Archive for Civil Rights

Read It. Think About It.

George F. Will, quoted in the Wall Street Journal yesterday

Free speech has never been, in the history of our republic, more comprehensively, aggressively and dangerously threatened than it is now. The Alien and Sedition Acts arose from a temporary, transitory fever and were in any case sunsetted and disappeared. The fevers after and during the First World War and in the early culture war era also were eruptions of distemper rooted in local conditions and local issues bound to disappear, which they did.

Today’s attack is different. It’s an attack on the theory of freedom of speech. It is an attack on the desirability of free speech and indeed if listened to carefully and plumbed fully, what we have today is an attack on the very possibility of free speech. The belief is that the First Amendment is a mistake. . . .

Yesterday the Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the world, the party that guided this country through two world wars and is more responsible than any other for the shape of the modern American state—the Democratic Party’s leading and prohibitively favored frontrunner candidate for the presidential nomination announced four goals for her public life going forward, one of which is to amend the Bill of Rights to make it less protective. It’s an astonishing event. She said that she wants to change the First Amendment in order to further empower the political class to regulate the quantity, content and timing of political speech about the political class—and so far as I can tell there’s not a ripple of commentary about this on the stagnant waters of the American journalistic community.

I have been very busy with personal stuff lately, and not able to post as much as I’d like, but this is just too important to overlook.

– Aggie

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Putting the Movement in the Civil Rights Movement

When I first heard that people were gathering to praise Selma, I couldn’t have been more on board:

Hallelujah.

Then I understood it was Selma, Alabama, not Salma Hayak, they were extolling. Honest mistake.

But I was still down with the struggle. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and hundreds of others bravely marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the face of police violence and societal hostility.

Thanks to their courage, and overwhelming Republican help, the Voting Rights Act was later passed in Congress—just as the Civil Rights Act had been passed the year before, also with massive Republican support. It is altogether fitting and proper that we pay our respects a half-century later.

I even chided the Republican Congressional leadership for passing up a historic opportunity to reaffirm the commitment to equal protection under the law that their forebears stood for. (Even if George W. Bush was airbrushed out of many news photos.)

But when I heard that they would have to sit through another speech by Barack Obama, I had to admit that I, too, would have checked for tee times, rather than sit through another oration from His Articulateness. Life is too short.

But it began so promisingly:

The air was thick with doubt, anticipation and fear. And they comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:

“No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.”

And then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, and a book on government — all you need for a night behind bars — John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.

President and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Mayor Evans, Sewell, Reverend Strong, members of Congress, elected officials, foot soldiers, friends, fellow Americans:

As John noted, there are places and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war — Concord and Lexington, Appomattox, Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character — Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.

So far, so good—if only because Obama is largely quoting someone else.

He went on:

The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities –- but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.

What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.

Good.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or a static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents: “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Again, very good. But I would observe that by this time at Gettysburg—more than thirty minutes having passed—Lincoln had finished his address, shaken every hand, posed for daguerreotypes, and was back on a train bound for DC. It’s all very pretty, but, like cotton candy, insubstantial. Lincoln said more of historic importance in 90 seconds than Obama has said in six-plus years.

And then he had the gall to say this:

[It] is to suggest that Ferguson is an isolated incident; that racism is banished; that the work that drew men and women to Selma is now complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us.

If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel as they did the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize as they did that change depends on our actions, on our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such an effort, no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.

With such an effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some. Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on –- the idea that police officers are members of the community they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, they just want the same thing young people here marched for 50 years ago -– the protection of the law.

Together, we can address unfair sentencing and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and good workers, and good neighbors.

Then why aren’t they? What’s stopping them? Why wasn’t Michael Brown a good dad? Or Eric Garner a good worker? (I’ll give you the Cleveland shooting: even though the kid was waving a pellet gun, it looks like the cop shot first and asked questions later.)

Ferguson turned out to be about nothing more than jaywalking (and the alleged overzealous ticketing of same); “New York” was about a man with a heart condition resisting arrest for violating of a city ordinance against selling “loosies”. What an insult to compare those tawdry tales of petty criminality to the saga of Selma.

