The prescient wisdom of Robert E. Lee

General Lee - portrait photograph

“I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, is not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”

~ Robert E. Lee in correspondence with Lord Acton

As “Marse Robert” accurately perceived, our Founders carefully set up a detailed and intricate system of “checks and balances” to preserve our Constitutional liberties, and our status as not a pure democracy, but a representative Republic.

And that included not only a balance of power between and among the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), but between the Federal government and the States. Indeed, it it worth noting that the Preamble to the Constitution speaks of the establishment of a Constitution “for these United States.” Note that: “for these” States, as distinct, sovereign entities, not “for the” single entity called “the United States.” That is not accidental, or an infelicitous choice of words!

Unfortunately, since our Founding, the corruption that comes with the desire for power has been leading the Federal government to constantly accrue powers to itself, against the clear directive of the Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” (the Tenth Amendment).

President Lincoln’s determination to preserve the Union even at the cost of the Constitution – against which Lee, at the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, so ably but ultimately unsuccessfully contended – was a body-blow to the Founders’ intentions, and the pace of Federal usurpation has been accelerating ever since. For many of us, “aggressive abroad and despotic at home” is not too strong an expression of the unfortunate result.

Immigration policy, then and now

Immigrant policy - meme

The radical (and even some of the less-radical) Left is great on sound-bites, memes, etc., that support (or seem to) their position, but not so good on the facts and logic behind the situation portrayed – ironic, since they often also claim to be on the side of “reasons” and “science,” but I digress!

In any case, they seem to have a great deal of difficulty with the distinction between legal and illegal immigration (and sometimes with legality in general, but again, that’s a digression). I especially liked two of the comments on the original post:

“The left can keep track of 47 genders but the difference between legal immigrant and illegal immigrant escapes them quicker than a greased soap bubble.”

And this:

“Actually those are immigrants that are being herded through Ellis island to be questioned and medically examined to determine if they should be allowed to enter the United States based on whether they would be a benefit or detriment to American society. Those that fail will not be allowed to enter. So, yes let’s look at the past, and see how a real immigration policy works.”

That’s not even to mention the restrictions on who was allowed to immigrate to the United States in the first place, pre-1965: “The Hart–Celler Act of 1965 marked a radical break from the immigration policies of the past. Previous laws restricted immigration from Asia and Africa, and gave preference to northern and western Europeans over southern and eastern Europeans.”

One can agree with those policies or disagree with them, but one thing is clear: it wasn’t just any old “Tom, Dick, or Harry” who wanted in, that got in.

Note also: “The first significant federal legislation restricting immigration was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.” Remember that the Chinese were brought in to serve as cheap labour for the railroads; in fact, many of those imported or encouraged to immigrate – from the Irish and Eastern Europeans of the 19th and early 20th centuries to people from Central and South America today – are being brought in by or on behalf of corporations who want, once again, cheap labour.

Ironically, those who support “open” immigration policies are also, whether they know it or not, supporting crony capitalism / corporate plutocracy. To continue:

“Individual states regulated immigration prior to the 1892 opening of Ellis Island, the country’s first federal immigration station.” So it wasn’t just a free-for-all, as some try to claim. “New laws in 1965 ended the quota system that favored European immigrants, and today, the majority of the country’s immigrants hail from Asia and Latin America.” A fact which is altering not only the ethnic makeup of this country, but our culture and society as well – whether for better or for worse being debatable.

Again, the situation is more complex than a simple “immigrants made America great.” Much more!

New Orleans is Ground Zero | Abbeville Institute

The social justice jihad to eliminate “white supremacy” was spawned by the successful eradication of Confederate memorabilia.

Source: New Orleans is Ground Zero | Abbeville Institute

Americans were not overly concerned about the disparagement of Confederate heroes but when the disparagement was turned against the Founding Fathers and Western Civilization in general, they began to take notice. The public finally realized they weren’t witnessing isolated incidents but a well-coordinated movement, promulgated by national and international forces.

