Turn on the news, grab a paper or open your favorite news and app and you are going to see an article discussing the recent trend, is it really recent(?), concerning the banning of books sweeping across America. Art Spiegelman’s book, “Maus” is just a recent example:
Reading “Maus” was formative for me. But decades later, other public school students in Tennessee will be denied that same experience. Despite it being part of a state-approved eighth grade curriculum, the members of the school board in McMinn County, outside of Chattanooga, banned “Maus” in a unanimous vote earlier this month. The vote finally received media attention Wednesday, just hours before the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Minutes of the Jan. 10 meeting available online reveal that the board members said they objected to the book’s use of profanity and an image of nudity depicting the dead body of author Spiegelman’s mother, who took her own life at age 56.
Book banning. Book burning. Restricting content or subject matters. All has a long history within human history. Here in America, we’re just adding to the long oftentimes dark, history. However, before I go into specific stories about the banning of specific books, or curriculum or even speakers, I have some terms to define, and comments regarding each.
Not all book bans are created equal
Much of the narrative you are reading today fails to take into account the nuances of the various bans; shocking, right? Let me begin:
Absence is not a ban:
In a given school, whether it be in the school library or the collection of books available in each teachers classroom, there is not room for every book under the sun. Just because a book is not available in a particular library, classroom or school does not mean that the book has been banned.
Schools often stipulate that certain titles are required to be studies as part of their officially sanctioned curriculum. Simply because a book is removed from the “Required Reading” list does not mark it as a banned book. Often times the book may be included in class at the discretion of the teacher. It may still live in the library even if it is not ever taught in class.
This is a book that has not been purchased by the school but is not considered ‘banned’. Kids are free to bring the book to school for their own personal reading pleasure.
This is the type of material that is the most severe. The book has been placed on an outright banned list from school grounds. It is not taught, it is not in any classroom or library and individual students are not free to bring such material to class.
The shock of the events of this week have only begun to wear off; and then only the raw jagged edges of that shock. The full impact to my senses will take weeks and perhaps months. It’s been said a thousand times by now; you’ve all heard it I’m sure.
I never thought I’d see the day when the United States Capital would be overrun.
And yet here we are.
Over the years there have been many days that have shocked us, saddened us, horrified or shook us. We’ve witnessed untold tragedy, pain, suffering savagery. We’ve seen human pain brought on by craven humanity. And as each of those events have played out, I’ve tried to resist the temptation to lurch into the ‘politics’ of it all. I’ve tried to observe a period of calm reflection and deliberate fact-finding before commenting, before passing judgements and prevent rushing to conclusions that are inappropriately forged in the fire of passion.
And that’s good; calm minds careful with facts, and processes and deliberate understanding of the events produce superior conclusions and prevent mistakes both in facts as they are known and in causing rifts in relationships between people who might be impacted.
However, I live in a world where such deliberate reflections are not observed by the society that we live in. Like it or not, we exist in a world that is impacted by Twitter, by cable news and its 24×7 drumbeat of information. I am finding that if I take too long to raise my voice and to make myself heard, the moment is lost, the next crisis has pushed this one to the side and the events have been shaped by those who yell; yell loudest and first.
So, I am going to try my best to be quick and be good.
This past Wednesday, January 6, Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC to support President Trump and protest the election that took place this past November. At some point during this rally, this protest, a non-trivial subset of the peaceful protesters overpowered the Capital Police, forced their way into the Capital building where a joint session of congress was taking place, forced lawmakers to evacuate the building and rioted and vandalized the Capital building leaving only after hours of such behavior.
They are the facts as we know them. The details of the day’s events, the names of the perpetrators, the crimes they committed have yet to be recorded, the brushstrokes are straight forward.
A pro-Trump rally degenerated into a riot that resulted in the occupation of the United States Capital by members of those Trump supporters.
In the immediate aftermath, and I mean almost literally immediately after the news hit, blame was being assigned, facts were being disputed and sides were being taken with the usual suspects lined up one against the other. The Trump folks claimed that the riots and the vandalism was instigated by leftist infiltrators; Antifa or BLM members. The other side, the folks in our nation that are critical of the President, were equally quick in their condemnation of all things Trump, republican, and conservative.
The mainstream media was in full force, castigating the rioters [they are correct to do so] and castigating all Trump supporters [they are wrong to do so] as criminals, as terrorists, as enemies of the state. Calls for arrest, for charges of sedition, of treason and of insurrection were immediate and universal. Which seemed strange to me. These same media outlets and reporters had no such language when it came to the reporting of the events of the violent clashes we saw take place across America all year.
