Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

No, Stay At Home Moms Don’t ‘Waste’ Their Education

original article: No, Stay At Home Moms Don’t ‘Waste’ Their Education
March 7, 2017 by Anna Mussmann

Anyone who castigates a woman for failing to cash in on her degree reveals a complete misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of education and the actual needs of society.

In Dorothy Sayer’s 1936 novel “Gaudy Night,” a minor character refers to the “question of women’s education.” Famous detective Lord Peter Wimsey responds, “Is it still a question? It ought not to be,” and adds, “You should not imply that I have any right either to approve or disapprove” of what women do.

Most progressives today would agree heartily with the first half of his sentiment. Feminists consider it a settled question that educating women is essential to a humane, egalitarian society. At the same time, however, few are quite so restrained as Lord Peter. Most venture to “approve or disapprove” of women’s choices, especially if what a woman chooses is to follow years of education with life as a stay-at-home mom.

Smart, educated women who decide to end, pause, or part-time their careers are often treated as defective parts in the machinery of egalitarian social justice, or as children who have asked for a plate of food and then thrown it in the garbage. The general argument is that an education, like a treadmill or a bag of flour, is wasted if it is not used (the definition of “used” being, “used to make money”).

The thing is, though, anyone who castigates a woman for failing to cash in on her degree reveals a complete misunderstanding of two things. 1. The nature and purpose of education, and 2. The actual needs of society.

Education Is Not Just a Synonym for Job Training

The American founders argued routinely that ordinary citizens ought to be educated. This was not because literacy would help farmers milk their cows more sensitively or because familiarity with Plato would open up additional career prospects for pioneers, but because it would change what sort of people they were internally.

Education is much bigger than any specific field of work. Career coaches recognize this when they tell students that their choice of college major rarely dictates the field in which they will later find employment. Education helps people do a better job at any task by helping them discover how to think, how to learn, and how to exercise the self-discipline necessary for achievement. Educated people know useful facts, of course; but more importantly, they know how to live.

Unless we want a society in which an elite few rule over the wider peasantry, we must recognize that people—men, women, lawyers, mechanics, stay-at-home moms, everyone—benefit when they pursue the learning and wisdom that make them more fully human. To say that moms “waste” education is to show tremendous disrespect for the actual importance of education.

Education Is Supposed to Open, not Close, Opportunities

We tell our children they can become anything they want. On the other hand, when young people aspire to careers that may or may not be achievable—when she wants to major in art, when he thinks he can open his own restaurant—we encourage them to hedge their bets. We talk about double majors, business minors, and back-up plans.

Likewise, many young women hope to eventually become mothers, and many would prefer to stay at home while their babies are young. They, too, are wise to hedge their bets. What if they never meet the right man? What if they do, and illness or disability keeps him from being able to support a family? What about divorce? Hitting pause on a career may still leave them somewhat vulnerable to later financial challenges, but less so than if they possessed only a high school diploma. For them, a degree is a prudent investment regardless of the outcome. It maintains options.

The inflated cost of modern college is admittedly a complicating factor. A debt load that shackles a woman to a particular career path is probably a bad investment for anyone. We should absolutely encourage young people to think outside of the box when acquiring an education. And, of course, universities are not the only places one can become educated.

Society Should Trust Women

Feminists encourage society to trust women in matters like abortion. Yet feminism distrusts females who want to stay home with their children. Perhaps such critics assume that if a woman’s daily work belongs to the domestic sphere, with no raises to compete for and no performance reviews to hold her accountable, she is likely to lounge around in yoga pants while surfing the Internet. That is, they imagine that outside accountability is inextricably tied to meaningful accomplishments.

Yet the most meaningful human work transcends accountability. As an analogy: the best classroom teachers do wonderful things for students not because they adhere to any checklist, but through who they are. They communicate a love of learning by loving to learn. They inspire compassion by being compassionate. They engage by being engaging, challenging people who care both about truth and about their students.

When school administrators distrust teachers and hold them to overly rigid guidelines or testing schedules, it hampers the efforts of excellent teachers. The best work in all spheres of life is not about accountability, but about the sort of person doing that work (yet one more reason why we should value education for everyone!).

When women make sacrifices to stay home with their own children—the babies for whom they would die—they are likely to be highly motivated to be the sort of people who make a difference in their children’s lives. We need to trust women on this.

Society Also Benefits from People who Do ‘Less’

The current culture delights in volume. Bigger boxes of French fries. More volunteer activities on college applications. Our values make it very easy to see the merit in those high-energy achievers whose packed schedules allow them to accomplish what seems like everything at once. It is often harder for us to admire those who delve more deeply into only one or two things. After all, their list of what they do each day seems short. To people who do not understand, their daily activities might even sound trivial.

Yet society needs deep-focus people as much as it needs multi-talented, multi-tasking people. We need the lab assistants who stare faithfully at computer screens all day. We need the cellists who devote the majority of their lives to practicing. We need the scholars whose years of devotion to mathematics produce a single work upon which others can build. These people do their work just as faithfully as those who juggle a greater variety. In fact, they do it in a unique way that requires sacrificing variety.

Hard as it might be to realize, society benefits when we recognize that there are many ways of being useful members of society, of serving others, and of finding joy in our work. Stay-at-home moms are able to bring a deep focus to the lives of their children and the needs of their community. By sacrificing volume, they are able to serve others in a unique way.

We Can Value SAHMs without Condemning Working Moms

Ultimately, I suspect many women are uncomfortable with arguments in defense of stay-at-home moms because they are concerned about the specter of simplistic consistency. After all, if a woman provides an important benefit to her child by becoming his full-time caretaker, doesn’t that imply that the opposite is also true—that the children of career moms are missing out on an important benefit? And that, therefore, homemakers are better moms?

In reality, life is complicated. No two mothers can provide their children with quite the same good things. Trying to do so is crazy. Every life choice brings both costs and benefits. In fact, it is not always easy even to know whether a given difference is a benefit or a handicap. Living in poverty can prevent a child from gaining access to resources—and can teach resilience and determination. Watching a parent struggle with a disability can teach compassion and grit—and be confusing and depressing.

Being a good parent is not about competing with other women to magically give one’s child everything that seems good. It is about faithfully doing one’s best in all kinds of circumstances. Often that means making a careful, thoughtful choice about how best to put the needs of one’s own children first, whether by remaining in the workforce or taking time off from it.

I remember when a very conservative friend warned my mom not to let us girls pursue career-oriented degrees. This friend was afraid that educated women would be unlikely to stay home with children. Most feminists would decry the idea of trying to “trap” young women into any particular life path. If they are to be consistent, however, feminists—and society at large—need to recognize that education is not a trap, either. It is something that helps all women live their lives in a more fully human manner, no matter what their work may turn out to be. Even if it involves teaching children how to go potty.

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Is The Humanist Christophobic?

Let me begin with a hypothetical which I will tie into a real world scenario.

Imagine a Muslim publisher produces a graphic novel of the Holy Quran. And imagine a Christian organization reviews that graphic novel. They make the token compliments about art quality but criticize the content of that novel, arguing it is “rigged” against a Jewish or Christian reading. The main point of this hypothetical criticism is that the novel is written from an exclusively Muslim perspective.

