Since the Inauguration…

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Since Trump’s inauguration, I’ve tended to sit back and simply observe. Everyone has their own stories of the polarizing effects of the election. Three months later, tensions continue to run high. Families and friendships are still split. Protests abound. Social media comments…well, they follow their typical patterns of shallowness and cynicism.

For the record, here’s a few of my own thoughts:

The Constitution is Still Good Policy

Politicians typically get evaluated on their personality and charisma, and sometimes even their beliefs and credentials. But in America, judgment should ultimately be based on that to which the politician swears an oath to uphold: the Constitution.

Every president since George Washington has taken the same oath.The Constitution is the law of the land. The president is simply elected to preserve, protect and defend it. That’s his job.

A valid evaluation requires two things (at least): time and patience. Time to see what a person does with the responsibility he’s been given. Patience to wait. It’s debatable that Trump is receiving either. Nor is it apparent that loyalty to the Constitution is the benchmark by which he’s being judged.

Economic Freedom is Still Good Policy

Every country has a right to maintain sovereignty over its own economic affairs. The dark side of globalism is what it is at its core: a small conglomerate of international corporations and banking cartels that decide what’s best for everybody.

In reality, they decide what’s best for themselves.

So I don’t mind when an administration stands against NAFTA and the TPP, or when it seeks to lure industry back to America. It’s economic common sense. It’s the same reason I applaud the UK for Brexit. It’s why I’m happy for Iceland’s stance to pay back foreign investors on its own terms.

I think it’s a good thing that the stock market has done exceptionally well in 2017 (though that seems to be changing) and that the job numbers are improving. Perhaps Trump should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Non-Interventionism is Still Good Policy

Trump will make mistakes and he’ll do things I won’t like. I’m withholding judgment at the moment on the Syria situation. Trump is clearly practicing diplomacy on multiple levels. He’s sending strong messages and attempting to garner neocon support.

However, Assad is not primarily the problem. I know he’s not a great guy. Neither was Saddam Hussein. But Assad is simply trying to get his country back. It’s highly questionable, not to mention illogical, that Assad would gas his own people.

The distinction between so-called rebel forces and ISIS/Al-Qaeda soldiers is extremely blurry. Giving any sort of support to rebel forces by a show of military force seems to be counterproductive. There are no good guys in this scenario. Endorsing (intentionally or accidentally) either side is questionable policy.

And what about Trump’s previous vow of non-interventionism? It is hard for me to see how Trump is going to do both: appear strong and keep America neutral. He has avowed to counter radical Islam. This was apparently the purpose of dropping the bomb in Afghanistan.

But this and other actions will likely have consequences. There will be blow-back. Whether those consequences will be worth present actions is, of course, yet to be seen.


Trump will do well to keep focused on upholding the Bill of Rights, maintaining economic sovereignty and pursuing a non-interventionist policy. These three ideological pillars once made “America great.” They encourage the democratic process, individual rights and religious freedom. Only time will tell if Trump will stay true to this course.

 

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On the Brink of the Election

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There’s palpable tension in the air as we approach the presidential elections. It’s not only because the two candidates are polarizing the country in ways not seen in my lifetime. It’s not only because a businessman with no political experience is running against the first female presidential nominee. And, it’s not only because many people feel that neither candidate is a viable option.

Much of what people are sensing is that which is looming under the surface. The election concerns are simply the visibly churning waters above. What exactly does lie beneath?

1. A largely manufactured race war. Yes, there is widespread and severe economic inequality. Yes, there are serious issues that need to be addressed between communities and police departments nationwide. And yes, there is real racism in American society. But none of these are necessarily new phenomena.

What is new is that more Americans are on some form of welfare than ever before. This fuels the fatherless family syndrome, especially in impoverished communities. Poverty and desperate conditions perpetuate the frustration that often gets aimed at police. And, as always happens, every group is blaming some other group (tribe) for its problems. This is further encouraged when rock-throwing rioters are referred to as “peaceful protesters.”

2. The rise of Islamic terrorism in the US. Of course, this follows on the heels of what’s already occurring in Europe. Yes, Islamic terrorism is a legitimate threat. Yes, it is wrong to assume every Muslim is a terrorist. And yes, many Muslims eagerly embrace the American political system and don’t support sharia law.

But the fact is that government policy and mainstream media keep downplaying the notion that a Muslim could possibly be involved when a terror attack occurs. Then, when it emerges that the suspect is indeed a radicalized Muslim, the obvious motives are obscured under the smog of political correctness. In the meantime, nothing is done to secure the borders or improve the vetting process. And everyone seems shocked when it happens again…and again…and again.

3. The economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. Yes, a few select individuals and a number of corporations are doing very well financially. Yes, there are a handful of factories that actually still produce something. And yes, the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency.

