless, the law of the land protects our rights even if we are considered a same-sex couple. So we should be entitled to the service anyone else might receive. You know, we could certainly buy a plastic Jesus ourselves at the dollar store and put it on the cake, but the owner refuses to provide the cake at all.
Gutwell probed further, “And what about the second law suit?”
We are also suing the church we joined, the Magisterium, because the priest there is now refusing to conduct the wedding ceremony. He says that same-sex marriages are not condoned within the prescripts of their church doctrine. I pointed out at that in reality, we would be a heterosexual couple, based on our genitalia at the time of marriage, and after we both complete our surgical procedures we would continue to be a heterosexual couple. But he is objecting to marrying a couple who both wish to wear wedding gowns at the time of marriage. You see, Billy wanted this to be his last fling as a woman.
Gutwell rolled his eyes:
Wow, this is getting a bit confusing, Jo. But I understand your dilemma. And the third lawsuit, what is that all about?
Well that one is a gender discrimination suit against Poldies Gym. I’ve been a member there for several years. You know, I like to work out on the elliptical to stay in shape. Recently, I made the switch to the ladies’ locker room and when I went in to use the showers, all the women in there ran out screaming when they saw my penis. I tried to explain that it was just a temporary condition, but it was no use. Then a rather burly looking woman came into the shower and threw me against one of the benches and I ended up needing to get some minor stitches in my forehead. She was so butch — let me tell you. The bottom line here is that we still have many sexists, bigots, and misogynists in this country and I’m trying to take a stand against all the injustice.
Well good luck with that one. It could be a tricky case — male genitals in a female shower and all that. OK, let’s turn to the last of your legal actions. What is the basis of the final lawsuit?
This one is really the tricky one. I’m suing my surgeon for racial discrimination. I think he’s clearly a racist. He originally agreed to do the sex-change operation, based on my timetable, and my progress with becoming a woman in my day-to-day life. I wanted to get comfortable being accepted as a woman first. I asked the surgeon if he would also do Billy’s operation. He initially said he would. You see, our plan was to have my penis surgically removed and attached to Billy, who would become a complete man with my help. And Billy would have her breasts removed and surgically attached to me, so that I could become a full-bodied woman. But when the surgeon found out Billy was African-American, he said he would not do the operation. His excuse was that he didn’t think a white penis against a black body and black breasts on a white body would be aesthetically acceptable. Billy and I just don’t agree with that. If we’re OK with the result, then he should be as well. We think he’s just another racist and we plan to bring him to justice also.
Gutwell was trembling slightly as he grabbed for his coffee cup.
That certainly is an interesting story. But aren’t there problems with tissue rejection and that sort of thing?
No, we have the same blood type and it should work just fine. Of course Billy will have to also have some sort of implant to make his newly acquired equipment more functional, if you know what I mean, but I was told it is all possible.
Gutwell wrapped it up by saying:
We’ll have to follow the progress of your legal battles. I hope you’ll come back to our program and give us an update.
As they switched to another commercial break, Gutwell couldn’t shake the thought of his guest and her partner in bed together after their operation. Images related to an old Oreo cookie joke briefly danced in his head. But he quickly dispelled the thought. He knew the Thought Police were probably watching the show, and they could tell from a person’s facial expression if someone was having a racist or sexist or homophobic thought. Then he’d be in big trouble. Even though he was a staunch Liberal, he knew he had to be careful. *
Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit . . .
Organizing Communities for Republicans
Barry MacDonald — Editorial
Going Red — The Two Million Voters Who Will Elect the Next President — and How Conservatives Can Win Them, by Ed Morrissey. Crown Forum, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, ISBN 978-1-101-90566-1, pp. 230, $24 hardbound.
From where will the revival of self-confident patriotism come?
Maybe it would be helpful for the Republican National Committee (RNC) to employ people to be in communities and become a presence at local gatherings — creating relationships between the Republican Party and local individuals.
Local Republicans, employed by the RNC, could pinpoint the issues local voters care about so much better than a national presidential campaign whose only point of contact with voters is the repetition of thirty-second ads through mass media.