At first glance you might wonder “why wouldn’t they?” Why wouldn’t the Muslim publisher present their own view of their own holy book? But common sense would get the better of you and you’d ask “why shouldn’t they?” After all, it’s their publication of their holy book, why shouldn’t they be able to cast it from their own perspective? Shouldn’t tolerance and plurality allow for a religious group to express their own views about their own sacred writings, even when they are trying to share those views with outsiders?

Now for the real story.

Kingstone is a publishing company owned by an evangelical Christian pastor. The company’s website openly acknowledges its owner’s religious leanings. The Kingtone Bible, a 2000 page graphic novel of the Holy Bible, is the company’s flagship product. So let’s summarize the situation: a Christian publishing company produces a graphic novel of the Christian holy book, from a Christian perspective. An atheist organization, The Humanist, published a review of The Kingstone Bible written by Fred Edwords. Edwords makes token compliments about art quality but his main beef with the graphic novel is, well you can already guess. So let’s take a closer look.

Edwords’ first swipe at the work implies presenting the bible “seen through an evangelical Christian lens” is somehow a problem. In the next sentence he calls this “bias”.

It’s true that The Kingstone Bible isn’t strictly word for word. Edwords continues:

This isn’t strictly biblical; it’s a clarification of Christian doctrine. Thus, right out of the box the game is rigged against any Jewish, Muslim, or secular reading of what originated as Jewish scripture.

Keep in mind the graphic novel is about the Holy Bible, not the Tanakh, not the Quran. Now, if the novel purported to be about all three of these holy books I could understand criticizing it for adopting an exclusively Christian perspective. But it doesn’t purport to be religiously neutral. So I’m having trouble understanding the demand that The Kingstone Bible should have been told from a more religiously neutral perspective.

Besides, a typical secular idea is that all religions are basically the same and are equally valid. So if all religions are basically the same, what’s the problem in offering a religious product from only one religious tradition? Evidently, when an exclusively Christian perspective is offered suddenly our secular society remembers all religions are in fact NOT the same.

Another criticism Edwords offers, which I may be inclined to agree with, is the seeming whitewashing of “certain biblical horrors”. But keep in mind, in our current politically charged environment when anyone (not only Christians) speaks of certain Quranic horrors we are sure to hear accusations of Islamophobia. That’s a very common reaction when anyone even acknowledges modern violent horrors committed in the name of Islam. Whitewashing Islamic extremism is the status quo of our day so we really have no reason to objurgate any other religion for doing the same with their own history – unless we’re only selectively concerned with intellectual honesty.

Some other criticisms Edwords has for the graphic novel are I think well made, such as some newly invented details about specific scenes not mentioned in the Bible. But other criticisms seem to me rather petty and even Christophobic. I really don’t understand why a Christian group should be knocked for “Christian evangelizing”, especially considering Edwords’ comments read like an effort at atheist evangelizing.

Edwords’ closing paragraph I think demonstrates his own secular bias best. He ends with another swipe at the credibility of the bible and of Christianity in saying “if you have friends who believe in the Bible while never having really read it, this could be the perfect gift for waking them up to its true mythical nature.”

Sadly, that is a common thing. But it’s also very common to find atheists who take pleasure in criticizing religion in general (or Christianity in particular) who’ve never really read those religious texts either (or even lie about having done so). Reading the bible only once isn’t much better, as the pretense of infallible comprehension is also a common problem among skeptics. Add on top of that the critics of Christianity who have studied the bible, at least in part, yet have done so from an overtly hostile stand point pretending to be objective. Given all that, we have the workings of a disingenuous attitude among the skeptics that could certainly benefit from a perspective different from their own. After all, it’s remarkably difficult to find an atheist who has bothered to question their own doubt.

Considering the article altogether, I could just as well criticize Fred Edwords and The Humanist for producing a solidly secular review of The Kingstone Bible written from their decidedly atheistic perspective. But it’s an atheistic organization, so why wouldn’t they?

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How experts make us dumb

Think for yourself! That’s a common sentiment promoted today especially in western civilization. While I notice the concept is frequently promoted I’m not sure the advice is put into practice much.

On the one hand atheism is said to be on the rise in the United States, and Europe is well known for reaching a post-Christian era. One might interpret this as an indication people actually are thinking for themselves. On the other hand, intellectual laziness is astronomically high and still growing, and so is fear of challenging a politically correct narrative.

Experts promote this tragedy in our society and the rest of us help them do it. Experts often try to make themselves appear sophisticated and smart by using elevated jargon when speaking to people outside their field of expertise. Of course it makes no sense using buzzwords for a highly specialized discipline when speaking to the uninitiated, at least not if the goal is to effectively communicate. But the goal evidently is not to effectively communicate. Instead the goal is often to intimidate or impress, or both.

Emotionally charged controversies are the preferred playground for this intellectual pretense. Experts in economics, the soft social sciences, physics, etc. often tout their credentials and experience in ways intended to discourage disagreement. Experts often see what they want to see and blithely dismiss dissenting views rather than discuss specifics. Granted, even experts are only human, so when they make mistakes they typically don’t want to admit it any more than you or I would. And when the general public treats the expert opinion with skepticism we should not be surprised to be met with some form of expertism: the allegation that because we are not experts in the field we cannot possibly know what we are talking about; so our views don’t count for much.

So we, the uneducated masses, apparently cannot know that one of the most basic things a medical professional ought to do before administering care to read the patient’s chart (failing to do this turns out to be an alarmingly common mistake). And we, being chronically uneducated, cannot know that a nation cannot pull itself out of an economic slump by spending its way into oblivion – since numerous experts insist it can.

So while experts try to bully the people into thinking we cannot know what we are talking about when we disagree with them, we the people often end up reinforcing this myth as well.

In physics, for example, Stephen Hawking, arguably one of the smartest people in the world, asserts the universe created itself out of nothing. Think about that. The cosmic equivalent of spontaneous generation is this expert’s preferred explanation about how the universe got here. And people who don’t understand the math, don’t know what he’s talking about, and most of whom haven’t even read his book The Grand Design blindly accept Hawking’s word for it. There is no empirical evidence of any kind supporting Hawking’s explanation. It isn’t even testable (which means it doesn’t qualify as science) and most people who accept this idea have never heard any criticism of it (from religious and secular people alike, from philosophical and scientific view points). Many people unquestioningly believe it simply because Hawking said it. So much for thinking for oneself. This is blind faith, the unthinking, mindless approach to the world which theists are typically accused of practicing. But because Hawking’s explanation doesn’t need God it automatically gains credibility where, scientifically speaking, it has not earned it.

Additionally, Hawking has pompously and erroneously argued that philosophy is dead. Of course, the unthinking masses willing to believe his theory of the universe are not likely to recognize the flaw in this philosophical argument. Merely saying “think about that statement” is not likely to have the intended effect so I’ll explain it.

