The lesson from the American Civil War and the French Revolution, the rise of Nazism in Germany or of Bolshevism in Russia, is not that clear majorities of partisans and countless news junkies are needed to foment extremism and tear apart a country.  Instead, it is that zealous and sometimes warring tiny minorities can escalate tensions, nullify opposition, and bully the silenced majority to sanction–or at least not object to–the violence by which they eventually make their illiberal agendas go mainstream. – Victor Hanson Davis, Historian

If we do not cherish and care for our freedoms – speech, assembly, religion and others – we will lose them.  If we do not respect and defend our protections – rule of law, enforcement of public safety, decorum and civility – we will lose them.  If we no longer value and support the individual within the tolerant protection of the group, we are all lost.  In short, we have a Republic if we can keep it.

 

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culturalrevolution

“Good news, comrades!  The party’s just beginning, as a great leap forward in technology will make our lives better and safer. Whether YouTube’s Trusted Flaggers, Facebook’s Trusted Sources or Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council, you now can rest easy that your eyes and ears will be protected from wrong-thinking and dangerous-leaning ideas.  Through technology, we will help you be a good corporate citizen and do no harm.  We will not allow any hate speech, violent imagery, misrepresentation, terrorist propaganda and disinformation that violates our Community Standards.  How are these standards defined?  By us, of course.  (Why are you asking?  That seems suspicious to me.)

True, a few deplorables will lose their right to speak their minds.  But if we have to lop off a few undesirable free-speech sites, so be it.   (I didn’t hear you applaud.  You want to applaud, don’t you? I think I may have to report you for not living up to Community Standards.)”

Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty.  We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.  If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.

 

But just as our adversaries and enemies of the past learned here in Poland, we know that these forces, too, are doomed to fail if we want them to fail.  And we do, indeed, want them to fail.  They are doomed not only because our alliance is strong, our countries are resilient, and our power is unmatched.  Through all of that, you have to say everything is true.  Our adversaries, however, are doomed because we will never forget who we are.  And if we don’t forget who are, we just can’t be beaten.  Americans will never forget.  The nations of Europe will never forget.  We are the fastest and the greatest community.  There is nothing like our community of nations.  The world has never known anything like our community of nations.

 

We write symphonies.  We pursue innovation.  We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.

 

We reward brilliance.  We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God.  We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.

 

We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success.  We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.  And we debate everything.  We challenge everything.  We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.

 

And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom.  That is who we are.  Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.

 

What we have, what we inherited from our — and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people — what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before.  And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.  So we cannot fail.

 

This great community of nations has something else in common:  In every one of them, it is the people, not the powerful, who have always formed the foundation of freedom and the cornerstone of our defense.  The people have been that foundation here in Poland — as they were right here in Warsaw — and they were the foundation from the very, very beginning in America.

 

Our citizens did not win freedom together, did not survive horrors together, did not face down evil together, only to lose our freedom to a lack of pride and confidence in our values.  We did not and we will not.  We will never back down.  As long as we know our history, we will know how to build our future.  Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and for our interests.

– President Trump, Warsaw Poland, July 7 2017

 

Full text of the speech is available here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/07/06/remarks-president-trump-people-poland-july-6-2017

 

 

ladyjustice

The American Bar Association asks, “What is the Rule of Law?” in its Part I Dialogue.  Meant to initiate discussion as part of the association’s public education efforts, this first part offers an excellent history and overview of this concept vital to a free society.  The full document is available here: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/publiced/features/Part1DialogueROL.authcheckdam.pdf

 

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.