No Safe Spaces Here

UChicagoThe University of Chicago is nearly unique.

Unique in its ability in the reason for its existence, in its present form. This school was one of the founders of the Big 10 Conference as well as 6 times champion of the league, and home of the winner of the first Heisman trophy, but withdrew from intercollegiate sports when it found that it interfered with its core mission. They returned to NCAA Division III football in 1973. And so it was under the bleachers of its unused football stadium, Stagg Field, that the first ever controlled nuclear reaction took place.

Unique in being the home of the Chicago School of Economics, and its most famous spokesman, the late Milton Friedman, who has been highlighted here many times, not least for his I, Pencil, perhaps the best demonstration of how interdependent we all are.

And maybe unique also in something that came up this week. My friend Chalcedon (who is employed in University Administration after (and concurrent with) a distinguished career in University teaching himself) over at All along the Watchtower said this today

A Catholic university is charged with developing a learning community which inculcates such values, and should strive to help form its students in such a way; but it also needs to engage its students actively in this process – there is no room for ‘safe spaces’ or for students to be merely passive receivers (even if such students existed and wanted to come to a university with a Catholic ethos).

A Catholic university places itself, Newman wrote, at the service of revealed truth (Idea of a University, Discourse 4).

Personally, I think that is the mission of all universities, not just Catholic ones, and I suspect that the University of Chicago would agree. They said this in a letter to incoming students.

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

via University of Chicago to students: no safe spaces here | Power Line

I applaud both of them, the solutions to our problems, and they exist; we created the problems, and we can (with God’s help) solve them, never have, and will never be in hiding from the problems or in not honestly exploring them. That is not, and never was a comfortable undertaking. As Hannah Holborn Gray, a former President of the University said:

[E]ducation should not be intended to make people comfortable,

it is meant to make them think.

And you know, I think with that ethos, they will each begin (maybe the word is continue) to attract the robust student who is there to learn, and to discuss, and to study, and to discern some actual truth. Often here we say that the truth can stand on its own, and it can, but we also need those that will proclaim it throughout the land. Truth in an ivory tower, does little good, but the truth in the marketplace of ideas will gain adherents, and may well win the day. One hopes so, anyway. Our society needs a huge dose of truth these days.

The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

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Ronald J. Pestritto, dean of the graduate school of statesmanship at Hillsdale College, joined The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the rise of progressivism in American history and it’s role in shaping our government and modern politicians.

Pestritto’s research on the birth of American progressivism has lead him across the party lines as well as to politicians like Woodrow Wilson. “It’s really amazing how thoroughly [progressivism] comes to dominate politics and political culture toward the end of the 19th century,” Pestritto said. “The idea of progress and the power of that is deeply embedded.” […]

Later in the hour, Domenech and Pestritto discussed whether constitutional limits and ideas are even something that voters actually care about anymore. “Since the election of Barack Obama, we’ve had an extraordinary window of opportunity… to talk about constitutional principles,” Pestritto said. “I worry that the current election cycle season may mark the closing of that window.”

via The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

Pretty interesting stuff, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Thoughts On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting In The Modern Age”

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Patrick Henry

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Patrick Henry

This has been on my mind, as well. From the Adaptive Curmudgeon.

Still here? OK then I’ll start. The Z-Blog posted wise thoughts in On Being Revolting in the Modern Age:

“Certainly voting for Trump sends a message, but messages need a sender and a receiver. If the people on the other end refuse to acknowledge the message being sent, then it’s not really a message. The Olive Branch Petition was the last ditch effort by the Colonist to avoid a breach with the mother country, but the King’s refusal turned it from a message to him into a message from him. That message was clear to the colonials. They could either submit unconditionally or prepare for war. A Trump win followed by a unified refusal by the political class to cooperate would also be clear message.”

You’d be hard pressed to find any living being who likes the 2016 election cycle so one more blogger bitching about it (self included) is irrelevant. But, just for the record, I’ve spent decades observing D.C. and thinking“these people are playing with fire”. I perpetually wish they’d quit trodding upon large groups of people. No good can come of it.

The Z-Blog adds the usual about the media giving up on even the appearance of journalism:

“A little girl skins her knee and there is a news team there to blame Trump in a four hour TV special. Hillary Clinton is caught running a pay-for-play scheme and no one can be bothered to ask her why she went to the trouble of installing an illegal e-mail system in her bathroom.”

While that’s all true I haven’t expected news from the news in decades. Nobody has.