The statement “philosophy is dead” is not something that can be scientifically tested. In fact, Hawking’s comment is itself not even a scientific statement, but a philosophical one. So he uses philosophy to claim philosophy is dead, thus proving his own statement false. Hawking, as brilliant a scientist as he is, makes basic, elementary errors in his philosophy. Instead of showing philosophy to be dead, Hawking reveals his own ignorance and bias on things outside the area of his expertise, and raises questions as to the reliability of his expertise as well. We should not be surprised to find Hawking mistakenly believes the premise of his “The Grand Design” is scientific, when in fact it is inherently philosophical. As Einstein said, the man of science makes a poor philosopher. Hawking proves this publicly for all the world to see.

Climate science suffers from much the same problem. Chris Landsea, former chief scientist at the National Hurricane Center, in 2005 resigned from his position with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due to the panel’s willingness to embrace poor science and political corruption of the scientific process. On the other side of the coin, the former chair of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri (who resigned in 2015 due to sexual scandals) declared climate change is his religion. But if you were to suggest climate change has been happening for as long as the planet has existed you can be sure to be labeled a “denier” or “anti-science”. Climate science is riddled with propaganda and corruption, and dissent is punished. Yet we are supposed to think climate science is real science, pure and incorruptible. Look at how many stories we’ve read or seen touting global warming doctrine as if it were infallible, all with the knowledge we are likely to be ridiculed if not worse for challenging that doctrine. What else does it mean to claim “the science is settled” if not to try to stop people from thinking beyond the narrative?

We now have a narrative conflating the latest views of gender with civil rights. Anyone who bothers to question this narrative is instantly labeled a bigot. As with gay activists, transgender activist rely on bully tactics to silence those who dare think for themselves on these issues. The threat of ruination was the hallmark of activism on the gay marriage issue, where any independent thinking would be labeled as unthinking hatred and punished. The what 0.3 percent? of the population that may be transgender gets to force the rest of us to accommodate any number of questionable premises. Never mind if the majority are made uncomfortable; the concerns of 0.3 percent trump everyone else’s concerns. So don’t bother asking thoughtful questions like what happens if straight male pranksters or perverts (falsely claiming to identify as female) see this latest social issue as an opportunity to exploit? Recording video of women in the restroom or shower and posting it online is one of the less egregious problems we are inviting upon ourselves, but such a violation of privacy is no small thing. Yet as long as the rights of the 99.7 percent are ignored while we are misdirected with a questionable narrative, we can pretend everyone is being treated equally by the rash effort to change public policy to accommodate the ever changing feelings of a tiny minority.

Andrea Mitchell (NBC News) shows us another example of experts making people dumb. For months, Hillary Clinton has been playing the gender card to help her presidential campaign. She portrays herself as a defender of women. But because our society tends to blindly accept the dominant narrative of the major news sources (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, NYT, etc.) most people simply forget what happened even a few weeks ago. For example, during the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton had his panoply of sex scandals (the allegations turned out to be true) Hillary defended her husband by defaming any woman who spoke up about the sexual abuse. We were told absurdities like a “vast rightwing conspiracy” was out to get her husband. Contrast that with her more recent comments about how survivors of sexual assault have the right to be heard and believed. Not only do many forget how Hillary treated survivors of sexual assault in the 1990s, there is one case in particular which receives little attention at all.

Juanita Broaddrick’s story got scant attention. President Clinton denied her allegation that he raped her. He also denied all the other allegations of various forms of sexual harassment and assault. Yet, this denial seems to be enough for Andrea Mitchell to think Broaddrick’s story has been “discredited”. When? How? By whom? Mitchell doesn’t seem to realize that hiding from a story is not the same as discrediting it.

In light of the Bill Cosby sex scandal I challenged some liberals on social media. I pointed out how they are surprisingly concerned with allegations against him, given their profound lack of interest in allegations against Bill Clinton. And this was confirmed, with admissions that they didn’t care about the allegations against the former president. Callous excuses such as “it was just one allegation” were thrown about.

But hold a second. The idea that women would lie about sexual issues like this was unconscionable prior to Bill Clinton’s presidency. For those who don’t recall the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, HBO is sure to skew your view of history even further with a loaded dramatization of questionable historical accuracy. In point of fact, the Clarence Thomas scandal received exactly the opposite response from liberals. There was little concern for evidence of any allegation. Instead, the concern was over the “seriousness of the charge”. The American people were supposed to believe women don’t lie about this sort of thing, so the allegation should be taken at face value, making Thomas unqualified to take a position on the SCOTUS. For President Clinton, the situation was exactly the opposite. We were told a man’s personal life doesn’t affect his professional life (his sexual abuse somehow does not disqualify him to be POTUS) so the allegations should have no impact on his right to be president, and women apparently lie all the time about sexual abuse. So which narrative is true? Andrea Mitchell, acting as an expert in current events and women’s issues, would have you believe which ever narrative helps Hillary Clinton’s current campaign. So we are to ignore the defense of Anita Hill and ignore Hillary’s recent comments about survivors of sexual assault, and pretend Broaddrick’s allegations have been “discredited” though no one can show me how this was done.

In western civilization experts now enjoy an air of respect traditionally reserved for religious leadership. These experts cultivate a religious veneration for their views, and the rest of us let them. Many will gladly keep themselves uninformed (not bothering to do their own homework) and blindly accept what they are told by these experts, whether they be scientific, economic, social, or political experts. And we have to contend with fear and retaliation for not blindly following the predominant narrative of the day. The combination of willful ignorance and unquestioning acceptance of certain points of view makes people dumb. And it happens everyday in our politically correct culture.

Many people keep acting as if they are intelligent and well informed by blindly following the experts. The rest of us commoners with a mere public education are frequently and smugly treated as nincompoops for daring to raise inconvenient questions, all while the virtues of public education are continually sung from the rafters by those same sheep who keep buying what education experts are selling.

Given the frequent disagreement among experts, even among those in the same field, perhaps blindly following them is not such an intelligent decision after all. It is stupid to say people who are thinking for themselves are not thinking, and stupid to say people who are blindly following the crowd are thinking for themselves. But what else should we expect from dumb people?

Please don’t be like that. Don’t be dumb.

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First Amendment battle at Weslyan University

original article: College student’s op-ed criticizing Black Lives Matter movement stirs controversy
September 25, 2015 by Fox News

An Iraq War veteran has found himself in a First Amendment battle after taking on the Black Lives Matter movement in his role as a college newspaper columnist.

Bryan Stascavage, a 30-year-old Wesleyan University student who served two tours in Iraq, penned an op-ed in the school newspaper that criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for creating an environment he believes advocates violence by spreading anti-cop hatred, and questioned the movement’s legitimacy.

“Is the movement itself actually achieving anything positive?” Stascavage wrote in his op-ed, “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think,” published Sept. 14 in the Wesleyan Argus.

“It boils down to this for me: If vilification and denigration of the police force continues to be a significant portion of Black Lives Matter’s message, then I will not support the movement, I cannot support the movement. And many Americans feel the same,” Stascavage wrote.

“Is it worth another riot that destroys a downtown district? Another death, another massacre? At what point will Black Lives Matter go back to the drawing table and rethink how they are approaching the problem?” he questioned.

He said that certain actions by the movement’s extremists — like calling for more “pig” police officers to “fry like bacon” — should be condemned by the movement’s leaders.

“As members of a university community, we always have the right to respond with our own opinions, but there is no right not to be offended.”

