Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Monday, 24 May 2021 12:10

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

The Early Church Was Not Socialist

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Crisis Magazine.

“The early church was a socialist church.”

So said Rev. Raphael Warnock in 2016, four years before the citizens of Georgia elected him a U.S. senator.

It’s a strange statement, least of all because the description “socialist church” is an oxymoron.

Not only would the Church fathers be puzzled by it, but so would socialism’s Fathers.

“Everyone must be absolutely free to . . . be an atheist,” wrote Vladimir Lenin, “which every socialist is, as a rule.”

“Religion and Communism are incompatible, both theoretically and practically,” noted Nikolai Bukharin, founding editor of Pravda. “Communism is incompatible with religious faith.” On behalf of the Bolsheviks, he insisted: “A fight to the death must be declared upon religion. We must take on religion at the tip of the bayonet.”

That they did. They knew that religion and socialism/Communism were incompatible.

For the record, Marxism-Leninism defines socialism as the final transitionary step into Communism. As Lenin explained: “And this brings us to the question of the scientific distinction between socialism and Communism. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the ‘first,’ or lower, phase of Communist society.” Communism shares the exact same goal of socialism, namely: common ownership of the means of production — the literal definition of socialism, even by Merriam Webster. “We call ourselves Communists,” stated Lenin.

“What is a Communist? Communism is a Latin word. Communis is the Latin for ‘common.’ Communist society is a society in which all things — the land, the factories — are owned in common and the people work in common. That is Communism.”

Nonetheless, statements like Warnock’s are not unusual among the “social justice” Religious Left. I’ve written about this before, and clearly will need to continue to address it again and again, but I write now because of the recent New Testament reading from the Lectionary, which prompted one person to ask me to clarify how that reading from the “early church” (as Warnock would describe it) does or does not support socialism. Here’s the passage from Acts 4:32-35:

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.”

It’s this passage that Warnock was clearly invoking. He told Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church back in 2016:

“The early church was a socialist church. I know you think that’s an oxymoron, but the early church was much closer to socialism than to capitalism. Go back and read the Bible. I love to listen to evangelicals who stand on the Bible. Well, they had all things in common. They took everything — I’m just preaching the Bible — they took all of their things and they had all things in common. But even the folk who say they just follow every word of the Bible, they’re not about to do that. But if we would just share what we have, everybody can eat, everybody ought to have water, everybody ought to have healthcare. It’s a basic principle.”

Well, it’s certainly not a “socialist” principle.

Let’s start with indeed the most basic principle, which is this: this passage from Acts is not socialism. Socialism/Communism does not bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, or to belief of God. Likewise, do not be deluded by the phrase “distributed to each according to need.” Karl Marx, as he often did in his aping and mockery of religion, appropriated that line and rewrote it as, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

How does this passage bear no resemblance to socialism/Communism? For many reasons, but above all, the religious believer reading this passage must understand that the passage deals with a religious movement. Socialism/Communism is an anti-religious movement.

“Communism begins where atheism begins,” explained Marx. He wrote:

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

He and Engels in the Communist Manifesto said that Communism represents “the most radical rupture in traditional relations.” It seeks nothing less than to “abolish the present state of things.” He and Engels closed the Manifesto by calling for “the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

That included religion above all. Socialism/Communism is a revolutionary ideology that completely rejects religion.

“There is nothing more abominable than religion,” declared Vladimir Lenin. He said that “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.” He echoed Marx: “Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze.”

I could list quotes like this one after another. Here’s one more example:

William Z. Foster was the first major public face as well as chairman of what became known as (and remains) the Communist Party U.S.A., prior to which he had been with the Socialist Party of America. Note this 1930 exchange he had with Congressman Hamilton Fish during sworn congressional testimony:

Fish: “Does your party advocate the abolition and destruction of religious beliefs?”

Foster: “Our party considers religion to be the opium of the people, as Karl Marx has stated, and we carry on propaganda for the liquidation of these prejudices amongst the workers.”

Fish: “To be a member of the Communist Party, do you have to be an atheist?”

Foster: “In order to be — there is no formal requirement to this effect. Many workers join the Communist Party who still have some religious scruples, or religious ideas; but a worker who will join the Communist Party, who understands the elementary principles of the Communist Party, must necessarily be in the process of liquidating his religious beliefs and, if he still has any lingerings when he joins the party, he will soon get rid of them.

He must get rid of them because one could not be a Communist and a Christian. For the record, in the USSR, one had to be an atheist to be a member of the Communist Party, as the party militantly pursued what Mikhail Gorbachev described as a “wholesale war on religion.”

As for the passage from Acts, there have long been religious communities that engage in common ownership. Those communities are driven by religious motivation. They are voluntary movements of free will. Members agree to sell property and share things by their own choice, not under compulsion by a coercive socialist/atheistic state which insists that every citizen, under threat of punishment, sell and share all resources.

An even cursory read of the Communist Manifesto or the brute decrees of Lenin and Stalin and Mao and the Kims and Castro shows no similarity with the language of the Old and New Testaments. The fact that certain passages of Scripture, or certain guidelines of religious orders, express forms of communalism doesn’t mean they’re thus practicing the perverse and destructive 19th century ideology known as Communism/socialism. That’s a really silly simplification. From the Acts of the Apostles to, say, the Franciscans, these groups were forged on a Christian model; religion served as their anchor, their rudder, their animating force — the very spiritual force that Communism ridicules, rejects, and seeks to abolish. Read any writing by Marx, or Engels, or Lenin vs. Jesus Christ, or Paul, or St. Francis; they’re completely different in every meaningful respect.

Moreover, the Bible offers vigorous defenses of property rights, as rudimentary as the understanding implicit in the Creator’s Ten Commandments: thou shalt not steal. To steal is to take someone’s property, a basic right according to Biblical and natural law. The assertion by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto that “the entire Communist program may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property” is completely antithetical to the teachings of God.

I could go on and on with examples. In the New Testament, individuals like the Good Samaritan or Zacchaeus or the vineyard owner all voluntarily give their own wealth or earnings as free-will acts of benevolence, not as forced responses to state fiat. Read on in Acts, chapter 4, which in the next line speaks of the first of two disciples who voluntarily “sold a piece of property that he owned.”

I’ll close with a word of advice to Rev.-Sen. Warnock. It comes from the landmark encyclical by Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno. “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms,” stated Quadragesimo Anno, “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” Pius XI advised:

“Those who want to be apostles among socialists ought to profess Christian truth whole and entire, openly and sincerely, and not connive at error in any way. If they truly wish to be heralds of the Gospel, let them above all strive to show to socialists that socialist claims, so far as they are just, are far more strongly supported by the principles of Christian faith and much more effectively promoted through the power of Christian charity.”

As Pius XI noted, there’s “no reason to become socialists.”

Indeed. In other words, just become a Christian — and please stop with the nonsense about “Christian socialism.”     *

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 12:18

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Death of a Defector: Ion Mihai Pacepa, R.I.P.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared in The American Spectator.

On February 14, 2021, the world quietly lost one of the most intriguing, enduring figures of the Cold War. He was Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc official ever to defect to the United States.

Throughout the 1970s, Pacepa arguably had been the top official in Communist Romania, behind only the insane and vicious dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. He served Ceausescu in numerous capacities, including as intelligence chief and liaison between the brutal Securitate and the KGB. He knew where bodies were buried.

After yet another request by Romanian goons to bloody his hands, Pacepa had had enough. One day in the summer of 1978, he slipped into the U.S. embassy in West Berlin while on routine business for the Romanian madman who was his boss. He said he wanted to defect. He was hustled out in a late-night flight to the United States — a country he came to love.

“It was noon when the U.S. military plane bringing me to freedom landed at the U.S. presidential airport inside Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.,” he later told our mutual friend David Kupelian.

“It was a glorious, sunny day outside. . . . I had an overwhelming desire to dance around in a jig all by myself. I was a free man! I was in America! The joy of finally becoming part of this magnanimous land of liberty, where nothing was impossible, was surpassed only by the joy of simply being alive.”

He continued:

“On that memorable day of July 28, 1978, when I became a free man, I fell to my knees and I prayed out loud for the first time in more than a quarter of a century. It took me a while. It was not easy to find the right words to express my great joy and thanks to the good Lord. In the end, all that I asked for was forgiveness for my past, freedom for my daughter, and strength for my new life.”

Forgiveness and freedom. And yet, Pacepa was never totally free. He was a wanted man, hunted by the Romanian government.

Once in the United States, Pacepa lived in undisclosed locations, dodging a $2 million bounty placed on his head by his homeland. Communists officials were enraged when Pacepa in 1987 published (via Regnery) his shocking memoir of the Ceausescu era: Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae & Elena Ceausescu’s Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption. (The book was reviewed with highest praise by Michael Ledeen in the April 1988 issue of The American Spectator.) Hit squads were dispatched to assassinate him. They never found him. And ironically, Pacepa’s grisly account of Nicolae and his equally cruel and crazy wife, Elena, would be used as evidence for their conviction and execution by a firing squad of Romanian citizens on Christmas Day 1989.

Pacepa long outlived the Ceausescu menace. Now, over four decades after the brutal regime began targeting him, Pacepa’s life has ended. He died at the age of 92, a victim of COVID-19.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Pacepa directly, given that he was always in hiding, though we emailed frequently for years. He went by the name “Mike,” the Anglicized version of “Mihai.” He had at least two aliases that would pop up sometimes when I got emails from him. His email address was cryptic, starting with an upper-case letter and followed by seven numbers and then “” I’m tempted to share the email address here publicly, but doing so would offer no great value. Besides, I never had permission from him to share his email address publicly.

I often got his emails in response to my articles. of which he was an avid reader. He and I even co-authored a piece, “Obama’s Sword and Shield,” for The American Spectator in May 2013.

I believe Pacepa first reached out to me in 2010, when I published my Cold War tome, Dupes. Pacepa was cited a number of times, particularly for his disturbing insights into how easily Communist officials were able to manipulate gullible progressives in the West. That was a subject that troubled and perplexed Pacepa; it fascinated him, but also nagged at him. He had seen it from the Truman years through Vietnam and still into the 21st century.

“They were like putty in our hands,” said Pacepa of the ability of Western liberals to be duped by Communists, from the “strong leftist movements [in Western Europe] that we secretly financed” to the vast amounts of disinformation cooked up and spoon-fed to Western liberals, who gobbled it up.

Consider Vietnam: “During the Vietnam War,” said Pacepa:

“. . . we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America’s presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies, and razed entire villages. Those weren’t facts. They were our tales.” (Recall a young John Kerry’s 1971 testimony.) They were lies. Nonetheless, said Pacepa, millions of Americans “ended up being convinced their own president, not Communism, was the enemy.”

According to Pacepa, it was the odious Yuri Andropov, then head of the KGB, who conceived this dezinformatsiya campaign — that is, disinformation campaign — against the United States. The Soviets devoted exorbitant spending to that cause. “Vietnam,” Andropov told Pacepa, had been “our most significant success.”

Pacepa read my book and was very pleased to see that I had focused upon what he judged one of the most significant, but underreported and least understood, phenomena of our times: the cynical but remarkable power of disinformation.

In fact, it turned out that he was writing a book on precisely that subject and by that very name: Disinformation. He and co-author Ron Rychlak published the book in 2013 through WND Press, and they asked me to write the foreword (former CIA director James Woolsey wrote the introduction). It was a landmark book that everyone ought to read. It will indelibly impact the way you view history and current affairs.

That groundbreaking book exposed the KGB disinformation schemes against figures like Pope Pius XII (the smearing of Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” was begun as a mass Soviet disinformation campaign launched by a Radio Moscow broadcast in 1945) and Cardinals Stepinac and Mindszenty and Wyszyński, as well as the duplicity of groups like the World Peace Council and World Council of Churches. The material on the Soviet promulgation of the insidious Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy is an awakening. The authors chronicled Andropov’s anti-Zionism campaign, support of Islamic terrorism, and promotion of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism among Middle East Arabs. By 1978, the Soviet bloc planted some 4,000 agents of influence in the Islamic world armed with hundreds of thousands of copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (and military weapons). Militant atheistic Communism sought a handmaiden in militant jihadist Islam, with extremist Muslims exploited by Soviet manipulators. They promulgated not only acts of terrorism but egregious acts of “diplomacy” like the infamous UN Resolution 3379 declaring Zionism a form of racism.

Pacepa revealed how many vicious myths created by Communists have been unwittingly adopted by mainstream historians and journalists. He said the very handbook on Soviet/Communist dezinformatsiya opened with this in capital letters: “IF YOU ARE GOOD AT DISINFORMATION, YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING.”

Pacepa would see these patterns in modern American “journalism,” though it wasn’t always clear if duped American journalists were wittingly or unwittingly spreading disinformation (or “fake news,” to use a modern term). Often, they simply believed what they wanted to believe — just as the Kremlin knew they would.

Beyond Disinformation, Pacepa wrote a number of fascinating works, including a remarkable 2007 book on the Kennedy assassination, titled Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination. Pacepa believed that the Soviets were involved in early steps leading toward or helping to precipitate the assassination. He argued that Oswald had been recruited by the KGB when he first entered the Soviet Union. Over the next two years, however, several things complicated the picture. By 1962, once Oswald was settled in Texas, Khrushchev (allegedly) changed his mind about killing Kennedy. Consequently, claims Pacepa, “the KGB tried to turn Oswald off.” It was too late.

For the record, this theory of Soviet involvement is disputed by Kennedy assassination investigators and by the Warren Commission, but this much we do know: Moscow did its damnedest to direct eyes of suspicion elsewhere. The Kremlin blamed the Kennedy shooting on (as Pacepa put it) “racists, the Ku Klux Klan, and Birchists.” Pacepa confirmed that the KGB had a thorough, ongoing disinformation campaign to blame the Kennedy assassination on domestic elements in the United States. He reported that on November 26, 1963, Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky landed unannounced in Bucharest and met with Pacepa and other high-level members of Romanian intelligence and leadership. This was his first stop in a “blitz” tour of KGB “sister” services in the Communist Bloc. “From him,” recalled Pacepa:

“We in the DIE [Romanian intelligence] learned that the KGB had already launched a worldwide disinformation operation aimed at diverting public attention away from Moscow in respect to the Kennedy assassination, and at framing the CIA as the culprit.”

Nikita Khrushchev himself, said Sakharovsky, wanted it made clear to the sister services that “this was by far our first and most important task.” They circulated rumors that “the CIA was responsible for the crime” and that Lyndon Johnson and the “military-industrial complex” had been involved.

The effort would be called Operation Dragon. It became, said Pacepa, one of the most successful disinformation operations in contemporary history. Pacepa pointed to Hollywood film director Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie, “JFK,” which blamed the Kennedy assassination on a cabal that included the CIA, Lyndon Johnson, and the military-industrial complex. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

There are so many intriguing items like this from this intriguing figure that was Ion Mihai Pacepa. I could go on and on. One more item of interest to readers here:

The scourge that is Liberation Theology has rotten roots. Those roots go back not only to twisted Jesuit theologians in Latin America in the 1970s but, according to Pacepa, to the KGB. Pacepa went so far as to claim that Liberation Theology was created by the KGB. “The movement was born in the KGB,” stated Pacepa unequivocally, “and it had a KGB-invented name: ‘Liberation Theology.’” He said that “the birth of Liberation Theology” came from a 1960 “super-secret Party-State Dezinformatsiya [Disinformation] Program” approved by Aleksandr Shelepin, then chairman of the KGB, and by Politburo member Aleksey Kirichenko, who coordinated the Communist Party’s international policies. The program “demanded that the KGB take secret control of the World Council of Churches,” which was based in Geneva, and use it “as cover for converting Liberation Theology into a South American revolutionary tool.”

Again, I could go on. The late Lt. Gen. Pacepa knew a lot.

Ion Mihai Pacepa died on February 14. Fittingly, he passed away at an undisclosed hospital in an undisclosed location somewhere in the United States. There was no official announcement.

The loss of Mike Pacepa is a loss for many, especially his beloved wife and family. It is also a loss for history and contemporary understanding of certain events. He shared with us gems of information and even disinformation. Perhaps most helpful of all, he warned us not only about what to believe but what not to believe.

Warping the Credit for Trump’s Operation Warp Speed

Editor’s Note: This essay first appeared in The American Spectator.

“I think the [Trump] administration deserves some credit getting this off the ground with Operation Warp Speed,” conceded then-President-elect Joe Biden in late December when he and his wife Jill received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden’s notable concession to Trump didn’t get the attention from his media partisans that it should have. That’s no surprise. They revile Donald Trump; they made it their mission to run him out of office and they shape their “journalism” accordingly.

As for Biden, the concession was gracious, but he should say more. A lot more.

In fact, it would be a great gesture of unity — the very unity that President Biden says he seeks, and a gesture of goodwill and decency that Trump advocates would remember appreciatively — if Biden paused to more deliberately thank and recognize Trump’s efforts. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to do that, and the terribly biased liberal media certainly will not be stepping up with any awards for the dreaded MAGA man.

That’s a shame. It’s yet more rancorous, toxic, bitter partisanship, by a media that claims to be objective. It’s not right. It fails to recognize a truly historic accomplishment by Trump and the biomedical community.

We are now full-throttle into the mass distribution of vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic. And let there be no doubt: the swiftness of the development and delivery of these vaccines is a remarkable achievement. I want to underscore the point by revisiting what I wrote about in several columns in The American Spectator last spring, most notably placing President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed into historical context — looking particularly at the polio vaccine that was pioneered by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Considering that comparison really helps us to understand what a big deal Operation Warp Speed has been.

Polio terrified people of that era; it was known as “infantile paralysis.” What people right now should realize, given the incredible speed of the COVID vaccine development — in retrospect, “warp speed” was spot-on language — is how long it took for the polio vaccine to develop. That vaccine, too, like those today, involved the government getting behind private research efforts that needed mass infusions of public sector dollars.

Salk’s polio vaccine was announced to the world in April 1955. But the push by the federal government began many years earlier, namely in January 1938 when a tenacious Irish lawyer named Basil O’Connor became President Franklin Roosevelt’s point man to wage war on the disease, including through the creation of the March of Dimes. (For the record, in 1935 two polio vaccines were announced by two separate research teams, one led by Maurice Brodie and another by John Kolmer. Both vaccines were announced at a major conference of the American Public Health Association in November 1935, but both were quickly shelved because vaccinated children had died in clinical trials.) In 1949, O’Connor went further still, upping the ante by pouring yet more research dollars into the search for a vaccine. Though the medical community was skeptical, an ambitious 30-something named Dr. Jonas E. Salk was not.

Salk had some major critics, including a fellow researcher, Albert Sabin. The debate was centered on (among other differences) a live versus a heat-killed vaccine. Sabin was harshly critical of Salk. Sabin’s own (oral) vaccine was not released until 1961, years after Salk’s vaccine was distributed.

In sum, it took many years (decades, in fact) to develop the polio vaccine. Even once federal money was pumped into the Salk effort, things got worse; with 1952 saw the worst outbreak of polio yet: over 3,000 Americans died of polio that year, and another 21,000-plus were left with some form of crippling paralysis. By contrast, the development of the current COVID vaccines took less than a year — in some cases, from about March to November. The rapidity of the development of these vaccines is extraordinary and unprecedented.

To be sure, there are many reasons why COVID vaccines could be developed so much more quickly than the polio vaccines. Consider the example last spring regarding the University of Pittsburgh’s COVID vaccine effort: researchers at Pitt had already mapped out the RNA sequencing for COVID. “We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014,” said Pitt’s lead researcher Dr. Andrea Gambotto last year. “We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.” When the genetic sequencing for the COVID-19 virus was identified last January, they “were able to plug into” their existing framework “and rapidly produce a vaccine,” testing in mice.

Even then, whatever head start the COVID vaccines had over the polio vaccines, and whatever the superiority of modern technology, the breathtaking speed is a stunning biomedical accomplishment.

None of this should be a political issue, of course, but that’s precisely what it became, including the stubbornness that begrudges President Trump any credit for this extraordinary success. Throughout 2020, Trump’s Operation Warp Speed met doubt and ridicule, the naysayers and doomsayers. Go back and watch the presidential debates with Joe Biden, where Trump emphatically took issue with his own advisers, who suggested that the release of the vaccine could not be possible within the optimistic time frame that Donald Trump was shooting for — as Joe Biden rolled his eyes and smirked at Trump like he was a knuckle-drugging idiot and a shameless liar.