In fact, while the cities in America burned, people were being killed and police were being targeted and assassinated, the very same media were extolling us to understand the people, to understand that protests and riots have a long and storied history in American politics. Rather, the tones were now tones of anger and rage; filled with righteous condemnation.
So, I am going to ask you to take a minute. To stop the screaming and the chest thumping and the noble outrage. Just stop. For. A. Minute. Look inside yourself and identify what you would consider to be your ‘guiding principle.’ What is your ‘bedrock principle’, your ‘right principle’? What is it that you expect ‘the other side’ to live up to. Then write that down in plain English.
And apply it to yourself. To your team. To your tribe.
For example, if your ‘Guiding Principle’ is:
“In the pursuit of political freedoms, of liberty and the desire to construct a government that is fair and just and equal, it is permissible for the citizen, or the resident, to engage in protest and to engage in behavior that could bring about occasional damage to property, to bring about occasional harm to human life or even to bring about the occasional death of anther human.”
Then say that. Write that down and own that belief. And then, when faced with an individual who believes in that same principle but not the same politics, be objective in your application of that principle.
Do you think that our black friends, neighbors and families, in pursuit of an equitable claim of freedom, of economic equality, of equal protection under the law are entitled to protest in our cities and in our streets even if it means that buildings, vehicles, businesses – property in general be damaged, destroyed or stolen? Do you think that violent reactions in the face of political opposition is okay? Then you must be prepared to allow for the fact that another human being, in opposition to your politics, has the same right to the same strategy.
On the other hand, if you are of the belief that while protests are fine and understandable, violent and wanton destruction of property are not the acceptable forms of the airing of grievances. If you see the disregard for the rights of the individual to live and exist without fear of harm or of death, if you believe in the rule of law and the authority of the police, then you too, Ought be prepared to extend that same ‘first principle’ to yourself. If it is the mark of a mob to riot in the streets, to occupy police precincts and vandalize and loot businesses, then apply the same to your tribe, your team and your political party.
And so here I am jumping out quicker than I feel that I should but later than almost everybody else. SO late as a matter of fact, that I may be too late; the world has moved on. But, be that as it may, hear I am with my observation.
The democrat party and the media in our mainstream America has no ‘first principle’ that it will apply equally to those of us on the right and to themselves. All year we have been lectured by those who know better that the riots and the violence visited on American cities one after another are not only not illegal, but are noble. Are honorable. Such violence, when even acknowledged as violence as most of the time these actions are described as ‘mostly peaceful’ is excused or even seen as necessary to accomplish the goal of the people.
Wednesday night we witnessed a mob out of control take control of the Capital of the United States. And very nearly every single conservative republican condemned that action. Commentators, politicians and everyday Americans were appalled at the events of that night and called it what it rightfully was; a riot by criminals that needs to see the perpetrators punished.
Now, are their exceptions? To be sure. There are those on the right that cheered the rioters on, there are those on the right who claim that it was antifa or even BLM plants that instigated the violence. These people are wrong and should be called out. We cannot have two working sets of facts.
But make no mistake about it, there is near universal condemnation from the democrat left and the media outlets allied with them of the actions of those criminals that breached the Capital while not a single one of them issued a similar statement of responsibility as America burned.
The year was 2009. And things were wacky. The fact that Brett Favre was in the NFC Championship game was, by itself, not at all strange. Brett Favre was a great quarterback having a great year. And he was on the brink of a Superbowl birth. No. The wacky part of that 2009 football season was that ‘ol #4 was wearing the purple and gold for the Minnesota Vikings. And that the game was going to change the rules of football.
You see, the game — and it was a GREAT game — ended in a tie. When the whistle blew the score of that game that would determine who represented the NFC in the Superbowl stood 28-28. The Saints managed to play the Vikings to a tie despite being outplayed the whole game. We’re going to overtime! Now, in the NFL up to and including 2009, the overtime rules were crazy, dumb and outdated. The rule, at the time, was this:
Before overtime started, the teams met at mid-field and a coin toss was conducted. The winner of the coin toss was allowed to declare if they would rather kick the ball or receive the ball. The other team was awarded the decision which end zone they would defend. In almost all circumstances, the winner of the coin toss would choose to receive the ball. The reason was simple; the rules of over time stated that the team to score first would be declared the winner.
This is, of course, stupid.