– Wesleyan University President Michael Roth

The opinion piece unleashed a firestorm of criticism, first directed at Stascavage and later at the school newspaper and its editors. Stascavage said he’s been called a racist by students on campus, while some activists are calling on the school’s student government to defund the newspaper.

A petition demanding the Wesleyan Argus lose funding unless it meets certain demands has signatures from at least 172 students, staff and recent alumni. Signatories threatened to boycott the paper because they said it fails to “provide a safe space for the voices of students of color and we are doubtful that it will in the future.”

The university administration, meanwhile, defended Stascavage’s right to free speech over the weekend.

“Debates can raise intense emotions, but that doesn’t mean that we should demand ideological conformity because people are made uncomfortable,” Wesleyan University President Michael Roth wrote in a blog post along with Provost Joyce Jacobsen and Vice-President for Equity and Inclusion, Antonio Farias.

“As members of a university community, we always have the right to respond with our own opinions, but there is no right not to be offended,” said the post, titled “Black Lives Matter and So Does Free Speech.”

“We certainly have no right to harass people because we don’t like their views,” the administration said. “Censorship diminishes true diversity of thinking; vigorous debate enlivens and instructs.”

Stascavage, a sophomore majoring in philosophy and political science at the Connecticut university, said he knew his column would be controversial for posing “uncomfortable questions,” but said he never believed it would “hit nerves to the extent that it has.”

“The whole point of the article was to encourage people to think of alternative ways to get the Black Lives Matter movement to communicate their message effectively, instead of destroying a downtown district and screaming, ‘We want change,'” Stascavage told FoxNews.com Thursday.

“They are painting the police with a broad stroke as being racist killers,” he said. “I don’t agree with cheering when a police officer is killed. The rhetoric is starting to slide from a political movement to this mob mentality that leads us down a bad path.”

Stascavage, who has penned about 20 pieces for the school newspaper since his freshman year, claims editors at the newspaper said nothing to him prior to the op-ed’s publication.

After the backlash, however, editors-in-chief Rebecca Brill and Tess Morganissued a lengthy statement apologizing “for the distress the piece caused the student body.”

“The op-ed cites inaccurate statistics and twists facts,” the two wrote. “As Wesleyan’s student newspaper, it is our responsibility to provide our readership with accurate information. We vow to raise our standards of journalism and to fact-check questionable information cited in articles, including those in the Opinion section, prior to publication.”

Neither Brill nor Morgan returned messages seeking comment Thursday. Stascavage said the editors-in-chief have yet to speak to him about the piece in question.

“I was very disappointed,” Stascavage said of their statement. “It looked like they just threw me under the bus.”

Brill and Morgan noted, however, that “The Opinion section is open to any writer who wants to share a view, whether or not the Opinion editors and the editors-in-chief agree with it.”

“While we strive to make articles as coherent as possible before publication, we edit opinions for style rather than content, even if they are unpopular, controversial, and widely contested,” they said.

Stascavage, who plans to continue writing for the paper, said the ordeal has proved a valuable learning experience.

“I have learned more in the past 10 days than I learned in three years of college,” he told FoxNews.com. “Freedom of speech is critical for democracy.”

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Can a professor be a full fledged idiot, too? Watch political pandering masquerading as scholarship.

Some leftists think they have more in common with radical Islamists than they have with Republicans. They may be right about that.

original article: ‘Right wing extremists’ more dangerous than radical Islam, according to NY Times
June 17, 2015 by Michael Schaus

Pay no attention to those beheading plots, attacks on “Draw Muhammad” contests and the occasional bombing at the Boston Marathon.

The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from radical Islam, but from “right wing extremists,” two professors claimed in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The New York Times.

Despite a slew of recent high-profile cases — such as the Garland, Texas, attack where two Muslim terrorists bent on mass murder were stopped only by the accurate shooting of an alert police officer — Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer wrote in the Times that “headlines can be misleading.”

Claiming the real threat to peace in America comes from domestic politics, the two University professors say radicalization from the Middle East is a concern, but “not as dangerous as radicalization among right wing” groups in America.

The pair drew their conclusions from a survey of 382 law enforcement agencies and from follow-up interviews with 19 agents from across the nation, citing one police officer who said “we just haven’t experienced” any terrorism from American Muslims.

Which is true… if you don’t consider the previously mentioned attacks in Garland, the shooting at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon bombing, or any of the foiled Islamic terrorist plots since 9/11.

Kurzman and Schanzer also cited a Department of Justice memo that warned law enforcement about the danger of citizens who “fear that government will confiscate firearms” or believe “in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”

The Times’ piece listed a string of little-known attacks by “right wing extremists,” including an attack on police in Nevada by a disturbed couple who had affiliations with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

The two academics tried to justify their assertions by portraying all acts of “anti-government violence” as being linked with right wing political ideology.

“An officer on the West Coast explained that the ‘sovereign citizen’ anti­government threat has ‘really taken off,’” they wrote.

The Times’ piece ends with a plea to begin scrutinizing political groups, while relaxing the focus on potentially radical Islamic communities.

“Public debates on terrorism focus intensely on Muslims. But this focus does not square with the low number of plots in the United States by Muslims, and it does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion,” they wrote.

The New York Times isn’t the only place to find an op-ed on terrorism that’s more afraid of American conservatives than ISIS killers, but it’s the most prominent — and one of the most dangerous.

Any wonder Barack Obama loves the rag?

UPDATE: 74 children executed by ISIS for ‘crimes’ that include refusal to fast, report says

bias, bigotry, culture, Democrats, diversity, elitism, extremism, hate speech, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, islam, left wing, liberalism, lies, opinion, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, relativism, security, terrorism

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Can one support gay marriage and religious liberty at the same time?

note: I don’t support gay marriage like Lopez does, but I do support civil unions. Lopez is refreshingly open minded and honest in this piece, for someone who does support gay marriage.

original article: I Support Gay Marriage And Religious Freedom Laws
April 6, 2015 by Ramon Lopez

I strongly support gay marriage. Yet I also strongly support Indiana’s recent religious freedom law. Given that many in the media have characterized it as being “anti-gay,” causing state legislators to amend some of its protections away, this might seem like a contradiction. Therefore it’s important to clarify exactly what Indiana’s law says, does, and how it fits in with a vision of a tolerant and pluralistic society.

The Indiana religious freedom law is modeled after the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), passed in 1993 by a unanimous vote in the House, a 97-3 vote in the Senate, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton (there are two notable differences between the federal law and Indiana’s law that some critics have pointed out, and I’ll get to those differences in a bit). At the time, right-wing groups like the Christian Coalition joined with left-wing groups like the ACLU in support of the law, and it had remained a bipartisan commitment until recently.

The Historical and Legal Background of Religious Freedom Laws

To understand why RFRA was passed in the first place, we should review its historical and legal background. In 1963 the Supreme Court decided in Sherbert v. Verner that under the First Amendment religious objectors to facially neutral laws have a presumptive constitutional right to exemption. This means religious persons could sue for exemption from a law that compels them to violate their religious beliefs, even if that law did not specifically target their religion.

According to a 2006 study, governments meet strict scrutiny standards in nearly 60 percent of religious-liberty exemption cases.