But he wasn’t done (the video runs an astonishing 32 minutes!):

Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person. Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” “We The People.” “We Shall Overcome.” “Yes We Can.” That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

See how neatly he inserts himself into the American narrative? The Declaration of Independence, the Civil Rights Movement, the 2008 North Carolina Democratic Primary. We are so privileged to have lived through it. I’m all for improving this great nation of ours, and we could start with his removal.

By the way, who remembers that Hillary actually got more votes, and a higher percentage, than Obama in the 2008 primaries? Other than herself, I mean?

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How Clueless is the GOP Leadership?

How high the moon?

None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was once thought likely to attend to atone for reports that he once spoke before a white supremacist group — will be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers. A number of rank-and-file Republicans have been aggressively lobbying their colleagues to attend, and several black lawmakers concurred.

“It is very disappointing that not a single Republican leader sees the value in participating in this 50th commemoration of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. I had hoped that some of the leadership would attend, but apparently none of them will,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina. “The Republicans always talk about trying to change their brand and be more appealing to minority folks and be in touch with the interests of African-Americans. This is very disappointing.”

Still, a number of rank-and-file Republicans are attending. Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, is a co-sponsor of the event along with Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama. Scott is the first African-American Republican elected from the South since the end of Reconstruction.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the GOP leadership team in the Senate, will attend the events.

Roby’s office said Thursday 23 Republican House and Senate members are registered to attend the pilgrimage.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who participated in the 1965 march alongside Martin Luther King Jr., said he was disappointed that House Republican leaders wouldn’t make the trip. Former President George W. Bush and his wife are expected to attend Saturday’s ceremonies, as is President Barack Obama.

“I wish we had someone in the [Republican] leadership going,” Lewis said. “President Bush is going to be there, but I think it would have been fitting and appropriate for them to make a trip.”

Update: His wish is their command:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will now go to Selma Saturday to join in the 50th anniversary events.

McCarthy tells CNN he considers John Lewis a close friend, and wants to be there to commemorate the historic anniversary.

McCarthy has been to Selma in the past, and he and Lewis worked together to show the movie Selma to all lawmakers in a Capitol auditorium.

Twenty-three Republicans (or is it 24 now?) is not none, but it’s far short of enough. And Boehner and McConnell are especially shameful absences.

Especially since Republicans are the party of civil rights. As I’ve lectured you repeatedly over the years, Republicans voted for the Voting Rights Act in higher percentages than Democrats:

The House approved this conference report version of the bill on August 3 by a 328-74 vote (Democrats 217-54, Republicans 111-20), and the Senate passed it on August 4 by a 79-18 vote (Democrats 49-17, Republicans 30-1).

Ditto for the Civil Rights Act of a year earlier:

The original House version:[20]
Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)
Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)

Cloture in the Senate:[21]
Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)
Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

The Senate version:[20]
Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:[20]
Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

Republicans, never less than four-to-one; Dems, only once more than two-to-one. A rout.

Shame on the GOP today for not honoring its proud and noble heritage.

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Je Suis James Earl Ray

As he so often does, James Taranto makes the best case against people like Barack Obama who say “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

But what can one say about this week’s column by DeWayne Wickham, dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication in Baltimore? Choudary and Wickham make nearly identical arguments. Their columns are titled, respectively, “People Know the Consequences” and “ ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Crosses the Line.” Neither man expressly endorses the terrorists’ actions, but both strongly imply the victims had it coming because they offended their killers’ religious sensibilities.

Call it the assassin’s veto. And there is no principled basis to apply such a doctrine only in cases of Islamic supremacist violence. Martin Luther King and other civil-rights leaders were assassinated by white supremacists angry over the things the victims had said. By Wickham’s logic, that would have justified government censorship of speech in favor of civil rights. If the courts adopted the Wickham doctrine, extremists of all stripes would have a powerful incentive to kill.

Martin Luther King knew he was shouting “fire” in a crowded church, not least because there was a fire, or a bomb.

He also knew that by speaking out, he might not live to see the day about which he dreamed.

Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Who knows how many death threats he received? Who knows how many other black Americans were killed in that lawless century between the Civil War and the Civil Rights era? What Dr. King did know, for sure, was that he was poking a white-robed-and-hooded bear. “I just want to do God’s will. … I’m not fearing any man.”

He may not have feared any particular man, but he would have had plenty to fear from J-School deans like DeWayne Wickham and their ilk in academia and the media. King knew that the possibility of his assassination was a necessary prerequisite for speaking out. Politically correct dimwits like DeWayne would have used it as a reason to censor him.

Yes, you had a dream, Marty, that’s nice. But no one wants to hear about that now. Be a good boy and come down from that mountaintop before anyone gets hurt.

Free speech absolutists (among whom I count myself) claim that censorship is often used against the very people it was meant to protect (anti-pornography laws women “performance artists”). That couldn’t clearer here.

Obama and Kerry tiresomely repeat that we should not hold against all Muslims the acts of a few Muslims (who aren’t really Muslim at all). Agreed (up to a point). But then why the admonition against “slandering the prophet of Islam”? Don’t we have laws and law enforcement to protect us from those very few crazies who would take offense to violent extremes? Should we refrain from going out after dark because of the actions of a very few violent criminals? Or should we live our lives according to the liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—and expect that the government do one of its enumerated jobs and protect our rights (including the right of self-defense, I would argue)?

I think I know how Dr. King would answer that.

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The Most Transparent Administration Evah!!

Journalist Sharyl Attkinsson suing Obama administration over hacked computers

Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the Justice Department over the hacking of her computers, officially accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance while she was reporting on administration scandals.

In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013.

“I just think it’s important to send a message that people shouldn’t be victimized and throw up their hands and think there’s nothing they can do and they’re powerless,” Attkisson said in an interview.

I genuinely hope she gets every penny of the 35 million, but I think that she won’t, that she’s wrong, and that we are indeed powerless. We voted to become powerless, by the way. It is comfortable and mindless, and whether BTL or I or you like it or hate it, it’s the way things are.

– Aggie

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¿Cuba Libre?

You tell me:

Here is what the U.S. Agency for International Development, which takes its foreign policy guidance from the White House and the State Department, has to say about Cuba:

Cuba is a totalitarian state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. Criticism of national leaders or the political system can lead to imprisonment. Members of the security forces harass and physically assault human rights and pro-democracy advocates, dissidents, detainees, and prisoners. The Cuban Government does not allow independent monitoring of prison conditions by international or national human rights groups and continues to refuse access to detainees by international humanitarian organizations (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011).…

The Cuban Government routinely denies its citizens freedom of association and does not recognize independent associations. The Cuban Constitution prohibits any political organization that is not officially recognized. As a result, grassroots community efforts which operate in a democratic manner are extremely limited (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011)….

The Cuban Government owns and the Communist Party controls all print and broadcast media outlets. News and information programming is nearly uniform across all outlets, and the law prohibits distribution of printed material from foreign sources considered “counterrevolutionary” or critical of the government. Foreign newspapers or magazines are generally unavailable, and distribution of material with political content, interpreted broadly to include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is not allowed and can result in harassment and even detention.

The Cuban Government controls nearly all internet access, with the exception of extremely limited facilities, where foreigners and citizens are allowed to buy Internet access cards for use at hotel business centers, where the price of Internet access is beyond the means of most citizens. Authorities review the browsing history of authorized users, review and censor e-mail, employ Internet search filters, and block access to Web sites considered objectionable (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011).

Under the arrangement Obama has crafted, Cuba is required to do not a damn thing about reforming any of this. In “exchange,” the United States of America gives Cuba full diplomatic recognition. Plus, Obama tells the world’s other despots that a windfall from Uncle Sam could be awaiting them, too, if they abduct American citizens and hold them for ransom.

It’s true that we have diplomatic relations with just about everybody—North Korea being the only notable exception. But Havana doesn’t sound a whole hell of a lot freer. Pyonyang with an extra ration of fried plantains. Beijing with palm trees.

