(Today’s guest poster is Andrew Klavan who published this piece on PJ Media. The headline is mine, the Push-Back President. Trump is the first president to reject in public the nincompoop notions of the left, and he makes no bones about it. He rubs it in their faces and laughs out loud, a fun guy. This is the main cause of the mental illness known as Trump Derangement Syndome.)
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In general, I’m a free speech purist. I think you should be able to say any damn thing you please. But that doesn’t mean you should be able to say it anywhere and anytime.
I think police should be allowed to remove hecklers who prevent an audience from hearing the speaker they came to hear, or haul away a diner who stands up in a restaurant and starts spewing curses at the Martians in his fillings.
I deplore companies that fire or punish employees for expressing their ideas on their own time, even though it’s legal to do so. But I don’t think those companies have to tolerate such speech in the workplace or when it might reasonably appear to be an expression of the company’s point of view.
That’s why I see no free speech violation, even in spirit, in the NFL’s ruling that players should not disrespect the flag during the National Anthem. The players were taking that action on company time, in company uniform, while doing the company’s business, representing the company and, clearly, hurting the company’s bottom line.
And because I see no violation, I have to agree with the tweet of Vice President Mike Pence that the new rule represents “#winning” for the American people. Here’s why.
The NFL anthem controversy is a prime example of how Donald Trump is doing something of yuge importance that conservatives never think to do, and that intellectual conservatives don’t even seem to understand needs doing. He is challenging — and often changing — the left’s narrative.
The narrative is essentially a set of assumptions so pervasive that people are afraid to oppose them. They think they are alone in disagreeing with those assumptions and they fear they will be deemed immoral by the majority.
For a long time, the left has controlled this narrative by dominating and censoring the means of communication: social media, the news networks, Hollywood and the academies.
The left makes outlandish ideas seem mainstream.
They use these instruments to make outlandish ideas seem mainstream. That America is racist and oppressive. That men and women are interchangeable. That abortion is something other than an atrocity. That capitalism is somehow an evil despite its manifest blessings. And so on.
This technique is enormously powerful and has serious repercussions. Look at Starbucks behaving like a broken prisoner at a Stalinist show trial.
The narrative convinced them that they behaved badly simply for behaving like a business. In ejecting two poorly behaved trespassers, they merely claimed their right to use their private property for profit. But it is private property and profit that gives us Starbucks in the first place. And iPhones and computers and movies and all the rest.
Companies do not make these things for fun and they have no obligation to let you use them for free. If Starbucks were not drowning in left-wing assumptions — the left-wing narrative that capitalism is somehow inherently mean and wrong — they would have stood up for their right to eject unpaying trespassers, and they would have won.
Instead, they have to endure the absolutely absurd accusation that they are somehow racist because the trespassers were black — another nonsensical left-wing assumption. Phooey.
This is why it has been so terribly frustrating for many of us that conservatives have for so long allowed these assumptions to go unchallenged and have even seemed to accept them themselves.
Why did the first President Bush promise a “kinder, gentler” America after the Reagan years? Why did W. Bush call his conservatism “compassionate conservatism”? Aren’t the wealth and freedom provided by conservative governance kind and gentle enough, compassionate enough in themselves? Why were they making apologies for good ideas?
They bought the narrative and lost the country.
Those on the right who continue to hammer the president for being a flawed man should instead be asking themselves: Why did it take such a man to finally start pushing conservative ideas again?
It was because the left had been allowed to define the terms of our decency, and it required a man without much regard for decency to stand up to them and begin to govern by the decent, moral, freedom-giving principles of traditional Americanism.
Among those principles is respect for our flag and the liberties and justice it represents. It should not be the accepted norm that you can insult that flag while the rest of the nation is expected to eat the insult and send you fame and money in return.
Screw that noise. Donald Trump was right to challenge the narrative. It’s not trivial. It’s important. And the fact that he made his point represents, yes, #winning.
(Our guest poster today is the incomparable Dennis Prager who often guest posts on The Moon, unbeknownst to him. Were I to have a guru, I would choose Prager although he’s a bit younger than I am, and I don’t know if that’s permissible.)
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THERE IS MORE knowledge available today than ever before in history. But few would argue people are wiser than ever before.
On the contrary, many of us would argue that we are living in a particularly foolish time — a period that is largely wisdom-free, especially among those with the most knowledge: the best educated.
The fact that one of our two major political parties is advocating lowering the voting age to 16 is a good example of the absence of wisdom among a large segment of the adult population.
What adult deems 16-year-olds capable of making a wise voting decision? The answer is an adult with the wisdom of a 16-year-old — “Hey, I’m no wiser than most 16-year-olds. Why should I have the vote and they not?”
America has been influenced and is now being largely led by members of the baby-boom generation. This is the generation that came up with the motto “Never trust anyone over 30,” making it the first American generation to proclaim contempt for wisdom as a virtue.
Boomers are the first American generation to proclaim contempt for wisdom as a virtue.