My big observation of the “Hillary’s private server with State secrets affair” wasn’t about the press. It was about the people; or rather roughly half of the people. A moment passed that felt colder and more unsettling than the usual “they’ve fucked us again” situation.

Think about it like this; the FBI infuriated half the electorate and that half… did nothing. Yet it wasn’t a moment of defeat. It wasn’t a wail of despair, not gloom, not anger, not resignation, not desperation. It was a subdued tone of quiet finality. An acceptance that corruption is so deep that no one, nobody at all, can pretend otherwise.

We all know it. Jerks with badges will shut down a child’s lemonade stand, convict your car of a crime, demand a license for your dog, zone your house into oblivion for a salamander, and invade nations you’ve never heard of… but everyone everywhere knows that mishandling State secrets will put anyone in the clink. Or at least it formerly would.

The FBI just demonstrated they’re afraid to enforce the law when Hillary is involved. They did it in front of God. They did it on live TV. Like the moon landing, it’s an event with a clear “before” and a clear “after”. I think it unwise to have fomented such a moment.

via Thoughs On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting In The Modern Age” | Adaptive Curmudgeon

He’s right, when Comey made that statement, there wasn’t much of an uproar amongst conservatives. It was like we noted it, thanked him for being honest, and went silent. That was my reaction as well. There’s nothing left to say. For many of us, it’s over, the Republic has failed, not because Clinton skated, that sort of crap has happened often enough. No, it failed because one of the chief law enforcement officers of the Republic is afraid to do his job, and essentially said so openly.

He’s right also that there are two kinds of silence: the silence of resignation and defeat and that is what I suspect the left thinks it is, I think them wrong. The other one is one of quiet determination and resolve, and knowing that there is little left to say across the chasm. What will be, will be.

Thing is, Americans are a bunch of stubborn cusses, and far more capable than almost other nationality, there’s a reason that America has led the world for at least a hundred years, and the ones going silent are the productive ones. AC put it this way:

It reminds me of Ralf Waldo Emerson’s admonition “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” I’d much rather have seen the right wing burning cars and spray painting American flags on walls… but the quiet ones don’t roll that way. And really, who thinks a riot and a burned car does any good?

Also I’m a little worried. When Americans get motivated they’re not ineffective. They’ll put a man on the moon, build a 1,000 horsepower NASCAR, win every damn gold medal they can, whatever. I worry that should they get violent they’ll be too damn good at it.

And that’s what makes me nervous. It’s not the dog that barks that you need to watch. It’s the one you’ve kicked several times but it didn’t back down.

Yes, that is so. Jess and I like to quote Rudyard Kipling, and his poetry defines a good many of us beyond the English, it pretty much wraps up the Protestant, Northern European ethos, that built the modern world. In Recessional, he wrote this:

Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
And in Norman and Saxon, he described us better than any man ever has, I think:
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

I, like most of you, detest what I am seeing this year, and I really detest the thought of violence, but I no longer think it unthinkable.
Patrick Henry once said.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. 

If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! […]

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

That sums up quite well what I sense is the mood of a goodly part of the country, I despise violence that could easily turn into a civil war, but

Keep your powder dry.

 

A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down: Now what?

This has been kicking around in my files for a month now, seems like the best-laid plans… In any case, as it grew less timely, I wonder if it hasn’t become important. I rather think it has. Seems to me that what he speaks of here is becoming more true in the US, at least, every day. A huge amount of the day-to-day reality of how politics is done is this country has been uprooted, on both sides. And so all is in flux.

How we put it back together to make it work (or not) is likely to be to be a large part of the question going forward. And do remember it’s not just us. Brexit in the UK, much of the turmoil caused by the Islamists in Europe, has much the same cause.

In large measure, I think all of the enemies of freedom around the world are sensing that the system is weak at the moment and that this may be their opportunity. They could be right, but they don’t have to be. How we answer the basic questions going forward will answer that question.

Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is finally catching up with us, several years late, and doing away with obsolete political movements and parties.

We saw direct evidence of this when, on both sides of the Atlantic, ordinary people finally had a chance to circumvent their nations’ political elites. In the United States, Trump used his wealth and high profile to sidestep party donors, special-interest groups and political correctness.

In the United Kingdom, the referendum on European Union membership vested power temporarily in the British voting public, not Cabinet ministers or party whips.

These unusual circumstances exposed profound but long-hidden fault lines in both countries’ political systems. I knew these fault lines existed, but I was surprised by how quickly they devastated the status quo.