Cuba’s current sugardaddy, Venezuela, is in its own circle of Hell. If there was ever a time to squeeze Cuba for human rights concessions, this was that time. I guess human rights are just another first-world, colonial imposition on the indigenous proletariat of the world, and Obama says [bleep] that noise. Besides, Major League Baseball could do with a few more power pitchers and right-handed bats.

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We Can Quantify The Loss Of Personal Freedom Under Obama

Do you remember all those people who claimed that George W. Bush was taking away our personal freedoms? All those fiery dinner parties? Where are those folks now?

Americans’ assessments of their personal freedom have significantly declined under President Obama, according to a new study from the Legatum Institute in London, and the United States now ranks below 20 other countries on this measure.

The research shows that citizens of countries including France, Uruguay, and Costa Rica now feel that they enjoy more personal freedom than Americans.

As the Washington Examiner reported this morning, representatives of the Legatum Institute are in the U.S. this week to promote the sixth edition of their Prosperity Index. The index aims to measure aspects of prosperity that typical gross domestic product measurements don’t include, such as entrepreneurship and opportunity, education, and social capital.

The freedom scores are based on polling data from 2013 indicating citizens’ satisfaction with their nation’s handling of civil liberties, freedom of choice, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and tolerance of immigrants. Polling data were provided by Gallup World Poll Service. The index is notable for the way it measures how free people feel, unlike other freedom indices that measure freedom by comparing government policies.

“This is not a good report for Obama,” Legatum Institute spokeswoman Cristina Odone told the Washington Examiner.

In the 2010 report (which relied on data gathered in 2009), the U.S. was ranked ninth in personal freedom, but that ranking has since fallen to 21st, with several countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom passing the U.S.

The nation’s overall personal freedom score has declined by 17 percent since 2009, with a 22 percent drop in combined civil liberty and free choice contributing to that decline.

Of the eight categories in the index, personal freedom was America’s second lowest performance relative to other countries. The U.S. had its lowest ranking when it came to safety and security (a broad measure of how threatened citizens feel in instances such as walking late at night, or expressing their opinions) — ranking 31st out of 142 countries.

More at the link.

– Aggie

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You Watching The Ferguson Riots Tonight? [UPDATED]

Looks like the autopsy supports the police officer’s story

FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – A report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning shows the official autopsy supports Ferguson officer Darren Wilson’s claim that Michael Brown struggled with him in his patrol vehicle, and that Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot Aug. 9.
A source tells the Post-Dispatch that Wilson testified to the Grand Jury that when he tried to get out of his SUV to talk to Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson about the theft of cigarillos, Brown slammed the door shut and punched him in the face.
Wilson pulled his weapon, and Brown grabbed it. At one point, the barrel was pointed at Wilson’s hip, then a shot was fired hitting Brown’s hand.
Wilson says he then chased Brown, who turned and ran toward him. Wilson said “stop,” then fired. Brown kept coming, so Wilson fired several more shots.
The Post-Dispatch also had three experts examine the official autopsy.
St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham says the report supports claims that there was a “significant struggle” in Wilson’s patrol car, and Brown suffered a hand wound at “relatively short range.”
A forensic pathologist from San Francisco, Dr. Judy Melinek, says based on a bullet wound to Brown’s arm, Brown’s palms could not have been facing Wilson in the standard surrender position – with hands up and palms out – when he was shot, and Brown was falling forward or lunging when he was hit by the fatal shot to the top of his head.

Can Eric Holder demand that the Grand Jury indict the police officer anyway? Or can they just throw him in jail or execute him without a trial? Because if not, expect riots (weather permitting).

– Aggie

UPDATE
BTL here, adding this nugget:

Angry protesters in Ferguson, Mo., shut down CNN’s live broadcast Monday night after repeatedly heckling the reporter and cameraperson for working for an organization “run by AIPAC” and “Zionists.”

The heckling is audible in a video filmed by protester Bassem Masri, whose Twitter profile touts the Palestinian cause and reads “long live Palestine.”

“You fucking lie about Ferguson; you lie about Occupy Wall Street; you lie about Palestine. You’re all run by Zionists,” one protester said. “We’re holding y’all accountable.”