Nevertheless, nearly half of all unemployed Americans have given up looking for work. Tent cities are burgeoning in and around numerous cities. The middle class is shrinking, and food costs have risen exponentially. The national debt has doubled since 2008. An increasing number of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. And, adding insult to injury, real wages haven’t risen significantly in decades.

Just one of these three factors–racial tension, Islamic terrorism and economic hardship–is enough to destabilize a society when left unaddressed. But when all three exist within a nation, well, you have the perfect powder keg begging for the stray spark.

It’s no wonder people are feeling uneasy. These are uneasy times.

It’s no wonder Americans are clamoring for a new leader, someone who will reverse the course the country is on.

It’s no wonder that people are fearful for the future. There’s a lot of scary stuff going on out there.

Truth be told, I’m not sure that things can be reversed. Sometimes a nation goes so far that there is no turning back, even if a sincere and wise leader happens to be given the reins of power. Philosopher kings, however, are in short supply.

And when the people of Israel persisted in demanding a king to solve their national woes, well…that didn’t turn out so well.

The types of news stories that I observed once a month a few years ago, or once a week in 2015, I now see daily. It would be foolish to ignore what’s going on in our society. It would be unwise to pretend that looming problems will simply go away.

And I would be fearful if it weren’t for the assurances I have as a Christian. Jesus said, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on…for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things…So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.”

Pretty simple, right? God knows we have needs. God knows the future. And, God is in control.

These verses don’t mean that things won’t get really bad. They certainly have in other parts of the world at various times in history. However, God promises to take care of those who trust and obey Him:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

And that is the part of the message that is so often ignored.

The question is not: Are you ready to meet the uncertain future in your own limited strength and finite wisdom? The question is: Are you right with God?

God is steadfast in His love and faithfulness toward His own people. Come what may, the Lord will never leave or forsake those who belong to Him.

Jesus died and rose again so that we might be reconciled to God. This is the best news in these uncertain times. This is the only news that will guarantee an eternally secure future.

So with the elections looming, riots increasing, terrorism on the rise, and economic growth stagnating, I can confidently say, by the grace of God, that I am not afraid. I know Who I am trusting for my future security.

Do you?

 


Scripture reference: Matthew 6:25-34

 

   

Maybe Borders Aren’t Such a Bad Idea After All

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All political systems can be reduced to a common denominator. To what extent does the system promote liberty or totalitarianism? Names, labels and ideologies aside, liberty lies at one end of the spectrum and totalitarianism at the other.

Of course, the ideal is liberty. I shouldn’t have to remind anyone of that. But it increasingly appears that people are being coerced into embracing the unideal, promoting the collective “good” at the expense of the individual’s rights.

I’m a Christian. I like liberty. It ensures I possess the freedom to say what I want, worship as I please and be left alone to follow my own conscience.

I don’t like totalitarianism. It instructs me to keep my mouth shut, bow at the altar of political correctness and follow outside directives.

Today different words are used. But they amount to the same thing. Proponents of “globalism” parrot the collectivist mantra; supporters of “nationalism,” the libertarian.

Consider Brexit. David Cameron miscalculated. He didn’t realize the extent of public disgruntlement. A majority of the British were (apparently) tired of unelected EU bureaucrats making laws from them. They suddenly remembered that they were supposed to be living in a democracy. They shook off the lethargy of passive consent and betook themselves to the polls.

In a word, the British took the first step toward reclaiming their sovereignty. The sweet almost forgotten memories of liberty began wafting back.

Consider Trump. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, he represents a nationalistic sentiment gaining momentum in the US. The Founding Fathers said something like, “Let’s take care of our country and secure our future. Let’s build an agricultural and industrial base in America. We might even create some jobs in the process. Let’s be very careful about our foreign entanglements. In fact, let’s just adopt a non-interventionist policy altogether.” Sounds vaguely familiar in relation to some of today’s “nationalistic” political rhetoric.

A man in a white truck kills over 80 people in Nice, France. Though we were told not to make any assumptions, human nature dictated that we did. Now we know. It was a pre-planned, coordinated attack. ISIS claims the driver was one of their own. It was terrorism, no doubt. And all indications point toward Islamic extremism.

Europeans are starting to scratch their heads and ask if perhaps the immigration influx of 2015 wasn’t such a great idea. Maybe these hundreds of thousands of young men pouring across the borders weren’t all really “moderates” fleeing from Syria. Maybe when ISIS claimed that it would use Europe’s immigration policy to smuggle its operatives in, it was telling the truth.

Now the clamor rises for tighter border controls. Makes sense, right? But as unpopular as borders are today, they represent more than just geographical boundaries. They represent national sovereignty. They represent the country and cultures that reside within. They offer protection, both physically and ideologically. They are awfully nationalistic.  