For example, a team that wins the coin toss gets the ball first and only has to score a field goal to win. And they can do this without the other team even having the chance to posses the ball and impact the outcome. Now, the NFL is not alone in sudden death overtime; hockey also plays extra time with the first score determining the winner. Some soccer leagues also play sudden death. However, other sports are not played in this manner. The NBA plays extra minutes and whoever is ahead at the end of that extra time is awarded the victory. Baseball plays an extra inning; each team is provided an opportunity to bat and if they can score more runs than their opponent during that extra inning, they are the winner.
The NFL’s rule is stupid. And the fact that a game as important as the NFC Championship game is determined by a coin toss only makes that rule more unfortunate. As it turned out, New Orleans won the coin toss, received the ball, moved close enough to attempt a field goal and won the game 31-28. The very next season the NFL changed the over time rules to allow both teams the chance to possess the ball IF the first team scored on a field goal. If they score a touchdown on the first possession, the game is over.
Better – but still dumb.
And here’s the thing; everyone KNOWS that this was a horrible rule. And while the NFL made it better by adjusting for a first strike FG, they still allow sudden death in the event of a touchdown. The rule is a bad rule. It is NOT poorly written or misunderstood. The rule is clear, everyone understands it. But it’s just a bad rule and there hasn’t been a willingness to change the rule.
Now, imagine if the Minnesota Vikings, after giving up that field goal to the Saints, appealed to the refs in the game and made the claim that the decision awarding the win to the Saints wasn’t right. That BOTH teams should be offered the opportunity to score. After all, football should be decided by plays on the field, not the luck of a coin toss. Whats more, there is precedent for such a method and it has been wildly successful. College football has a much better system.
In the college game, when four quarters results in a tie, each team is given the opportunity to score, much like the innings of a baseball game. Rather than have a kickoff, another horribly random play that unfortunately changes the outcomes of too many games, but I digress, the college format dictates that the ball is placed at the opponent’s 25 yard line. From there, each team attempts to drive the ball and score; either by touchdown or by field goal. After each team has had the chance to score, the game is decided by whoever has the most points. In the event of a continued tie; repeat.
Back to our imaginary appeal to the referees after the Saints scored their field goal. The Vikings surly have a case to be made; it is not fair that a team can win a football game by kicking a single field goal based on who wins a coin toss. It is nearly indisputable that the college system is superior. In fact, the college rules not only assure that there will be a winner, in the regular season, an NFL game can end in a tie if no team scores in 15 minutes, but it is superior to the format currently employed by the NHL and most soccer leagues; the dreaded shoot-out. Clearly the rule, as written, is outdated, not fair and has a clear path to a better result.
The referees should absolutely rule in favor of the Minnesota Vikings, award them the ball via Saint’s kick-off and resume play.
Except that’s not how things work.
You see, it is not the job of the referees to write new rules. Their job is to adjudicate existing rules as they are written. It is the role of the owner’s competition committee to write new rules; or not, depending on the will of those owners.
And so we come to my point:
Amy Coney Barrett
6 – 3
We had a good four years! Perhaps the biggest win for the Trump years was the additions of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett. By elevating these three judges to The Supreme Court of the United States, Trump has solidified a conservative majority in the court for a generation; maybe more. But what does it mean to be a “conservative” when it comes to the Supreme Court?
What it’s not is this – A conservative Supreme Court is NOT a court that looks to uphold laws or cases that the partisan right-wing might favor. It is not the role of a conservative Court to see those partisan battle lines and take a side. A conservative Court should not care one single iota if the case being heard is one where a republican President or a democrat President favors the outcome. She should not care a single whiff that the case has the hopes and prayers of a partisan congress or even a partisan electorate writing Op Eds in the Journal or the Times. He should not care that the Senate Majority Leader is stomping on the grounds of the Senate or the Speaker is railing the same in the House.
The role of The Supreme Court of the United States is to adjudicate the law. Before it. As it is written.
The role of the court is NOT to ascertain what the Founders *may* have thought about certain events today, the changing nature of society today. The court is not to guess what the legislature might say if they could speak today.
The role of the court is to call balls and strikes. Or touchdowns and field goals.
Or overtime rules.
The reason the supreme court is such a hot button topic, and the reason why the liberal left is so emotional about the replacement of RBG by ACB, is that, for them, the court is not a arbiter of rules as written, the court is a process whereby old and archaic laws are to be refreshed, rewritten or reinterpreted. Maybe, maybe, the legislature would have included transgendered rights when they crafted Title VII of The Civil Rights Act back in 1964. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. That’s not important. What IS important is that they didn’t.