Why shouldn’t Republicans mount voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote operations similar to the efforts of Barack Obama and Acorn-like organizations, as Democrat success at the local level is undeniable?
And it is a good idea to reach out to young people, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians because they don’t know who Republicans are, and so they tend to believe the nasty stories the Democrats and the media spin about Republicans. Better communication between young people and minorities, who are presently strangers with Republicans, would certainly improve mutual understanding.
The RNC should be well funded and never idle, because candidates come and go but the contest between Democrats and Republicans is ongoing.
Ed Morrissey has written some good ideas in Going Red, but some of his conclusions are questionable, as he seems to have surrendered to progressives on certain issues.
Morrissey does share a message of hope. The RNC, under the leadership of chairman Reince Priebus, is building a presidential turnout machine independent of presidential candidates. He told Morrissey:
At the end of 2014, I think we had over 4,200 paid employees. When I walked in the door here, we had less than eighty. [We hire] people from the communities that we want to influence, from the community to stay in the community, to then meet the metrics that we set. . . . That means not just necessarily sitting around talking about fracking and clean coal; it means having a pizza party, bringing a band in, once in a while giving hot dogs out and talking to people, and then going to community events. . . . If you’re not in the black and Hispanic communities hardly at all for four straight years, and then you go in and try to saturate those communities, certainly you’re going to do better than you did before. . . . [but] a level of trust that is built over time in order for things to change for your future election results to the positive. . . . [To counter dishonest attacks] if you don’t represent the community . . . you have no one that is there at the church festival on Sunday or the community event to say, hey wait a second, hang on — this is what Republicans believe.
Chairman Priebus is running a national presidential campaign and promoting the Republican Party as if these were local enterprises. If he can meet his goals with only 4,200 employees he will be creating a marvelously efficient organization. And he will be training the next generation of Republican politicians, activists, and strategists.
Morrissey’s passion for public affairs led him to blogging and to getting up daily early in the morning for years and commenting on events. He’s become a well-respected radio talk-show host and a columnist for daily newspapers. He’s skillful at taking complex data and doing analysis.
His goal in Going Red is to understand what went wrong for Republicans in 2008 and 2012. He analyses
. . . communities where Republicans went from winners in 2004 to losers in 2008 and 2012, focusing on one key county in each of seven states that lost Republicans the last two elections. . . . each state has counties that are stubbornly Republican or Democrat — but each one also has counties that either party can win. These handfuls of counties serve as bellwethers for the state, demonstrating the reach of national campaigns across the country. And in close elections, these battlegrounds become the difference in delivering their states’ votes to the victor.
The seven counties he examined are Hillsborough County, Florida; Hamilton County, Ohio; Wake County, North Carolina; Prince William County, Virginia; Brown County, Wisconsin; Jefferson County, Colorado; and Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.
The counties are broken down by history, family income, ethnicity, prevailing attitudes and community characteristics, employment characteristics, and the shifting inflow and outflow of people. Population shifts in these swing counties have transformed Republican bastions into “diverse microcosms of the U.S. electorate.” He writes that for Republicans to succeed they must adapt better strategies and messages.
In writing Going Red,Morrissey went to each county and interviewed more than a hundred activists, elected officials, and voters, including Republicans, Democrats, and independents. He used Karl Rove’s extensive data gathering operation, and relied on party officials and radio talk show hosts to make the introductions he needed for the people he interviewed.
But regardless of his careful methodology, I don’t believe Morrissey got a good sampling of Republican voters. I believe the opinions advanced in Going Red, are more in line with what Karl Rove and Washington strategists think.
Many of the people Morrissey heard from wanted to hear economic solutions to America’s problems. He talked to a businessman who had gone door-to-door during elections in support of Republican candidates, but he’s become disgusted with the Republican Party. He wants the Republican Party to stay out of American bedrooms. This attitude is common in Going Red.
Morrissey talked to one hundred people but couldn’t find anyone who supported Republican positions on “social issues” — the people who did mention social issues said they were deterrents to winning elections.
It’s frustrating and puzzling that Morrissey never specifies which “social issues” he means. Does he mean abortion or same-sex marriage? We don’t know. His refusal to be clear seems to be an embarrassed avoidance.