The hecklers threatened to shut down future CNN broadcasts. “They’re an AIPAC-run agency,” Masri said. “Don’t even think that we won’t.”

No wonder Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson couldn’t wait to get there.

PS: Curiously, CNN doesn’t mention any of this.

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Anniversary Season

There’s an old saying among unionized workers: “don’t kill the job”. It means don’t work too efficiently or quickly, make it last.

That seems to be the belief liberals have toward their politics. Don’t celebrate achievement; lament how far we have to go:

It was supposed to have been a slow news day. Reporters covering the Supreme Court had been told not to expect very much on Monday, May 17, 1954, when the court’s press officer shifted signals. “Reading of the segregation decisions is about to begin in the courtroom,” said Banning E. Whittington, while putting on his coat and leading a pack of journalists up a flight of marble steps into the chamber, and into history, according to The New York Times.

It was 1 p.m. when newly confirmed Chief Justice Earl Warren began to read the opinion of the court in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. The key sentence was unpoetic, but it belongs in American scripture as surely as any words of Jefferson’s or Lincoln’s do: “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” With these words the American Revolution that had begun in the aftermath of the French and Indian War on the North American continent in the latter half of the 18th century entered a new and dazzling phase.

Awesome, right? High fives all around.

Not so much:

The 1954 decision was epochal—but it was only the beginning. The following year the court returned with an enforcement decision to make clear that it was quite serious about ending the segregationist order made possible by Plessy v. Ferguson. And as we all know, the work of making the promise of equal opportunity real for all Americans is not over even now. That’s worth remembering on even the slowest of news days.

It’s real under law, but perhaps not in reality, I suppose. But can we not see—and celebrate—how far we’ve come? Donald Sterling’s leaked private comments would have been commonplace 60 years ago; today he’s a leper (no aspersions meant toward the leprotic community). The hick sheriff who called Obama the N-word is a pariah; 60 years ago, his role was played by Bull Connor (a Democrat, btw). In Bill Clinton’s immortal words, a few years ago, Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States, “would have been getting us coffee.”

Then there are the anniversaries less worthy of celebration:

Fifty years ago this Thursday, at the University of Michigan, Johnson had proposed legislating into existence a Great Society. It would end poverty and racial injustice, “but that is just the beginning.” It would “rebuild the entire urban United States” while fending off “boredom and restlessness,” slaking “the hunger for community” and enhancing “the meaning of our lives” — all by assembling “the best thought and the broadest knowledge.”

How’s that working out?

Between 1959 and 1966 — before the War on Poverty was implemented — the percentage of Americans living in poverty plunged by about one-third, from 22.4 to 14.7, slightly lower than in 2012.

You think that’s bad, hold on to your hats:

But these anti-poverty policies have been, Eberstadt says carefully, “attended” by the dramatic spread of a “tangle of pathologies.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined that phrase in his 1965 report calling attention to family disintegration among African-Americans. The tangle, which now ensnares all races and ethnicities, includes welfare dependency and “flight from work.”

Twenty-nine percent of Americans — about 47 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Hispanics — live in households receiving means-tested benefits. And “the proportion of men 20 and older who are employed has dramatically and almost steadily dropped since the start of the War on Poverty, falling from 80.6 percent in January 1964 to 67.6 percent 50 years later.” For every adult man ages 20 to 64 who is between jobs and looking for work, more than three are neither working nor seeking work, a trend that began with the Great Society. And what Eberstadt calls “the earthquake that shook family structure in the era of expansive anti-poverty policies” has seen out-of-wedlock births increase from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies.

LBJ’s starkly bifurcated legacy includes the triumphant Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 — and the tragic aftermath of much of his other works. Eberstadt asks: Is it “simply a coincidence” that male flight from work and family breakdown have coincided with Great Society policies, and that dependence on government is more widespread and perhaps more habitual than ever?

I think we can say objectively that racism has been stigmatized in American society, while poverty (however it is defined) has gotten, if anything, worse. Yet the Left would have you believe we are still a racist society, and the War on Poverty was a just war.

Ass-backwards, as usual.