The American conservative movement, for instance, at least as we knew it before Trump’s entry into the presidential race last summer, no longer exists. Whether by accident or design, Trump ignored the reference points of left and right, putting together a coalition of Middle Americans who don’t care about ideological purity. Coming from old-fashioned Democratic and Republican backgrounds, these voters are united by a cultural conservatism that used to be standard in both parties. They care about pragmatic action on a handful of issues, mainly immigration, political correctness, crime and jobs.

Something similar happened in Britain. Outside the London cloister, Labour voters overwhelmingly rejected the metropolitan version of left-wing politics. Along with many shire Tories, they have specific views on sovereignty, independence and immigration. Just as in the US, this broad cultural conservatism used to be a given within each party until cosmopolitanism took its place.

We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”.

via A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Like so much of what we write here, we have to answer the questions for ourselves. I’m not sure that there are correct answers, in aggregate, you have to answer based on our knowledge and bedrock philosophy. So do I.

On Fire’s Downsides, NYT Has Nothing On Prometheus

pandora_by_w15nu91-d9tn01aIt strikes me that I was perhaps a bit unfair to the New York Times yesterday. Yes, it was a stupid article, but it wasn’t quite as bad as the Tweet that got attached to it. But David Marcus, over at The Federalist, had some thoughts as well.

Fire Means Power and Lost Innocence

The downside of discovering fire was described by the Greek poet Hesiod in the eighth century BC, in the Prometheus myth. It is similar to the downside of Eve eating the apple. Zeus would have provided everything for humanity, but after Prometheus stole fire mankind became responsible for itself. Consciousness and civilization are the downsides of discovering fire. It is meaningless to describe smoking and the creation of the patriarchy as downsides of fire because fire is a prerequisite for the concept of a downside, or consequence.

Hesiod writes: “Son of Iapetus (Prometheus), surpassing all in cunning, you are glad that you have outwitted me and stolen fire — a great plague to you yourself and to men that shall be. But I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.”

That evil thing was Pandora, the first woman. Just as Eve led Adam away from the peace and ease of Eden to a world of hardship and responsibility, so too did Pandora lead the men of Greece to eternal struggle. Women catch a hard time in ancient texts, but Hesiod is doing more than being misogynistic here. He understood that fire fundamentally transformed humanity. It gave us an almost magical way of controlling our environment and each other, one that birthed the power of human civilization but also stole our essential innocence.

Progressive New York Times writers would naturally miss this because religious or foundational stories hold little weight for them. Everything is measured in small doses of science. In the hands of the progressive religion of science, the philosophical implications of human civilization are boiled down to observable phenomena that depict but do not describe the true nature of existence.

The Question of Liberty Versus Determinism

The Times piece is steeped in determinism. One doesn’t choose to smoke; one smokes because human beings discovered how to control fire. Women don’t choose to stay home with the kids and cook; they do so because the use of fire demands it. This is distinctly at odds with the ancient story of fire. In the ancient version, fire imposed choice; it did not dictate our evolutionary outcomes as demographics on a social scientist’s spreadsheet. Fire was, rather, an angry invitation from the gods to fend for ourselves and see how we like it.

This matter of choice versus predetermination is central to the progressive worldview. On every issue including sexual orientation, transsexuality, even drug and alcohol abuse, the virtue or fault is never in us or our choices. While the conservative or religious person sees free will with all of its challenges and tests, the progressive or atheist sees inescapable tendencies born of ancient ancestors rubbing sticks together.

via On Fire’s Downsides, NYT Has Nothing On Prometheus, Read the whole thing™.

I think he’s about right here. Fire is one of those discoveries that give us power over our lives but also have dangers for us. I think Pandora is an appropriate gift also, we all remember all the troubles she brought us in that box of hers, but we also often forget that one gift remains in her box for us, even after all the troubles. That gift is HOPE. The hope that we can make all things better, if we choose to do so.

Rather like fire after all. It can destroy us, but it can also keep us warm, and cook our food, making us far healthier. It’s all in how we choose to use the gift. And that is the part that The New York Times just can’t get their head around. Our future is not determined by the forces of history, it is shaped by what we do, and how we do it, and even by why we choose to do what we do (or leave undone).

Mr. Marcus reminds us that G.K. Chesterton wrote that:

Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

The glory, and the tragedy, of fire, is that its power is ours now, to use as we choose. Choose wisely.

Spin Cycle

As always, a heaping helping of truth.

 

This is the truth, whatever one thinks about Donald Trump.

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