If a law was passed that required all delis to serve pork, for example, conservative Muslim and Orthodox Jewish deli owners could apply for an exemption given their religious convictions. Although such a law may not be intentionally discriminatory, its effect would be burdensome to the practices of certain religious groups, as it would compel members of those faiths to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court determined that a “strict scrutiny” standard would be applied to laws that imposed a “substantial burden” on a person’s religious beliefs. Under this principle, religious objectors would be exempt from laws that burden their religious practices unless the law was the least-restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.

A “compelling government interest” is typically understood to be an interest that is necessary, one that is an essential government function, not merely one that is preferable policy. It includes issues such as maintaining constitutional protections and preserving the lives, health, security, and rights of persons. To meet the “least restrictive means” standard, the state must show there is not a reasonable and possible alternative means to fulfill the compelling interest. Both before and after RFRA, the Supreme Court has kept religious-freedom exemptions narrow—members of a religion that forbids its members to pay taxes are not exempt from taxation, as the state can both demonstrate that such laws serve a compelling government interest and are the least restrictive means of serving that interest. According to a 2006 study, governments meet these standards in nearly 60 percent of religious-liberty exemption cases.

The Supreme Court Decision that Led to the Federal RFRA

In 1990, the court reversed itself in Employment Division v. Smith. Two members of the Native American Church had been fired for ingesting peyote, which some Native American religious groups use for religious purposes. Because they were fired for violating state drug laws, the former employees were unable to qualify for unemployment compensation. They sued, claiming that the state law prohibiting their use of peyote substantially burdened their religious practices, but in this case the Court determined that the First Amendment did not protect religious groups from facially neutral laws. Legislatures could carve out exemptions when passing laws that might substantially burden certain religious groups if they so chose, but religious persons would no longer have a presumptive right to exemption.

Since its passage, RFRA has disproportionately protected minority religious groups.

This resulted in a political backlash from all sides, culminating in the passage of RFRA, which reestablished the strict scrutiny standard. In 1997 the Supreme Court determined RFRA could not be applied to state laws—given that it went beyond the scope of Congress’s enforcement powers—but that it still applied to federal laws. Since 1997, 26 states have passed state-level RFRA legislation, with Indiana being the most recent, and another nine have constitutional religious-freedom provisions that state courts have interpreted to require the strict scrutiny standard.

Since its passage, RFRA has disproportionately protected minority religious groups—while Jewish, Muslim, and Native American religions only make up only 3 percent of the population, they make up 18 percent of RFRA cases. And while last year’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case grabbed headlines, earlier this year the court determined in Holt v. Hobbes that Arkansas’s policy prohibiting inmates from growing beards violated RFRA, as it substantially burdened a Muslim inmate from practicing his faith.

Three Objections to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law

There are then three main issues that are raised with Indiana’s RFRA law. The first is the more general question about whether a religious person should have a presumed right to exemption from a facially neutral law if it substantially burdens his or her religious practices. This issue not only applies to Indiana, but to every other state with a strict scrutiny standard, as well as the federal government.

As a pluralistic society, we ought to respect others’ religious beliefs, and make space for them to practice their values so long as it does not interfere with basic political requirements.

As a pluralistic society, we ought to respect others’ religious beliefs, and do what we can to make space for them to practice their values so long as it does not interfere with basic political requirements. America has a long and proud tradition of making such accommodations—Catholic churches were exempt from prohibition so they could serve wine as a part of the Eucharist, Quakers and other pacifist groups have historically been exempt from being drafted into the military in combat positions, and in the 1990s we further strengthened laws protecting peyote use by Native American religions in their ceremonies.

RFRA protections are particularly important when dealing with religious minorities. More widely represented and politically powerful religions may have the visibility and influence to ensure they are given legislative exemptions from facially neutral laws. But smaller and less influential religious groups, those without as much political clout, will have a harder time protecting their religious liberties and practices. When deciding between following a secular authority or a spiritual one, many people will choose the latter over the former. Giving space within the law to people of different faiths to practice their beliefs does not divide us, but makes us a more cohesive, open, and respectful society.

Many might agree that RFRA protections are important to maintain, but will argue that Indiana’s version went too far by legalizing these kinds of exemptions in private dealings. Unlike the federal version, Indiana’s law states, “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding” (italics mine). This is the second issue: Whether RFRA should allow religious persons to discriminate against private citizens.

Instead, Fight Job Loss for Being Gay

In this case, we should keep two things in mind. First, Indiana, like many states and the federal government, before adding its “fix” to its new RFRA had not listed sexual orientation as a protected status under civil-rights laws. Private businesses are prohibited from discriminating based on race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, etc., but in most states employers can legally fire someone for being gay. Even if Indiana’s religious-freedom law allowed for discrimination, it would be superfluous given that discrimination based on sexual orientation is already legal. That gay, lesbian, and transsexual persons are still subject to this kind of treatment is a national embarrassment, and all the energy many have expended on fighting RFRA would be better directed at expanding non-discrimination legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Even if Indiana’s religious-freedom law allowed for discrimination, it would be superfluous given that discrimination based on sexual orientation is already legal.

The second point is that although Indiana’s law goes further than the federal RFRA law in this respect, it would still not allow for widespread discrimination against homosexuals. If a restaurant banned gays from entering—and if sexual orientation were covered under civil rights protections—then the Supreme Court would easily find that the restaurant violated the Civil Rights Act. Preventing discrimination by private companies is a compelling government interest and there is no less restrictive way of preventing such discrimination than barring private companies from discriminating. Just as a religious objector is still required to pay taxes, given that there’s no way to collect tax revenue without actually taxing persons, so too would private businesses still be required to comply with non-discrimination protections. Religious liberty claims to discriminate have never survived judicial review under the strict scrutiny standard.

The purpose of the additional language is not to allow for widespread discrimination, but to protect the religious liberties of specific professionals who provide services to couples who are getting married—wedding photographers, florists, caterers, etc. This language was inspired by a case in New Mexico (among others), in which a wedding photographer was found in violation of the state’s Human Rights Act for refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding.

But there is an important distinction between a restaurant discriminating against a gay customer and a wedding photographer refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding. In the first case, the restaurant is refusing to serve a person because of their sexual orientation. In the second case, the photographer is refusing to participate in a ceremony that would violate her religious beliefs. As was noted in her petition to the court, the photographer had photographed numerous gay couples in the past, and did not discriminate based on sexual orientation. While the government has an obligation to prevent discrimination, it goes beyond its scope when compelling religious persons to attend ceremonies or other proceedings they find religiously objectionable. So while Indiana’s RFRA would not allow for discrimination of gay customers simply because they are gay, it would have allowed religious objectors to exempt themselves from participating in private ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs. (Its “fix” changed this. Private businesses may no longer exempt themselves from religious ceremonies they find objectionable.)

Toleration is easy when we support or are neutral about the belief or practice in question.