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The Continuing Democrat War On Women

First we had Ayaan Hirsi Ali denied her commencement address and honorary degree at Brandeis. Next we learn that Condoleeza Rice has decided to withdraw her address from Rutgers after a lot of protest. And now we learn that Christine Largarde, the head of the IMF, has withdrawn her commencement speech from Smith College:

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund has withdrawn as Smith College’s commencement speaker after faculty and student protests.

The women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts, announced Christine Lagarde’s withdrawal Monday. According to the college, she said it was clear that many did not want her on campus and that she did not want to distract from a joyous occasion.

An online petition with hundreds of signatures said Lagarde represents a corrupt system that fuels the oppression and abuse of women worldwide.

Smith President Kathleen McCartney said in a statement issued to the school community that she stands by the decision to invite Lagarde, the first woman to hold the IMF’s top position.

Former Smith and Brown University President Ruth Simmons is stepping in as the May 18 commencement speaker.

Ruth Simmons is doing the world a disservice. They should have some sort of neo-Nazi speaker, or perhaps maybe ask the state to release a con artist for a day to speak to the gals. They should be ashamed of themselves.

On a related note, Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse writes in today’s Wall Street Journal:

There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail.

Assaults on intellectual and political freedom have been making headlines. Pressure from faculty egged on by Muslim groups induced Brandeis University last month not to grant Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the proponent of women’s rights under Islam, an intended honorary degree at its convocation. This was a replay of 1994, when Brandeis faculty demanded that trustees rescind their decision to award an honorary degree to Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In each case, a faculty cabal joined by (let us charitably say) ignorant students promoted the value of repression over the values of America’s liberal democracy.

Opponents of free speech have lately chalked up many such victories: New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly prevented from speaking at Brown University in November; a lecture by Charles Murray canceled by Azusa Pacific University in April; Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and national-security adviser under the George W. Bush administration, harassed earlier this month into declining the invitation by Rutgers University to address this year’s convocation.

Most painful to me was the Harvard scene several years ago when the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, celebrating its 50th anniversary, accepted a donation in honor of its former head tutor Martin Peretz, whose contributions to the university include the chair in Yiddish I have been privileged to hold. His enemies on campus generated a “party against Marty” that forced him to walk a gauntlet of jeering students for having allegedly offended Islam, while putting others on notice that they had best not be perceived guilty of association with him.

The entire article is well worth your time.

– Aggie

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The Left Continues To March Leftward

This would be a dog-bites-man story if it weren’t so Orwellian

In the U.S., the politics of the left versus the right rolls on with the predictability of traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. It’s a lot of honking. Until now. All of a sudden, the left has hit ramming speed across a broad swath of American life—in the universities, in politics and in government. People fingered as out of line with the far left’s increasingly bizarre claims are being hit and hit hard.

Commencement-speaker bans are obligatory. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew as Rutgers’s speaker after two months of protests over Iraq, the left’s long-sought replacement for the Vietnam War. Brandeis terminated its invitation to Somali writer Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam violated the school’s “core values.”

Azusa Pacific University “postponed” an April speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Come again? It will “hurt” them? Oh yes. In a recent New Republic essay, Jennie Jarvie described the rise of “trigger warnings” that professors are expected to post with their courses to avoid “traumatizing” students.

Oberlin College earlier this year proposed that its teachers “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The co-chair of Oberlin’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force said last month that this part of the guide is now under revision.

I think it’s fair to say something has snapped.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich was driven out as CEO for donating money to support California’s Prop. 8. An online protest tried to kill Condi Rice’s appointment to the Dropbox board of directors over Internet surveillance. Incredibly, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston didn’t cave.

Earlier this year, faculty and students held a meeting at Vassar College to discuss a particularly bitter internal battle over the school’s boycott-Israel movement. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue “would not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.”

This gets worse and worse. Go to the link and read about the Harvard undergrad who published an article in The Crimson suggesting that we drop academic freedom in favor of social justice. And that we stop all research that doesn’t comply with her idea of social justice. And then read about the agreement that the Obama administration… never mind – I’ll post it:

It’s obvious that the far left has decided there are no longer constraints on what it can do to anyone who disagrees with it. How did this happen? Who let the dogs out?