At the second and final presidential debate on October 22, moderator Kristen Welker asked President Trump if he could “guarantee” there would be a COVID vaccine within the coming weeks. “I can’t guarantee that, but it will be by end of the year,” said Trump with a rather bold prediction, effectively guaranteeing a vaccine within the coming weeks, and no doubt to howls by liberals. “It will be distributed very quickly,” he said. He pointed to the progress of the three leading developers of a vaccine — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — reporting to the national viewing audience that they “are doing very well.”

Biden was not just incredulous, but snidely dismissive of that statement. Biden told Welker that Trump had “no clear plan” for the “dark winter” ahead, and said of Trump’s optimism about a vaccine before the end of 2020: “He has no clear plan and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

Less than eight weeks later, Joe Biden wasn’t rolling his eyes anymore. He was rolling up his sleeves in Wilmington, Delaware, for his first dose of vaccine.

And if that didn’t frustrate Donald Trump, you can bet this did:

Very shortly after that second debate, the first of the vaccine developers announced it had a vaccine — an announcement that curiously came one week after the November 3 election. This huge news was the double-bold headline at CNN the morning of November 9, with CNN reports aglow at the news — one week too late to help Donald Trump’s reelection bid. You can be sure that the smiles at CNN were not merely about the vaccine; they grinned ear to ear at the announcement coming conveniently too late to help Trump politically.

Yes, yes, I know, I know — this or that “fact-check thingy” on the web claims that Trump and his Operation Warp Speed had nothing to do with this or that development of this or that vaccine. I’ve read them. Most are outrageously petty, using weasel words like “full credit” or “partial credit” or nitpicking to deprive Operation Warp Speed of any credit at all, with some focusing on details of one vaccine produced by one pharmaceutical company but ignoring details of others. If you want to navigate your way through them, then go for it. (For the record, PolitiFact did a pretty fair job in its evaluation.) It’s an infuriating exercise that immediately raises one’s B.S.-detectors. But those not poisoned by ideological bias and political hatred know in their hearts that Donald Trump deserves some major credit here.

As my readers know, I have never been a pom-pom boy for Donald Trump, but I have a strong sense of justice and injustice. And it’s terribly unjust not to give this man due credit for this incredible accomplishment of the biomedical community. Anthony Fauci said from the outset that our only way out of this pandemic was a vaccine. Donald Trump delivered on that.

Operation Warp Speed worked. Give the reviled Orange Man his due.

Pagans for Biden

Editor’s note: This essay was first published in Crisis Magazine.

Impeccable authorities on all-things-religious, such as The New York Times, are swooning over “perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century.” That would be President Joe Biden.

That obviously unproven statement is patent political propaganda. Of course, it’s a statement impossible to know, let alone claim, least of all as this president has barely been president. In fact, the bizarre piece was published by the Times on January 23, 2021, three days after Joe Biden’s inauguration — at which cumulative point Biden, judged the Times, had remarkably already eclipsed in religiosity Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. No doubt all of them combined.

The title of the Times’ piece was still more revealing of the newspaper’s intentions: “In Biden’s Catholic Faith, an Ascendant Liberal Christianity.”

Well, there you go. That’s the goal. The liberal media, even the adamantly non-religious and even anti-religious liberal media, will cheerlead such an alleged ascendancy. All of a sudden, secular liberals have gotten religion. Throw wide open the doors to faith in the public square. Here’s a kind of Catholic faith that non-Catholic liberals can embrace and even promote. No separation of church and state here. They’re all in.

“Gimme that old-time religion!” shouts the hallelujah chorus at the Times.

I’ve been asked about that literally indefensible Times pronouncement for Biden many times, as I am someone who wrote spiritual biographies of presidents and even would-be presidents (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton), and numerous articles on the wider subject of faith and the presidency all the way back to George Washington. Is the Times’ assessment justified? My answer: There is, of course — of course, of course, of course — absolutely no way whatsoever even a scintilla of enough information to make that statement about Joe Biden.

But for the likes of The New York Times and its gullible readers, accustomed to being given what they want to be given, such facts are irrelevant. The objective of the Times isn’t to accurately assess Biden’s faith but to promote Biden. I don’t even know if Joe Biden goes to Mass weekly, let alone, say, regularly receives the sacraments in a consistent way that, one might reckon, would make Biden “religiously observant,” let alone “the most religiously observant.”

But again, to liberal media sources, those facts don’t matter. I still marvel at the astonishing piece by Heidi Schlumpf, executive editor of the partisan, left-wing National Catholic Reporter contending that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is nothing less than “the future of the Catholic Church.” This was one of the most confounding head-scratchers I’ve ever read in any publication.

Truth be told, we don’t even know to what extent Ocasio-Cortez is a practicing or professing Catholic. One of the only somewhat, kind-of, sort-of, semi-self-acknowledgments we have of AOC’s faith is a short and poorly written piece she or a staffer whipped up on criminal justice reform for the America MagazineThe Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture in June 2018. We do, however, have one Catholic-related pronouncement by AOC. Recall that last summer she referred to the statue of St. Damien of Molokai inside the Capitol building as a symbol of “white supremacist culture.”

So, I honestly don’t know if AOC is Catholic, even if the National Catholic Reporter insists that she is, well, nothing short of the future of Catholicism — just as I honestly don’t know the extent that Joe Biden is an observant Catholic. And neither does The New York Times.

But I’m repeating myself. 

With all of that said, I’d like to emphasize here a key demonstrable fact about Biden and religiosity that has been missed in all the craziness regarding the November 2020 vote, namely: One fact not pointed out by Biden’s progressive protectors in the media has been his strong appeal to the non-religious.

Biden’s open, enthusiastic supporters have been groups ranging from Pagans for Biden to various atheist organizations and “humanist” organizations to literal witches for Biden. As to the latter, they joined together en masse to literally cast a spell upon Donald Trump to assist a Biden victory.

The data is indisputable regarding the pagan element for Biden. The largest pre-election survey breaking down voters by religious and non-religious affiliation, done by Pew Research Center in early October (surveying 10,543 registered voters) and analyzed by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, found Biden carrying atheists by a staggering 88 percent to 7 percent and agnostics by 79 percent to 15 percent, both outpacing Trump’s largest group of religious support, evangelicals, who backed Trump 78 percent to 17 percent.

Those figures were consistent with how voters cast their ballots in November. One of the better breakdowns was posted by Gallup, which analyzed the two largest surveys of religious voters in November 2020, one by Edison Research and the other by AP VoteCast. The AP VoteCast survey showed that 81 percent of white evangelical Protestant voters went for Trump vs. 18 percent who voted for Biden. The Edison exit polls estimated that 76 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump vs. 24 percent for Biden.

And what about Catholic voters? It has been difficult to figure out precisely how Catholics voted in November 2020. If you’ve read sources saying that Biden won the Catholic vote and yet others saying that Trump did, well, that’s because the sources differ — though not by much. Again, here’s the analysis posted by Gallup:

The Edison exit polls estimate that 52 percent of all Catholic voters went for Biden this year, and 47 percent for Trump. The Edison exit polls in 2016 showed a 46 percent Catholic vote for Clinton, and 50 percent for Trump.

The AP VoteCast estimates of the national Catholic vote this year show an almost even split: 49 percent of Catholics voted for Biden and 50 percent for Trump.

How different are these voting patterns among Catholics compared with previous elections? Available data show that Kennedy received roughly 80 percent of the Catholic vote in 1960 (estimates vary). By 2004, when Kerry was the Catholic nominee for the Democratic Party, Catholics went for Bush (52 percent) over Kerry (47 percent).

But how did the non-religious (or non-Christian) vote in 2020? As Gallup notes, the roughly one-fourth of all voters who were white evangelical Christians, and voted overwhelmingly for Trump, were offset by voters who were “nones” — that is, those with no formal religious identity — some 65 percent of whom voted for Biden, thus “providing him a key component of his winning coalition.” Moreover, noted Gallup, “almost all non-Christian groups (those who identify with a religion that is not Christian) voted strongly for Biden.”

Atheists lined up behind Joe Biden, along with pagans, agnostics, humanists, and witches — and The New York Times.

That’s where we are. And it’s The New York Times crowd that’s hell-bent on framing anyone who voted for Donald Trump as some sort of “white Christian nationalist” (or supremacist), in contrast to the sunny Christianity of Joe Biden, the “most religiously observant” president in a half century. As secular liberals push this line, they’ll do damage to faithful Catholics who struggle to explain to their friends the cultural-sexual-moral radicalism of a Catholic president who, on issues from abortion, to marriage, to gender, flagrantly goes against the longtime teachings of his Roman Catholic faith.   *

Wednesday, 09 December 2020 11:02

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).


Pennsylvania Bombshell: Biden 99.4 Percent V. Trump 0.6 Percent


Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The American Spectator.

There are landslides and then there are landslides. There are lopsided votes and then there are lopsided votes. There are egregious examples of vote manipulation and then there are really egregious examples of vote manipulation. What surfaced during hearings in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 2020, may set the standard for electoral outrageousness. An expert testifying to the Pennsylvania Senate flagged a batch of ballots that recorded some 570,000 votes for Joe Biden and only 3,200 for Donald Trump.

Yes, you read that correctly. That would equate to Joe Biden bagging 99.4 percent of that enormous chunk of votes. That one batch alone would have flipped the state to Biden.

This bombshell was dropped last Wednesday at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg. The November 25 hearings, which began at 12:30 p.m. and ran for nearly four hours, were convened at the request of Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties). It was sponsored by the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill). Mastriano has called what happened “unacceptable,” and has called for the resignation of Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.

This particular gem was provided by Ret. Col. Phil Waldren, a former combat officer with a background in Army information and electronic warfare. Waldren, who testified along with Rudy Giuliani’s team, brought to the hearing his considerable expertise in analysis of election-data fraud. After Waldren presented his material, the chair opened the floor for questions. Rudy Giuliani went first, asking Waldren to clarify what his analytics team means when they talk about “spike anomalies” in voting patterns. These, as Waldren defines them, are “events where a numerical amount of votes are processed in a time period that is not feasible or mechanically possible under normal circumstances.” Waldren showed a chart with a shocking example of an apparent massive dump of votes for Joe Biden. Giuliani pressed Waldren for clarification regarding this unbelievable “Biden injection of votes.” Here’s the exchange:

Waldren: “At the very beginning of the chart, where there’s a circle that says “On Election Day,” what that indicates is there’s a spike in loaded votes. 337,000-plus-or-minus-some votes that were added in there in one big batch. So that was an anomaly in the reporting. Normally you would expect to see a smooth curve going up, not any big spikes, that’s kind of what Greg was talking about, the anomalies of loading and uploading those votes. So that big spike that occurs there is a prime indicator of fraudulent voting.”

Giuliani: “And that’s [a total of] 604,000 votes in 90 minutes, is that right?”

Waldren: “Correct, this is [shows chart] 337,000 votes in that period of time.”

Giuliani: “And when you look at this entire curve, with all these spikes, can you calculate how much of a vote that accounted for Biden, and how much for Trump?”

Waldren: “Close to 600,000. I think our figures were about 570-some-odd-thousand that all those spikes represent over time.”

Giuliani: “For Biden?”

Waldren: “Correct.”

Giuliani: “And how much for Trump?”

Waldren: “I think it was a little over 3,200.”

That’s roughly 570,000 votes for Biden and 3,200 for Trump. Biden scooped up this enormous batch by 99.4 percent. Incredible. Impossible. Scandalous.

When Waldren said this, the audience in the room gasped in shock.

If what Waldren alleges here is true, then this would constitute one of the most insidious examples of documented voter fraud in the history of American presidential politics. This one spike alone would have erased Donald Trump’s 600,000-vote lead over Joe Biden late Tuesday night, November 3. Biden has reportedly won Pennsylvania by about 70,000 votes. This one swing would have done it. If this is true, then this episode alone might well constitute a smoking gun affirming a fraudulent election in Pennsylvania.

And yet, this electoral bombshell has been completely ignored by the mainstream press. The only national sources that I could find reporting it were RealClearPolitics, Breitbart, and Greg Kelly of Newsmax TV. A video link is provided courtesy of Right Side Broadcasting Network, a conservative source, filling a gap vacated by shameless mainstream “news” sources, which avoided the hearing like the plague.

I ask: Is this accurate? What happened here? Who or what could have flipped votes like this? Who was responsible? How does this occur? Is this real? Does this not have the potential to remove Pennsylvania from Joe Biden’s column? At the least, should it make the Pennsylvania vote uncertifiable for either Biden or Trump?

This was just one of many striking claims by Waldren and others throughout the nearly four hours of hearings. Another stunner, according to Waldren, is that a total of 1,823,148 mail-in ballots were sent out by the Commonwealth, and yet 2,589,242 mail-in ballots were counted in the final vote tally for the state. Thus, there are allegedly some 766,000 mail-in ballots unaccounted for. Rudy Giuliani observes that these 766,000 ballots “appeared from nowhere.” Neither the Pennsylvania secretary of state nor governor addressed this alleged massive discrepancy. (As I write, the website of the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office has information posted that disputes these numbers. Presumably, Waldren would say that this data was changed.)

Trump’s critics will want to dismiss the hearings as a partisan spectacle hosted by Pennsylvania Republican legislators. You can’t do that. A real journalist would see enough here to at least merit making some phone calls or sending a few emails. It’s not rocket science, press boys and girls. Do your jobs!

For the record, likewise egregious voter spikes have reportedly occurred in Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin. One analysis has targeted these four incidents of “voter updates”:

1. An update in Michigan listed as of 6:31 a.m. Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 141,258 votes for Joe Biden and 5,968 votes for Donald Trump

2. An update in Wisconsin listed as 3:42 a.m. Central Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 143,379 votes for Joe Biden and 25,163 votes for Donald Trump

3. A vote update in Georgia listed at 1:34 a.m. Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 136,155 votes for Joe Biden and 29,115 votes for Donald Trump

4. An update in Michigan listed as of 3:50 a.m. Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 54,497 votes for Joe Biden and 4,718 votes for Donald Trump

Likewise, these incidents could have flipped the respective state into Joe Biden’s win column. I could go on and on. See the affidavit of Russell Ramsland of Allied Security Systems detailing the numerous instances of “physical improbabilities” in the voting tabulations (and election results) in Michigan. If your mind and heart is open, you can’t but be shocked by this.

But back to Pennsylvania, which is my focus here.

Could some reporter at some mainstream media outlet — one with a modicum of journalistic integrity and decency — pause to take some time to try to determine if these claims are accurate? Could just one “journalist” with access to Joe Biden ask for his reaction? How long would it take for Donald Trump to be grilled by a pack of ravenous reporters if Joe Biden had been potentially victimized like this?

And given that the media will not give these claims a hearing, could the U.S. Senate give them a hearing? There’s enough here that demands investigation.

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, whether you voted for him or not, this should concern every American. If this were Joe Biden being victimized, I would likewise protest. The media sure as heck would. This is not right.

Fifty Years Ago Solzhenitsyn Received the Nobel Prize for Reminding Us of a “Forgotten God”

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared at National Catholic Register.

“In 1949, some friends and I came upon a noteworthy news item in Nature, a magazine of the Academy of Sciences.” So opens Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s majestic The Gulag Archipelago, a seemingly odd start for a classic on the Soviet gulag, the nation’s forced labor camps. Readers initially wonder where the author is headed with a sort of ho-hum report from not a political journal but a science journal. He continues:

“It reported in tiny type that in the course of excavations on the Kolyma River a subterranean ice lens had been discovered which was actually a frozen stream — and in it were found frozen specimens of prehistoric fauna some tens of thousands of years old. Whether fish or salamander, these were preserved in so fresh a state, the scientific correspondent reported, that those present immediately broke open the ice encasing the specimens and devoured them with relish on the spot.”

At this point, readers might still be confused. Isn’t this a book on the Soviet gulag? Why are we reading about prehistoric fauna?

Actually, they’re learning about the gulag — its escapees, its survivors. Solzhenitsyn next explains what those present did with those ancient creatures. They didn’t rush them off to a museum; no, they devoured them. They were not doing a scientific excavation — they were escaping a Communist prison camp, where millions starved and died.

“Flouting the higher claims of ichthyology,” narrated Solzhenitsyn, and “elbowing each other to be first,” they chipped away the ice, hurried the fish to a fire, cooked it and bolted it down. No doubt, said Solzhenitsyn, Nature impressed its readers with this account of how 10,000-year-old fish could be kept fresh over such a long period. But only a narrower group of readers could decipher the true meaning of this “incautious” report. That smaller club was his fellow gulag survivors — the “pitiable zeks,” as Solzhenitsyn called them. When your goal is survival, you survive, even if it means hurriedly devouring something that in a normal world would be carefully rushed to a museum.

What started as a seemingly odd opening about prehistoric fish was actually a poignant anecdote about the human horrors of Soviet Communism. It was not about fish at all. It was about human beings who had been trapped in their state-constructed frozen ice lens — the frozen camps of Siberia.

I mention this now because it was 50 years ago, shortly before the publication of The Gulag Archipelago, that Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Few recipients have so earned it.

To summarize Solzhenitsyn’s life or book would be impossible. There was so much of note. Many might point to his Harvard commencement address in June 1978, or perhaps his less known but equally inspiring Templeton Prize speech (“Men Have Forgotten God”) in May 1983, or his reporting on the daily travails of another sufferer in his classic A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. For me, however, what endures most are his reports of religious persecution under Communism.

In The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn reported on the Moscow “church trials” of the 1920s — classic Communist show trials, aimed particularly at the Russian Orthodox Church. Solzhenitsyn provided a narrative account of this surreal, painful miscarriage of justice. The presiding judge was Comrade Bek, with the prosecutors Comrade Lunin and Comrade Longinov. Solzhenitsyn didn’t bother to share the first names of this dubious troika of comrades. It didn’t matter. Their names and faces and roles and duties were interchangeable in the Soviet system.

On trial were 17 defendants from the Russian Orthodox Church, including the patriarch, archpriests and laymen, accused of disseminating “propaganda” and of “hoarding” Church valuables (including everything from liturgical items to relics to icons) that the Soviet state demanded. Lenin and his Bolsheviks salivated over these “fabulous treasures” of the Church. Leon Trotsky rubbed his covetous hands together: “The booty is enormous!” he thrilled.

And thus the Church was told that it must give up everything to the state — then and there, without hesitation. That would ultimately include churches themselves, not to mention the loyalty of priests. The Soviet state was to be the new arbiter of truth.

And so, on May 5, shortly after May Day 1922, the holy day of international Communism, Patriarch Tikhon was one among 17 Church officials dragged into a Moscow “courtroom” to testify for having “acted incorrectly” in disobeying the state.

Solzhenitsyn’s narrative strikes me especially today because the words echo in the United States today. In fact, what Tikhon told the judge is eerily similar to what Kim Davis, the Kentucky law clerk, told a judge post-Obergefell when she refused to issue in her name same-sex marriage licenses because doing so would violate the teachings of her faith. Many Christians will face similar interrogations for not doing what the state orders in defiance of the teachings of their faith. Here’s Solzhenitsyn’s narration:

Comrade Bek to Patriarch Tikhon: “Do you consider the state’s laws obligatory or not?”

Patriarch Tikhon: “Yes, I recognize them, to the extent that they do not contradict the rules of piety.”

Judge Bek: “Which in the last analysis is more important to you, the laws of the Church or the point of view of the Soviet government? Are we, the representatives of the Soviet government, thieves of holy things? [Do you] call the representatives of the Soviet government, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, thieves?!”

Tikhon: “I am citing only Church law.”

The Soviet atheist judge then lectured the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on a correct understanding of “blasphemy.” He told the shaken patriarch that he was a liar.

The verdict, incidentally, was already predetermined. Nonetheless, the “jury” proceeded forward with the farce, ordering criminal charges against the patriarch. He was arrested and removed from office, and he eventually died of a heart attack while under house arrest. At least he wasn’t executed on the spot — 11 of his 17 co-defendants were shot.

In my view, accounts like this are among the most memorable moral lessons in Solzhenitsyn’s great work. He documents vile examples of Soviet sacrilege and persecution of religious believers. In The Gulag Archipelago, he recorded how nuns and prostitutes were housed together in special sections of the gulag, both deemed whores by the atheistic state.

