Sunday Funnies: Pulled Punches

I think we should leave the nice kitty alone, looks a bit grumpy to me!

Which would, of course, go well over the head of the current Speaker, but one could say, “That’s a low bar.”

Does she have a gun? You tell me.

I’m reasonably certain she doesn’t have a gun, but don’t stare into her eyes, she nearly got away with my soul.

 

Teaching the History of a Free People

Earlier this week, my friend Schaeferhistorian wrote on his blog about how we are, in many ways, Expunging Our Past.

Progressive historians like Charles Beard… went to great lengths to discredit the work of America’s first published historian, George Bancroft.  The Nationalist school of American history revered our Founders and proclaimed American exceptionalism.  Beard argued that America’s founding ideals were nothing more than a clever disguise for our true inspiration, greed.  The New Left revisionism that pervades historiography today is a mere continuation of Beard’s fundamentally flawed concept- America really isn’t that great….

[…]

The overriding message should be that historical figures are human and not infallible. We can honor their great deeds and learn from their most human mistakes. 

We must stop this current craze of tearing down and erasing our history because the historical figures did not possess our modern sensibilities. 

I couldn’t agree more and the emphasis is his.

Then comes Jonathan Pidluzny with more of the story in The Federalist.

If “reading maketh a full man,” as Sir Francis Bacon avers, Then the New York Times best-seller list is a window into the American soul. To judge from the view, we are an angry, divided, and shallow nation.

A deeper look, however, can give us some hope even in that bleak landscape of elite Americana. One finds several encouraging entries on this week’s predictable slew of political screeds and celebrity tell-alls. David McCullough’s “The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West” is an academic history about the settlement of Ohio written in characteristically beautiful prose. A little further down, “The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777,” by Rick Atkinson, is the first volume of his Revolutionary War trilogy.

He mentions a few more including Senator Tom Cotton’s memoir of his time in The Old Guard. And I’d add that if you want your kids to have a better appreciation of what it has cost to build this country – Go to Arlington.

There at General Robert E. Lee’s house, stolen from him by a vengeful US government for use as a cemetery (the first graves were those of colored infantrymen in Mrs. Lee’s Rose Garden). Over time the hurt has faded, and I doubt that the General could find a better use for his plantation than as a beacon of American Duty and Honor. Something he himself epitomized, whatever the loons say, R. E. Lee remains amongst the greats of American history.

But you won’t learn that in a current textbook, you’ll be taught mostly that he was a slave owner (he was, he had one. His wife had some, inherited from her family, that under the law, they couldn’t free.)

In any case, Jonathan is making a valiant effort to show, that while Americans will quite happily read American history. And he’s right, they will. The most-read posts here are the ones on history, which is a good thing because they are my favorites, as well. But quite a few Universities are dropping their history programs.

Bernie Patterson, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, explained his university’s rationale for eliminating its history major along similar lines, as part of the institution’s effort to build a “new kind of university” focused on delivering “programs aligned with the career-focused goals of our students and the needs of regional communities and businesses.”

Stevens Point abandoned the proposal after a student and faculty insurrection. Unfortunately, universities elsewhere—including Wheeling Jesuit University and the University of Tulsa, both institutions long known for strong liberal arts curricula—are moving forward with plans to axe programs and faculty in traditional arts and sciences disciplines.

Good-faith concerns about graduates’ workplace readiness in the age of skyrocketing tuition costs may explain a part of the precipitous decline. But so does the abandonment by history faculties of the kind of history Americans hunger for—the kind that catapults a book onto The New York Times best-seller list. As professors move away from offering “big picture” survey courses—Colonial America, American History to 1865, Twentieth Century America, etc.—in favor of “micro-histories” tailored to their specialized research interests (or worse, invocations to political activism welded to histories designed to desecrate the country’s past), their numbers will continue to dwindle.

I also note that UW-Stevens Point, on their website, claims to prepare their student for global citizenship with a catalog which looks to me like a teacher’s college. Well, They are part of the Unversity of Wisconsin, where the revisionism nonsense itself got started, so no big surprise.

He’s correct, it is worrying that we are starting to not teach our heritage, but I also say this, better not to teach history at all than the evil practice of filling young heads with knowledge that is not only wrong but knowingly and intentionally wrong. That is truly evil.