There are important limits on this kind of religious-freedom protection. It’s an open question whether someone who provides a product or service but does not participate in the wedding itself—like a baker—would be covered under this provision. I find it to be unlikely, and don’t think the protection should extend that far, but it’s an issue for us as a society to debate. Additionally, if the wedding photographer were the only professional photographer in town it would be reasonable for the state to compel her to lend her services to the wedding ceremony, given that the gay couple would otherwise be burdened by not having access to that service at all due to their sexual orientation. But the point I’d like to emphasize here is that this is a complex question between legitimate competing values, and any decision we reach as a society should hopefully take both into account. Toleration is easy when we support or are neutral about the belief or practice in question. It’s far more difficult—but even more necessary—when concerning something we ourselves find objectionable.

Why Individual Rights Extend to Corporations

The third and perhaps most controversial issue surrounding the Indiana religious freedom law is its explicit extension of these protections to corporate entities. Critics argue that corporations cannot have religious beliefs, and that by extending religious protections to corporations Indiana opened the door to legalized discrimination. But the points raised when discussing issue two apply in this case as well: Corporations, like individuals, cannot violate civil-rights protections by appealing to RFRA because non-discrimination requirements meet the two standards needed to override a religious objection. While the federal RFRA does not explicitly protect corporations, in last year’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court decided that the federal law applies to “closely held” corporations, meaning the difference between the two laws on this point is not as much as many have made it out to be.

Most churches and religious charities legally take a corporate form, and it would be strange if religious liberty protections applied to members of a church but not to the church itself.

While treating corporations as if they have religious beliefs might seem strange, we rightly extend a number of individual rights to corporations. The First Amendment’s protections on speech do not only apply to individual journalists, but to the corporation of which they are apart—The New York Times as an institution is protected by the First Amendment as much as its members.

Most churches and religious charities legally take a corporate form, and it would be strange if religious liberty protections applied to members of a church but not to the church itself. When an exemption was made for Catholics under prohibition, the exemption was not extended to specific members of the Catholic Church, but to the Catholic Church as a corporate institution.

We recognize that corporations are forms of association, and persons do not lose their rights—religious or otherwise—when acting as an association, when united in a corporate body. Corporations can also be held legally accountable, just as individuals—a company as a corporate person can be sued for violating some law, or for infringing on the rights of particular individuals or other corporations. Although corporate personhood has been a controversial issue since Citizens United v. FEC, corporations have long been legally treated as persons. There is more that could be said on this point, but debating the merits of corporate personhood would require its own article. However, the basic point is that even though Indiana’s RFRA extends to corporations, it still does not allow for legalized discrimination against gay persons.

Be Generous In Argument

These are hard questions. I don’t want to treat my positions on this matter as final—there are strong arguments on the other side. I may also be mistaken in my analysis, moral reasoning and intuitions, or understanding of the law. But as fellow citizens we should avoid the tendency to paint these issues in the blackest of blacks and whitest of whites. We’re all working through these difficult questions together, and we should do so with compassion and goodwill. We should work to educate each other, and be open to hearing from others with whom we disagree—especially when we don’t understand how anyone could disagree.

The principle of charity demands that we consider the best the other side has to offer and assume they are operating in good faith.

Given how homosexual people have been historically treated, both in the United States and elsewhere, it is no wonder that gay-rights groups are especially attuned to any perceived infringement. And with rapidly changing views on gay marriage, the gay rights movement finally feels like it has the wind at its back. But those of us who support gay rights should be careful with our rhetoric and with the battles we choose. Not everyone we disagree with is homophobic, and not every law proposed by opponents of gay marriage will damage the cause of gay rights.

Pushing for gay rights will be easier if religious objectors can be secure in the knowledge that the state will not be used to compel them to violate their religious beliefs. This does not mean gay persons should be discriminated against, but it does mean we should provide the space for people to not participate in religiously objectionable acts. As a tolerant and pluralistic society, it is incumbent upon us to provide this option, even if we strongly disagree with the moral stance of religious objectors.

We should keep one last important thing in mind when engaging in broader debates about gay rights. You don’t change minds by labeling everyone who disagrees with you a bigot. Plenty of the opposition to gay marriage may be rooted in homophobia, but there are a great number of kind and generous people who—due to religious beliefs, cultural norms, or (yes) rational arguments—still maintain the traditional definition of marriage. Criticizing those who disagree with us as morally ignorant is easy, but a healthy public discourse requires that we treat them fairly. The principle of charity demands that we consider the best the other side has to offer and assume they are operating in good faith.

This should apply to all political debates, but particularly to those contentious moral questions—gay marriage, abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and all the intersecting issues around race and gender. If we wish to change others’ minds, we have to be open to changing ourselves. Public discourse, like tolerance, is a two-way street.

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Students Opposed to LGBT Agenda Shamed in Classroom

February 09, 2015 by Todd Starnes

Teenagers at a California high school were publicly shamed for disagreeing with speakers allowed to push an LGBT agenda during an English class, according to several upset parents.

The Queer Straight Alliance at Acalanes High School, in Lafayette, lectured students in several ninth-grade English classes on Jan. 29 about LGBT issues, according to Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the parents.

During the class, the students, ages 14 and 15, were instructed to stand in a circle. Then, they were grilled about their personal beliefs and their parents’ beliefs on homosexuality, PJI alleges.

“The QSA had students step forward to demonstrate whether they believed that being gay was a choice and whether their parents would be accepting if they came out as gay,” PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds said. “Students who did not step forward were ridiculed and humiliated.”

PJI is a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases. They are representing several families who had children in the freshman classes — some of whom also are angry because there was no parental notification of the LGBT lecture.

“Singling out students for ridicule based on their moral or political beliefs is a Marxist tactic that should have no place in the United States of America,” Dacus said.

During the lecture, the Queer Student Alliance provided students with the names of the gay and lesbian teachers at the high school. They also had students line up to demonstrate where they fell on the “gender spectrum.”

“It was an exercise in gender fluidity,” the parent of one child told me. “They told the students that one day they could come to school feeling like a boy and the next day they could come to school feeling like a girl.”

Students were given a handout with LGBT terminology – including words like pan-sexual, demi-boy and gray gender.

Demi-boy/girl is defined as someone who only partially identifies as a man or woman. Gray gender defines someone who feels as though they sort of fit inside the gender binary, but that their gender is more hazy and undefined.

“Acalanes High School and the district have defied common sense, ignored the law and broken parents’ trust,” McReynolds said in a prepared statement. “These administrators are acting like schoolyard bullies. If they think intimidation is going to work on us or these parents, they are greatly mistaken.”

“It was a public outing,” one parent told me. “My child is being raised in a family with conservative values. We are a Christian family. What bothers me the most is the school is being dishonest and secretive about what’s happening. My son’s value system and our belief system is not being respected on a many levels.”

And from a very practical point – she wants to know why the Queer Student Alliance was allowed to take over an English class.

“There’s no other club at the high school that gets face time in front of freshman English classes for an entire period,” the parent said.

So why is Acalanes High School outing students who may not agree with every facet of the LGBT agenda?

Superintendent John Nickerson tells me it’s all about tolerance.

“The classroom instruction in question was part of a tolerance workshop led by peer educators under the supervision of teachers,” Nickerson wrote to me in an email.

That’s all well and good – but were the teenagers academically qualified to teach a class on issues like “gender fluidity”? Why weren’t the teachers teaching the class? And what about the allegations that students were bullied by the Queer Student Alliance?