Solzhenitsyn understood that the battle against Communism was not simply a political one. The roots of Communism’s rage were unmistakable: “Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin . . . hatred of God is the principal driving force.” As Solzhenitsyn knew, Soviet Communism was not merely a political and ideological threat but a spiritual threat. And few did better work exposing that dark world than he did.

It was 50 years ago that the world recognized Solzhenitsyn “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature” — a literary achievement that went well beyond the realm of literature. Like the best of literary works, what he told us had profound moral-spiritual lessons that endure through the ages. He would not want us to forget. And we shouldn’t forget.     *

Monday, 05 October 2020 12:54

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Why Not Cancel Karl Marx?

In a cancel culture targeting everyone from Confederate to Union generals, Columbus to Winston Churchill, Francis Scott Key to even Abraham Lincoln and all of Mt. Rushmore, and where the racial statements and attitudes of every historical figure are scrutinized, it’s funny who gets a pass.

A 16-foot-tall bronzed Vladimir Lenin stands unscathed in liberal Seattle, and a new monument to the Bolshevik godfather just went up in Germany. Particularly curious, one wonders, why Karl Marx goes untouched.

Remember: the Left’s standard for canceling a historical figure is bigotry. And really, it often takes only one offensive statement from an entire lifetime. That being the case, why hasn’t Karl Marx been canceled?

There are monuments to Marx in Europe, one just erected in 2018. In the United States, there’s a handsome profile of Marx carved in porcelain at one of the Smithsonian museums and a flowery painting at the Guggenheim. In 2018, for the bicentennial of his birth, one of America’s top colleges, Carnegie Mellon University, held a yearlong celebration of Marx, including an accompanying art exhibit dedicated to the man. And who knows how many busts of Marx sit in professors’ offices, safe from protesting college students with spray cans.

Of course, the reality is that Marx gets a pass from the Left because he’s of the left. Leftists ignore or try to separate him from the ideology bearing his name that helped produce over 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone. The dread “dead white European male” tag conveniently eludes Karl Marx, nor does he raise the needle on the Left’s bigotry meter. But alas, he should.

Karl Marx was, after all, a bigot. His attitude toward blacks and Jews alone (not to mention women) would stun Stonewall Jackson. Ugly racial-ethnic stereotypes are littered throughout Marx’s writings.

Consider how Marx spoke of his own son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, husband of his daughter Laura. Paul came from Cuba, born in Santiago, and Marx thus viewed him as marred by “Negro” blood, and denigrated him as “Negrillo” or “the Gorilla.” Karl never let up his ridicule of poor Paul. In November 1882, 14 years after Lafargue and Laura married, Marx still complained to Friedrich Engels, his Communist Manifesto partner, that “Lafargue has the blemish customarily found in the negro tribe — no sense of shame, by which I mean shame about making a fool of oneself.”

Marx had a friendly audience for such views in Engels. Engles, a proud Darwinian, averred that Paul possessed “one-eighth or one-twelfth n_____ blood.” In 1887, Lafargue had been a political candidate for a council seat in a Paris district that contained a zoo. In an April 1887 letter to Paul’s wife, Engels cruelly opined, “Being in his quality as a n_____, a degree nearer to the rest of the animal kingdom than the rest of us, he is undoubtedly the most appropriate representative of that district.”

It is no wonder that Marx’s son-in-law had such low self-esteem. One day in November 1911, Paul ended it all. He killed himself in a suicide pact with Marx’s daughter. In fact, two of Marx’s daughters killed themselves in suicide pacts with their husbands.

Karl Marx freely dispensed with nasty epithets aimed not only at blacks but at Jews. Biographer Jonathan Sperber notes that Marx’s correspondence is “filled with contemptuous remarks about Jews.” Even his admiring biographer Francis Wheen, who habitually defends nearly everything about Marx, admits that he “sprayed anti-Semitic insults at his enemies with savage glee.”

Of one contemporary, Marx blasted his “cynical, oily-obtrusive, phony-Baronial Jew-manners.” Particularly loathsome to Marx was anyone he suspected of part-Jewish and -African roots. Marx referred to his fellow German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle as a “greasy Jew,” “the little kike,” “water-polack Jew,” “Jew Braun,” “Yid,” “Izzy,” “Wily Ephraim,” “Baron Itzig,” and “the Jewish N_____.” In a July 1862 letter to Engels, Marx confidently observed of Lassalle, “It is now perfectly clear to me that, as the shape of his head and the growth of his hair indicates, he is descended from the Negroes who joined in Moses’ flight from Egypt.” Lassalle’s “cranial formation,” detected Marx, was the giveaway. Marx did, however, allow for an exception: “unless his mother or grandmother on the father’s side was crossed with a n_____.” Marx chortled, “This union of Jew and German on a Negro base was bound to produce an extraordinary hybrid.” He also hastened to add, “The fellow’s importunity is also n_____-like.”

One of Marx’s worst expressions of anti-Semitism was his painful 1844 essay “On the Jewish Question.”

“What is the worldly cult of the Jew?” asked Marx. His answer, “Haggling. What is his worldly god? Money.” He growled, “Money is the jealous god of Israel before whom no other god may exist. . . . The bill of exchange is the actual god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.” The Jew, Marx snarled, had become “impossible.” The German chillingly concluded, “The emancipation of the Jews, in the final analysis, is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.”

In his seminal edited volume on Karl Marx and religion, Saul Padover said that Marx — who was, ironically, an ethnic Jew — had “learned to despise and hate the people from whom he originated. This was an expression of what the Germans call Selbsthass (self-hate), a trait which Karl Marx displayed throughout his whole life.” Padover was taken aback by “the extent and virulence of his anti-Semitism.”

Karl Marx summed it up plainly in a letter to his longtime friend Arnold Ruge in 1843: “the Israelite faith is repulsive to me.”

Much more could be said. This is far from a full testimony of Marx’s awful attitudes.

Remember: the Left’s standard for canceling a historical figure is bigotry. And really, it often takes only one offensive statement from an entire lifetime. That being the case, why hasn’t Karl Marx been canceled? Why aren’t angry mobs staging sit-ins outside professors’ doors insisting their busts of Marx be tossed to the ash-heap of history? Why do universities celebrate the man? And where’s Black Lives Matter on this one?

We know the answer. Karl Marx is an icon to the Left. Just like progressives’ calls for tolerance and diversity, their calls for canceling and removing are highly selective — or, more bluntly, highly hypocritical.

Marx on Christianity, Judaism, and Evolution/Race

“If someone calls it socialism,” said the Rev. William Barber at an August 2019 conference of the Democratic National Committee, “then we must compel them to acknowledge that the Bible must then promote socialism, because Jesus offered free health care to everyone, and he never charged a leper a co-pay.”

The Rev. Barber is not alone in that sentiment. There are flatly too many people right now praising or sympathetic to socialism and/or Marxism. Some attempt to make an explicitly Christian case for Communism, as seen in a stunning article in July 2019 by the leading Jesuit publication, America Magazine, titled, “The Catholic Case for Communism,” as if Christians have common cause with Karl Marx and his atheistic-materialist philosophy.

Having just published a book whose title suggests just the opposite, namely, The Devil and Karl Marx, it pains me to see that anyone would believe that Communism is compatible with Christianity specifically or religion generally. Such a notion is astonishing not only given the church’s longtime intense opposition to Communism, but also given the intense opposition to Christianity by the founders and disciples of Communism. Those founders exhibited an intense opposition to Judaism as well, and they harbored some ugly views of Jews and, still more, of blacks. Those latter views were based in part on an atheistic-materialist commitment to Darwinian evolution that made those founders quite racist.

Where to start? Well, for Marx, the starting point was religion.

“Communism begins where atheism begins,” said Karl Marx. “The criticism of religion is the beginning of all criticism.”

Marx framed man as not edified or uplifted by religion but in a “struggle against religion.” This is a “struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.” This is why people crave religion as a kind of drug: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions,” averred Marx. “It is the opium of the people.”

And again, for Marx, it all begins with religion. That’s the foundation that must be razed. Religion was among the things he wanted to abolish, along with property, family, “all morality,” and more.

As for “social justice” Christians who invoke Communism as somehow consistent with Christian social teaching, well, Marx begged to differ. “The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self-contempt, abasement, submission, humility,” scowled Marx. “The social principles of Christianity are hypocritical.”

Georg Jung, a Marx contemporary and close friend, said that “Marx calls Christianity one of the most immoral religions.” Jung viewed Marx as a theological-philosophical revolutionary who was attempting to overthrow the entire social system, not just an economic system.

Indeed he was. Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, said that Communism represents “the most radical rupture in traditional relations,” and seeks to “abolish the present state of things.” Imagine that. That is no small objective. And neither is this rather grandiose goal stated at the close of his Manifesto: “They [the Communists] openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

Note the utterly revolutionary ambition: “the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

Marx and Engels closed their Manifesto with this exhortation to future revolutionaries:

“Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.”

That objective has been seized by Marxist revolutionaries still today, whose desire seems to be to tear down rather than build up.

Obviously, this has no resemblance to Christianity — as Marx and friends knew. In fact, Marx’s partner, Engels, acknowledged that. One contemporary said of Engels: “He held, of course, that Christian socialism was a contradiction in terms.”

Of course. That was part of the creed of Communism. Vladimir Lenin declared that “any worship of a divinity is a necrophilia,” insisted that “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and demanded: “Everyone must be absolutely free to . . . be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule.”

Nikolai Bukharin, founding editor of Pravda, stated: “A fight to the death must be declared upon religion to take on religion at the tip of the bayonet.” According to Bukharin, “Religion and Communism are incompatible, both theoretically and practically. . . . Communism is incompatible with religious faith.”

To Marx and Engels, Darwin was the figure to look to, not God — who, after all, didn’t exist. God was dead. In fact, when Marx died in March 1883, Engels looked to Darwin. Staring at Marx’s cold coffin, which bore not a cross but two red wreaths, Engels in his eulogy invoked not God but Darwin, hailing the scientist for dealing such a grand blow for materialism and atheism. He would likewise hail Darwin in his eulogy for Marx’s wife, Jenny: “The place where we stand is the best proof that she lived and died in the full conviction of atheist Materialism,” averred Engels, soberly staring at a pile of dirt. “She knew that one day she would have to return, body and mind, to the bosom of that nature from which she had sprung.”

Engels exhorted the atheist faithful to take pride and joy in their shared conviction that the vivacious Jenny was now reduced to mere worm food.

And yet, Darwin was hailed by leading Marxists in god-like language.

“Darwin destroyed the last of my ideological prejudices,” Leon Trotsky triumphed. Trotsky said the “facts” about the world and life and its origins were established for him via this “certain system” of evolutionary theory. “The idea of evolution and determinism,” he wrote:

“. . . took possession of me completely. Darwin stood for me like a mighty doorkeeper at the entrance to the temple of the universe. I was intoxicated with his . . . thought.”

Trotsky historian Barry Lee Woolley explained: “Trotsky took up the faith of Marx and Darwin. The conversion experience was genuine and thorough.”

This is what we would expect of an ideology that fashioned a golden calf, a material idol, forged and focused on money, property, gold. It was not about the soul. The key to the Communist-Marxist utopia would be economics. Solve the economic problem, Communists believed, and you would solve the human problem. They speak as if man truly does live by bread alone (Christ corrected Satan on that one). As Pope Benedict XVI said, the fatal flaw of Communists and socialists is that they had their anthropology wrong. They did not adequately understand man. As Augustine said, we all have a God-shaped vacuum that God alone can fill; not a dollar-signed vacuum. We crave the divine manna of heaven.

Alas, the Marxism that Karl Marx bequeathed is very much a reflection of his impoverished worldview. This materialistic-atheistic ideology would beget over 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone, not to mention a war on faith, family, property, and more. It still rages. And religious people should certainly reject it.

Remembering and Teaching 9/11

Editor’s note: This first appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review in 2018.

This year’s remembrances of September 11, 2001 were odd for me. Consider: Did you ever think you’d live to see a time when the new generation doesn’t remember 9/11?

Well, I’ve reached that point with my students.

For 20 years, I’ve taught Middle East Politics at Grove City College every fall. In the late 1990s, and into my syllabus for the fall 2001 semester, I included a lecture on some grisly fellow named Osama Bin Laden, and an attempt to blow up one of the World Trade Center buildings back in 1993. I wanted my students to know about this diabolical terrorist who ought to be on their radar. The events of the morning of September 11, 2001 (my class would meet later that afternoon) took care of that. Osama and his minions were on our radar, loud and clear. My students, and every student, got a quick tutorial on this sinister Osama dude.

But as for my students this current semester, fall 2018, well, the course has finally reached a point where none remember 9/11. I asked them how many recall the horrors of that morning. I got a room full of blank stares. I’m pretty sure one of the freshmen was actually born after September 11, 2001.

Imagine that. Think about trying to teach what had to be lived to fully comprehend. How do you teach it? How do you memorialize it?

One place that tries is the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville. I stopped there last March, for the first time, while off the Turnpike taking a different route home from Washington, D.C. — which had happened to be the destination of Flight 93. The people on that plane stopped a catastrophe in the nation’s capital, where the aircraft was on its way to the Capitol Dome or White House.

The day I stopped by was windy and bitter cold. I walked along complaining to myself about the chill. It was a stupidly selfish reaction in the face of what those victims had endured and sacrificed.

Few visitors were there that cold afternoon, and the actual exhibition center was closed. I walked to the overlook and glimpsed where the plane hit. It’s a strange experience. You expect something dramatic, eerie — a ghastly crater of some nasty sort that oozes blood from the very ground. It’s not like that. If you were flying over the area today, you’d never even know the spot was anything but a farmer’s field. It’s amazing how our earth mundanely absorbs something like that — literally, barely a dent.

I told a friend about my visit. He had been there before and was disappointed. “I wanted to leave that place mad as hell,” he told me, with righteous indignation. He wants young people who visit, who didn’t live through 9/11, to come away with that feeling.

Hate and rage aren’t good things. But anger properly placed, especially in light of what happened that morning, is understandable — perhaps even necessary, critical. Young people need to know that what transpired was pure evil. Evil does exist. It has been on the prowl since the dawn of humanity. Few modern moments embodied that reality so obviously as September 11, 2001.

Remember that. Teach that.

Tear All the Statues Down?

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Last weekend I overheard two recent grads (both musicians) discussing America’s greatest composers. The usual names were raised: Copland, Gershwin, Bernstein, Sousa . . . Foster.

“Who?” said one.

“Stephen Foster,” replied the other.

Only one knew who Foster was, and neither knew he was from Pittsburgh. Both grads, ironically, recently spent a lot of time where the Stephen Foster statue once stood outside the Carnegie.

That statue, depicting Foster above a banjo-strumming Black man, representative of his song “Uncle Ned,” was removed in April 2018 after a contentious debate. The massive statue designed by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti in 1900 was hauled away one morning to a “city facility.”

“So, who was he?” the one young person asked.

I shared what little I knew, which had developed slowly as I passed that statue countless times during my years at Pitt. The Pittsburgh native composed songs like “Oh! Susannah” and was an early master of marketing pop music.

I tried to explain what people found offensive about Foster, the statue, the “Uncle Ned” character. (My limited understanding is that “Ned” was a fictionalized slave in what some say was an anti-slavery song.) This turned into a teachable moment. In fact, that’s the task of all of us: to teach these things. You learn about past mistakes to avoid repeating them.

Consider Confederate statues.

I’ve always detested the Confederacy and how it ripped apart this nation in the attempted preservation of an evil institution. I’m a native Pennsylvanian, a Union guy, a truly Lincoln Republican, great-great-grandson of the local Flinn family that fought Stonewall Jackson. I teach students that slavery was an abomination that violated all precepts of basic dignity and humans created in the image of God.

And yet, as a historian, I want these things to be learned. I don’t know why people can’t turn them into teachable moments. I’ve written content for museum exhibits of historical figures. At the base of these statues, there should be descriptions detailing the crucial, painful history that must be remembered.

Of course, what started with Confederate generals has now extended to statues of Union generals, even Ulysses S. Grant, who (ironically) defeated the Confederacy before battling the KKK and fighting for black Americans’ right to vote. Now targeted are everyone from George Washington to Teddy Roosevelt to St. Junipero Serra to even Lincoln himself and all of Mt. Rushmore.

What outrages me is the selectivity — namely, those exempted from outrage.

I’ve written incessantly about Margaret Sanger, her racial eugenics, the “Negro Project,” her May 1926 speech to the women’s chapter of the Silverlake, N.J. KKK. Black pastors have complained about her bust at the Smithsonian. And yet, as the founder of Planned Parenthood, she’s an icon to liberals. Her memorials remain untouched.

Currently, we’re focused on race, but what about allegations of how certain icons mistreated women, from Alexander Hamilton, and Ben Franklin, to John F. Kennedy, and even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

We’re all flawed, we’re all sinners.

Here’s my proposal: If you want to go down this road, then be willing to take them all down, from Jefferson to Sanger, from Columbus, to the 16-foot-tall bronzed Lenin in Seattle. If we’re going to do this, do it equally.     *

Wednesday, 12 February 2020 13:01

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an on-line publication of Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Remembering Jack Kerouac: Novelist, Beat, Conservative, Catholic

The year 2019 brought some notable golden anniversaries from a wild year: 1969. Some were glorious, such as the Moon Landing; others were scurrilous, scandalous, such as the Manson Family murders, Woodstock, Chappaquiddick. The year 1969 also marked some shocking deaths: Sharon Tate, Mary Jo Kopechne, even Judy Garland.

Another death that year, which rocked that generation, especially the so-called Beat Generation that emerged the previous decade, was that of Jack Kerouac, whose death at age 47 shocked Americans. And yet, in 2019, the 50th anniversary of Kerouac’s passing came and went. I didn’t see a single tribute. I thus felt it worthwhile to cobble together a tribute for The American Spectator, a publication that never neglected Kerouac’s importance, nor his enigma.

Jack Kerouac was a fascinating and often confusing character, a tragic one, in many ways remembered wrongly, or not quite rightly. His magnum opus was, of course, his 1957 classic, On the Road. My interest here was Kerouac’s unappreciated conservatism and faithful Catholicism. Countless admirers and emulators missed this aspect of the man, as have many of those who have written about him — with some exceptions.

In October 2018, Marlo Safi put together a beautifully written piece for The National Review titled “The Conservative, Catholic Kerouac,” noting Keroauc’s pious roots as the altar-boy son of blue-collar, hardworking French-Canadian immigrants, who toward the end of his life retreated to the Marian prayers of his childhood. In September 2012, Robert Dean Lurie took a deeper look at that piety in a piece for the American Conservative called “The Conservative Kerouac.” Lurie detailed Kerouac the mystic, who “pined for God and home” and carried a special affinity for St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Lisieux (“The Little Flower”), and Thomas Merton (another French immigrant, who became a Trappist monk, and likewise a famous writer, particularly via his brilliant memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain). Lurie highlighted an especially instructive moment from Kerouac’s final year. The Beat novelist was incensed when Ted Berrigan of the Paris Review asked him, “How come you never write about Jesus?” Kerouac snapped: “I’ve never written about Jesus? . . . You’re an insane phony. . . . All I write about is Jesus.”

That was precisely right. Though that underlying message was missed by millions of its acolytes, On the Road was really an autobiographical expression of Kerouac’s longing and searching for something — that something was God.

Historian Douglas Brinkley, the editor of Kerouac’s diary, reported that nearly every page carried a prayer, an appeal to Christ for mercy, or a sketched crucifix. “Kerouac was trying to make everything holy,” said Brinkley.

“The very term beat, for Beatitude of Christ, kind of came to Kerouac at a Catholic church. And when I edited his diaries, really almost every page, he drew a crucifix or a prayer to God, or asking Christ for forgiveness.”

Think about that: “Beat” referred to Christ’s Beatitudes. Many will be shocked to learn that, but it is true. Professor David A. King writes:

“Kerouac had coined the term the Beat Generation, after hearing a friend use the expression ‘beat,’ meaning exhausted. But the Catholic Kerouac saw more in the word. As he recalled, during a visit to Lowell [his hometown] in 1954, he returned to the church of his youth, where he knelt alone in the silence. ‘And I suddenly realized, Beat means Beatitude! Beatific!’”

Later, he would go on to explain that:

“Because I am Beat, I believe in Beatitude and that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son to it.”