Also it’s remarkable that Morrissey never met a supporter of Donald Trump or a Republican who feels betrayed by the Republican leadership in Washington, as recent polls show a majority of Republican voters do feel betrayed by leadership in Washington.
To make connections in neighborhoods Morrissey also relied on representatives of LIBRE Initiative, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as a
. . . grassroots organization that advances the principles and values of economic freedom to empower the U.S. Hispanic community so it can thrive and contribute to a more prosperous America.
LIBRE seems an admirable organization, but the problem is Morrissey discounts how ordinary Republicans feel about the ongoing violation of our southern border by illegal immigrants. Ordinary Republicans want the southern border secured: we believe in assimilation and American traditions — such as free speech — which are threatened by masses of people entering the country illegally who for the first time in American history may not want to assimilate into America.
There are good suggestions for reaching out to Hispanics who are U.S. citizens in Going Red. E. J. Otero is Hispanic and a retired air force colonel who ran for Congress in 2012 in Florida. He points out there are five or six different issues Republicans could use with Hispanics. For example, Venezuelans will respond to economic arguments because they understand how dreadfully socialism functions in Venezuela. And Puerto Ricans have also come to America to escape socialism.
Otero recently arranged for a Republican candidate to address a meeting with Hispanic voters in West Tampa. Morrissey describes Otero’s observation:
The candidate’s message of competent governance, reduced red tape, and economic empowerment began to inspire the crowd, Otero says . . . right up to the moment when the candidate shifted to the attack and began lashing out at Democrats. Otero watched the crowd’s reactions, seeing plainly that they had rejected not just the messenger but also the message. One angry audience member told Otero that when the candidate was trashing Democrats, “He was talking about us.”
Reince Priebus and the RNC should take note, train RNC operatives not to alienate potential converts, and to take the time necessary to get to know them and practice persuasion — the effort will take time and persistence.
The problem is Morrissey doesn’t seem to like Republicans voters very much. He wrote:
Peter Wehner, a former adviser to George W. Bush, put it in harsher words . . . writing that “the message being sent to voters is this: the Republican Party is led by people who are profoundly uncomfortable with the changing (and inevitable) demographic nature of our nature of our nation.” . . . But if this view doesn’t necessarily reflect the leaders of the party, the more troubling issue is that it does reflect a not-insignificant number of its voters, who are worried that appealing to Hispanic, African American, and young voters will require an abandonment of conservative principles.
I believe Morrissey is uncomfortable with how he perceives ordinary Republicans react to Hispanics and African Americans.
Does Morrissey believe, much like the Democrats, that too many Republicans are bigots? I don’t know. In the entirety of Going Red the issue of illegal immigration is not acknowledged as worthy of discussion, as if we should resign ourselves to open borders.
There is a consistent refrain running through Going Red about the negative “tone” Republicans supposedly project:
Sometimes, though, the Muñozes feel betrayed by the tone Republicans use on immigration and other issues. . . . “You don’t tell a girl she’s ugly, and then ask her to the prom.” The problem between conservatives and the Hispanic community became especially acute in 2007, when Prince William County passed an ordinance that allowed police to check on legal resident status when detained — a move that humiliated legal residents. It was later repealed, Deborah notes, but the damage was done.
Has Morrissey internalized and validated progressive opinion? Has he surrendered the view that Americans have a right to defend our traditions in the management of legal and illegal immigration?
Let’s clarify the issue of “tone.” For sixty years our culture has been under assault from progressives. Republicans and conservatives have been smeared as racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes, and “Islamophobes,” a newly coined term.
Progressives are very good storytellers. They rise up a parade of victims and accuse white Americans of racism.
I believe too few Americans recognize the power of revolutionary narrative. There’s the myth of Michael Brown being shot by police while trying to surrender in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s shooting represents the supposed racism of the American justice system. The myth of Brown’s innocence inspired the rioting, the looting, and the burning of Baltimore. The myth of Brown’s martyrdom inspired the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
And the Black Lives Matter movement has been raising revolutionary mobs throughout the nation. And the influence of the narrative is not narrowly focused on black/white issues: A stigma attaches to all of American culture. The momentum created by Black Lives Matter contributes energy to the “war on women,” the war on fossil fuels and coal, and to the war on the “one percent” and the “capitalists” who rig the economy. All these “wars” share a common villain — constitutional America.