“We are aware of the concerns and allegations raised by two parents and the Pacific Justice Institute,” he wrote. “We are investigating the situation, learning activities and classroom environment.”

This happens to be the same high school that invited a “pleasure activist” from Planned Parenthood to teach sex education to the freshman class. Students were encouraged to ask each other questions like “Is it okay if I take my pants off?”

The parent I spoke to bristled at the notion the LGBT class was about tolerance.

“They are tolerant of everyone except people who have Christian values,” she told me.

PJI sent a letter to the school district demanding an explanation of what happened. They believe the classroom lecture violated the privacy rights of the students.

“It should be self-evident that, as a fundamental privacy right, students cannot be ‘outed’ during class time by being made to declare their beliefs and feelings about sensitive sexual matters, any more than a student could be required to announce their sexual orientation,” PJI wrote in their letter to the school district.

Has it really come to this, America – forcing students to declare their allegiance to the LGBT agenda? Maybe they should just stick to teaching English in English class.

original article: Students Opposed to LGBT Agenda Shamed in Classroom

Support Separation Between School and State

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Can your school-aged child read?

December 4, 2014 by Kim Dallas

Many students are unable to comprehend the written word, and teachers can only do so much.

I teach high school English, and I am begging you to please read to your children. Read everything. Read baby books when they are babies. Read picture books when they are older. Ask your middle-schoolers to read street signs, billboards and marquees during every car ride. Ask your teenagers to read your water bills, junk mail, newspapers, magazines, recipes and catalog descriptions. Read everything like your life depends on it.

Why?  Because your children can’t read.

We are in the midst of one of the greatest literacy crises ever encountered, and we are fighting an uphill battle. Every day I experience firsthand what it means to be illiterate in a high school classroom. At best it means sleeping away a unit; at worst it means depression or aggression. Average students with average abilities can fervently text away, but they cannot read.

Recently, I gave a unit test where students could use all their notes and their short story on the test (not my standard practice). The results: abysmal. I didn’t think the test was too difficult until I started doing some investigating and made a shocking discovery. They couldn’t even read the test. Don’t think it’s your child? Ask your high school teenager to define the following: superior, ridicule, flippant or mundane. Now imagine your child taking the ACT or SAT. Now what?

I teach nearly 200 high school juniors each day. If we give them all the same book to read, they often do not read it. Ask them why, and they say: “It’s boring.” Translation? “It’s too hard.” They also may say they have no time. As educators, we can only do so much with the limited resources we have. I understand I have an obligation to teach in an exciting and rewarding way, but my tech-savvy students are beating me down, and I need your help.

What can you do?  Model reading in the home. Visit the library. Go to the bookstore. Share your reading experiences with them. Encourage them to read their assigned work. Offer your help with comprehension. If you struggle with reading, please share how you face this difficult challenge with success. They need your help. I need your help. To succeed in school, students must read on their own. Our future depends on it.

original article: Can your school-aged child read?

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America needs less statism

The Hillsdale Collegian recently published an opinion piece by Kate Patrick titled “Hillsdale needs a little more socialism.” Coming from Hillsdale College I found this title in the student newspaper quite curious and decided to read it. I found myself a bit shocked at the presumption reflected in the piece, given the sorts of things taken for granted in order to promote socialism, especially in relation to the philosophy at Hillsdale College. So I stayed up a bit late to comment on their website. Below is an updated version of those comments.

Quite an ironic piece, here. I’d like to address several points about John Strinka’s comments and about Kate Patrick’s framing of the issue. (Note: I am neither a Hillsdale student or alumnus. I don’t personally know anyone who attends or works at Hillsdale. I am merely a passerby. My knowledge of Hillsdale College is limited to some resources Hillsdale makes available to the general public.)

First, the opening Strinka comments in Patrick’s article lament how socialism tends to be misrepresented. The irony in this first quote is that the bulk of Mr. Strinka’s comments on capitalism are a gross misrepresentation of it. And this is no accident, Mr. Strinka’s pointedly anti-capitalist perspective is riddled with a rosy colored picture of socialism and government.

According to Patrick, Strinka says “Capitalism [teaches] that humans are commodities to be bought and sold.” If that’s his opinion, I’d like to offer a similar swipe at socialism for comparison. If I stated “socialism teaches that people are cogs in a social machine, and not really people but merely demographics”, I imagine Mr. Strinka and many socialists would object to such description. But policies promoted by socialists and their lauded remedies to society’s ails often seem like this is precisely what big government statists (socialists) believe. If Mr. Strinka insists his complaint about capitalism is accurate, I likewise insist my description of socialism is accurate.

Another Strinka quote: “At this point in American history, corporations can buy government policy.” That’s nothing new, and it was praised as a grand thing when the railroad began asking for government intervention to curtail competition from the trucking industry, and it is lauded today when corporate interests harm the competition under the guise of helping people. Under the pretense of fairness and protecting people, government has gladly embraced corporate entanglements – because these types of entanglements allow government to grab more power.

So what’s the problem with that? I believe P. J. O’Rourke said it best: “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” And he’s exactly right. Government regulation of industry invites, nay, begs for industry to attempt to leverage such intervention to its favor. The very thing government regulation of industry is supposedly meant to cure ends up exacerbated by it instead. The Law of Unintended Consequences often raises its ugly head with the implementation of well intended policies trying to manipulate society.

Another comment from Strinka: “Democracy has been eaten up by corporate interests.” While I’ve admitted corporate interests have infected the political process (in no small part a self-inflicted problem by government itself) I notice Patrick includes nothing in her article from Strinka or anyone else about how political interests have infected business, education, health care, the environment, national security, national defense, the IRS, the interpretation of the Constitution, and on and on. Democracy has also been eaten up by political interests.

Another comment from Strinka: “We see a free-market system that has failed to distribute the goods”. The sad fact is, no one knows such a thing. There are very few people alive today who have ever seen capitalism or a free-market system at work. For generations Americans have seen only a hybrid of socialism and a free-market, with the pendulum swinging toward the former at an accelerating pace. As it stands, socialists and other Marxians conveniently blame all of society’s ails on anything other than government intervention.

After Patrick lends plentiful space to air Strinka’s misrepresentation of capitalism, she continues with some curious comments of her own.

I was expecting to find the term “crony capitalism” in this article, and I was not disappointed. The definition of crony capitalism Patrick offers is, to no surprise, one from a rather socialistic perspective. You’ll notice in her article that crony capitalism is presented as only a capitalism problem. It is not. Crony capitalism is a capitalism AND a government problem. It can’t happen without both sides of the coin. The term is designed to misrepresent the problem in the first place. A more accurate label would be crony government. Simply calling it cronyism should suffice but it is more expedient to Marxians of all stripes to indoctrinate us all into thinking cronyism is exclusively a result of capitalism.

And there is further socialistic bias in the term crony capitalism. There is an implied assumption that without corporate interests, Democracy (in this context meaning government) would have no corruption, or at least wouldn’t have nearly as much. I find this rather hard to believe because behind this implication an even more fundamental yet flawed belief: money is evil and government is good.