Though Kerouac wrote many other books, he will be forever remembered for On the Road, which he described as “. . . really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found Him.” This probably surprises anyone who has read this episodic story of sordid love affairs, drugs, jazz, fast cars, and madness. For most of his life, Kerouac was sadly out of his mind — drunk, addled, and fatigued by work and fame. He often spoke without the benefit of foresight. Yet I think his Catholic instincts were deeply sincere. Friends often teased him about his Catholicism; though he did not practice the faith, he clearly thought about it all the time, and he frequently defended the Church to skeptics. Even in his deep inquiries into Buddhism and Eastern spirituality, an exploration he shared with his contemporary Merton, Kerouac saw mysticism from a Catholic perspective. It was ingrained in him. He proclaimed a devotion to both St. Joseph and, especially, St. Therese, whose “Little Way” intrigued him.

At the core of On the Road, and at the heart of all his work, is the Catholic and Beat insistence upon an underlying spirituality that inhabits all creation. Kerouac saw the world, and everything in it, as Holy.

That was Douglas Brinkley’s conclusion as well. He notes that On the Road was about a “spiritual quest.” It was a metaphor for Kerouac’s larger life. According to Brinkley, the first thing to understand about Kerouac is that he was an American Catholic writer.

Brinkley shared those insights in a 2007 interview with NPR regarding the golden anniversary of On the Road. The pieces by David King and Robert Dean Lurie and Marlo Safi are still more recent accounts that delved into Kerouac’s conservatism and Catholicism. And yet, it will not surprise readers here to know that The American Spectator was way out in front on this unappreciated side of Jack Kerouac, running at least three articles in the early 1970s and an artist’s rendering of Kerouac’s mug on the cover of the May-June 1970 issue.

The first piece on Kerouac that ran in The Alternative appeared in the February 1970 issue. Titled, “Jack Kerouac, RIP,” it was a tribute by John Coyne reprinted from National Review.

“Jack’s dead,” wrote Coyne somberly. “To those of us who did some of our growing up around Columbia [University] in the Fifties, he was the standard, the legend.” He had been a high school football hero in his native Lowell, Massachusetts, noted Coyne, so admired that “on a good boozy night Scott Fitzgerald just might have traded The Great Gatsby for Jack’s varsity letter.” A star running back, the working-class kid fielded scholarship offers from around the country before opting for the Ivy League Columbia University. He went to Columbia, where, unlike the likes of Whittaker Chambers and Thomas Merton and Mark Rudd and a long line of others who became not just leftists at Columbia but Communists, Kerouac played football rather than tinker with such ideological nonsense. And though he didn’t get sucked into the radical Left, he did suffer a devastating injury on a long punt return that finished his playing days. He was his own man, stopped not by police at the front of a protest march led by Marxists, but by a broken leg during a nice punt return.

As Coyne noted, Kerouac gave up football for wild times and to write nothing short of an epic of the era: “The wild jags, the fistfight with a professor, the trips with Neal Cassady. And in between, he sat down and wrote a bestseller in 21 days.” And what did that book really say? Coyne understood way back in 1970:

“[Jack] was saying something we all ached to find our own way to say: we loved this country and we wanted to tell it so. And it is precisely this that comes through On the Road. A deep, profound love affair with America.”

As a sort of final exhibit of that, Coyne furnished a letter he received from Kerouac the day he died. “Dear Coyne,” Kerouac wrote, “This brochure reads like a complaint from Al Capone.” He was referring to a diatribe expressed in a certain pamphlet issued by the New Left. “He loathed them,” Coyne wrote of Kerouac’s take on this new brand of ’60s Leftists:

“They were punks who had their minds made up about the world before they knew anything, and they had expropriated the legend. But their claim was not legitimate. They hadn’t earned it, Jack believed, and they never would. For their hatreds were not his, and his love for America will forever lie far outside their experiences.”

Kerouac appreciated what America had allowed him to do — that is, the America of freedom, which meant free markets, property rights, individualism, all polar opposites of the socialist-collectivist state hailed by his New Left appropriators. In “After Me, The Deluge,” an article that Kerouac in 1969 had put together for syndication in newspapers, and which unwittingly became a last statement published after his unexpected death, he said that “if it hadn’t been for Western-style capitalism,” which enabled “free economic byplay, movement north, south, east, and west, haggling, pricing, and the political balance of power carved into the U.S. Constitution,” he “wouldn’t have been able or allowed to hitchhike half broke thru 47 states of this Union and see the scene with my own eyes, unmolested.”

Truer words were never spoken. Just as it boggles the mind today to observe Millennials stump for “democratic socialism” on laptops and iPhones at the corner Starbucks. Kerouac was amazed by the sight of ’60s Communists vilifying the very system that allowed them the unprecedented freedoms they reveled in. It’s a surreal spectacle that never seems to hit those who pride themselves in their intellectual superiority.

What John Coyne reported in The Alternative in February 1970 was expanded upon in the January 1974 issue by Allen Crawford. That issue carried Mark Twain on the cover and featured a lead editorial by Tyrrell that marshaled Twain and Mencken against the latest antics of the ACLU. Crawford’s piece, titled, “A Last-Ditch Stand,” was a double book review of a long-awaited posthumous publication of Kerouac’s Visions of Cody and Ann Charters’ biography. These developments, Crawford observed, had hippies hopping off to bookstores to buy On the Road for the first time. He remained a “counterculture hero.”

And yet, noted Crawford, Kerouac lamented that he had been co-opted by a generation of leftists who never understood him and with whom he felt no kinship. Crawford stated emphatically: “Kerouac was, politically and . . . temperamentally, a conservative.” And he was decidedly and devoutly Catholic. “I’m not a Beatnik, I’m a Catholic,” said Kerouac memorably.

That Catholicism, like his conservatism, fueled his intense anti-communism. Kerouac blasted what he didn’t hesitate to call “the Communist conspiracy,” even blaming it in part for helping to introduce drugs into American culture to weaken the nation’s social fiber. Here, too, he stood apart from the New Left counterculture. “I’m pro-American, and the radical political involvements seem to tend elsewhere,” he said. America “gave my Canadian family a good break, more or less, and we see no reason to demean said country.”

Allen Crawford shared an anecdote from a party at Ken Kesey’s place in New York. There with Kerouac was his longtime friend the poet Allen Ginsberg, whose politics Jack bitterly denounced, particularly what Kerouac called Ginsberg’s “pro-Castro bulls–t,” not to mention more generally the “Castro-jacketed New Left.” When Ginsberg playfully draped an American flag over Jack’s shoulders at Kesey’s place, Kerouac responded in kind: “So I took it, and I folded it up the way you’re supposed to, and I put it back on the sofa … the flag is not a rag.”

Allen Crawford detailed two particularly revealing interviews that Kerouac gave in the last year or so of his life:

In 1968, he was interviewed by Bruce Cook, who was preparing his book, The Beat Generation. “Listen,” Kerouac said pointedly to Cook,

“. . . my politics haven’t changed. I’m solidly behind Bill Buckley, if you want to know. Nothing in my books can be seen as basically in disagreement with that. Everybody just assumed that I thought the way they wanted me to think. What bothered me a lot, though, was the way a certain cadre of leftists among the so-called beats took over my mantle and twisted my own thoughts to support their purposes.”

Kerouac lectured Cook:

“Look, I don’t know if you thought much about this at all, or maybe you already made up your mind about me before you came here, but I want to make this clear. I mean here I am, a guy who was a railroad brakeman, and a cowboy and a football player — just a lot of things ordinary guys do. And I wasn’t trying to create any new consciousness or anything. We didn’t have a whole lot of abstract thoughts. I mean, we were just a bunch of guys out trying to get laid.”

And certainly, he was a guy who wasn’t a liberal.

A second interview flagged by Allen Crawford came a few months later, when Kerouac was interviewed at his Florida home shortly before he died by Esquire’s John McLintlock, who Kerouac ushered into a room strewn with Falstaff bottles and stacks of The National Review. “If Kerouac had a hero,” wrote McLintlock, “it was William F. Buckley, Jr.”

One regrettable moment that combined both — Buckley and booze — was a sadly awful appearance by Kerouac on Buckley’s “Firing Line” show in 1968 discussing the Hippie phenomenon. Virtually unrecognizable and far from resembling his iconic image, Kerouac was drunk — speech slurring, eyeballs rolling back, sweating, overweight. Only 46 years old, and smashed, he looked at least 20 years older. It was an embarrassing performance, despite certain touching moments that emerged between Jack’s slurred lines, such as him telling Buckley and the audience (Russell Kirk-like) that he believed in “order, tenderness, and piety.” (Kerouac also told Buckley of his support for Republicans: “My father and my mother and my sister and I have always voted Republican. Always.”)

His appearance on “Firing Line” was revealing in many ways, particularly his unfortunate end. For those who knew Kerouac intimately, the “Firing Line” fiasco was not a surprise. Joyce Johnson, a fellow writer and girlfriend of Kerouac, says that in public situations, “he had to drink.” Such was his discomfort with his fame, particularly after the sensation of On the Road: “Women everywhere were offering themselves. He was a celebrity, which was very hard for him. In public situations, he had to drink.”

Jack was visibly wounded during the “Firing Line” broadcast, which came September 3, 1968. He died only a year later, violently hemorrhaging his liver from the alcoholism eating up his insides. He succumbed at age 47, as what one source described as an “alcoholic recluse.” It was a tragic end.

Jack Kerouac’s funeral Mass was held on an unseasonably cold day in Lowell, Massachusetts, on October 24, 1969, at St. Jean Baptiste Cathedral. His body lay in a black casket, his hands folded prayerfully with a Rosary wrapped between his fingers. The Rosary represented the faith he had pined for. The priest, Father Armand Morisette, linked Kerouac’s road to the Road to Emmaus, where one of the companions searching for Jesus said to the other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when He talked to us on the road?”

That was the road that Jack Kerouac had searched for. It burned within him until he found his final peace back at that church of his youth.     *

Tuesday, 05 November 2019 12:46

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an on-line publication of Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Homage to a Cold War Prophet

Both my country and I lost a great friend and freedom fighter this week: Herb Meyer, an unsung hero of the Cold War. He received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal for his November 1983 memo predicting a Soviet collapse and victory for the United States. “If present trends continue,” wrote Meyer, “we’re going to win the Cold War.”

Meyer’s bosses, Bill Casey and Ronald Reagan, were all ears. In that endeavor, Meyer was the indispensable man to his beloved mentor and CIA director, Bill Casey.

Sad as I was to hear of his death, it was no surprise. I had been praying for Herb and dreading the news for months, ever since a terrible bike accident last September 25 left this brilliant man, of excellent mind and body, and barely into his 70s, unconscious and incapacitated. Herb’s son, Tom, of whom he was so proud, told me months ago that his dad’s life effectively ended that day. I feared that was the case.

The piece that The American Spectator published from Herb in July 2018 might have been his last, one of many articles he penned in rare moments of down-time when he wasn’t flying everywhere giving lectures on the state of intelligence and the world.

Herb liked to note that he got his start writing obituaries. They were so good that wags would tell him they regretted they hadn’t died when Herb was writing obituaries. I always regretted the day I would write Herb’s obituary, because I knew it wouldn’t be adequate. Besides, he used to rib me that I’d be writing his biography one day. I’d ask about some historical gem or try to yank some secret from his CIA days, only to have him (half) joke: “I’ll tell you when you write my biography.”

I told him that, no, he needed to do that — that is, write his story. He told me he didn’t have the time to start memoirs. I told him he’d better, before it’s too late. I’m sure he figured he had plenty of time. He didn’t.

I have written tributes to Herb in the past, at The American Spectator, in other sources, in my books on Reagan and the Cold War, for which his insights were invaluable. There were countless occasions when he would email or call in response to articles I wrote. I’ve missed that witty correspondence over the last 10 months. It will be hard to reconcile myself to the fact that those communications are permanently finished, and that he’s no longer available to tap for information. That’s what happens when we lose great minds like Herb’s — storehouses, irreplaceable repositories of information. He often told my students that our biggest problem as a nation and culture, in America and the West, is that we’ve forgotten what we already knew.

To that end, I want here to disclose something historically significant, compliments of Herb, and which I’ve long known I could fully divulge only upon his death, though I figured that wouldn’t come for many years.

It was from Herb that I learned that we had learned — specifically, Bill Casey, Ronald Reagan, and a very small group around Casey and Reagan — that the Soviets were behind the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and that Casey and this tight-knit crew reached that dramatic conclusion in an extraordinarily classified CIA report that still has not been released.

It took time for me to extract that information from Herb. Going back through my notes these last couple days, I found my first record in an August 6, 2007, email, in which he responded to my inquiry about the shooting of the pope: “Yeah, I know a lot about this subject. I was in it up to my elbows.” That was the limit to what he could put in writing. He told me to call to discuss. He was traveling the next three weeks. We finally connected on August 31, from his home.

“Look, I know what happened with the pope,” he told me, again tight lipped.

That began many days of digging before it was clear to Herb that I had figured out what happened with the pope. Still, because of the extreme secrecy, he would not confirm anything by email or phone.

Finally, that changed on February 5, 2009, when Herb was on our campus of Grove City College, at my invitation, to give our third annual Ronald Reagan Lecture. It was a typical freezing Western Pennsylvania February day. We were about to hop into my conversion van to drive from a private dinner of about 30 people, held at a dining room that the college refers to as “Old MAP,” on our way to the pre-lecture reception at 5:45 at Pew auditorium. It was only the two of us.

By this point, we had become friends. Amid numerous emails and phone calls, I didn’t badger him about what he knew on John Paul II. If he wanted to tell me, he would. I left it in the hands of Herb, and perhaps Providence.

With a grin, Herb suddenly noted that we had not resolved the “pope issue.” As we stepped into the car, I smiled and said I was quite aware of that. I told him that I was confident I had figured it out, laying out the pieces of the puzzle I had been assembling. He nodded with an impressed “Hmm.” As we pulled out to drive across campus, Herb said to me flatly: “The Russians did it.”

He had heard my argument and knew that I knew — or at least as much as I could know without confirmation from one of the individuals who personally read the CIA report that Herb had read over 20 years ago. He also knew that the Italian Parliament had recently come to the same conclusion in an official report.

“The Soviets did it,” he told me. “They shot the pope.” That was the conclusion of the CIA’s investigation. He quickly added that I could not quote him.

Herb then told me about the moment they all learned the truth for the first time. He was in a room with a handful people: Bill Casey, Bob Gates, Jim McMahon — a CIA establishmentarian who, Herb noted, was “stunned” by the reality that the Kremlin could have been so vicious as to try to murder the pope. Herb reiterated that the finding is contained in a still-classified report, located somewhere, and that he had “never, ever seen anything that classified.” Herb quipped of the report’s sensitivity: “The last thing I saw, we were burning out the eyes of the girl who typed it.”

Herb would continue to tell me more on later occasions. Most notable, he said it was the Soviet GRU, military intelligence, that carried out the hit on the pope. It was not a KGB job.

“That’s what threw off everyone,” Herb said, “because everyone looking into whether the Soviets did it looked at the KGB, and pinged their KGB contacts for information, but found nothing. In fact, the KGB knew nothing because it wasn’t involved.”

I ultimately weaved together this information for my 2017 book, A Pope and a President, carefully not mentioning Herb Meyer as my key source. Intensely interested parties wanted to know who told me about the CIA finding of Soviet culpability. Most figured it was Bill Clark, Reagan’s closest aide, who was like a grandfather to me (I was his biographer). It wasn’t Clark. It was Herb Meyer.

One wonders what other gems Herb was keeping to himself, maybe for those elusive memoirs one day. We’ll never know.

The last time I saw Herb was at my good friend Bo DiMuccio’s house, when Herb returned to Grove City for our 10th annual Reagan Lecture. A group of us smoked cigars, had drinks, and talked about life and the world. The conversation continued to the front porch of the house where Herb was staying in Grove City, though Herb was tired out and went to bed early. It was a special night. It was the last.

Herb Meyer: Cold War prophet; agent of victory in the epic defeat of an Evil Empire; man of great stories; knowledge; and secrets. And a really good guy. Requiescat in pace.

What Lenin Said about Christians and Socialism

“If someone calls it socialism,” said Rev. William Barber at the August meeting of the Democratic National Committee, “then we must compel them to acknowledge that the Bible must then promote socialism, because Jesus offered free health care to everyone, and he never charged a leper a co-pay.”

Barber’s statement brought secular progressives to their feet in thunderous applause. That included DNC chair Tom Perez, who says that democratic socialists like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represent “the future of our party.” That’s a party once headed by men like John F. Kennedy, who warned of the “fanaticism and fury” — the “ruthless, godless tyranny” — of the “Communist conspiracy.”

Describing the U.S. Constitution and the Bible as “socialist documents,” the Rev. Barber exhorted the faithful: “If you want to have a moral debate, bring it on, baby!”

A moral debate on socialism and Christianity, pastor? Sure, let’s have it.

But there’s no need to pick on Rev. Barber. He’s interchangeable with any number of “social justice” proponents on the Religious Left. His statement actually pales to what was published in the Jesuit-run America magazine a few weeks ago — a stunning piece titled “The Catholic Case for Communism.” The column, which was written by an America staff writer named Dean Dettloff, came with a defense and explanation by America’s editor-in-chief, Fr. Matt Malone, S.J., called “Why we published an essay sympathetic to Communism.”

The spectacle prompted one reader to comment, “What will America publish next, ‘The Catholic Case for Atheism’? or ‘The Catholic Case for Satanism’?”

That’s no laughing matter. The Roman Catholic Church in the 1937 encyclical Divini Redemptoris referred to Communism as a “satanic scourge,” a “truly diabolical” instrument of the “sons of darkness.”

Can you imagine a publication in 2019 defending such an ideology? What did Communism produce in the interim, between 1937 and 2019? Only 100 million corpses or so.

But back to this democratic-socialism infatuation by many on the modern Religious Left. I dealt with this not long ago in a recent piece laying out at length what the Catholic Church has taught about socialism and even its alleged more “democratic” variants. Here, too, this article could run thousands of words with endless examples, including some from the very founders of socialism, Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, and past democratic socialists and Social Democrats refuting this stuff. Socialism is, in Marxist theory, the final transitionary step to Communism.

Here today, I’ll offer merely a snapshot from Vladimir Lenin himself — who, for the record, was a Social Democrat. Yes, you heard that right. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union began life in 1898 as the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party. In 1903, at the party’s 2nd Congress, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin split their Bolshevik faction from their rival Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were self-professed Social Democrats.

And what did Lenin say about religion? “Religion is opium for the people,” wrote Lenin in December 1905, echoing his hero, Karl Marx. “Religion is a sort of spiritual booze.” That was a mild assessment from a man who wrote that “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.” Yes, necrophilia.

Sticking to this 1905 statement, Lenin saw socialism as incompatible with religious belief: “Everyone must be absolutely free to . . . be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule.” He declared: “Complete separation of Church and State is what the socialist proletariat demands of the modern state and the modern church.” Sounding like a 21st-century secular progressive in America, Lenin insisted that “religion must be declared a private affair.”

Of course, once Lenin and his Bolsheviks took over a decade later, they refused to tolerate religion even as a private affair. In fact, even in that 1905 letter, Lenin conceded as much: “We demand that religion be held a private affair so far as the state is concerned. But by no means can we consider religion a private affair so far as our Party is concerned.” In his Soviet state, the Party was the supreme, infallible authority, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would relentlessly pursue what Mikhail Gorbachev called “a wholesale war on religion.”

Lenin continued, stating that in order “to combat the religious fog . . . we founded our association, the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, precisely for such a struggle against every religious bamboozling of the workers.” Lenin wanted a political system “cleansed of medieval mildew.” He wanted to halt “the religious humbugging of mankind.”

Other examples from Lenin? I could go on and on. These are tame examples taken from a decade prior to when Lenin came to power and began murdering by the thousands. This is the restrained Lenin. Still, one can see the absolute repudiation of religion vis-à-vis Communism, socialism, and democratic socialism.

Four years later, in May of 1909, Lenin repeated: “Religion is the opium of the people — this dictum by Marx is the cornerstone of the whole Marxist outlook on religion.” Here, Lenin was writing explicitly on behalf of fellow “Social-Democrats.” What he wrote is worth quoting at length, given what our Christian “democratic socialist” brethren now assert:

“It is the absolute duty of Social-Democrats to make a public statement of their attitude towards religion. Social-Democracy bases its whole world-outlook on scientific socialism, i.e., Marxism. The philosophical basis of Marxism, as Marx and Engels repeatedly declared, is dialectical materialism — a materialism which is absolutely atheistic and positively hostile to all religion. . . . Marxism has always regarded all modern religions and churches, and each and every religious organization, as instruments of bourgeois reaction that serve to defend exploitation and to befuddle the working class . . .