And Looking Across the Ditch

Yesterday we took a look at the status of Brexit, since that post the worst candidate for Tory leader has dropped out, which seems like a good thing. But let’s take a look at Europe.

The European Parliament elections have put an end to the “far right.” From now on, the EU’s ministers and bureaucrats will have a new nationalist right complicating their machinations. The attempt to identify elite preferences with majority rule under the false rubric of centrism has failed. For the first time, the center-left Socialists & Democrats and the center-right European People’s Party have failed to win a majority. Instead, an anti-EU bloc has emerged in the European Parliament, the very institution intended to fix the famous democratic deficit of the EU while sanctioning “centrism” continent-wide.

This immoderate centrism will no longer be able to label populists as undemocratic. These so-called populists in several countries now control the government. They achieved this by democratic decision in free and fair elections: think here of Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Populism is a popular choice for the European Parliament: England, France, and Italy bear this out. Unless elites propose to elect another people, as Bertold Brecht joked, they’ll just have to stop calling it “far right.” […]

We are experiencing a politics of maneuvering between elites that still hold the highest offices in the EU and counter-elites hoping to replace them, change the structure of the EU, and even destroy some EU powers. The command of the high EU offices is still powerful enough to exclude the nationalists from EU coalitions, since there are alternatives on the center and left, but that will expose the center as its own faction or what Pierre Manent has referred to as the “immoderate middle.” Expect the nationalists to make this conflict worse by undermining the legitimacy of the European Parliament. They will work to subvert the European institutional consensus—to expose entrenched corruption and to expose the technocratic consensus as partisan, and to defend each other from Article VII sanctions (loss of voting rights) which the European Parliament threatened against Hungary in 2018.

This is a good moment for the nationalists to size up their adversaries’ ideas about the situation Europe now faces, adrift somewhere between America and China. Europe has neither the economic growth nor the technology to compete with either of the two, but EU officials keep saying they want to be independent of NATO on security and foreign policy even as China is buying its way into the EU and introducing new technologies over which it has a near-monopoly, such as 5G infrastructure. Before the 2008 financial crisis, the EU was not only the future of Europe, but political alternatives were inconceivable—they had no expression. EU politicians and their compliant press applied the epithet Eurosceptic to such views. But the failure to deal with the financial crisis, among other crises, has mainstreamed opposition to the EU on a number of levels in Europe—and it’s now storming into the European Parliament itself.

What champion of the EU consensus will fight it? The self-appointed leader of Europe is French President Emmanuel Macron. His presidency has not exactly been met with great success. The French people in many ways have given him their own vote of no-confidence, from months of street protests (“yellow vests” movement) to the victory of Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament elections, his own party coming in a close second, with only 22% of the votes. His great unpopularity, which plagued both his single-term predecessors, portends problems for the Fifth Republic. But Macron is still an elected president with very considerable powers.

There is quite a lot more, read it all at The European Union and the Fate of Nations.

I think that is true, once again (albeit by quite different means) Great Britain is moving to prevent a single power from dominating Europe. This time, not the government, but the people. It’s a wise move, even though continental Europe is becoming irrelevant, as both China and the United States move well beyond it. It needs Britain far more than it thinks. That I suspect is part of the trouble with Germany and France. Remainers often chide Brexiteer as ‘Little Englanders’. But like so much with the left, it is projection. What I see is little Europe and global Britain.

Britain isn’t the largest power in Europe, nor has it ever been. But, like, and perhaps even more than, the United States, it has a cachet for the rest of the world. It is the foremost font of ‘soft power’ because of who and what it has been in the modern world. I commented last weekend at the Hong Kong demonstrations and the number of the old colonial flag, Union Jack in the canton, and royal arms in the field, 20 years after the colony was ceded back to China. That’s no accident.

Nor is it an accident that all the countries that promote freedom share the Union Jack. Britain, of course, and Australia, and New Zealand, But the old flag of Singapore also does, as does Canada’s Red Ensign. The US also has a historic flag featuring the Union Flag in the canton. In fact, that was the flag raised in Philadelphia on 4 July 1776.

That’s a lot of places that remember the heritage of the British, show me the comparable heritage of the French, or the Germans.