Let me propose an idea. Actually, it’s not my idea, it’s a very well known axiom:

Money is Power

Effectively, at the end of the day, this is true. But the reverse is also true: Power is Money. And we all know what is said of power, and absolute power. Why is it then that Marxians see corruption in money but not in power? In the name of ridding the world of corruption, socialists see a problem with concentrated wealth and see concentrated power as the solution.

In this article we predictably see morality ascribed to wealth. But money and wealth have no morality – they are merely ideas and tools. Just as government has no morality, it is also an idea, but it tends to have more muscle behind it which is physically real. The only morality associated with wealth or power is that which people bring with them.

But where do Marxians typically focus their concern about corruption? At capitalism, not at government. Notice one of Patrick’s own comments: “Without proper regulation, the rich and powerful do what they want, according to Strinka.” Who is getting the blame for corruption in that statement? I submit this statement is not intended to make the reader think of government, but only of capitalism; to make people suspicious of freedom.

Another of Patrick’s own comments: “After all, it was improperly regulated capitalism that got us into the ugly state we’re in now.” Do we really know that or do we find the conviction of a love of big government here? How do we know it wasn’t government intervention itself that got us into the ugly state we’re in now? Among those not blinded by a love of government, there is plenty of evidence to suggest it was in fact government intervention that caused many problems we’re experiencing today.

Faithful statists have been lead to believe such allegations against government have been proven false, even though they haven’t. But there is such profound support for big government in politics and in the news media that repeating this lie has done its job.

Patrick does offer a token admission that socialism has its flaws. Unfortunately in today’s political discourse, those who express concern for government corruption are often dismissed or marginalized as anti-government right wing extremists. The fact that government corruption is also a vast plague on society hardly appears to be a second thought among socialists. Government incompetence makes the situation even worse, but that is a discussion for another day.

And why do Marxians defend an ever increasing government goliath? Because they trust and prefer government. That is not capitalist propaganda, that is an overt sentiment proudly embraced by socialists who believe government is benevolent. One of the greatest concerns I have about intermingling compassion and government is that the socialist love of government almost always wins out over anything else. Given the choice between (1) helping people but doing so unequally vs (2) harming people but increasing some abstract fairness quotient, lovers of government (Keynesians, Marxists, Socialists, Communists, Fascists, etc.) would choose the latter. And yet we are supposed to think liberals of all stripes are compassionate people (who happen to define “sharing” as confiscation of wealth under threat of imprisonment and “helping” people as regulating away their freedom).

Socialists lament that capitalism intermingling with government leads to corruption, but the solution to this corruption is power. Concentrated wealth can be a bad thing but is concentrated power really the solution? Socialists, Marxists, Communists, and others who believe life can be made fair if only there are enough laws also tend to believe government knows best and that people need to be forced to do the “right thing”. The essence of government is the use of force so those who value freedom and civil liberties ought to be cautious (not eager) about the use of government power.

Seeking government intervention first is anti-American. Trusting government more than liberty looks like freedom-hating. Trusting government to regulate itself but mocking the idea of a self-regulating free-market looks like the attempt to destroy everything America stands for. Pretending the free-market means only corporations (in order to justify government taking more control) and ignoring the other half of the “free-market” equation (the people and their freedom to choose) is a severely misguided view and not one that leads to a better society.

This differing view between a statist, big government mentality and a limited government, big liberty mentality has divided Americans to a point of tremendous hostility. But it is not the pro-free-market voice that is causing this. The “small capitalism, caps on business size, widespread ownership of private property, and farm-centered communities” voice is by far the predominant one in the nation, if not (thankfully) at Hillsdale College. The pro-freedom voice is largely squelched all across the American plain. Hillsdale College is fighting an uphill battle. If the pro-freedom mentality at Hillsdale is a “bubble” it is not because Hillsdale insulates itself from views differing from those it prefers, it is because they are an air pocket trying to elevate a country sinking into a sea of statism. The big-government view lives in a bubble protecting itself from outside criticism. It can be found almost anywhere, save a few bastions of freedom such as Hillsdale College.

One last point. Capitalists and lovers of freedom would like to see a “divorce [between] big business and politics” just as socialists would. But capitalists do not seek the use of government policy to achieve it, or if they do it is only where absolutely necessary for government to get involved. Sound-minded capitalists (which are the vast majority of capitalists) are rightly concerned about corruption of government and business.

I would also like to see a divorce between compassion and government, as this is the single largest category of spending in the American government. If corporate money corrupts politics I humbly suggest political control of the social safety net is just as corrupting of American society if not more so. Strinka is not “reacting to capitalism gone wrong in American society”. He is reacting to a leftist, statist, government-knows-best distortion of capitalism. I would like to know Strinka’s opinion of real capitalism, but I doubt he’s ever actually seen it (none of us have).

I used to be an advocate of the laissez-faire free-market approach. I no longer adhere to a libertarian view of the market place. I now support a more conservative approach to the free-market, one which requires input from a sphere outside both economics and government. Neither a self-regulating market nor a state-regulated market will achieve the results any compassionate person ultimately desires. That requires a moral component not really found in either of these approaches. Dr. Ralph Ancil of the Roepke Institute makes a good argument for where to find the best solutions to society’s problems.

bias, bureaucracy, corruption, cronyism, culture, economics, education, elitism, freedom, government, ideology, nanny state, opinion, oppression, pandering, philosophy, politics, public policy, socialism, unintended consequences

Filed under: bias, bureaucracy, corruption, cronyism, culture, economics, education, elitism, freedom, government, ideology, nanny state, opinion, oppression, pandering, philosophy, politics, public policy, socialism, unintended consequences

In failing to stop the Islamic State, U.S. ignores the lessons of Auschwitz

August 18, 2014 by Marc A. Thiessen

The worst part is that all of this could have been prevented. Just a few years ago, the Islamic State (then al-Qaeda in Iraq) was a spent force, defeated both militarily and ideologically thanks to the 2007 U.S. surge, and the Sunni masses who rose up to join the United States in driving them out. Then President Obama’s complete withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011 took the boot off of the terrorists’ necks. And, as Hillary Clinton recently pointed out, Obama’s “failure” to act in Syria “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

Now, after standing by and allowing the Islamic State to established control in an area the size of Belgium, Obama has finally launched limited strikes — but only to prevent the Islamic State from overrunning U.S. diplomatic facilities in northern Iraq (for fear of another Benghazi), massacring Yazidis and controlling the Mosul Dam. Obama insists that “there’s no American military solution” to the rise of the Islamic State and that “it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Obama may be tired of war, as were Hitler’s enemies. But the Islamic State is not tired of war. It has been explicit about its intentions. The lessons of history are clear.

The free world ignores such barbarity at its peril.

full article: In failing to stop the Islamic State, U.S. ignores the lessons of Auschwitz

anti-war, crisis, diplomacy, extremism, foreign affairs, government, hate crime, hypocrisy, ideology, islam, military, opinion, philosophy, political correctness, politics, president, public policy, terrorism, war

Filed under: anti-war, crisis, diplomacy, extremism, foreign affairs, government, hate crime, hypocrisy, ideology, islam, military, opinion, philosophy, political correctness, politics, president, public policy, terrorism, war

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