If anything, I fear this statement may be a bit too optimistic: I am not at all sure enough of the American public has begun to awaken to the reality of the situation, at least not yet. I hope and pray they will! This blog is part of my contribution to encouraging that awakening.

At any rate, this essay is an excellent, if sobering, discussion of the situation. New Orleans is indeed “ground zero.” If the forces of violent revisionism, cultural cleansing, and the suppression and removal of anything deemed “offensive” by or to the decidedly illiberal left are successful in NOLA, they will only be emboldened elsewhere.

The camel’s nose is already in the tent. We need to make darned sure the rest of the camel doesn’t get inside!

ANTIFA: Who Are They? An Explainer By Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) – GotNews

Recent riots in Berkeley, California and Washington, D.C. by loosely assembled left-wing agitators have drawn attention to the left-wing terror group ANTIFA, an organization which has a violent history in Europe and South America but has been largely unknown in the United States until very recently. They’re the ones responsible for Trump supporters being beaten by gangs of masked men, setting fire to cars, pepper spraying old men, pelting women with eggs and smashing Starbucks windows and ATMs. The term Antifa, short for anti-fascist, is a euphemism for communism.

Source: ANTIFA: Who Are They? An Explainer By Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) – GotNews

Gentle readers, I apologize. This is supposed to be a civilized blog, and I hesitate to even give such thugs and anti-civilized (anti-civilization!) low-life scum as Antifa a mention here. But sometimes it is necessary to mention a danger, in order to warn against it:

Jason Kessler has done an excellent job of describing this (loose, but surprisingly well-choreographed) organization and the hazards it poses, both in his blog post and video. The only points I would add are these:

First, “communist” or even “anarchist” (anarcho-communist) is not sufficient to describe these people. They hate everything that has made Western civilization great and beautiful. Judging from their words and actions to date, if one were to take the worst excesses of Stalin and Mao, and add in those of Oliver Cromwell and Robespierre, we might have a glimpse of what society would look like if Antifa and their fellow-travelers were ever to achieve dominance.

Second, do not be misled by words like “anti-fascist” and “anti-racist.” They may use terms such as “tolerance” and “coexistence” – when they’re not breaking windows or beating people up – but their very existence is indicative of the shadow side (to put it gently) of such ideas. What they really want is a post-racial, post-cultural society in which difference is obliterated and everyone thinks, acts, and looks pretty much the same, and in place of true diversity, particularity, and distinctiveness, we are reduced to an amorphous, undifferentiated blob.

I leave you with some words from the great J.R.R. Tolkien, who though he eschewed allegory, wrote much that is applicable to our present situation. Antifa has neither the power nor (yet) the terror of the Nazgul, of course, but they are of like kind, being servants of the Dark Lord. In speaking of the Black Riders (“Black Bloc”…?), Tolkien wrote:

“‘Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly.'”

Indeed. Although I would say, there may be times – many, perhaps most, times – when fight, rather than flight, is the appropriate response to Antifa violence, lest they grow to the power and terror of Mordor.

Constant vigilance is the price of freedom.

The War against the Confederacy | US Defense Watch

The War against the Confederacy is a War against America. The War against the Confederacy is a war on American history. The War against the Confederacy is a war against all of us and a war on America’s institutions.

Source: The War against the Confederacy | US Defense Watch

This essay comes at a time when New Orleans is in the midst of attempting to remove four monuments pertaining to the Confederacy, in the heart of town. One, which has already been removed, was not directly representing the Confederacy itself; it commemorated a post-War Between the States conflict between Louisianians and a government which they perceived as being beholden to the “scalawags and carpet-baggers” that were busy kicking the South while she was down.

The other three, however, commemorate President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and General P.G.T. Beauregard. Were it not for the efforts of a dedicated band of defenders, these statues would probably also have been dismantled and carted away by now. They may yet be. Yet as this article makes clear, that would be a grievous error, an action more suited to ISIS, Stalin’s goons, or jack-booted storm-troopers than the supposedly freedom-loving United States.