“Marxism is materialism. As such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion. . . . We must combat religion — that is the ABC of all materialism, and consequently of Marxism. But Marxism is not a materialism which has stopped at the ABC. Marxism goes further. It says: We must know how to combat religion.

“This combat must be waged in order to reverse religion’s hold on the ‘backward sections of the town proletariat’” — that is, the town idiots.

Could a pastor (perhaps the Rev. Barber) or a priest who subscribes to America magazine be a fellow Social-Democrat and member of the Party? Apparently, even in Lenin’s day, a peculiar priest or two must have occasionally considered hooking up with Lenin and his Social-Democrats. Lenin himself reflected on the absurd thought:

“The question is often brought up whether a priest can be a member of the Social-Democratic Party or not, and this question is usually answered in an unqualified affirmative, the experience of the European Social-Democratic parties being cited as evidence. But this experience was the result, not only of the application of the Marxist doctrine to the workers’ movement, but also of the special historical conditions in Western Europe which are absent in Russia . . . so that an unqualified affirmative answer in this case is incorrect.

“It cannot be asserted once and for all that priests cannot be members of the Social-Democratic Party; but neither can the reverse rule be laid down. If a priest comes to us to take part in our common political work and conscientiously performs Party duties, without opposing the program of the Party, he may be allowed to join the ranks of the Social-Democrats; for the contradiction between the spirit and principles of our program and the religious convictions of the priest would in such circumstances be something that concerned him alone, his own private contradiction. . . . But, of course, such a case might be a rare exception even in Western Europe, while in Russia it is altogether improbable. And if, for example, a priest joined the Social-Democratic Party and made it his chief and almost sole work actively to propagate religious views in the Party, it would unquestionably have to expel him from its ranks.”

If a left-wing priest were foolish enough to join the Party, Lenin and the boys would accept his help (Lenin is infamous for allegedly referring to such people as “useful idiots”). But if the strange priest ever tried to share his faith with the comrades, well, he would be shown the door and the boot.

Lenin knew better. So, too, did Marx: “Communism begins where atheism begins,” he asserted.

Once the Bolsheviks took over Russia, atheism was required of Party officials. Any lingering religious sentiment by the Party member must be purged. This was likewise true for the American Communist apparatchiks. “Many workers join the Communist Party who still have some religious scruples, or religious ideas,” conceded William Z. Foster, head of the Communist Party U.S.A., in testimony to Congress:

“. . . but a worker who will join the Communist Party, who understands the elementary principles of the Communist Party, must necessarily be in the process of liquidating his religious beliefs and, if he still has any lingerings when he joins the Party, he will soon get rid of them.”

This is why religious people generally have historically understood Communism and socialism to be antithetical to religion: the Communists and socialists told us they were.

I know that some Religious Left Christians will take issue with this article focusing on the likes of Lenin and William Z. Foster. Fair enough. But that’s my focus here in this article (just one of numerous I’ve written on socialism and Communism), and it isn’t irrelevant. These things have been thought about for a long time. This isn’t new.

This is crucial history that the modern Religious Left surely doesn’t know, no doubt because it was never learned. Our universities have failed to teach this material, instead criticizing anti-communism and anti-socialism. We are now reaping what we’ve sown. You know you’re in spiritual darkness when not even the religious can be counted on to refute the anti-religiousness of Communism and socialism.

The Last of the Bailey Brothers of World War II

Five years ago, for Memorial Day 2014, I wrote about the five Bailey brothers of World War II. This year, I’m writing about them maybe for the last time.

Yes, there were no less than five Baileys who served in WWII. That fact is known to those who attend the annual Memorial Day parade in Mercer, Pennsylvania. The parade is pure Americana: local rotary club, high-school bands, church groups, veterans of wars.

The veterans marching today largely wear the camouflage of distant regions like Iraq and Afghanistan, or uniforms from Vietnam and Korea. Veterans from World War II, unfortunately, are a dwindling sight. I wonder if we’ll see any this year.

One exhibit has long been part of the procession: a classy old car with a placard announcing the “Five Bailey Brothers.”

Back in 2013, after several years of watching the Bailey car ride by, I took the time to track down the last surviving brother: Dick. I was pleasantly surprised to learn he lived in my town — Grove City. I called and asked if he’d give me some time to hear and write about him and his family. He agreed.

Born Christmas Eve 1922, Dick served in World War II along with his brothers Fred, Alphonse (known as “Fonnie”), Jim, and John. All five volunteered after Pearl Harbor and were dispatched into enemy territory. “All had combat,” says Dick — in Europe, the Pacific, Northern Africa; land, sea, air.

Fred was shot and taken prisoner by the Nazis. “The Germans didn’t treat him well,” Dick told me. “Fred said it was horrible. . . . He was only 110 pounds when he came home.” He won a purple heart.

Dick was in the Army Air Corps. He and his brother John were in the war the longest. Dick served on six Pacific islands. In the Schouten Islands, the Japanese bombed almost every night, typically two hours at a time, throughout Dick’s eight-month stay. “You didn’t sleep very much,” remembered Dick.

In all, Dick served continuously from December 1942 until January 1946: “I was never home the whole time until January 1946.”

I asked Dick about the moment he finally got home. It was the winter of 1946. For weeks, he sojourned from the other side of the earth, only to encounter a terrific snowstorm as he neared Western Pennsylvania.

He took the train from Pittsburgh to Grove City. Unbeknownst to Dick, his parents had moved to the nearby little town of Harrisville. Dick arrived very late, consigned to a 24-hour diner by a foot-and-a-half of snow. His parents had no idea he was headed home. Amazingly, they hadn’t heard from him in years, and he hadn’t heard from them — such were the dreadful lines of communication and secrecy. Dick hadn’t been in touch with his brothers either. For all he knew, they might all be dead. He had no clue.

Dick also had no clue of his parents’ new address. At the diner, he saw an old buddy, who informed him where his parents were living. With this useful new information, Dick made his way. He showed up at his parents’ house at 5:00 A.M. His half-asleep mother scurried to the door and saw her son for the first time in four years. She cried, he cried.

Dick’s parents then informed him of something he yearned to know: all of his brothers had survived. He was the last one they were waiting on.

Unfortunately, all of Dick’s brothers now lived elsewhere, two of them newlyweds. His two sisters had also gotten married. In 1942, Dick had left a happy, vibrant home of nine. The war had emptied the Bailey household. But at least all were alive.

Dick would go on to outlive them all.

Over the last couple of years, I was curious about Dick’s situation. I often drove by and looked toward his house, the one with the giant flagpole in the front yard, with Old Glory always raised high. He lived across the street from the fire hall, between two churches. Lately, the house looked like it might be vacant. It turns out it was.

A few months ago, I unexpectedly got an email from Dick’s grandson, Kody, noting that his grandfather had passed away a few days shy of his 95th birthday.

And so, with Dick Bailey’s passing, so ends an era. The five Bailey brothers are all gone, and there will no longer be a car in the Mercer Memorial Day Parade with a Bailey boy wearing World War II badges. They have left us, but they leave us with the eternal hope that the entire Bailey family is united again at last.     *

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 13:55

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Faith and Freedom at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

On Ronald Reagan’s “Racism” — A Single Mistake Does Not a Racist Make.

There’s a provocative article by NYU professor Tim Naftali in the Atlantic titled “Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation With Richard Nixon.” It reports an insulting statement made by Gov. Ronald Reagan to President Richard Nixon in October 1971. Naftali lays out the context and the exchange:

“The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then-California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. ‘Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,’ Reagan said. ‘Yeah,’ Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: ‘To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!’ Nixon gave a huge laugh.”

The statement is bad. No question. As you can imagine, it’s getting a lot of traction among race-obsessed liberals who discern white-hooded “dog whistles” in endless remarks from Republicans but can’t find space within their mental-ideological makeup to even mention something as shameful as, oh, Margaret Sanger’s May 1926 speech to the Silverlake, New Jersey, women’s chapter of the KKK, or any number of racially offensive zingers from a President like Lyndon Johnson or Woodrow Wilson. Their hypocrisy never ceases to outrage.

Make no mistake: They will never let Ronald Reagan escape this one. This line will be hoisted on a progressive petard as an eternal symbol of his views on race. Liberals will apply it unforgivingly and uncharitably in a manner they’d never do with their Democrat pals.

That said, as a Reagan biographer and historian, one who has published eight books and countless articles on the man, I’ve been asked to respond. What to make of this? How to interpret it?

To begin with, I personally cannot defend that statement. It needs to be condemned, certainly as written.

It’s very important to know, however, that Ronald Reagan was not a racist. This is the only — and I mean only — statement that I’ve ever read from him like this (and I’ve read just about everything). It’s so out of the norm that I find it hard to believe. Unlike nasty statements from the likes of L.B.J. and Harry Truman and Woodrow Wilson or even from Hillary Clinton (who jokes of Cory Booker and Eric Holder: “I know, they all look alike”) and Bill Clinton.

Naftali himself concedes, “Reagan’s racism appears to be documented only once on the Nixon tapes, and never in his own diaries.”

Why did Ronald utter this on this one occasion, which was completely out of character for him amid a very public life in which we have billions of on-the-record words from him, including thousands of private letters? Naftali says that Reagan was angry and frustrated in this instance, and thus expressed himself in a way that was insensitive and offensive. He says that Reagan “vented his frustration at the [African UN] delegates who had sided against the United States.”

I can’t say that I fully agree with that interpretation. I’ve carefully listened to the audio multiple times. Reagan doesn’t sound angry at all. It sounds like he might be mocking a racist stereotype. I honestly can’t tell for certain. Given that Reagan never spoke this way, and didn’t think this way, one ought to be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

To repeat, Ronald Reagan was absolutely no racist. This can be demonstrated at length in actions and statements literally from the time of his childhood. There are so many actions and statements that I’ve considered doing a book on Reagan and race, simply to show how unusual he was for his times — i.e., there wasn’t a racist bone in his body. I have a box, stuffed with folders, labeled “Reagan and race.” It’s loaded with examples that show Reagan to have been completely against racial prejudice and highly supportive of black Americans and their struggles, especially black actors in Hollywood when he ran the Screen Actors Guild. The problem, frankly, with responding to charges like this in a single article is that you just can’t begin to sufficiently respond, especially when the jury is packed with emotional liberals who want to see a racist under every Republican bed. Where to start? Where to end?

“I’ve lived a long time,” President Reagan told the National Council of Negro Women at the White House in July 1983, “but I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t believe that prejudice and bigotry were the worst of sins.”

He meant that literally. Racism, to Ronald Reagan, was a sin. Reagan learned that at home, as a boy, from his devout Christian mother and from his father.

Any Reagan biographer can tell you of an anecdote from a cold evening in Dixon, Illinois, in the early 1930s, when a young “Dutch” Reagan brought home two African American teammates from his college football team. The boys, William Franklin “Burgie” Burghardt and Jim Rattan, had been denied access to a local hotel because of the color of their skin. Burgie was Reagan’s best friend on the team; he played right next to Reagan on the offensive line. Reagan assured them they would be welcomed at his home. The two boys weren’t so certain. Sure, their friend seemed like an amiable guy, but these boys knew what it was like to be black in those days of rampant discrimination. Would the parents of this nice kid, Dutch, be as kind as he was?

“Come in, boys,” said Reagan’s mother, Nelle, with a warm smile as she greeted the boys. They spent the night. I doubt that the typical home in America was like that. The Reagan home was.

“She was absolutely color-blind,” said Reagan of his mom, recounting the story. “These fellows were just two of my friends. That was the way she and Jack [Reagan’s father] had always raised my brother and me.”

Ronald Reagan had learned racial, ethnic, and religious tolerance from his parents. It had been part of him since his early childhood.

While this anecdote about the two young black men, of which many more could be given from Reagan’s rich life and experiences, reflects Reagan’s hatred of racism, it also underscores his respect for the inherent humanity of all people, regardless of their skin color, their ethnic background, their religious beliefs. For Reagan, these were matters of basic human dignity.

I promise you that I could go on and on with heartwarming stories of Reagan’s love and kindness toward African Americans. There was his relationship with the likes of celebrities from Muhammad Ali to Rosie Grier to Meadowlark Lemon, to name only three off the top of my head. I could name names you’ve never heard of, with stories that would make you cry — Reagan and Rudy Hines, Joe Bullock, Willie Sue Smith, Mildred Jefferson. Again, there are too many to adequately describe here. These are touching relationships that few self-righteous liberals or any of us have experienced.

Even in his Evil Empire speech, famous for calling out the USSR, Ronald Reagan paused to call out his own country, the United States of America, for its past sins of racism.

“There is sin and evil in the world,” said Reagan, “and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.” That applied, he said, to “our nation,” which had a “legacy of evil with which it must deal. . . . There is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country.”

This wasn’t something that Reagan was expected to say in a foreign-policy speech. He expressed it because he felt it; he believed it.

Ask anyone who knew Ronald Reagan and they will tell you that he was not a racist, period.

As for the author of the piece in the Atlantic, Tim Naftali, he deserves some criticism, not for reporting this remark from Reagan, but for how, in turn, he thus speaks conclusively of “Reagan’s racism” (a phrase he used twice), as if this one comment can allow us to judge Reagan as a whole and as a person. The fuller picture of the man shows the opposite. In fact, I would advise Naftali to be careful about constructing such a standard. Naftali, a biographer of John F. Kennedy, notes, “As I write a biography of J.F.K., I’ve found that this sort of racism did not animate President Kennedy.”

Naftali seems to have chosen his words carefully there, prompting me to ask him here: Has he encountered racially offensive remarks from J.F.K.? Or other Kennedy family members?

Hey, I like J.F.K., too. Naftali better be careful, however. He may well come across something similar from the annals of the Kennedy clan that he doesn’t like — and far more than one example. Liberals create such standards to apply them mercilessly to Republicans, not realizing that such standards will come back to bite them when they find untidy skeletons among their progressive icons. This they learned with their black-face campaign. Beware the Democrat, dear progressive — who donned black-face?

As for Reagan, it is really unfair to take one statement from a man’s past — one that goes against every statement he ever made about black people — and try to argue that it makes him a racist, especially when the man is no longer alive to explain the remark. It’s a bad remark, but it’s far from the total picture. It’s like looking at Harry Truman’s offensive statements about Jews (more than one of those) and ignoring his wonderful work ensuring that America recognize the new nation of Israel, which Truman pursued against his entire cabinet. (For a genuinely ugly track record of statements and actions against Jews and a homeland for them in Palestine, see Franklin Roosevelt.)

To liberals, I say this: Don’t be hacks. Don’t smear a decent man and his long life of decency, including on race, because he’s a Republican and not one of your Democrat buddies. Have the decency to treat a decent man with decency.

To Reagan admirers, I say this: Let your hero — a man who is a human being, not without sin — take his falls. No one is perfect. Ronald Reagan wasn’t, and this remark from October 1971 certainly seems like it’s probably an indicator of that.

Review of Mark Levin’s Unfreedom of the Press

The opening words of the Bill of Rights, i.e., the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, spell out these freedoms:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .”

Ask many conservatives today, especially religious conservatives, and they’ll tell you that freedom of religion is the freedom most under assault by the political-cultural left. Ask conservatives suffering on the typical college campus, and they’ll add freedom of speech to the targets of today’s fundamental transformers.

And yet, those threats wouldn’t have the strength they have if a free press wielded its freedom properly, fairly, apolitically, and non-ideologically. Unfortunately, America has a dominant press that for decades has freely acted as an arm and agent of the Democratic Party and of liberalism. What the press reports — and, equally important, what it fails to report and willfully omits — shapes America, its politics, its culture, and does so dutifully according to the Democratic Party’s ongoing and evolving ideological agenda. Make no mistake: So many of today’s “news sources,” from CBS and CNN to the Washington Post and New York Times, primarily serve as propaganda organs for Democrats. With occasional exceptions, they toe the party line. This has been true for a long time, and it constituted a near-monopoly until the advent of Fox News, talk-radio, and web technology that has opened other avenues, even as the “mainstream media” remain dominated by left-wing sources.

The fact that this mess exists, and has long been the case, is the subject of Mark Levin’s latest book, Unfreedom of the Press, which has rapidly become Levin’s biggest seller — which itself is telling.

It must be stated here from the outset that Mark Levin’s books stand out among books by major media personalities. Many pundits, particularly in talk-radio, bang out books written by ghostwriters. I’ll always remember a moment with a well-known media figure who asked me in the TV studio to sign a copy of one of my books. “How much of that did you write?” he asked. A little stunned, I said, “Well, all of it.” He replied that he didn’t write a word of his recent bestseller. Sadly, that’s not unusual. Mark Levin is the complete opposite. He does his own writing and research, and his books are testimony to his considerable knowledge and mind. Unfreedom of the Press is the latest case in point. The writing is cogent, the research is exceptional, as is the marshalling of facts in support of his arguments.

Unfreedom of the Press is about how those entrusted with news reporting in the modern media are destroying freedom of the press from within,” Levin begins, underscoring a theme of his book, namely: the liberal press consistently undermines its own credibility. He notes that the problem isn’t one of government oppression or suppression, but the dominant media’s political and social activism, its “progressive group-think, Democratic Party partisanship, opinion and propaganda passed off as news, the staging of pseudo-events, self-censorship, bias by omission, and outright falsehoods,” too often substituted for “old-fashioned, objective fact gathering and news reporting.”

Levin gives countless examples, and I could as well, where liberal reporters and editors come up with endless reasons not to report something damaging to a liberal or the liberal cause but then do little to no serious fact-checking to rush out the flimsiest claims about a conservative or the conservative cause. The common assertion from liberals that news organizations first and foremost care about headlines and selling newspapers is hogwash. It’s not about dollars but the cause. If the story hurts liberalism, they’ll do back flips to not report it, and at least not report the story more than once. (A common tactic I’ve experienced: liberal reporters will claim they don’t need to write a follow-up story because newspaper X already did the story, as if the story is now forever closed. To the contrary, if the story is against a Republican politician, then the opening salvo by newspaper X is a signal to the entirety of the remainder of the liberal media to open the floodgates.)

“This book could easily have been ten times its current length,” writes Levin. That’s no exaggeration. And unfortunately, adequately summarizing the book here could require ten times the length of this review. Chapter three alone is worth the price tag. Titled, “The Modern Democratic-Party Press,” an apt description coined by Levin, the long list of bulleted examples of the media’s trashing of Donald Trump runs seven pages long. Even if you detest Donald Trump, you’ll agree that the vicious hyperbole towards the man laid out here is a remarkable collection. That’s a contemporary example of outrageous media bias. The chapter that follows, titled, “The Real Threat to Press Freedom,” chronicles real abuses of presidential power against the media — not by President Trump but by presidents like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These are abuses that make Trump look like a lefty journalism professor by comparison, and they are abuses that progressives through the ages have kept assiduously silent about.

Throughout this book, F.D.R. rears his head. Chapter six, titled, “The New York Times Betrays Millions,” is an indictment of Franklin Roosevelt toward the plight of Jews in the Nazi era as well as the Times for its terrible coverage of the Holocaust. Levin quotes Dr. David S. Wyman: “It seems almost unbelievable that in Roosevelt’s press conferences (normally held once a week) not one word was spoken about the mass killing of European Jews until almost a year later.”

It does indeed, but if you know about F.D.R.’s ugly record toward Jews and Israel, this will not surprise. Levin quotes Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt on how F.D.R. and his administration (in Levin’s words) “whitewashed or deemphasized the Nazi eradication of Jews,” particularly F.D.R.’s Office of War Information (which was likewise lousy on the Soviet threat). Lipstadt cites the 1943 Moscow declaration by F.D.R., Churchill, and Stalin, which denounced almost every wartime human-rights atrocity except for those against Jews. “Nowhere in the declaration were the Jews even obliquely mentioned,” Lipstadt noted, “a phenomenon the press simply ignored.”

The same press that served as sycophants to F.D.R. Here again, the press had the freedom to cover the story otherwise, but instead it followed the lead of the Democrat president. Yet again, “journalists” marched in lockstep with their party leader.

