portlandprotests

Protest in Portland, Oregon

It is fairly easy to give a broad summary of “western” values: democracy, equality, rationalism, universal human rights, rule of law, tolerance (racial, religious, speech, etc.), property rights and capitalism.  There are those who are hostile to these ideas to the point of violence.  This isn’t surprising.  What is surprising is that many of these opponents to “western” freedom come from inside western countries.  This week’s readings will explore three of these groups.

John Daniel Davidson proposes that the “London Attack Indicates It’s Time To Stop Pretending Western Values Are Universal.”  The violence that is plaguing Europe most often has come from citizens or immigrants who live in the communities they attack.  The religious/political views of these extremists is known to authorities before these attacks, although officials have failed to act even when ties to terrorism are documented.

The Roots of Left-Wing Violence,” by Ian Tuttle, explores a different kind of enemy, anarchists and progressive extremists who broadly reject our culture and use protest to combat our way of life.  This isn’t the non-violent protest of Martin Luther King Jr. or Ghandi.  It isn’t the purposeful anti-war/anti-draft movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s.  “Antifa”  claims to be anti-fascist, but Tuttle notes that their methods mirror those of the Nazis and Maoists.  What they are actually protesting is the democratic process, rule of law, and the capitalist system.

Finally, Jordan Peterson argues Why You Have to Fight Postmodernism, resisting the nihilistic movement that has become embedded in Education and Media and targets young people.  (Video and transcript courtesy Tim Hains at Real Clear Politics.)  “Postmodernists completely reject the structure of Western civilization,” argues Peterson, who gives example after example of how this world-view is antithetical to the traditional idea of “western” freedom.

 

 

 

What is happening to the Left?  I thought Liberals were supposed to be … well … liberal. Future-looking, open-minded, tolerant, looking out for others, non-judgmental, non-violent, “make peace, not war.”  But that doesn’t seem to be the case lately.

John Daniel Davidson argues that “The American Left Is Talking Itself Into Violence.”  He points out that the violence on campus is now creeping off campus into our communities.

Kirsten Powers, author of  The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech, says, “… the illiberal Left reminds me of religious zealots, except of a secular religion.”  She gives evidence of this in the article, Kirsten Powers: The Rise of the Intolerant Left.

Even progressive proponents are recognizing the cognitive dissonance within their movement.  I suggest reading  Nicholas Kristof’s A Confession of Liberal Intolerance, Freddie deBoer’s of course, there’s the backchannel or SE-Smith’s  We Are the Left: Why I Joined the Movement After Years of Internet Abuse from My Supposed Political Allies.  (This last article is very personal and intense.)

What are the possible results of such illiberality? Well, one result may be documented in No Guilt This Time  by Mark Bauerlein.

 

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The Intercollegiate Studies Institute offers a very readable article by Alfred S. Regnery summarizing what Conservatism is, where it comes from, and where it is today.  “The Pillars of Modern American Conservatism” includes a concise summary of conservative values and expands on Russel Kirk’s “Four Cities” as it gives a brief history of the movement.  Definitely worth the read.

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Earlier this month, Football Hall of Fame member Shannon Sharpe gave perhaps the clearest summary of the Social Justice philosophy, as it relates to race, I have ever read.  In response to a fellow athlete’s call  (Dez Bryant) for a focus on individual responsibility and achievement, rather than a focus on systemic racism, Sharpe said the following:

Okay, so I’m supposed to hold me accountable for slavery? What about Reconstruction? What about the Jim Crow South? What about segregation? What about the violation of my civil rights and my voting rights? So who do I hold accountable for that?… Dez, I can’t get ahead if someone is constantly keeping me behind.” – Shannon Sharpe

 

Sharpe’s analysis comes in two parts.  The first part is his question about who he (or we) can hold accountable for slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, and segregation, in other words, systemic racism.  The answer is he (or we) can hold accountable those who were responsible for slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws and segregation.  The people who inflicted slavery on their fellow human beings are responsible.  The community leaders (and followers) who inflicted Jim Crow laws and segregation on other citizens are responsible.  But those people aren’t around any more.  They are gone and have been for a long time.

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The conservative is concerned, first of all, with the regeneration of the spirit and character—with the perennial problem of the inner order of the soul, the restoration of the ethical understanding, and the religious sanction upon which any life worth living is founded. This is conservatism at its highest. – Russell Kirk

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