Titus Techera ends his article with this:

As soon as he won the vote in Italy, Salvini moved to talk to other populist victors, having already formed a new European party for nationalists. Is it even possible for nationalists to have an alliance across borders? On what principle of justice? They will invariably have competing, contradictory claims and no institutional arrangements where leaders can pledge their loyalties and arrange to defend each other from the institutional claims of the EU, much less from the enormous influence of the German economy. Whether national politics or the continent-wide arrangement of institutions and economic interests wins will go a long way to deciding the future of Europe.

I’m inclined to say, of course, they can, if they are mature enough to do it. Like the US, Britain, and Canada will give way on minor gripes to each other, so can these countries. Whether they will is a different question.

To conclude, what the nationalists can do is shake the confidence of the centrists and mount a minority assault on decisions in the various EU institutions, since they cannot control EU offices. We will find out whether the various EU institutions are weaker or stronger than they have hitherto seemed. But we will also learn how aggressive the shift from the political center to the Greens and Liberals will make the majority. There is no tranquility or common purpose in sight.

And it is even possible, although unlikely on their own, that they shake the whole edifice down and allow Europe once again to be a group of independent nations trying to look out for their people.

Sunday Funnies: Into the Silly Season

Summer has always been the silly season. Looks like little has changed. But we are still paying attention.

And yep, I hear this quite a lot from my British friends.

Only the Turks know for sure!

Good on AOC with this one, but she’s off message

And, of course

A Very British Protest

Americans are likely the foremost proponents of individual freedom in the world. We have been as long as there have been Americans. There sits John Winthrop’s “Shining Citte on a hill’. Over there is the Declaration that fueled both the French and Russian Revolutions, although they both let it get out of hand, which we didn’t. There is a Constitution that almost uniquely has been honored for over 200 years more in its use than its breach.  But that is our heritage, above all that is what makes Americans, Americans. But it didn’t spring forth like Pallas Athena from Zeus’s brow on 4 July 1776, where did it come from? Edmund Burke knew and put it as well as anyone ever has when he said…

First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation, which still I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders of the state. The question of money was not with them so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence of the English constitution, to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove, that the right had been acknowledged in ancient parchments, and blind usages, to reside in a certain body called a House of Commons. [emphasis mine]

But we are not, and never have been alone. This is the heritage of Britain, seen undiluted in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and some others, and imperfectly in others such as India. But it is the most powerful drive in the world. Take another look at the picture that leads this article. That is not London, nor any other great British city. That is a picture of the protests last weekend in Hong Kong. The former crown colony, now belonging to China, but with guarantees till mid-century about its English style justice system which is now being threatened by mainland China.

A good write up in The Federalist.

Last Sunday, more than 1 million Hong Kong residents, despite brazing heat, took to the streets to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill. Should this bill become law, Beijing will be able to demand Hong Kong authorities extradite anyone, including pro-democracy dissidents and human rights activists.

The Sunday protest is the largest since the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to Beijing in 1997. The protest was peaceful until midnight, when a small group of protestors clashed with local police. For an event involving 1 million people, a mostly pacifist protest is a no small accomplishment.

In some way, Sunday’s protest feels like Hong Kongers’ Alamo moment. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive appointed by Beijing, vowed the day after the massive protest that she would push ahead with the extradition bill in spite of dissent. She probably doesn’t have much choice, because Beijing won’t allow her to back down. Since 1989, Beijing has always suppresed any dissent immediately and ruthlessly.

Hong Kongers Want to Keep Their Freedoms

But Hong Kongers won’t back down either. More protests are taking place this week. What’s amazing is that, unlike 2014’s “umbrella movement,” which demanded universal suffrage, there is no single visible leader like Joshua Wong who is in charge of this week’s protests. Instead, ordinary Hong Kongers—students, airline crews, office workers, labor union organizers, Catholic Church workers, business people, and even some legislators—are taking part in these protests of their own initiative.