Maybe the 2nd amendment would have been written differently if the founders could have conceived a world that we find ourselves living in today. Maybe a just and noble society OUGHT restrict firearms. Maybe. Probably. But all of that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there exists a process whereby legislation can be enacted to reflect current and prevailing views. If you don’t like the laws, change the laws. Elect politicians who will submit the bill, debate the bill and pass it where it will be signed into law by an executive who has also been elected.
And if you are unable to do that, going to the supreme court to get them to change the law from what it actually says into something that you hope for it to say is outside the role of the court.
So yes, Trump getting Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett on the court is a HUGE deal. Because now we will have a court that will interpret laws and not create them. We will have a court that is not trying to ‘catch the country up’ to society that it thinks we live in.
I suppose that it is long since past the time to listen to the 1619 Project published by the New York Times Magazine. And now with #BlackLivesMatter all in the news, it is more important than ever to to take the time and see what the project is and what it says.
But before I do, I want to take a few minutes and collect my thoughts and write down what I think of the 1619 before I listen to the podcast found here.
The first African slave ship to arrive in what is now America landed in the year 1619. With the arrival of that ship, the practice of chattel slavery in what would become the United States of America began. As I understand it, the 1619 project is an attempt to correct the historical accounting of the founding of the nation more commonly taught as an experiment in liberty and freedom. The author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, tries to tell the story of America through the lens of the oppression of people, I assume this would be non-white people, and how that oppression was used to build the the United States. I expect that Nikole will make the case that this country, the wealth and prosperity it has enjoyed, is due in no small part to the forced labor and the abuse of minority people at the hands of white Europeans and it is this narrative, rather than the idea that we are founded on near religious documents such as The Declaration of the United States of America and The Constitution of the United States of America, that is the true story of our beginnings.
If you know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I take a very skeptical side-eye to this idea. It’s not that I deny the fact that slavery existed in America, that slavery is brutal and inhumane, that the legacy of slavery still echos today. I don’t deny any of that. I just don’t happen to feel that America was founded on the concepts of being a slave state. I happen to feel that America was founded on the concepts stated in those documents. Concepts such as negative rights, limited government, the sovereignty of the individual. I believe that the founders did envision “a more perfect union” when they were gathering and thinking and legislating.
I have a healthy suspicion of the NY Times, its reporters, their bias. I don’t believe that they are neutral observers reporting news and facts as they happen and leave the analysis to us, the gentle reader. Rather, the Times has an agenda and that agenda is more closely aligned with far left ideology, think Karl Marx, than an ideology based on the concept of individual liberty. With this in mind, I fully expect that my listening of the 1619 Project will find errors in facts, a rewrite of history to support a “going in narrative” and an arc meant to reinforce a policy agenda already formed rather than an honest curiosity driven questioning of events years gone by.
To be fair, I listen to a majority of opinion from the right. I listen to Ben Shapiro, The Federalist, CATO. I read Reason and Mises. I also try to balance this with The Slate’s, ‘The Gabfest’ and am a regular reader of Slate and up until they went behind a paywall, The Atlantic. Of my sources of analysis, it is Ben that is the harshest critic of Nikole and her project.
I believe that America is that noble invention. I believe in the nobility of the self and the state that allows the expression of the individual liberty we all ought enjoy. In fact, liberty being the natural state of man, I happen to think that the restriction of that liberty, to deny a man the ability to express fully his own liberty, is nearly so, more so, a sin against nature as it would be to take his life.
I believe that we are all members of humanity; a humanity that itself an best be described as a ‘fallen humanity’. That while we are created in the image of God, we have not, cannot, live up to the expectations of a perfect life. That life, that perfection, is not meant for this world; that is the domain of the next. I believe that man can be wicked, man can be cruel. I find that, in the end, we all strive to make a life for ourselves better and that often, as is our nature, we see the world and the resources in it as a finite pie. We see the struggle for a better life as a zero sum game. Think a sporting contest between two players or teams. A score for your team, or a reduction of a score of your opponent is the same. A touchdown is a 7-point advantage for you and represents an exactly opposite 7-point disadvantage to the opposition.
A zero sum game. A game that ends 21-7 represents a 14-point advantage for your team and a 14-point disadvantage to the other team. Plus 14 for you and minus 14 for them. (+14) + (-14) = zero. A zero sum game.