And Morrissey worries about the “tone” of Republican voters.
The progressives are engaged in revolution; perhaps Morrissey hasn’t noticed. The progressives have been creating myths for decades (Tawana Brawley comes to mind) and filling their followers with furious intensity. Progressives conjure movements based on fear, anger, and hatred, and once these passions are aroused and directed by astute operatives they are extremely difficult to mitigate.
Morrissey super-analyzes everything, but he’s lost perspective. Until the Republican Party can figure out how to counter operations like Black Lives Matter, and the narratives they promote, the Republican Party will be on the defensive, and America will be mired in bitterness.
Surrendering to progressives on social issues is a mistake. There are generations of American children growing up without fathers. How do we solve fatherlessness? And as families disintegrate in America, is it plausible that restricting Republican messaging to economic arguments is good enough? Can we preserve the free economy and private property rights once we allow the government to take the father’s place in the home as breadwinner?
Using the RNC as a vehicle for improving communication between Republicans and neighborhoods is a good direction. We do need to reach out to young people and minorities. And if the RNC employees can muster up some humility they might discover effective methods and winning issues for the future
But the problem is not one of Republican “tone,” as Morrissey believes, but of Republican morale.
The Republican leadership has stood by perplexed and paralyzed for sixty years as the left has assaulted one American institution after another. The fear of being called a racist has silenced too many Republican politicians for too long.
Ronald Reagan was an exception. He was not afraid to advance the full spectrum of conservatism. Our current Republican leadership seems intimated by polls — as if there’s no possibility of changing anyone’s mind. Ronald Reagan cheerfully and forcefully made his case — and the polls changed!
The rise of Donald Trump coincides with the failure of the intellectual leadership of the Republican Party and the conservative movement to connect with Republican voters and good-hearted, open-minded Americans throughout the nation. Our thought leaders don’t inspire — they over intellectualize — and they don’t know how blunt the vicious attacks of the left.
Donald Trump has been successful because he’s shrewd and fearless, and he has an intuitive grasp of the average American’s morale. He has a simple message that works: making America great again. People are hungry for such a message, and the Democrats, with their decades-long disparagement of constitutional America, are ripe for a fall.
I believe Donald Trump has a good chance to beat the Democrats in November. He’s the counter-revolution to the revolutionary left.
Donald Trump isn’t conservative, and he’s an unreliable partner in the advancement of decorum. But I don’t believe he represents the ruination of American culture either — though perhaps conservatives will be busy cleaning up the messes he creates.
One final thought — of the seven counties Morrissey writes about, Donald Trump won most of them by wide margins in the Republican primaries. Yes, winning a primary election is not the same as winning a general election, but unless the Republican leadership can figure out how to win a general election without the enthusiastic support of Republican voters, it’s important to pay attention to the morale of Republican voters, as Donald Trump has. *
The following is a summary of the June/July 2016 issue of The St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in “Organizing Communities for Republicans,” looks at the strengths and weaknesses of Going Red, a book written by Ed Morrissey about what’s necessary for Republicans to win critical counties within swing states in the coming presidential election.
Ray Sinneck serves as a reincarnation of Jonathan Swift in “Transfiguration,” in which a T.V. personality interviews “Jo,” who is transitioning from being male to becoming female.
Paul Kengor, in “Western Civ in the Crosshairs — and a Glimmer of Hope,” exposed the vast ignorance of college students and their purposeful mis-education perpetrated by progressive professors who want students to remain ignorant; in “The Communist Party Feels the Bern — U.S. Communists Couldn’t Be Happier About the Democratic Party’s Direction,” he shows how the Sanders campaign is the continuation of the leftist revolution that Barack Obama has begun; in “Having a ‘Trump Talk’ with Your Kids,” he proposes a way of handling children and Donald Trump.