The answer is not university presidents. The answer is that the Obama administration let the dogs out.

The trigger event was an agreement signed last May between the federal government and the University of Montana to resolve a Title IX dispute over a sexual-assault case.

Every college administrator in the U.S. knows about this agreement. Indeed, there are three separate, detailed “Montana” documents that were signed jointly—and this is unusual—by the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education Departments. Remarked DoJ’s Joceyln Samuels, “The government is stronger when we speak with one voice.”

That’s real muscle. But read the agreement. It is Orwellian.

The agreement orders the school to retain an “Equity Consultant” (yes, there is such a thing) to advise it indefinitely on compliance. The school must, with the equity consultant, conduct “annual climate surveys.” It will submit the results “to the United States.”

The agreement describes compliance in mind-numbing detail, but in fact the actual definitional world it creates is vague. It says: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” But there are also definitions for sexual assault and gender-based harassment. All of this detailed writ is called “guidance.” As in missile.

No constitutional lawyer could read this agreement and not see in it the mind of the Queen of Hearts: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” Indeed, the U.S. Education Department felt obliged to assert that the agreement is “entirely consistent with the First Amendment.”

First Amendment? It’s more like a fatwa. The Obama administration has issued a federal hunting license to deputize fanatics at any university in America. They will define who gets accused, and on what basis.

The White House enabled these forces again last week, releasing an Education Department list of 55 colleges that are “under investigation” for possible Title IX violations. Not formally cited but “under investigation.” The list includes such notorious Animal Houses as Catholic University, Swarthmore, Knox College, Carnegie Mellon and Harvard Law School. In truth, every school in America is effectively on the list.

And there’s more at the link. The really unfortunate thing for all of us that just want to be left alone is that there probably is no country left on earth where that can happen. If Texas secedes from the Union, I’ll join them. If they’ll have me…

– Aggie

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Liberal Lion or Homicidal Hyena?

I have a few words in response to all those who memorialize LBJ as a giant of progressivism:

Hey, hey, LBJ!
How many kids did you kill today?

This past week, on the golden anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, four of LBJ’s successors went to his library in Texas to praise his character and his deeds. George W. Bush lauded him for turning “a nation’s grief to a great national purpose.” Jimmy Carter chided his fellow Democrats for not emulating Johnson’s determination to fight for racial equality. Barack Obama remarked that LBJ’s “hunger” for power “was harnessed and redeemed by a deeper understanding of the human condition, by a sympathy for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for the outcast.” Bill Clinton reflected that Johnson “saw limitless possibilities in the lives of other poor people like him who just happened to have a different color skin.”

Some liberal journalists echoed the chief executives, past and present. LBJ, wrote my friend E.J. Dionne, presided over “a consensual period when a large and confident majority believed that national action could expand opportunities and alleviate needless suffering. The earthily practical Johnson showed that finding realistic ways of creating a better world is what Americans are supposed to do.”

They left out just one small, eensy-weensy thing:

Not a word about those countless people in Southeast Asia whose lives reached their unnatural limits when they encountered an American infantryman with an M-16 or a bomb dropped from a B-52.

From 1964 to 1968, close to 34,000 Americans died in South Vietnam. We will never know how many Vietnamese women, men, and children perished during those years, but the total, according to most estimates, was at least one million. Among the dead were tens of thousands of civilians—blown apart by explosives dropped from planes, burned to death by napalm, or gunned down by U.S. troops whose commanders told them that, in a village considered loyal to the Vietcong, they should “kill anything that we see and anything that moved.” Their commander-in-chief was Lyndon Baines Johnson.

We conservatives have looked back at the Vietnam War as perhaps a war worth fighting—better, a war worth winning—given the decades of reprisals, repression, boat people, and bone crushing poverty the Vietnamese have suffered under communism.

But that doesn’t fill a liberal’s belly. Neither does it warm their little hearts that Republicans supported Johnson’s signature civil rights agenda more than Democrats did.

But both sets of facts ought to be part of the discussion.

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