Dedicated listeners to Mark Levin’s radio show have heard him speak about the New York Times’ tragic failures on the Holocaust. What they likely haven’t heard about is the Times’ likewise awful coverage of Holodomor — Stalin’s forced famine in the Ukraine, where 5-10 million men, women, and children starved to death in the early 1930s.

To that end, Levin spends considerable time on the infamous work of Times’ journalist Walter Duranty, who would (unforgivably) be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, despite his woefully misleading and inaccurate reporting on the Ukraine. Duranty would report, including in articles with titles like, “Russians Hungry, but Not Starving” (March 31, 1933, New York Times), that:

“Here are the facts. . . . There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition. . . . These conditions are bad, but there is no famine.”

This was not simply erroneous reporting. Levin recounts what scholars of this period and colleagues said of Duranty, namely: he knew otherwise. Duranty told William Strang at the British embassy on September 26, 1933 that as many as 10 million people had already died. He also personally told Eugene Lyons (UPI’s Moscow correspondent, who would become a leading ex-communist, particularly via his memoir The Red Decade) that he estimated the total number of famine victims around seven million. Malcolm Muggeridge (another onetime leftist reporter who would become a leading anti-communist) would later call Duranty “the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in fifty years of journalism.” Even the esteemed man of the left, Joseph Alsop, would denounce Duranty as a “fashionable prostitute” in service of Communists.

As Levin shows, the Kremlin wined and dined Duranty, who licked it all up. Not only did the Soviets lavish him with food and booze (as Ukrainians tried to eat grass), but with a chauffeured car, assistants, and a handy cook-secretary-turned-mistress named Katya, who put her full self at the disposal of the Times’ feted “Man in Moscow.” She bore Duranty a son in the process. Eugene Lyons suspected that Duranty was flatly on the Kremlin’s payroll; at the least, he was a recipient of the Bolsheviks’ generous subsidies.

For Walter Duranty, apparently the perks were too good to give up for inconvenient facts on trifling things like the mass starvation of millions at the hands of the dictator that F.D.R. lovingly dubbed “Uncle Joe.”

Speaking of which, F.D.R. tapped Duranty for advice on whether or not the Democrat president should do what every previous president from Woodrow Wilson to Herbert Hoover had refused: extend diplomatic recognition to Stalin’s totalitarian slave state. F.D.R. did just that. When recognition was granted, Duranty traveled with his pal, Stalin henchman and foreign minister, Maxim Litvinov, to F.D.R.’s jubilant signing ceremony. As Levin notes (citing Douglas McCollam), at a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to celebrate the event, Duranty was introduced as “one of the great foreign correspondents of modern times,” as 1,500 dignitaries leapt to their feet in a standing ovation.

Not only had Duranty not paid a price for his shameful misreporting and disinformation, but he was a journalistic celebrity, loved by the likes of stalwart pro-Soviet dupes such as George Bernard Shaw and Sinclair Lewis.

Levin covers this excellently and concisely. All of his chapters follow that pattern, whether dealing with liberal-press vagaries of years gone by or newer instances of shameless media shenanigans to this day. Again, this review cannot due them all justice.

Mark Levin concludes his study of the media with some sober, measured advice. He pleads with reporters to try to muster some integrity in performing their duties, to not deceive the audience, to be transparent, to exercise humility, to not be partisan hacks. The problem, however, as Levin notes, is that “most partisans” — that’s indeed what many journalists are, with partisanship their driving impetus for entering the field of journalism — “are unable or unwilling to put aside their personal ideological and political perspectives or, even worse, they consider them essential to moving and improving society through activism.”

Precisely. They are activists first and foremost — for the political left and for the Democratic Party.

Does that leave us with much hope? Well, not really. But Levin’s candid diagnosis at least helps us understand what we’re dealing with. By knowing what the press is like, we can have a better sense how to respond. That includes creating alternative forms of media to communicate the truth, to circumvent the likes of the New York Times and the prevailing partisan press. It also includes publishing and reading crucial books like Unfreedom of the Press.    

Offending Christians: The Bladensburg Cross Case

Editor Note: In June the Supreme Court held that the Bladensburg Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, did not violate the First Amendment’s “no establishment” clause, reversing a lower court’s ruling.

One of the major Supreme Court decisions we’ll soon hear about is the Bladensburg cross case. This is the case in which secularists are demanding the removal of a large cross that memorializes veterans in the town of Bladensburg, Maryland, because the cross resides on public property.

It’s crucial to realize that the cross wasn’t erected yesterday. The “Peace Cross” was constructed in 1925 in honor of 49 fallen veterans of World War I. It was designed by the Gold Star mothers and erected by the local post of the American Legion.

The case is known as The American Legion v. The American Humanist Association. The “humanists” argue that the memorial is unconstitutional because it’s fashioned in the shape of a cross on government property, and thus stands in violation of “separation of church and state” — a phrase, of course, not found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. That language was expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, and has been badly abused and misinterpreted ever since.

The fact that the cross is a cross is what makes it unacceptable. (Replace it with a statue of Barney the purple dinosaur and the humanists would withdraw their objections.) Secularists appeal to the First Amendment of the Constitution, which says, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Obviously, allowing the old cross to continue to stand would not create a congressional “establishment of religion.” Anyone who thinks allowing this cross to remain means that the feds are conspiring to implement a national theocracy needs to have his head examined. As they invoke a select handful of words from the First Amendment, the secularists misleadingly do what they always do, namely — avoid the remainder of what the First Amendment says about freedom of religion: the government “shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof.” The American Legion and Gold Star mothers of Bladensburg exercised their freedom of religion in 1925 to honor their fallen brothers and sons. They naturally commemorated them with the cross that represents their faith.

The secularists, however, refuse to view it that way. And that’s quite unfortunate. They would never view themselves and their actions as hostile, but, in reality, that’s what they are. This is hostility toward religion. They likewise would never view themselves and their actions as intolerant, but, in reality, that’s likewise what they are. This is yet another remarkable example of their intolerance. How can people who preach diversity be so blatantly intolerant of the beliefs of others?

For a sense of the lack of respect, consider one of the worst affronts in the case:

A federal appeals court in October 2017 had ruled the cross unconstitutional, asserting that it “excessively entangles” the government with religion. This verdict was rendered in a 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, which argued that the Peace Cross “aggrandizes the Latin cross” and thereby constitutes a U.S. government endorsement of Christianity. So said a 33-page opinion written by Judge Stephanie Thacker, and joined by Judge James A. Wynn Jr.

Thacker’s overall opinion demonstrated a troubling lack of historical-theological awareness. Worst of all was the insensitivity displayed during oral arguments. Thacker, an Obama appointee approved by the U.S. Senate in 2012 by a vote of 91-3, offered a truly novel solution. During oral arguments, Thacker asked the attorney defending the memorial: “What about . . . my suggestion of chopping the arms off?”

Yes, the judge offered a compromise: slice off the horizontal arms. You heard that right: slice off the arms from the cross of Christ.

Can you imagine? Can you picture it? Grab a photo of the memorial and do your own airbrush. How does it look?

For the record, the Peace Cross, mercifully, does not have a corpus. Thus, the demolition crew wouldn’t be sawing off the arms of Jesus. Nonetheless, imagine the precedent proposed. Presumably, using the Thacker Solution, similar large memorial crosses on government property could all be targeted for arm-removal.

In fact, that prompts this thought: in the interest of fairness and equality, why stop with crosses? Shouldn’t we thus also target the horizontal parts of the Star of David — another religious symbol — if we find them as similarly large memorials on government property? Should they be hunted down? Should they be permitted to remain only if we sawed off the horizontal parts? Of course, the star would no longer be a star, but apparently dismembering it would be a triumph in this greater good of not “entangling” government with religion.

Do we go down this road?

I pose a serious question to Judge Thacker and the secularists: Do you not see how your objections to the cross of Christ might be offensive? In the name of not offending, you’re offending. In the name of inclusion, you’re excluding. In the name of tolerance, you’re engaging in intolerance.

It isn’t like this cross was planted yesterday or is being scheduled for construction in 2020. It has been there for nearly a hundred years. It’s as much historical as spiritual. Can’t you leave it alone at least for that reason? This isn’t a bronzed statue of a Confederate general who whipped slaves on a plantation. This is a testimony to the faith of the men who died for their country in World War I — for peace. Do you not see the aggression in your actions? Why go on the offensive with bulldozers? Leave it alone.

If this was a giant Star of David on public land, I’d be the first to stand with a group of rabbis demanding that secularists back off and respect a century-old memorial. I will fight for the rights of every Christian and Jew, and cross and Star of David. The same isn’t true for secular liberals. They pick and choose. They’re the first to harass, fine, sue, shut down, and toss in jail the Christian baker, florist, or marriage clerk. I will defend the liberty of a Muslim baker in Dearborn, as well as a Christian baker in Colorado. I will defend the right of an Orthodox Jewish caterer to decline a wedding on the Sabbath just as I’ll defend the right of a Christian florist in Washington state to decline a same-sex wedding ceremony that violates the teachings of her faith and her freedom of conscience.

Far too many secular liberals, however, will not. To this day, Jack Phillips, the Christian baker in Colorado, is hounded with new legal challenges. Militant secularists will not back off from badgering him.

And yet, a colleague of mine who’s an attorney on religious-liberty cases tells me he’s unaware of a single case in which a same-sex couple has sued a Muslim baker for declining a same-sex wedding ceremony. Progressives will not pursue Muslims, even as Muslim bakers likewise openly refuse homosexual couples. They leave them alone. It’s a double standard they impose against Christians.

If they insist there’s no double standard, then let’s see it. Prove otherwise by having the decency to leave the Bladensburg memorial cross alone.     *

Friday, 12 July 2019 11:08

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).


Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Racist Abortion Position — They Couldn’t Be Prouder of Their Genocidal Commitments.


Imagine if Donald Trump announced he would change his longtime opposition to public funding of abortion in order to ensure that black, Hispanic, and poor women can abort their babies. Would liberals need even 10 seconds before foaming at the mouth screaming that he’s a racist?

Last week in Atlanta, Joe Biden, Democrat presidential frontrunner for 2020, said:

“For many years as a U.S. senator, I have supported the Hyde Amendment as many, many others have because there was sufficient monies and circumstances where women were able to exercise that right [to abortion], women of color, poor women, women who were not able to have access. . . . But circumstances have changed.”

Thus, said Biden,

“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and their ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code.”

In response, the crowd of liberal women went wild, applauding ecstatically.

It was an incredible moment. A sick moment. Think about what Joe Biden said, to liberals’ roaring approval: He’s reversing his long-held position so “women of color, poor women” can get abortions — that is, have their abortions publicly paid for. He’s changing specifically because of women of color and poor women. He wants them to be able to have their abortions. He wants to make sure money isn’t an issue. He wants no obstacles to them securing their desire to abort their child. This change is prompted wholly on their behalf: “women of color, poor women.” Even long-held religious objections should be no barrier. Your belief in God, and your conviction that God would shudder at you helping to finance others’ abortions, plays second fiddle to the greater goal of these women getting abortions.

Naturally, liberals will recoil when seeing Biden’s comments framed that way. Biden, after all, is their boy, and Roe v. Wade is their baby. The hallowed “right to choose” is a sacrament in the liberal church. That abortion far and away disproportionately annihilates minorities and especially African-Americans is dismissed in light of their ultimate highest good.

I’ve written here many times about the awful history of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger; her work with the “Negro Project”; her commitment to racial eugenics for what she called “race improvement”; and her May 1926 speech to the Silverlake, New Jersey, chapter of the KKK, which she openly wrote about in her memoirs. I’ve written on Hillary Clinton’s abortion hypocrisy and on liberal cult-hero Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s assessment to the New York Times Magazine:

“I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.”

I also wrote here recently about abortion in Biden’s birth state of Pennsylvania, a state he hopes to take away from Donald Trump. The vast majority of Planned Parenthood clinics in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation are located among African-American populations. Looking strictly at Pennsylvania, the latest statistics show that 43 percent of abortions were to African-American women and 10 percent to Hispanic women. More remarkable is the sheer disproportionally: only 11 percent of Pennsylvania women are black and 7 percent are Hispanic.

Abortion in Pennsylvania, like everywhere else in America, victimizes minorities by leaps and bounds. The national figures show that abortions by black and Hispanic women outpace white women by 4.5 times. Some civil rights leaders, including Dr. Alveda King, have called this “Black Genocide.”

Well, America’s minorities should know how much Joe Biden has their back: he wants to make sure they get free abortions. In fact, it’s so important to Biden that he’s willing to suddenly abandon his three-decade-long support of the Hyde Amendment for this grand objective. And progressives cheer mightily.

Biden, of course, is hardly alone in this among liberals. Quite the contrary, he’s caving on the Hyde Amendment because not doing so is heresy in the liberal church. The Democratic Party once supported the Hyde Amendment, just as it once defined marriage as between a man and a woman. But progressives, you see, have since progressed. They’re now more enlightened. Hyde must be aborted, so Americans can support abortions for poor women, women of color, black women, Hispanic women.

“The problem is, the Hyde Amendment affects poor women, women of color, black women, Hispanic women,” says Patti Solis Doyle, who served as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager in 2008, and who has also worked for Biden.

And whose lives are eliminated in this equation? The answer: Poor babies, babies of color, babies of black women, babies of Hispanic women.

Planned Parenthood, naturally, is thrilled with Joe Biden hopping on the progressive bandwagon. Minority women are its biggest customers.

“Happy to see Joe Biden embrace what we have long known to be true: Hyde blocks people — particularly women of color and women with low incomes — from accessing safe, legal abortion care,” said Leana Wen of Planned Parenthood.

You can’t make this up. And it’s no laughing matter. Just ask Elizabeth Warren. Choking back tears, filled with anger, she insisted to an audience of clapping, stomping women that Hyde be reversed: “Understand this,” said Warren, voice trembling. “Women of means will still have access to abortions. Who won’t will be poor women.”

This is the prevailing position of today’s Democratic presidential candidates and the party generally, with the party’s old men no longer summoning the intestinal fortitude to oppose the hysterical pack. Biden is merely the latest Democrat man without a chest, an ongoing line of lily-livered gutlessness that the late Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Bill Casey foresaw over two decades ago. The Joe Biden of 2019 is selling his soul for the political approval of today’s unhinged Democratic Party, which has completely lost its mind on moral-cultural issues.

What’s especially sad is that Democrats are hell-bent on this policy at a time when the number of abortions have been in decline. For those who hoped and prayed that the scourge of black abortion would likewise decline, well, too bad: the Democrats are doing their damnedest to ensure that when it comes to public funding of abortion, no child is left behind.

Liberal Democrats tell us they love blacks and the poor. They are just oozing with compassion for them. So much so that they will strive to ensure that you — as a taxpayer, and regardless of your religious or conscience objections — are forced by the state to help ensure that every black or poor woman who wants to terminate her child will not be financially prohibited.

Wow, what compassion.

Pretty sick, folks. Pretty sick, Joe.

The “Today Show” Celebrates Communist Holiday

On Friday morning I was sitting alone gumming a bowl of oatmeal in the breakfast area of a Hampton Inn in Pontiac, Illinois, when I was assaulted by an absurdity on the widescreen TV. There I was, calmly minding my own business, keeping my big mouth shut for a change, opening it only for the next scoop of tastelessness. Just then, a group of maniacs from the “Today Show” ruined my tranquility by babbling obliviously and ecstatically about International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day? Seriously? Had I slipped back in time a hundred years ago to, er, Leningrad, March 8, 1919? Judging from the giggling guy and gals on the screen, I had not. I checked my phone. It was March 8, 2019. And I was in America.

Some “Today Show” dingbat gushed feigned excitement about the great holiday. Sitting to his left were two or three fashionable ladies likewise sharing his jubilation. The male host turned over the segment to a lady reporter outside the building, who was flanked by two young women prattling on about the liberation of the “music industry” from some sinister male dominance that obviously has deprived the likes of Madonna and Barbra Streisand of millions of dollars in riches. Behind them all was a gaggle of girls cheering about something else that had something to do with International Women’s Day.

It was confusing. All of these women and yet — and yet — no Comrade Clara.

That’s right. No Comrade Clara. Where was Clara Zetkin?

It was then that I realized that, no, I hadn’t slipped into a time-warp overnight somewhere along Rt. 55 on my way from Eureka College to the Union League Club in Chicago later that day — both places where, ironically, I would deliver lectures celebrating America’s defeat of international Communism in the last century.

I guess the celebration is premature.

Recall, dear leaders, that we Americans won the Cold War and defeated the likes of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Clara Zetkin.

Because of the laws of nature, Clara wasn’t at “Today’s” studios on Friday. Never hopping an elliptical a day in her life, never doing a Pilates workout, and surely never prancing around in yoga pants, Clara died 86 years ago. She died in Moscow, of course. She was there in the rollicking 1930s, the cusp of Stalin’s wondrous five-year plans, and just missed his Great Purge and mass famine imposed upon the Ukraine.

But Clara was there in New York on Friday in spirit. And it seems unfair that the folks at “Today” offered no acknowledgment of this matron of International Women’s Day. Not even a photo!

Of course, let’s be honest, and sadly serious for a moment. Most of these modern products of our universities have no idea who Comrade Clara was, or would give a rip, and would surely hurl cries of “McCarthyism” at me for raising the specter of the old German socialist-Marxist. Clara will not be condemned. Communism will not be condemned. I will be condemned. As usual, anti-communism will be condemned.

Swimming along with the cultural tide, infused by the Zeitgeist, choked by what R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. calls the Kultursmog, they only know what they’ve been taught. More so, they are victims of their progressive professors’ many sins of omission — chief among them the utter failure to teach the lessons, the damage, and the outright horrors of Communism.

They’ve been duped.

Hence, as a public service, I’d like to here pause to enlighten them on the origins of the Communist holiday they commemorated last week.

Clara Zetkin was a big-time German pinko. A Marxist theorist and proud feminist-socialist, she also claimed the banner hoisted today by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her charming congressional colleague from Dearborn, Michigan, Ms. Tlaib — that is to say, Clara was a “democratic socialist.”

And the International Women’s Day was Clara’s thing. If you doubt me, take a glance at the piece (including the accompanying photo of the women carrying the banner, “WOMEN OF THE WORLD UNITE”) on “The Origins of International Women’s Day” in People’s World, the longtime flagship publication of American Communism, and successor to the Daily Worker. Right from the horse’s mouth:

“Within the last twenty years, many thousands of women worldwide have begun to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). However, the way in which the day is marked often bears little resemblance to the original IWD purpose and origins. This is a great misfortune.”


How so? What was the motivation for “IWD?” People’s World writer provides an accurate answer:


“IWD was founded at the beginning of the last century to both highlight and celebrate the struggle of working women against their oppression and double exploitation.”


“Today, this fight has not been won — their struggle is still our struggle. Thus, it is timely to remind women and men in the labor movement and elsewhere of the inspirational socialist origins of IWD in the hope that it will ignite again a progressive socialist feminist women’s movement rooted in an understanding of the class basis of women’s inequality. We can learn from our history, but first we must rediscover it.”

Assisting in that rediscovery, People’s World notes (correctly) that the first historic demonstration launching IWD took place on March 8, 1908 by “women workers” on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. From there, Clara and the European worker-masses rose up:

“Meanwhile, news of the heroic fight of U.S. women workers reached Europe — in particular, it inspired European socialist women who had established, on the initiative of the German socialist feminist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), the International Socialist Women’s Conference.


This latter body met for the first time in 1907 in Stuttgart alongside one of the periodic conferences of the Second [Communist] International (1889-1914).


“Three years later in 1910, Zetkin proposed the following motion at the Copenhagen Conference of the Second International: ‘The Socialist women of all countries will hold each year a Women’s Day, whose foremost purpose it must be to aid the attainment of women’s suffrage. This demand must be handled in conjunction with the entire women’s question according to Socialist precepts.’


“The motion was carried. March 8 was favored.”


From there, notes People’s World, the Bolsheviks got into the full swing and adopted International Women’s Day as a national holiday that would last throughout the entirety of the USSR:

“In 1917 in Russia, International Women’s Day acquired great significance — it was the flashpoint for the Russian Revolution. On March 8, (Western calendar) female workers in Petrograd held a mass strike and demonstration demanding peace and bread. The strike movement spread from factory to factory and effectively became an insurrection.


“The Bolshevik paper Pravda reported that the action of women led to revolution, resulting in the downfall of the tsar, a precursor to the Bolshevik revolution. ‘The first day of the revolution was Women’s Day. . . . the women . . . decided the destiny of the troops; they went to the barracks, spoke to the soldiers, and the latter joined the revolution. . . . Women, we salute you.’