For a long time, after the War Between the States (erroneously called the “Civil War” – a civil war is contention between two or more factions for the control of the central government, which this emphatically was not), what some have called the “Great Truce” or “Great Compromise” was in effect. Continue reading “The War against the Confederacy | US Defense Watch”

Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus – WSJ

Academic intolerance is the product of ideological aggression, not a psychological disorder.

Source: Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus – WSJ

I have commented previously that when you have students rioting to prevent a gay Jewish man from speaking on campus, one is forced to question exactly who are the “Nazis” and the “fascists” (and clearly I am not the only one who feels that way).

But it is not just Milo Yiannopoulos, whose flamboyant attitude and provocative, often controversial, lifestyle make him (not without justification) a lightning rod for criticism. But any and all conservative commentators are meeting increased agitation and resistance if they dare to step onto today’s college and university campuses.

And even some who are not, themselves, conservative at all: one thinks, for example, of Professor Allison Stanger of Middlebury College in Vermont, who ended up in the emergency room after protests against controversial American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray – invited to campus for a presentation Professor Stanger had agreed to moderate, out of her belief in fairness and the free exchange of ideas – turned violent.

But while this incident was sufficiently troubling to cause even some left-leaning academics to examine both their own assumptions and the actions of some of their fellow-travelers, it was not unique. Unfortunately, exposure to ideas with which one may not agree – once a staple of higher education – is being actively protested and suppressed in all too many colleges and universities: at least, if those ideas come from the conservative end of the political spectrum.

This essay, by one victim of such aggression – Heather MacDonald – addresses the popular view that this is simply a psychological disorder, a symptom of an excessively-coddled upbringing:

“Campus intolerance is at root not a psychological phenomenon but an ideological one. At its center is a worldview that sees Western culture as endemically racist and sexist. The overriding goal of the educational establishment is to teach young people within the ever-growing list of official victim classifications to view themselves as existentially oppressed. One outcome of that teaching is the forceful silencing of contrarian speech…

“Many observers dismiss such ignorant tantrums as a phase that will end once the ‘snowflakes’ encounter the real world. But the graduates of the academic victimology complex are remaking the world in their image. The assumption of inevitable discrimination against women and minorities plagues every nonacademic institution today, resulting in hiring and promotion based on sex and race at the expense of merit…

“Faculty and campus administrators must start defending the Enlightenment legacy of reason and civil debate. But even if dissenting thought were welcome on college campuses, the ideology of victimhood would still wreak havoc on American society and civil harmony. The silencing of speech is a massive problem, but it is a symptom of an even more profound distortion of reality.”

To which I can only respond, indeed.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate – WSJ

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia in 1969, is Islam’s most eloquent apostate. She has just published a slim book that seeks to add a new four-letter word—dawa—to the West’s vocabulary. It describes the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad. It is, she says, the greatest threat facing the West and “could well bring about the end of the European Union as we know it.” America is far from immune, and her book, “The Challenge of Dawa,” is an explicit attempt to persuade the Trump administration to adopt “a comprehensive anti-dawa strategy before it is too late.”

Source: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate – WSJ

I am not sure I agree with Ms Hirsi Ali’s belief that Islam is susceptible to reform, although I’d like to think so – I just haven’t seen much that gives me confidence, in that regard. She “believes that Islam can indeed be reformed, that it must be reformed, and that it can be reformed only by Muslims themselves”—which is certainly true, if it’s going to happen at all—and that it must be “by those whom she calls ‘Mecca Muslims.'”

“These,” she says, “are the faithful who prefer the gentler version of Islam that she says was ‘originally promoted by Muhammad’ before 622. That was the year he migrated to Medina and the religion took a militant and unlovely ideological turn.” True, but whether the trend initiated then and promulgated for most of the succeeding nearly 1400 years is, to say the least, open to question. As I say, it’d be nice, but I’m not holding my breath!