Teachers’ unions called for closing schools on Wednesday so teachers and students could participate in the protest. Art galleries, restaurants, and many other businesses gave their employees a day off so they could join. These grassroots efforts demonstrate that the protest isn’t only about opposing the extradition bill. Hong Kongers are fed up by the constant economic and political squeeze by Beijing. They feel that Beijing has broken its promise of respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy. They are also deeply disappointed in Hong Kong authorities’ submissive attitude. Now, ordinary Hong Kongers are showing they won’t go down without a fight.

Protesters have surrounded Hong Kong’s legislative building since Tuesday, which forced the pro-Beijing legislature to temporarily delay the second round of debate of the bill. However, the Hong Kong government’s responses to the peaceful protests have become more hawkish.

The legislature resumed the debate of the extradition bill on Wednesday. Lam called the protests “riots,” which reminded people of the language Beijing used against the 1989 pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square. The latest video shows Hong Kong police are firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. According to a government report, more than 70 people, including both police and protesters, were injured during the clash.

The most likely outcome of this extraordinary event in Hong Kong is that the legislature will pass some version of the extradition bill. So are Hong Kongers’ efforts futile? I don’t think so.

Helen in her article thinks President Trump should make a statement supporting the protestors. I want to agree, I admire them greatly. But like Hungary in 1956, we cannot effectively support them, so do we risk increasing their casualties by encouraging them, or do we sadly remain silent, recognizing that there are things even the United States cannot do. I don’t know that answer.

But I do that the Hong Kong protestors are in the best tradition of Anglo-American freedom, and I’m cheering for them.

But think of that, it was twenty years ago that Britain gave up control of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, and now like a phoenix, its flag again flies, carried by the former colonists. Takes a special sort of empire for that to happen.

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

On American Greatness, Victor Davis Hanson asks this question. It’s a good one, I think. Because almost all of us of the middling sort are pretty angry about things. So let’s have a look.

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and the stunning recent Australian re-election of conservatives?

Put simply, the middle classes are revolting against Western managerial elites. The latter group includes professional politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, condescending academics, corporate phonies and propagandistic journalists.

What are the popular gripes against them?

One, illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.

Two, globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. […]

He gives us six, in all. All are, as one would expect, cogent and accurate. So go and read them.

One common gripe framed all these diverse issues: The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor.

In other words, elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.

That’s a huge part of it in my estimation. It’s one thing if all these things are good for us, or necessary for the world to survive, or something. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish if you’re telling me how important this trash is, but it doesn’t apply to you and your friends. “Do as I say not as I do” doesn’t work any better leading a company, group, country, civilization, or anything else than it does trying to raise a kid. Never has, never will.

What it does is bring rebels. It did when my high school said we couldn’t wear blue jeans. Suddenly my entire class showed up in them. What are you going to do now, Mr. Principal? Give a quarter of the school detention? Makes you look sort of bad, doesn’t it, that your leadership is so bad?

The same principle applies when you and a few hundred of your closest friends fly their private jets into Davos for a party disguised (badly) as a conference.

Elites masked their hypocrisy by virtue-signaling their disdain for the supposedly xenophobic, racist or nativist middle classes. Yet the non-elite have experienced firsthand the impact on social programs, schools and safety from sudden, massive and often illegal immigration from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia into their communities.

As for trade, few still believe in “free” trade when it remains so unfair. Why didn’t elites extend to China their same tough-love lectures about global warming, or about breaking the rules of trade, copyrights and patents?

Do you know anybody who believes any of this tosh, unless, perhaps, their livelihood depends on it, or the indoctrination they received in school hasn’t been rubbed off yet? I can’t think of one that I do. I know a few trolls who say they do, but I’d bet they’re paid to say that. I do know one person who believes in Global Warming, but he also believes it is beyond the tipping point, so we may as well ‘Rock on’.

If Western nations were really so bad, and so flawed at their founding, why were millions of non-Westerners risking their lives to reach Western soil?

How was it that elites themselves had made so much money, had gained so much influence, and had enjoyed such material bounty and leisure from such a supposedly toxic system—benefits that they were unwilling to give up despite their tired moralizing about selfishness and privilege?

So where does it end?

Because elites have no answers to popular furor, the anger directed at them will only increase until they give up—or finally succeed in their grand agenda of a non-democratic, all-powerful Orwellian state.

Or in an armed revolt, which I discount less each month. The people are not going to go quietly into the night.

 

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