The left in America is founded on the rejection of wisdom. It is possible to be on the left and be kind, honest in business, faithful to one’s spouse, etc. But it is not possible to be wise if one subscribes to leftist (as opposed to liberal) ideas.*
Last year, Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, co-authored an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer with a professor from the University of San Diego School of Law in which they wrote that the “bourgeois culture” and “bourgeois norms” that governed America from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s were good for America, and that their rejection has caused much of the social dysfunction that has characterized this country since the 1960s.
Those values included, in their words: “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.”
Rejection of bourgeois norms has caused much of the social dysfunction that has characterized this country since the 1960s.
Recognizing those norms as universally beneficial constitutes wisdom. Rejection of them constitutes a rejection of wisdom — i.e. foolishness.
Yet the left almost universally rejected the Wax piece, deeming it, as the left-wing National Lawyers Guild wrote, “an explicit and implicit endorsement of white supremacy,” and questioning whether professor Wax should be allowed to continue teaching a required first-year course at Penn Law.
To equate getting married before having children, working hard and eschewing substance abuse and crime with “white supremacy” is to betray an absence of wisdom that is as depressing as it breathtaking. It is obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense that those values benefit anyone who adheres to them; they have nothing to do with race.
But almost every left-wing position (that differs from a liberal or conservative position) is bereft of wisdom.
Is the left-wing belief in the notion of “cultural appropriation” — such as the left’s recent condemnation of a white girl for wearing a Chinese dress to her high school prom — wise? Or is it simply moronic?
Is the left-wing belief that there are more than two genders wise? Or is it objectively false, foolish and nihilistic?
Has the left-wing belief that children need (unearned) self-esteem turned out to be wise, or morally and psychologically destructive? To its credit, last year, the Guardian wrote a scathing exposé on the “lie” — its word — the self-esteem movement is based on and the narcissistic generation it created.
Is it wise to provide college students with “safe spaces” — with their hot chocolate, stuffed animals and puppy videos — in which to hide whenever a conservative speaker comes to their college? Or is it just ridiculous and infantilizing?
Is the left’s rejection of many, if not most, great philosophical, literary and artistic works of wisdom on the grounds that they were written or created by white males wise? One example: The English department of the University of Pennsylvania, half of whose law school professors condemned Amy Wax and almost none of whose law professors defended her piece, removed a portrait of William Shakespeare (replacing it with that of a black lesbian poet).
Is multiculturalism, the idea that no culture is superior to another morally or in any other way wise? Isn’t it the antithesis of wisdom, whose very premise is that certain ideas are morally superior to others, and certain literary or artistic works are superior to others?
And the veneration of feelings over truth, not to mention wisdom, is a cornerstone of leftism.
Here’s one way to test my thesis: Ask left-wing friends what they have done to pass on wisdom to their children. Most will answer with a question: “What do you mean?” Then ask religious Jewish or Christian friends the same question. They won’t answer with a question.
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*”The usurpation of the word ‘liberal’ by the left has been a catastrophe.” — Dennis Prager.
THERE’S A street project right off the main plaza downtown that’s been going on since last autumn, which is a long time because the renovation is just two lengthy blocks.
This project interests me, and I take a stroll by there almost every weekday after sitting at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.
In the United States, it would have been done far faster, and the entire work site would be blocked off so pedestrians and gawkers like me could not walk all over the place.
Around the workmen. Hopping over wet cement.
Here, no effort is made to keep pedestrians out of the work area, and none of the workers sports a hard hat. The main reason the project is taking so long is that there is little mechanized about it. It’s strictly manual labor.
If a passerby trips on something, falls and busts his noodle, he should have watched where he was going. He does not sue the city. We are not litigious that way.
The work started last year with an extensive excavation. New sewer and water lines were buried deep as were electric cables and wires in fat orange conduits.
Part of the reason the project is taking so long is the detail work, primarily on the sidewalks.
I should have photographed some of the detail, but I didn’t. This is fine rock work that will last a century.
There is sunken lighting for a nice nighttime look.
About the only nod to modernity are wheelchair ramps.
This photo shows the area where most of the stone is being worked to make it usable. It was a rose garden outside the church/hospital to the left before the renovation began.
Big stones are cut to size by hammer and chisel.
The scenes of the first two photos are at the end of the block down thataway, the far side.
We don’t have the reams of rules and regulations here that are so prevalent above the Rio Bravo, rules and regs made necessary by lawyers and government meddling. No environmental impact study was required.
Bugs were just squashed.
Here, if you need something done you hire some guys and do it. There are always guys available, plenty of idle hands of men who never grasped the need for schooling.
Just around the corner from the renovation I noticed this sign outside a tiny pharmacy. Look what you can have done. (Excuse the photos’ blurry edges. I had the camera set for that effect, but I did not notice till later.)
You can measure your blood sugar and blood pressure, or get a pap test.
You can get a medical certificate, maybe to get out of class. A problem with your toenails? No sweat.
A wound will be bandaged, and if you need an injection, they’ll stick you with the appropriate needle.
And all will cost next to nothing, and no pricey doctor reference is needed, but a doctor is likely there. Just go in, pay a buck or two if you want some medical advice or a prescription.
Living here is easy. Even if renovating a street takes forever. It will last forever after it’s finished.