A totem is an emblem or revered symbol. Hitler had the swastika, Stalin the hammer and sickle. American leftists have the Obama logo and the statists’ claim to possess “the truth,” as in “the science is settled.”
The recent release of “Climate Change Reconsidered II” by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change found that climate change, nee global warming, is nothing to worry about and may even be a good thing; a conclusion drawn from thousands of peer-reviewed papers. That’s not what the U.N.’s latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said, even while carefully backpedaling from previous predictions of global catastrophe.
Believe whom you will, the point is that the science is far from settled. Or to quote Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute: “The dirty little secret is, we are now 17 years and 8 months of no global warming.”
In fact, the U.N. models have been so far off, year in and year out, that they are embarrassing, or would be if global warming true believers were capable of embarrassment.
But reality has never inhibited the left from asserting its infinite wisdom on any number of issues. Or as Jonah Goldberg mused, liberals know a great many things “without knowing why they know them. Liberals think they are free of ideological preferences… ” After all everyone they know agrees with them, and the MSM reinforces them daily, “and so they see no need to justify their views beyond naked assertions of moral superiority.”
No wonder they eschew debate and try to muzzle contrary views by rallying the faithful to exert social pressure or by using government agencies to harass dissident groups.
Most recently the gay lobby, taking a cue from a president openly hostile to those expressing opposing views, summoned the yammering mob to force the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich. Eich’s sin was making a contribution in support of California’s anti-gay marriage Initiative … six years ago. No doubt other career-minded individuals will learn from Eich’s experience and withhold support from controversial causes.
Michael Novak wrote (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism), “the left wishes to strengthen the political system at the expense of the economic system and the moral cultural system.”
It is no accident that democratic capitalism arose first in Jewish-Christian lands (or that it is imitable only in analogous cultures). Apart from certain specific views of human life and human hope, neither a democratic polity nor a market economy makes sense. If those who live under democratic capitalism lose sight of the moral foundations of the system, a loss of morale is likely to occur. Moral ignorance will bring about moral paralysis. Necessary reforms and advances cannot be attempted when individuals within the system have lost sight of its proper ideals.
The president of Brandies University is a case in point. He surrendered to students,’ faculty and outside groups’ protests and withdrew the invitation to civil rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree. The protesters accused her of being intolerant of Muslims. But she did not go quietly into the night. Hirsi responded with a powerful essay in the WSJ. She reiterated Islam’s violence against the West and against women in the Middle East and concluded by calling Brandies to account:
“The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.
So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy—punishable by death—to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era? Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.
Is such an argument inadmissible? It surely should not be at a university that was founded in the wake of the Holocaust, at a time when many American universities still imposed quotas on Jews.
The motto of Brandeis University is “Truth even unto its innermost parts.” That is my motto too. For it is only through truth, unsparing truth, that your generation can hope to do better than mine in the struggle for peace, freedom and equality of the sexes.
Brandies is not an anomaly. As Greg Lukianoff wrote in Unlearning Liberty, reviewed here, higher education has abandoned its traditional mission of unfettered debate and preparation for citizenship in a free country. Some 65% of the top colleges have speech codes that restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. One in six college campuses now have “free speech zones” meaning that the rest of the campus is closed to debate.
But all is not doom and gloom. Signs of awakening don’t exactly abound but they occur.
As reported in the Washington Times, a federal court ordered the University of North Carolina-Wilmington to promote and give $50,000 in back pay to a conservative professor in what is described as a landmark anti-discrimination case. A jury found the university guilty of retaliating against criminology professor Mike Adams, a popular conservative columnist on Townhall.com, by denying him a full professorship in 2006.
“This ruling sends a message to public universities: Academic freedom isn’t just for the Left, it’s a constitutional right for all professors — even Christian conservatives,” said David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented Mr. Adams.
Then there was the very recent confrontation, reportedly over a grazing dispute, between federal agents armed with machine guns, rifles, and attack dogs and Clark County Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and supporters. As reported by Fox News over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management’s attempt to seize Bundy cattle was halted by thousands of supporters, many coming from other states. True to form, when confronted with sign-carrying, shouting antagonists, federal agents set up a “First Amendment” zone! Apparently the First Amendment is now only operative in federally designated areas.
Perhaps this blogger isn’t the only one who followed the events in Nevada fearful of a replay of the 1992 Ruby Ridge tragedy in Idaho. But thanks to ubiquitous camera-enhanced cell phones, multiple videos recorded the Tasering of Bundy’s son, the police dog attack on him, and the rough handling of Bundy’s sister for waving a camera in an agent’s face. The confrontation between armed federal agents and angry civilians, many also armed, militia members among them, was shaping up to be a public relations disaster. Power Line reports that the BLM withdrew its forces, “including snipers,” citing the risk of violence: A wise decision.
But the Bundy-BLM problem is not resolved. Now that the dispute has received national attention, if there is more to the federal bullying of Cliven Bundy than disputed grazing rights, that should be made public as well.
Neil Kornze, Director of BLM is a former Harry Reid staffer. According to Reuters, Reid and his oldest son, Rory, are involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert. The County Commission, (son Rory is the former Clark County Commission Chairman) voted to sell ENN a public plot of land for $4.5 million, a fraction of its appraised value.
Cliven Bundy’s ranch is the last one still operating in the area, the rest having been regulated out of existence by various federal agencies. Something smells bad here, and it doesn’t seem to be from the cows.
In Ideas Have Consequences, reviews here, Richard Weaver argued that the retreat from the transcendental and the subsequent embrace of relativism leads to the will as arbiter of good and evil. Thus, in the service of whatever greater good is designated, barbarity is rationalized and injustice justified. Weaver wrote that to preserve civilization individual property rights must be defended and the public must reject efforts to mislead and make them dependent upon the all-encompassing state.
As totalitarians past and present have amply demonstrated, the power of the unrestrained state is used to threaten, to deny livelihood, to incarcerate and ultimately to permanently silence dissidence. It’s a familiar progression – political correctness on steroids.