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “Identity Politics Is Eroding the Integrity of American Universities,” smashes the silly “reasoning” of the students at Stanford University who demand the school’s next president be “nonwhite and either transgender or female”; in “Another Attack on Free Speech: Should It Be a Crime to Want Open Discussion of Climate Change?” he responses to the attempts by seventeen attorneys general from fifteen states to criminalize disagreement with liberal scientific notions; in “Seeking to Reverse His Corruption Conviction, the Former Virginia Governor’s Strange Defense Is: Everyone Does It,” he takes note that many prominent public officials of both parties are coming to the defense of the convicted former Governor Bob McDonnell, showing that both parties are comfortable trading access for favors.
Mark W. Hendrickson in “Barack Obama’s Bathroom Overreach,” considers President Obama’s recent decree that public schools nationwide must prepare restrooms for transgender people; in “The Democratic (Party’s) March Toward Socialism,” he describes in detail the Democrats’ comprehensive predation on private property rights; in “True Reagan: A Fascinating Up-Close Look at the Fortieth President,” he reviews a new book about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, written by a close aide who served during the White House years; in “A Liberal College Professor Freaks Out That His College Invited a Republican to Be the Commencement Speaker,” he examines a letter from his wife’s alma mater in which a professor laments that House Speaker Paul Ryan has been invited to speak, and he lists the professor’s juvenile comments; in “The Black Hole of Debt,” he writes: “The world is caught in a black hole of debt, and it’s hard to picture any way to get out of it”; in “The Increasingly Incestuous Ties Between Google and the Democratic Party,” he reports an ominous instance of big-government cronyism.
Herbert London, in “Trump’s Foreign Policy,” evaluates Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech and, though he cites flaws, he sees good points too; in “Saudi Arabia: U.S. Foe and Friend,” he takes a hard look at a strained relationship; in “Civilizational Conflict,” he describes the conflict between militant Islam and Western culture as a confrontation that may be impossible to avoid.
Reuben Larson, in “My Name Is Johan Larsson — This Is My Story,” gives an account of his Grandfather’s life as he emigrated from Sweden to America in the nineteenth century to build a family and establish a homestead.
In “Letters From a Conservative Farmer — Photos on My Wall,” Jigs Gardner considers the meaning of photos.
As civilized as a sword can make us —
Hasn’t it a cultural achievement
To fold the steel in layers and forge it
With a hammer and anvil and hone the
Blade to lethality to inscribe it
With vows of victory and to wield it
Requires a warrior’s training to
Surpass the enemy’s might in battle
And all to no benefit without a
Supporting ethos infusing courage
In the warrior? As civilized as
We may be in the midst of savagery
Haunting the human animal forcing
A defense of gentle accomplishments.
And there are methods
for instilling compassion
in the midst violence
in the human dilemma.
Light and leaf — sun and sky — mind and sky — with
My eyes open I see the natural
Cooperation composing this world
And I wonder at the magic of it
That my skin absorbs the light just as a
Leaf absorbs the light just as the sun fills
The space surrounding the earth with light and
Somehow turns it blue — and have you noticed
How we live subject to the natural
Drama of the sky ceaselessly moving
With clouds and rain and wind and light and have
You noticed how the mind ceaselessly moves
From happiness to discouragement to
Confusion and also astonishment?
Too seldom do I see
too infrequently notice
the churning magic
and ceaseless transformation.
It’s a modest dining room a smallish
Round table and in the morning I make
Coffee and have a bowl of cereal.
Maybe a conversation an email
Or an expression on someone’s face from
The day before has left an impression
With me and so I consider what they
Are thinking and how they are coping and
What I should do — I didn’t understand
How to direct my energy when young
How to discover what needs attention —
I come to my breakfast table as to
A reliable sanctuary and
Continuously find intuition.
Solitude is good
for the cultivation of
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of
Playing the sleepless poet rummaging
For significance and sacrificing
While everyone else is sleeping and I’m
Stubborn and I’ll pay the penalty in
Taxes for not having health coverage
I’ll stop taking trazodone my magic
Sleeping pills because I refuse to pay
Hundreds of dollars just to consult the
Doctor once just to update prescriptions
So I went to the pharmacy looking
For non-prescription drugs and I talked to
The pharmacist and he impolitely
Asked me so how much coffee do you drink?