“In 1922, in honor of the women’s role on IWD in 1917, Lenin declared that March 8 should be designated officially as Women’s Day. Much later, it was a national holiday in the Soviet Union and most of the former socialist countries.”


There you go. That says it all, doesn’t it? It was a national holiday in Lenin’s and Stalin’s USSR.

Well, it looks like our intrepid “progressives” in the United States have picked up the torch. They are poised to make IWD a national holiday in the United States, too.

International Women’s Day marchers, unite! “Today Show” producers and hosts and reporters, unite! To borrow from Trotsky’s and Stalin’s Pravda, “We salute you!”

Where is Clara today, as the women of “Today” honor her legacy? Clara Zetkin is buried in the wall of the Kremlin, where she was placed nearest the rotting bosom of Vladimir Lenin. There for the red funeral with tears in their eyes were Lenin’s widow and Stalin himself.

That was the genesis of International Women’s Day.

Ladies, if you bite from the fruit of International Women’s Day, you are eating the fruit of a poisoned tree. You are a sucker.

What “Deep Christian Convictions” of “Democratic Socialism”?

Editor’s Note: This essay was first published in Crisis Magazine.

I do my best to avoid The New York Times. Truly, I try not to read it. Doing so invariably ruins my day and wastes my time. It not only frustrates me but pains me. On countless thousands of occasions I’ve found myself reading a Times piece that leaves me barking at the page about something utterly crucial that was magically excluded from the piece in order to advance whatever flawed thesis was being forwarded in the name of some left-wing position. It’s maddening.

This happened again when a friend this week sent me a widely circulated op-ed piece from last weekend’s Times, titled, “Can We Please Relax About ‘Socialism?’” It was written by David Bentley Hart, who — and this particularly caught my eye and prompted me to write here — is a scholar of religion and (according to the tagline) “an affiliated scholar of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study.”

Ironically, I just spoke at Notre Dame, where I lectured on the differences and confusion regarding what is “socialism,” what is “democratic socialism,” what is Communism, Marxism, etc. Above all, I laid out what the Catholic Church has said about these things. Drawing the necessary distinctions is never easy, as they are constantly blurred by the very people advancing the terms, and telling us that those who are concerned about socialism and Communism are the big problem. Socialism and Communism aren’t the problem, you see — it’s the anti-socialists and anti-communists who are the menace.

Dr. Hart, in his defense, was raised under what he refers to as a “British variant” of socialism, which he defines as “exemplified by F. D. Maurice, John Ruskin, William Morris, R. H. Tawney, and many other luminaries (including, in his judiciously remote way, C. S. Lewis).”        

I would unequivocally object to putting Lewis in any such category. (Lewis was a critic of progressivism, let alone socialism and Marxism.) As for British “socialism,” well, which variant — and how far back? How about the Fabian Society type, the H. G. Wells variant, the George Bernard Shaw slop, or the Labour Party’s 1918 Clause IV-style that called for “common ownership of the means of production,” which Tony Blair repudiated in 1995? What about the disastrous Attlee administration that nationalized everything under the English skyline between 1945-51 (much of which Margaret Thatcher mercifully de-nationalized)? Even today’s Labour Party, long the home to presumably the type of “socialism” that Dr. Hart approves (incidentally, what kind of “socialist” is Jeremy Corbyn?), will not dare re-do what Clement Attlee did. Maybe Dr. Hart sees Britain’s NHS as constituting the best of British “socialism,” but it would be simplistic to say that that makes Britain “socialist.” Certainly, when Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky wrote of socialism and democracy (Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin were initially members of the Social Democratic Party of Russia before the party split between Bolsheviks and Menshaviks in 1903), they would not have considered contemporary Britain socialist.

And so, what is socialism? What is democratic socialism? Ask ten self-described socialists or democratic socialists and you’ll get ten different definitions, few of them grounded in a firm historical understanding of the term. What we tend to get from people on the left is ridicule of conservatives who legitimately fear what the left wants to do when it prattles on about the glories of “socialism” and “democratic socialism,” and how we should all take a deep breath and sit back and enjoy the vast fruits of what would await us if we would simply submit to taking the road to state utopia. Google the phrase “21st century socialism.” That’s what Hugo Chavez championed in Venezuela, and I could show you article after article from left-wing sources (People’s World especially) on how this was touted just a decade ago as the great new “democratic socialist” thing.

In that sense, none of what Dr. Hart wrote — in a snooty way that made fun of everything from Fox News and Ben Stein to conservatives understandably troubled by the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — surprised me. (What’s troubling about Ocasio-Cortez is less her personality than what she represents: the sudden shocking support for a failed ideology now being blithely embraced by millions of millennials oblivious to its history.)

But what really got me about Hart’s piece, particularly given his affiliation with Notre Dame, was this passage:

“Democratic socialism is, briefly put, a noble tradition of civic conscientiousness that was historically — to a far greater degree than either its champions or detractors today often care to acknowledge — grounded in deep Christian convictions. I, for instance, am a proud son of the European Christian socialist tradition, especially in its rich British variant . . . but also in its continental expressions (see, for example, Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, with its prescient warnings against the dangers of unfettered capitalism).”

This demands a response — not the “British variant” part but the assertion that “democratic socialism” is “grounded in deep Christian convictions” and that “the European Christian socialist tradition” has “continental expressions” in the likes of “Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno.

Hart adds, in that same vein:

“Well — only in America, as they say. Only here is the word ‘socialism’ freighted with so much perceived menace. I take this to be a symptom of our unique national genius for stupidity. In every other free society with a functioning market economy, socialism is an ordinary, rather general term for sane and compassionate governance of the public purse for the purpose of promoting general welfare and a more widespread share in national prosperity.”

First off, that’s not actually socialism, traditionally understood or defined — i.e., market economies by definition are not socialist systems. This is a highly elastic and misapplied definition of socialism. So why call it “socialism”?

Getting Quadragesimo Anno Completely Wrong — But that aside, let’s focus on Hart’s other key claims: Only in America? Well, what about in Rome? What about at the Vatican? And indeed, what about Pope Pius XI and Quadragesimo Anno, not to mention numerous Church encyclicals dating back to Pius IX’s Qui Pluribus, published in 1846, two years before the Communist Manifesto? What about even modern (perceived) liberal popes, like John XXIII?

Let’s leave aside Communism and stick to “socialism.” The Church perceived socialism, too, as a menace. I could go on and on with examples, but here are just a few that stand out — again the kind of stuff that The New York Times has a maddening habit of leaving out of its left-wing op-ed pieces:

Section 120 of Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno states bluntly: “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”

This is stated quite clearly. Imagine then — truly, imagine the amazing affront — of a New York Times piece citing Quadragesimo Anno in defense of “democratic socialism” being “grounded in deep Christian convictions” and of a “European Christian socialist tradition” with “continental expressions” in the likes of “Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno.” Could there be a more inappropriate source to have cited for that assertion?

Sure, Dr. Hart also cites Quadragesimo Anno for “its prescient warnings against the dangers of unfettered capitalism.” Fine, no problem there, but Quadragesimo Anno is completely against socialism. In fact, there are some fifty references to “socialism” or “socialist” in Quadragesimo Anno, and they’re pretty damning.

Quadragesimo Anno stated that the “characteristic of socialism,” including a more modern form that had developed since the time of Leo XIII, was “fundamentally contrary to Christian truth” (section 111).

Section 55 of Quadragesimo Anno spoke of

“. . . the Socialists who hold that whatever serves to produce goods ought to be transferred to the State, or, as they say ‘socialized,’ is consequently all the more dangerous and the more apt to deceive the unwary. It is an alluring poison which many have eagerly drunk whom open Socialism had not been able to deceive.”

The encyclical gives careful thought to this. Sections 113 to 124 of Quadragesimo Anno constitute an extended discussion of the “more moderate” form of socialism that some more recent “socialists” had sought to develop as distinct from Communism. Some of these socialists, states the encyclical, might even try to “incline toward” or “approach the truths which Christian tradition has always held sacred.” Nonetheless, the Magisterium here recommends that if one is seeking “demands and desire” consistent with Christian truth, these are not unique or “special to Socialism. Those who work solely toward such ends have, therefore, no reason to become socialists.” It advises:

“Those who want to be apostles among socialists ought to profess Christian truth whole and entire, openly and sincerely, and not connive at error in any way. If they truly wish to be heralds of the Gospel, let them above all strive to show to socialists that socialist claims, so far as they are just, are far more strongly supported by the principles of Christian faith and much more effectively promoted through the power of Christian charity” (sections 115-116).

This is a clear rejection of socialism, whether “moderate” or “modified,” and certainly of any conception of “Christian socialism.” Socialism, asserts Quadragesimo Anno, cannot be reconciled with Catholic teachings because its concept of society itself is “utterly foreign” to Christian truth.

I could cite example after example from official Church teaching, long before and after Quadragesimo Anno.

A Consistent Anti-Socialist Tradition — In his 1849 encyclical, Nostis Et Nobiscum, Pius IX calls both socialism and Communism “wicked theories,” “perverted theories,” “perverted teachings,” and “pernicious fictions.” They are linked together throughout the encyclical.

Pope Leo XIII, in his second encyclical, Quod Apostolici Muneris (On Socialism), issued December 28, 1878, lumps socialists and Communists together as part of a “wicked confederacy.” He writes:

“We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, Communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring what they have long been planning — the overthrow of all civil society.”

(A key point to dwell on: civil society as apart from “the state.”) He says, “They leave nothing untouched.” Not only do they attack the right of property, but they

“. . . debase the natural union of man and woman, held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together. . . . Doctrines of socialism strive almost completely to dissolve this union.”

Quod Apostolici Muneris speaks of the “pest of socialism,” the “plague of socialism,” and the “evil growth of socialism,” warns of the “recruits of socialism,” and accuses socialists of “stealing the very Gospel itself with a view to deceive more easily the unwary.” These socialists “distort it (the Gospel) so as to suit their own purposes.”

So much, again, for “Christian socialism.”

In 1891, Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum, which was the basis for Quadragesimo Anno 40 years later. This classic encyclical is a favorite of liberal Catholics, who seem to forget its staunch rejection of socialism. The encyclical chastises socialists for cultivating the “poor man’s envy of the rich” and depriving the worker of his just wages through redistribution schemes that violate the right to private property. These policies empower the state at the expense of the wage earner who ultimately suffers from the loss of his financial autonomy (sections 4-5).

Rerum Novarum notes that socialists “strive against nature in vain.” They even undermine the family and the home: “The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home” (section 14). Rerum Novarum adds:

“Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal” (section 15).

Even more liberal modern popes, like St. Pope John XXIII, states in Mater et Magistra: “No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism.” That passage actually quotes Pius XI:

“Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production, it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.”

I could go on and on with such citations. Clearly, the teachings of the Church reject the notions of a moderate socialism that’s allegedly infused with or grounded in the Christian faith. The article by Dr. Hart not only leaves all of this absent but suggests something fully to the contrary, particularly by invoking Pius XI and Quadragesimo Anno. And again, his affiliation is with Notre Dame, which concerns me about the situation at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame recently lost a well-known professor, Joseph Buttigieg, father of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Joseph Buttigieg was an expert in “critical theory” and was no less than president of the International Gramsci Society. Yes, the society is named for the infamous Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. Notre Dame’s president, Fr. John Jenkins, not only accepted this but hailed Buttigieg as a profound scholar. In fact, Buttigieg ran the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program at Notre Dame. Pius XI would roll over in his grave if he knew that the head of the International Gramsci Society was a tenured professor at a college named for Our Lady.

In sum, I intend no ill will to Dr. Hart. But it’s troubling to see assertions like this in major op-ed pieces that receive a lot of attention and have a significant impact. To see socialism described not only cavalierly, benignly, but even as a product of deep Christian conviction, and in the name of encyclicals like Quadragesimo Anno, simply should not stand without rebuttal. People are being terribly misinformed. We fail repeatedly to teach the truth about not only Communism but socialism.     *

Tuesday, 04 June 2019 13:11

Kengor Writes

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

The New Socialists — The Green Red Deal

Watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside.

Leftist environmentalists hate that. And yet, they do little to eschew the label. Quite the contrary, they earn it in spades.

They have from the outset. Whether sheer coincidence or because the Devil has a sense of humor, Earth Day always marks Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, just happened to be the centennial of Lenin’s birth.

Given that interesting confluence of dates, it seems more than ironic that so many former Communists, when the Cold War ended, ran for the woods. It was the ideal ideological refuge. Rocks and frogs cannot tell the Commie “environmentalist” to go jump in a lake. They can’t tell the central planners to take a hike back to their air-conditioned offices in Manhattan or coffee shops in Berkeley. Thus, for socialists, here’s the perfect constituency to wield government power and manage people and property.

If Marx and Engels were alive today, they would be writing manifestos on ecological “social justice” at some silly university. Today, their disciples at People’s World urge left-wingers everywhere to Get on board the . . . Climate Train.” The head of Communist Party USA hails modern ecological warriors as “climate justice activists” battling for a crusade of “green socialism.”

That brings us to, obviously, the latest manifestation of socialist ideology cloaked in green environmentalism: the so-called Green New Deal uncorked in February by its new champion in Congress, America’s “democratic socialist” star, Miss Socialist USA, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The entire spectacle was stunning to behold. And since the announcement at the end of last week, conservatives everywhere have teed off, taking their whacks at this ill-begotten creation.

Amid the many reports, one of the best distillations of this environmental swill was done by Americans for Tax Reform, which posted a PDF of Ocasio-Cortez’s talking points prior to the press conference for the February 7 morning launch. If you haven’t seen it, read it and weep. Actually, read it and laugh. It reads like something out of The Onion or The Babylon Bee.

One is tempted to call the proposal juvenile, but sophomoric seems a better word because it plays to the college-girl image that Ocasio-Cortez ironically wants to shed. Actually, the proposal may well forever torpedo her ability to be taken seriously. It makes one wonder if certain forces in the Democrat camp conspired against the young woman, perhaps one of the surprise Democrats who applauded Trump’s line denouncing socialism in the State of the Union — that would include Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and (it was reported in no less than the disgruntled Communist press) even Elizabeth Warren.

Did a Machiavellian Ms. Warren, perhaps working with her old Massachusetts colleague, Ed Markey, conspire to try to kill the presidential possibilities of Ocasio-Cortez? If not Warren, then maybe Schumer and Pelosi, who perhaps feel threatened by this young congresswoman that DNC chair Tom Perez calls “the future of our party”?

If that sounds over the top, well, take a look at Ocasio’s talking points from last week, which really ought to constitute political suicide:

“Build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”

“Upgrade or replace every building in the U.S. for state-of-the-art energy efficiency.”

“A 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War II to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

“National, social, industrial, and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II.”

As for paying for this “massive transformation of our society,” look at this breathtaking display of economic illiteracy: “The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments, and new public banks can be created to extend credit.” No fear, says Ocasio-Cortez, “the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity.”

The needed greenbacks from the Green New Deal will fall from the rejuvenated air like manna from Gaia.

Conservatives have lampooned the notion of attempting to lay a vast array of railways across the Pacific from California to Japan. It would be easier to invent Star Trek teleporters.

And yet, lest you think that Ocasio-Cortez and friends really want to ban airplanes, forget it. The jets will be there for the leisure of the limousine liberals, the champagne socialists, for the planners, for the rulers rather than the ruled, for the masters rather than the masses. The Proletariat, the rabble, what Marx called the lumpen proletariat — they will get sandwiched into the boxcars. The smart people, the party apparatchiks, they fly first-class.

Invoking FDR, JFK, Ike, and Kamala and Bernie, Ocasio-Cortez sums up her program in the name of “social and economic justice and security through 15 requirements.” The whole concoction reads like it was crafted at a corner Starbucks by college kids marshaled from Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter following. And no doubt, this proposal by Ocasio-Cortez and allies is a mass indictment of our universities and education system.

The old Al Gore’s environmental manifesto was pretty extreme too. He likewise spoke of changing human nature and Americans undertaking a “wrenching transformation” of their society. Also evoking World War II, Gore warned of an “environmental holocaust” and “ecological Kristallnacht.” Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance betrayed an Al Gore not in balance.

But even Ozone Al’s ideas weren’t as excessive as this heap of ecological-ideological mumbo-jumbo dished by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. This poor girl has embarrassed herself. This genuinely ought to be a career-killer.

Yes, I know that for liberals what matters most are intentions and identity. Identity politics is the altar at which they worship. They’ll vote for her. But vast numbers of Americans, including virtually anyone in the business world or private sector with a rudimentary sense of how stuff works, will judge this a disqualifier for higher office, especially the White House.

Again, one must wonder if Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has been set up.

That aside, the less laughable and more insidious aspect of this are the genuinely radical roots. To that end, interested observers should dig deeper into the origins of the Green New Deal. This thing didn’t just roll off the turnip truck when Ocasio-Cortez strolled into Washington a few weeks ago.

For a gander at the wider tentacles of this beast, check out the “About” section for the Green New Deal at the website of the Green Party. One sees instantly that this is far more about socialism than environmentalism. Below the tab for “Hands Off Venezuela” are the Four Pillars of the Green New Deal. Point one focuses on the Economic Bill of Rights:

“Our country cannot truly move forward until the roots of inequality are pulled up, and the seeds of a new, healthier economy are planted. Thus, the Green New Deal begins with an Economic Bill of Rights that ensures all citizens:

  1. The right to employment through a Full Employment Program that will create 25 million jobs by implementing a nationally funded, but locally controlled, direct employment initiative replacing unemployment offices with local employment offices offering public sector jobs which are “stored” in job banks in order to take up any slack in private sector employment. . . .
  2. Worker’s rights including the right to a living wage, to a safe workplace, to fair trade, and to organize a union at work without fear of firing or reprisal.
  3. The right to quality health care, which will be achieved through a single-payer Medicare-for-All program.
  4. The right to a tuition-free, quality, federally funded, locally controlled public education system from pre-school through college. We will also forgive student loan debt from the current era of unaffordable college education.
  5. The right to decent affordable housing, including an immediate halt to all foreclosures and evictions. We will:
  6. Create a federal bank with local branches to take over homes with distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages to affordable levels, or if the occupants cannot afford a mortgage, rent homes to the occupants;
  7. Expand rental and home ownership assistance;
  8. Create ample public housing; and,
  9. Offer capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25 percent of their income.
  10. The right to accessible and affordable utilities — heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation — through democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit.
  11. The right to fair taxation that’s distributed in proportion to ability to pay. In addition, corporate tax subsidies will be made transparent by detailing them in public budgets where they can be scrutinized, not hidden as tax breaks.”

After that comes pillar two, on “A Green Transition,” followed by the remaining two pillars, on “Real Financial Reform” and “A Functioning Democracy.” Thus, only a quarter of the four pillars for the Green New Deal actually deals with green deals. The vast majority is old deal socialism. Among the remaining two pillars are calls for: “Establish a 90 percent tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers”; “enact the Voter Bill of Rights”; “making Election Day a national holiday”; “abolish the Electoral College and implement direct election of the President”; “restore the vote to ex-offenders who’ve paid their debt to society”; “protect local democracy and democratic rights by commissioning a thorough review of federal preemption law and its impact on the practice of local democracy in the United States”; “create a Corporation for Economic Democracy”; “repealing the Patriot Act”; “ending the war on immigrants”; “rein in the military-industrial complex by reducing military spending by 50 percent and closing U.S. military bases around the world”; etc. Get the picture?

What in the heck does this have to do with the environment? Nothing, of course. But this is how the left has long exploited the environment for its own purposes of revolution and radical transformation. Not a word of this is a surprise to anyone who has followed left-wing environmentalists.

Green on the outside, red on the inside. Welcome to American socialism’s new Green Red Deal.    

Abortion Racism in Pennsylvania — Where Abortion Wears a White Hood

Democrats are losing it over abortion. Sure, they’ve long been bad on the issue, but they’re suddenly escalating the vitriol. And by “Democrats,” I’m referring to elected ones. You could always find unhinged “pro-choice” liberals doing vulgar things. Elected Democrats, however, have tended to show a little more restraint. Not any more.