However, she says a lot that the West needs to hear! For example:

Ms. Hirsi Ali—now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution (…)—is urging the West to look at Islam with new eyes. She says it must be viewed “not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology.” To regard Islam merely as a faith, “as we would Christianity or Buddhism, is to run the risk of ignoring dawa, the activities carried out by Islamists to keep Muslims energized by a campaign to impose Shariah law on all societies—including countries of the West.”

Dawa, Ms. Hirsi Ali explains, is “conducted right under our noses in Europe, and in America. It aims to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and also to push existing Muslims in a more extreme direction.” The ultimate goal is “to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with Shariah.” It is a “never-ending process,” she says, and then checks herself: “It ends when an Islamic utopia is achieved. Shariah everywhere!”

Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the West has made a colossal mistake by its obsession with “terror” in the years since 9/11. “In focusing only on acts of violence,” she says, “we’ve ignored the Islamist ideology underlying those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam—or ‘Islamism’—and against those who spread that ideology in our midst, we’ve committed a blunder.”

This is precisely what I have been saying for some years, now! If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe someone who comes “from the inside,” as it were.

“What the Islamists call jihad,” she continues, “is what we call terrorism, and our preoccupation with it is, I think, a form of overconfidence. ‘Terrorism is the way of the weak,’ we tell ourselves, ‘and if we can just take out the leaders and bring down al Qaeda or ISIS, then surely the followers will stop their jihad.’ But we’re wrong. Every time Western leaders take down a particular organization, you see a different one emerge, or the same one take on a different shape. And that’s because we’ve been ignoring dawa.”

I can’t help but be reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, that “Always after a defeat and a respite, the shadow takes another shape and grows again.” This is why I am not convinced it can be reformed – because I am not convinced that it is not actually evil. To quote Tolkien again, “there have been and still are many Men, warriors and kings, that walk alive under the Sun, and yet are under [the Dark Lord’s] sway.”

I think that Islam “took a militant and unlovely turn” because that is in its nature, its fundamental and existential origin, its essence. I do not believe the god of Islam is the same as the God of Judaism and Christianity, despite its claim to be descended from Abraham. Satan is a master of deceit, after all! But that is a theological question, and I may be wrong. Although the essential nature of Islam matters, and matters deeply, combating its militant and ideological manifestation is a pragmatic issue.

And that is why the warnings that Ms Hirsi Ali provides are so timely and apposite:

America needs to be on full alert against political Islam because “its program is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution”—with religious pluralism, the equality of men and women, and other fundamental rights, including the toleration of different sexual orientations. “When we say the Islamists are homophobic,” she observes, “we don’t mean that they don’t like gay marriage. We mean that they want gays put to death.”

Islam the religion, in Ms. Hirsi Ali’s view, is a Trojan horse that conceals Islamism the political movement. Since dawa is, ostensibly, a religious missionary activity, its proponents “enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali is not afraid to call these groups out. Her book names five, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asserts—and in turn receives in the mainstream media—the status of a moderate Muslim organization. But groups like CAIR, Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “take advantage of the focus on ‘inclusiveness’ by progressive political bodies in democratic societies, and then force these societies to bow to Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.”

Again, this is exactly what I have been saying! As dire as the situation is, I cannot help feeling at least somewhat vindicated.

Again, I am not in full agreement with everything she has to say – in some respects, she’s still too easy on Islam for me: for example, where she would like to “modernize the ‘communism test’ that still applies to those seeking naturalization,” for example (taqiyya, anyone…? asking questions of someone who has religious permission to lie is of dubious benefit, I fear!), I would prefer to not let any more Muslims into this country at all, unless or until the overall situation is resolved (in terms of reform, or lack thereof, of Islam itself). And watch the ones already here, like the proverbial hawk!

But she says a lot that needs to be heard. Read the article. It’s important.