Could it be the pot
of coffee I drink each day
lifting me up in
the morning making me buzz
keeping me awake at night?
Some people are crazy enough to wear
A wing suit and stand poised on the tip of
A Mountain and jump — with fabric outstretched
Between their arms and legs and body — and
They fly inches from the rocky edges
Plunging as the eagles do consuming
Miles of air passing inside and outside
Of alpine shadows falling on the slopes
Below — how divine the venture must seem
Flowing within a spectacle of such
Gigantic proportions — discovering
In a human form capability
For soaring with flaming sensations and
A beating heart — and with serenity?
flying squirrel was
but where on earth did
the courage come from?
As a handsome youth with dark hair he’s not
Remarkable but the photo has a
Story — he’s just come to America
From Australia and I wonder what
The photo does to those of us who knew
Him as my father appears very much
Like me or my brother at that age and
He’s full of youthful open confidence
As we know the story of his life of
His family his ministry the journal
He founded — we know the bitterness the
Courage and the triumphs no one else could
Comprehend and each of us remembers
Differently as each knew him separately.
It’s a small circle
of people capable of
depth as only we knew him.
Hazel was his sister’s name and dad said
She had a hard life as her husband was
A brute character and my dad would gaze
At the photo of her youthful smile and
Her profusion of hair and I can see
A touch of family resemblance as
The enthusiastic innocence and
Openness communicates happiness
But you can’t tell by seeing the photo’s
Eight decades old and between them was a
Steamer that traversed the Pacific from
Australia to America when such
A trip seemed irrevocable as dad
Left behind his family and homeland.
In youthful photos
of my vanished family
of a faded world —
I can sense optimism
And eager exploration.
So I was in the square in Paris just
Before Notre-Dame Cathedral after
A year of schooling at Oxford having
Scored well with the teachers and being a
Young man with prospects for success who was
Free of responsibilities and yet
I couldn’t be happy — now here you are
Accomplished graduated prepared to
Be an engineer a young man with no
Obstacles except that you’re unhappy —
Is the world to come so threatening so
Imponderable it’s hard to begin
Or is misery merely a habit
You must overcome? You will find a way.
I’m not able to give you
exact guidance as
in matters of the spirit
we each have our own puzzles.
As if I were trying to sneak a look
At his cards to see what he’s doing he
Holds back and won’t communicate how he’s
Considering his options what he wants
To do what he thinks he’s capable of
Becoming — it’s time that he makes his way
That he determines a direction and
I know he doesn’t have to get it right
There’s wide latitude — it’s not a lifetime
He’s planning just the first few steps and then
He may reconsider readjust and
Change course but how can he know what’s best for
Him without testing his abilities
And discovering how the world responds?
Because he’s done it
because he’s reconnoitered
a father may guide his son —
but the son may be stubborn.
Being in a place where a person was
Makes the separation more poignant and
Who am I to complain as didn’t I
Get on a bus to Galveston Texas
And take a plane to Osaka Japan
And didn’t my parents wave goodbye and
And didn’t they watch me depart to an
Uncertain fate thousands of miles gone
And haven’t I been wondering when you
Would take a worthy direction but now
I realize emotions can become
Mixed as your courage is inspiring
As you’re behaving just as I did but
Part of me I’ve found wants to keep you near.
How can I complain
of my son’s emulation
as Joshua has
decided to go northward
up to Juno Alaska?
You were resisting in Pioneer Park
Pouting and refusing to walk on a
Summer afternoon as resolute as
A toddler with a bulging tummy
Could be bereft of her container of
Water that I forgot so I scooped you
Up and we proceeded home — today you’re in
Graduating robes at Moore College of
Art and Design in Philadelphia
Which is far from home with a degree that’s
A gamble the schooling will be useful
As we have encouraged you to become
As creative as possible because
Your talent deserves opportunity.
The conveyance of
in faces you create so