Look at Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, or Gov. Ralph Northam in Virginia, the latter of whom generously promises that an infant that survives an abortion will be “kept comfortable” amid final gasps without attempts at resuscitation. In Alabama, Democratic state rep. John Rogers accepts abortion with a shrug: “you kill them now or you kill them later.” Here in Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf is the nation’s first governor who was a Planned Parenthood escort — those macabre volunteers who ensure that distraught girls approaching an abortion facility walk in with cash and walk out without a baby. In fact, here in Pennsylvania, we have not only a governor who was a Planned Parenthood escort, but a state rep., Brian Sims, which brings me to the focus of this article.

In a breathtaking spectacle, Sims proudly filmed himself outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia — the Locust Street Surgical Center — verbally accosting an older woman who was praying the rosary. For eight painful minutes, this former college football player turned angry LGBTQ activist, and he gives this woman an oral drubbing. He repeatedly tells her she is “shameful” and “disgusting.” “There is nothing Christian about what you’re doing,” he lectures. “There’s nothing loving or kind,” he says of her. He lambastes her “broken morality.” He asks for her address so people can “protest in front of her home,” as if hounding her there wasn’t sufficient. More must be done, with perhaps a larger and angrier mob.

Sims is a bully, with this woman as his victim. Watch him in action as he heckles her as she accepts his abuse stoically in silence. Truly, she turns the other cheek while he torments her.

I’m always amazed by the lack of charity and understanding by self-proclaimed “tolerant” liberals so intransigent that they can’t even concede that pro-lifers are motivated by a benevolent concern at least worthy of respect. They’re so hell-bent on the righteousness of their cause that they assume nothing but malice on the part of their opponents — whose primary objective is simply to try to save defenseless unborn babies. They rage against them. There’s something diabolical about it.

And make no mistake, a spiritual battleground wages at these clinics. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve watched the escorts engage the people praying. A few months ago, on a bitterly cold day, I joined a group outside the Planned Parenthood abortion center in Pittsburgh. Sims’ caricature could not be more inaccurate and viciously unfair. One of those praying told me that the previous week he stood beside an elderly woman who kneeled on a frozen sidewalk on her aching legs while a dude inside strummed a ukulele and grinned at her. “We’re freezing outside in the snow, with 80-year-old women praying and kneeling on payment covered with ice,” he told me, “and they’re inside, staying warm, and mocking us. You could feel the evil.”

The pro-lifers, particularly those from churches, are almost always a model of charity, sacrifice, and mortification. Moreover, it’s the pro-lifers, not the clinic workers or Planned Parenthood volunteers, that are there to comfort the crushed girl as she leaves the clinic and prepares for a life of emotional, spiritual, and, possibly, physical trauma because of what the abortion advocates did to her inside.

Sims’ nasty charges are wrong on so many fronts, but I want to underscore his most outrageous accusation against pro-lifers, namely: the “BLATANT RACISM they spew.” He leveled that surreal charge repeatedly in his video. This “old white lady,” he says of her dismissively, as if that label merits automatic denigration, is “extremely racist.” He accuses her of a “racist act of judgment.”

What in the world is Sims talking about?

If you’re looking to affix racism, you would be far more justified looking in the direction not of those defending the unborn babies, but of those terminating them. There’s far and away a disproportionate number of unborn African-American children killed by abortion. The escorts guide in and funnel their mothers. Sims’ wild claim has great irony given that Planned Parenthood is the spawn of Margaret Sanger, who I’ve written about frequently, including her work with the “Negro Project,” her gospel of “race improvement,” her May 1926 speech to the Silverlake, New Jersey chapter of the KKK.

The vast majority of Planned Parenthood clinics are located near African-American populations. The infamous Gosnell “House of Horrors,” a sick slaughterhouse of unborn black children, resided just down the street from where Sims engaged in his antics accusing pro-lifers of racism. It’s downright stunning that Sims either cannot see that or, in turn, casts the finger of racist shame in the complete opposite direction.

Well, given Sims’ claims to be worried about racism, and given that he’s a Pennsylvania legislator, I ask him this simple request as a fellow Pennsylvanian: Could he please ask the clinic for data on how many of its abortions have been of minority babies?

I asked that question of an analyst who does research on this issue in Pennsylvania.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a breakdown for that particular clinic, or for just Planned Parenthood, on how many patients are African-American,” she told me. “Here are some statistics we do have statewide.”

According to the latest abortion statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in 2017 there were 30,011 abortions performed in Pennsylvania. Among them, 14,726 were to white women, 12,865 were to African-American women (43 percent), and 3,038 were to Hispanic women (10 percent).

Thus, 53 percent, or a majority of abortions, were of minority women and unborn babies. Even more remarkable is the sheer disproportion: only 11.9 percent of Pennsylvania women are black and 7.3 percent are Hispanic. Pennsylvania is 82 percent white. Abortion in Pennsylvania, like everywhere else in America, victimizes minorities by leaps and bounds.

If abortion was a person, it would wear a white hood, and be the deadliest Klansman in this nation’s history.

And who’s leading the assault? Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood performs half of the abortions in the state of Pennsylvania. It operates nine of the 12 largest abortion clinics in the state. The facility where Sims harangued that woman is the largest in the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in America. (The state’s second largest city, Pittsburgh, is 65th. Philly is the epicenter of abortion in Pennsylvania.)

And who does Brian Sims finger as the bad actor in all this? The “racist”? He points to the likes of the woman outside the clinic praying to God that this industry of death will stop — that this “black genocide,” as Dr. Alveda King calls it, will end. He says “shame” on her. She’s the one he finds “disgusting.”

And finally, aside from the race issue, that particular clinic that Sims stood in solidarity with isn’t good for women of any ethnicity. That Locust Street facility is guilty of many violations against the women whose babies it has ripped from their wombs. It has been cited for numerous code violations, failing over half of its last 23 patient-safety inspections. And yet, it has never been shut down.

Now that’s shameful and disgusting, Rep. Sims.

In fact, maybe we should be grateful to Sims. In bringing national attention to himself, he’s bringing national attention to this clinic and this scandal of abortion racism.   *

Friday, 09 November 2018 13:15

Kengor Writes

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Women Who Lied About Sexual Assault

Remember the Scottsboro boys?

Over the weekend, a throng of angry protesters gathered outside the Capitol Building with signs and t-shirts touting a new battle cry: BELIEVE WOMEN. It’s a slogan that took off with the #MeToo movement, but it’s in hyperdrive right now.

The left found this slogan useful in serving its latest political purpose: an attempted takedown of Brett Kavanaugh. According to the new mantra, women never lie about sexual abuse, and thus anything and everything that Christine Blasey Ford alleged of Brett Kavanaugh was, ipso facto, accurate. Every charge she leveled must be believed, because women do not lie about sexual assault.

Well, here I would like to interject to remind liberals of one of their favorite historical morality tales: What about the case of the Scottsboro boys? And therein, what about Victoria Price and Ruby Bates?

Recall, liberals, that this has been one of your sacred cows for many decades. As a public service, I herewith share the story:

On March 25, 1931, two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, claimed that they had been gang-raped by nine black teens along the railroad from Chattanooga to Memphis. The boys had hopped a train ride, as had the two girls, who were with two white boys. A fight broke out inside the train car, with the white boys tossed off, leaving the white girls and black boys together. The white boys informed the nearest stationmaster that they had been in a fight with the black boys. The stationmaster took quick action. At the next stop, a town called Paint Rock, Alabama, a militia/posse took the law into their hands and “arrested” the black boys, transporting them to jail cells in nearby Scottsboro. The charge was that they had raped the white girls.

As news spread, enraged whites gathered outside the jail, ready to form a lynch mob. The governor of Alabama called in the National Guard.

Local authorities promised the seething vigilantes that justice would be hastily served, guaranteeing quick trials and verdicts. On cue, five days later, on March 30, 1931, an all-white jury indicted the nine boys, and the trial began shortly thereafter.

Thus ensued a whirlwind of complications, from miscarriages of justice to incompetence to retractions. The attorneys who defended the boys were judged too old or too drunk. The boys themselves did not always help their cause: one alleged that everyone was guilty except for himself; two others confessed but later withdrew their admissions, saying they had confessed under physical duress; and the remaining six pleaded innocence.

Not calming the storm was a racist jury, eager to execute the boys. Even as the prosecution argued that the youngest should get life in prison rather than capital punishment, the whites pressed for the gallows for the entire group. All were convicted and sentenced to death.

The story was far from over. A mistrial was declared, appeals were rapidly set in motion, and newspapers began reporting that the two girls were not pure lambs but, rather, Tennessee prostitutes. Yes, prostitutes.

A second round of trials commenced in March 1933.

In the most sensational development of the second trial, Ruby Bates recanted her earlier testimony, claiming she and Victoria Price had not been raped, and had concocted their story out of fear they might be charged for a federal crime because they had crossed state lines while practicing an “immoral” form of business with the white boys; the prosecution contended that Bates was lying, and had been paid off. The jury again voted for conviction, but the judge vetoed.

The case of the Scottsboro boys became a crusade and cause célèbre for the left, especially the Communist left. Communists adopted the Scottsboro case as a major campaign to recruit blacks to Communist Party USA. In one particular instance, their success was sensational: CPUSA’s cynical Scottsboro campaign caught the attention and began drawing into the Communist Party a young journalist and editor in Atlanta named Frank Marshall Davis, who decades later would become a mentor to a Hawaiian adolescent named Barack Obama. Yes, Barack Obama, America’s first black president. (I address this in great detail in my biography of Davis, The Communist.)

The American left insisted on the innocence of the black boys accused of sexual assault. The left insisted that the two women had lied about the sexual assault. You could not believe the women.

So, how does this square with the left’s BELIEVE WOMEN movement today? What does a righteous progressive do with the Scottsboro case now, given the new refrain that women never lie about sexual assault? How to reconcile the Scottsboro boys with the Ford-Kavanaugh case?

Well, truth be told, with the ideological perversities and pathologies of the left, this one can be (partly) tidied up with some nifty identity-racial politics. Here you go: the Scottsboro boys were black men, whereas Brett Kavanaugh is a white man, and a pro-life white man, and a conservative Catholic, and seeking to fill a crucial Supreme Court seat that could threaten the left’s holy grail: Roe v. Wade. Thus, Kavanaugh is a complete reprobate, never to be believed. By contrast, on the left’s ideological totem pole, the Scottsboro boys assume, by nature of their skin color, an elevated victim status that compels them to be believed, just as Kavanaugh’s position at the bottom rung of the pole (near the slimy pond scum) demands a verdict of presumed guilt.

For the confused, or unanointed, just ask a Millennial college grad. This is what your children learn in our universities with your life savings. This is the price you pay for their indoctrination.

But while those curious mental gyrations help a liberal navigate how and why Brett Kavanaugh must be presumed guilty and the Scottsboro boys presumed innocent, it does leave the messy problem of what to do with the left’s new dogma that women never lie about sexual assault.

Again, what about Victoria Price and Ruby Bates?

Yes, yes, I know — they were white southerners. That’s a definite bottom-dweller on the totem pole. But still, they were women. And women, we are told, quite categorically, must always be believed. And one of these two women admitted to lying. Both, at one point, reportedly lied about being raped.

So, liberals, especially those of you dominating our universities, how will you reevaluate the Scottsboro case in light of your new-fangled political sloganeering in October 2018? I’d like to be in the Gender Theory classroom at Swarthmore or Yale when the gals take up that one. Then again, maybe not.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Abortion Critics and Hypocrites

It’s shocking what forms of violence Christine Blasey Ford’s backers will accept.

Something undeniably bad happened to Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. That seems clear. Whether the chief perpetrator was Brett Kavanaugh is something we may never know with absolute certainty, even as his alleged accomplice (named by Ford) likewise insists on Kavanaugh’s innocence. Still, Ford’s story, given in her compelling and emotional testimony, seemed heartfelt and believable. Likewise, Kavanaugh’s denial, given in his compelling and emotional testimony, seemed heartfelt and believable.

My earnest sympathies, at this point, are with both Ford and Kavanaugh, but they are not with the pro-choice Democrats and liberals reflexively backing Ford and reflexively excoriating Brett Kavanaugh as a presumed-guilty sex abuser.

The Senate Democrats and the abortion lobby opposing Kavanaugh vowed to oppose him long before Christine Blasey Ford came forward. Her allegations merely gave them ammunition for a character assassination (rightly or wrongly earned) to further back their pre-determined vote against Kavanaugh from the outset. Three weeks ago, before the public heard of Ford, nearly all Senate Democrats announced their intention to vote against him. And why? We all know the reason. There’s not a liberal or conservative in Washington who doesn’t know the reason.

Three words: abortion, abortion, abortion.

And therein lies something sick, perverse, wicked about the “pro-choice” left’s castigation of Brett Kavanaugh as an abuser. What Kavanaugh was accused by Ford of doing when they were teenagers — forcing himself upon her, covering her mouth, with her fearful of being raped — is an abusive act we all condemn and abhor. I’m the same age as Ford, and if I ever saw a guy doing that to a girl at a party, I would have been the first to pounce on the dirtbag. And I’d shudder to imagine him one day sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.

But while such is a violent act that we all, conservatives and liberals alike, condemn and abhor, the same cannot be said about the thinking of conservatives and liberals toward unborn human life.

The pro-life position views unborn children as precious, innocent, and worthy of our intervention and protection. Pro-lifers defend the sanctity and dignity of each life in the womb. They seek to stop violence against unborn babies.

The pro-choice position, to the contrary, does not. It allows for — and, in fact, relentlessly fights for — the “right” of a mother and an abortionist to rip apart an unborn baby in the most destructive way imaginable, often into the third trimester.

A lot of people were crying when they listened to Christine Blasey Ford describe what she claimed happened to her: the pinning down on the bed, the escape from the clutches of her attackers, her “pinballing” (as she described it) down the stairwell, her dash outside, her never forgetting the cruel laughs of the attackers.

It’s indeed very sad. Well, here’s a newsflash: If a national audience of tens of millions of Americans sat and listened to a blow-by-blow description of what happens to an innocent child during an abortion, well, they would be more than weeping. They would be sobbing. They’d be in agony, asking how a supposedly humane country and culture could continue to permit such mass injustice. Why do you think liberal newspaper editors refuse to show even a cartoon rendering of a partial-birth abortion?

Both acts of violence are heart wrenching: against Ford, against some 60 million aborted babies in America since Roe v. Wade.

And yet, it is the latter — the feminist left’s holy grail, Roe v. Wade — that Ford’s most ardent defenders, and Kavanaugh’s most vociferous detractors, are seeking to protect and preserve at all costs. As they demand the protection of victims of sexual abuse, they also demand the preservation of abortion. They seek to undermine Kavanaugh in order to maintain Roe. To borrow from Nancy Pelosi, this is “sacred ground.” Abortion, abortion, abortion.

“The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion,” said Mother Teresa. “By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.” Abortion

“. . . is really a war against the child, and I hate the killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that the mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? . . . Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another but to use violence to get what they want.”

Sex abuse is violence. And abortion is violence, too.

And yet, and yet, that is ultimately what the political left and the Senate Democrats are battling for in resisting not just Brett Kavanaugh for the high court but each and every pro-lifer who will sit before the Judiciary Committee. They will continue to oppose all pro-life Supreme Court nominees, regardless of any alleged incidence of sex abuse in their background. And they will do so in the name of the single greatest abuse of unborn children in the history of America: Roe v. Wade.

Liberals, your opposition to violence in the ultimate cause of continuing the violence of abortion — long before and after Brett Kavanaugh — rings rather hypocritical.

George Cahill’s New Constellation

Editor’s Note: George Cahill was a much-appreciated long-time supporter of The St. Croix Review.

George Cahill was a man with a higher mission fixed to the skies.

He volunteered to fight in World War II at the earliest possible age: seventeen-and-a-half. Both parents signed off, and he headed to gunnery school in Las Vegas.

George met his crew in Lincoln, Nebraska. They flew to Newfoundland and then Iceland and England. And there, his mission would be a most daring one.

George flew on a B-17 with the Eighth Air Force. He was a togglier, a perilous position often alternately referred to as a “bombardier” or “nose-gunner” or “tail-gunner,” though George was a stickler for the differences. The togglier sat inside the cramped “nosecone” of the plane and released the bombs.

Earl Tilford, my retired colleague from Grove City College, who himself served in the Air Force, and who had George speak to his classes, told me this about toggliers:

“A B-17 togglier was responsible for arming and dropping the bombs in lieu of a bombardier. . . . The togglier had to flip a number of toggle switches to arm the bombs and activate the release mechanism and — above all — make sure your plane’s bombay doors were open, otherwise you’d blow yourself out of the sky. That happened on occasion.”

George flew 28 combat missions under intense fire, wedged into a tiny spot between two 50-caliber machine guns.

Over lunch one day in September 2015, I pushed George to describe what that was like. He wasn’t surrendering much. I got a few short sentences from him.

“Nothing but plastic between me and the atmosphere,” he told me of his vulnerability while bombing Nazi targets. I asked if the plastic could stop enemy bullets. “Oh, hell no!” he scoffed. “Bullets go right through it, and you hope they go out the other side!” Out the other side of the plane that is, not the other side of the togglier and crewmates.

I asked George if he had “any close calls.” He shot me a shocked look, with another, “Oh, hell!”

This time, the “Oh, hell” meant “Oh, hell yes,” though he didn’t care to elaborate. There were, I pried out of him, “at least a dozen” close calls.

I later learned that on one occasion George’s “Flying Fortress” was so shot up with holes that his crew of 10 had to do an emergency landing in Wales with only one of four engines still operating. As the plane coasted into a landing, the final engine stopped. They barely made it.

That was what George faced.

“Incidentally,” adds Earl Tilford, “more B-17 crewmen were killed in World War II than U.S. Marines. In 1943-1944, attrition rates were near 90 percent for 25-mission tour.”

For a visual, if you’ve seen the chaotic opening scene of the film “Unbroken,” about World War II bombardier and Olympian Louis Zamperini, that’s what George experienced.

“Oh, hell.” That’s about right.

But during our lunch, George wasn’t there to tell me about World War II. He had two other missions that day. First, he showed me around Flag Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh — his creation, pride, and joy. George was the founder and president of the National Flag Foundation, a terrific organization.

George was our flag-man at our American Founders luncheon events, held quarterly by the Center for Vision & Values, at the Rivers Club in downtown Pittsburgh. After saying grace, we would do the Pledge of Allegiance, which George always led, but first with an extemporaneous explanation of something about the American Founders’ understanding of their new flag as representing a kind of New Constellation.

And that brings me to the former togglier’s primary mission that day in September 2015. George took me to lunch to toggle my attention, to zero-in on a project close to his heart: something called The New Constellation.

An admirer of flags since his Boy Scouts days, George explained to me that the arrangement of the stars of the new flag envisioned by the American Founders represented a kind of New Constellation altogether. There was a divine Author to the heavens, who had set the stars in place. The men of the Founders’ era learned to navigate by the stars. Their country would be navigated by both a natural law and divine law — or, as Jefferson put it in the Declaration, by “the laws of nature and nature’s God.”

Nate Mills, a GCC alumnus and emerging expert on the topic, puts it this way: “The Founders believed that by structuring a government inspired by the laws of nature and nature’s God they could look to the night sky as a metaphor for their experiment in federalism.” In the Flag Act of 1776, the flag implemented a design of 13 stars “representing a new constellation.” The Founders saw each colony as a fixed star, set and living in harmony with one another and not interfering in the spheres of any other state’s place in the celestial order. “In understanding their experiment in self-government in terms of astronomy,” says Mills, “the Founders appealed to a powerful set of metaphors to help explain to the world the unique synthesis of ideas that the United States of America represented.”

The New Constellation was a stirring image grounded in the natural, the theological, the astronomical, the philosophical, and the political. The Founders did nothing without meaning, and their flag and New Constellation was no exception.

George loved this concept, and was anxious to convince the Center for Vision & Values to pick it up. He told me he was old and running out of time. It was the last best thing he wanted to do. Current and future generations needed to know. He wanted our group, the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College, to study it. One of my best students, Nate Mills, now with National Review Institute, jumped on it. He did not disappoint. We thrilled George with Nate’s paper and presentation on the topic at our American Founders event in March 2017.

Nate’s work and ours isn’t finished. We will continue to carry this flag for George, whose time has indeed now passed.

George Cahill passed away on July 2, at the age of 92. This unflagging champion of America’s New Constellation now joins the shining light of the brightest and best of all constellations — no doubt a heavenly one.

We salute you, George.     *

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