This belief leads to all forms of evil. Slavery being one. In that regard, the United States is not unique. Slavery has existed since time immemorial and in every society and civilization in the world. In fact, slavery continues today. The noble intentions of our founding should not be replaced or rejected simply because people are sinful, a sad state that we cannot escape, but should be celebrated BECAUSE, or in spite of the fact, that we are sinful. It is the acknowledgement of our failings that is the genesis of our nation.
I suspect that Nikole and 1619 will try to refute that. I suspect that I will not enjoy that argument and will likely reject it as wrong.
Remember who you are. You are a lover of liberty and of country. And that love requires certain tolerances. Namely, that you tolerate difference of thought, of opinion and of solutions to a wide range of perceived problems.
This will be hard to do. It will not be easy; but you have to do it.
And it will be made harder by the thoughts, the words and the actions of those that you disagree with. They will do and say things that will take you down a path you don’t wanna go. They will tempt you to abandon the liberty and the country to love.
We ARE a nation of immigrants. You can trace your family tree back to somewhere else. And you are right to celebrate that. It is right to take immense honor that it is uniquely American that we are the only country in the world where you can come and then ‘become’. If you come from Germany, you can become American. If you come from China, you can become American. From Romania, from Argentina or from Ethiopia; you can become an American. All knowing that you cannot go anywhere else and become. You cannot become Mexican, or Norwegian or Zimbabwean.
This is what makes us great.
Which is why it is so painful when you cheer statements suggesting select congressmen go back to where they came from. Which is why it is so frustrating to hear you chant, ‘send her back’. You are better.
And yes, it is hard. As they try to silence you, give them a voice. As they insult you, give them respect. As they seek to alienate you, let them have their opinions.
They will try to suppress you. They will call you racist in an attempt to silence you. They will label you as misogynist in an attempt to silence you. They will call you xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and you-name-it-phobic. Yes, they have and yes they will continue to do the same.
1640s, as a theological term (in reference to “covenants” between God and man), from French fédéral, an adjective formed from Latin foedus (genitive foederis) “covenant, league, treaty, alliance,” from PIE *bhoid-es-, suffixed form of root *bheidh- “to trust, confide, persuade.”
Secular meaning “pertaining to a covenant or treaty” (1650s) led to political sense of “formed by agreement among independent states” (1707), from use of the word in federal union “union based on a treaty” (popularized during formation of U.S.A. 1776-1787) and like phrases. Also from this period in U.S. history comes the sense “favoring the central government” (1788) and the especial use of the word (as opposed to confederate) to mean a state in which the federal authority is independent of the component parts within its legitimate sphere of action. Used from 1861 in reference to the Northern forces in the American Civil War.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Saturday that she had been asked to leave a Virginia restaurant the night before because she worked for U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” Sanders said on the official Press Secretary Twitter account.
On Saturday, the owner of the Red Hen confirmed the incident and said she stood by her decision to refuse service to Sanders, the Washington Post reported.
I 100% support this action by the owner of a private establishment.
She should be free to enter into contract, or not, with anyone she chooses. Be they men, white, republicans or Vikings fans. It is her business with her money and she should be able to decide who she serves.
I am encouraged by the left’s embrace of individual liberty!
The horrors we witnessed in Parkland took place a week ago this afternoon. For many of us, the tragedy is still fresh and frontal. For a few, those horrors will never end; that day in mid-February 2018 will define their existence.
I can’t imagine. And, we’ve seen it before – we’ll see it again. All of us, myself included, after the kids are in bed, are left with this question:
What do we do? What CAN we do?
In the coming days I’m gonna explore my thoughts and my feelings. I’m gonna think about what we can do, what I can do; if anything.
I’ve seen what seems like a never ending barrage of thoughts, and arguments, debate and anger. Rage. Despair.
Which brings me to my point. As I, we, explore feelings and define the problems looking for solutions – I want to do so from a position of mutual acknowledgement. Namely that I love my kids, and yours, in the same manner that love your kids, and mine.
It’s likely, that as intelligent people with different histories and experience, we are going to arrive at separate conclusions after being exposed to the same body of facts. And that, THAT, has to be okay. It cannot be that those who shout loudest, most often and without regard to civility are allowed to carry the day. Neither can we allow the debate to devolve into that place where we question each other’s motives.
The list goes on. And on and on.
I don’t doubt the liberla’s intentions – they mean well. Who doesn’t want medical care for the child, income for the poor, safe haven for the oppressed, equality for the marginalized or parity for all?
The problem isn’t the end, its the means. It’s always been about the means.