Borders also protect liberty. Globalism insists that everyone conform to the same image. That image is dictated by whatever authoritarians are perched on top.  “No borders” sounds great. Except it doesn’t lead to world-wide peace. It leads to global destabilization.

Obama said in a speech recently that the answer to chronic violence is “institutions that promote the common humanity.”  This is a convoluted way of saying globalism. We don’t celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity by forcing everyone to conform to some international standard. For one, it’s not going to work—at least not peacefully. So the solution to further unrest will be further globalization.

If we all want to experience the collective good we must also all suffer the consequences of collective wrongs. Terrorism suddenly becomes my fault because I question immigration policies and hurt somebody’s feelings.

Totalitarians might call themselves technocrats, corporatists, presidents or prime ministers. Regardless of the word game, cultural distinctions and ethnic diversity stand in their way. National sovereignty is anathema.

There was a time when people scoffed at the whole idea global governance. It might be an idea floated by UN member countries, but what nation would ever willingly give up its sovereignty? Yet we now see it unfolding before our eyes.

First compromise national borders. Then propagate the idea that anyone who has a problem with this is a racist. After the destabilizing effects of mass immigrant influx comes to fruition, offer the “logical” solution: the supposed security and stability of global government.

Geo-politics are indicative of underlying spiritual realities. Globalism is coming. The Bible paints it as an inevitable picture of the future. It will completely crush the rights of the individual, allowing “freedom” only to those who conform to its preordained standards. But while we will still possess relatively free societies, let’s stand up for the liberty they claim to represent, at least in the West.

For me, this means I must continue to write and speak what I believe. I must take advantage of the freedom I possess. There is a day quickly approaching, I have no doubt, when my Christian brothers and sisters will be labeled extremists in an attempt to silence us. I will still write and speak then, but perhaps at much greater consequence.

The encouraging fact in the midst of it all is that God is with His people. Don’t know what this means? Take a few moments to read the best news. You too can be ready…

To Make the World A Safe Space

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An op-ed piece in the New York Post asks in its opening remarks:

“How will today’s college students function once they leave campus and find the world no giant ‘safe space’ protecting them from things they don’t want to hear?”

The piece is commenting on Milo Yiannapoulos (who I neither endorse nor decry) and his recent visit to the University of Pittsburgh where he gave what certain students considered a dangerous talk. Yiannapoulos apparently hurt some students’ feelings. Adding insult to the First Amendment’s long list of recent injuries, attending the speech was not even compulsory.

You know what I do when I don’t think I’ll like a particular event? I don’t go. I know. Crazy.

You know what I do when I find myself at an event that I personally find offensive? I leave. Yep. I’m a nut-job.

You know what I don’t do? I don’t hop around, cry like a baby and aggressively bemoan how hurt and threatened I feel. I don’t demand counselling. I don’t insist upon a safe space (whatever that is). In fact, I would feel downright embarrassed if I acted like multitudes of college-attending millennials are acting these days.

Yes, yes. I know, I know. Off to the Gulag with me. Better yet, off with my head.

I see similar articles about the politically-correct disease spreading through college campuses on an almost daily basis. It drives me crazy (if you haven’t noticed). We seem to have forgotten that college is where young people are supposed to have their minds formed. Intellectual growth comes through being challenged, stretched and yes, even offended.

It’s not my problem if you get to college and you’re too emotionally immature to handle another person expressing their opinion. It’s your problem. Go back home. Live in mom and dads’ basement. Get a job. Grow up. Come back when you understand that college isn’t there to cater to your petty and infantile feelings. It’s there to give you an education.

Even worse than the students’ reactions, however, is that faculties are bending over backwards to accommodate them. At least the students are simply emotionally-stunted. They grew up in the selfie-obsessed age of Facebook and Instagram. They were coddled, their narcissistic natures constantly fed, their every whim and desire applauded. I guess they should be pitied.

But the professors and presidents have no excuse. Their motives seem to be even more petty: job security. They want to protect their positions, retire with a pension and live out their days in peace. Why else would someone with the opportunity to shape the next generation of thinkers and producers cower before these communist youth league-like demands? (I bet you didn’t know wearing tiny sombreros was criminal?)

The problem is, Mr./Mrs. Professor, if you give into these liberty-denying, rights-trampling ultimatums, you won’t live out your golden years in peace. You’ll live in the squalor and societal deprivation that these politically-correct types of attitudes ultimately create. The elderly aren’t honored in civilizations where free speech is scorned. They are plundered, neglected and finally discarded.

So what will these students do when they get out into the “real world” and “find the world no giant safe space”?

I’ll tell you what they’re going to do. They’re going to pitch the same fit they’re pitching now, except louder and more aggressively (which doesn’t even seem possible.) They’re going to be used to getting their way all the time by then. That’s what college taught them, you see. Some of them (how horrifying) are going to be CEO’s and politicians. And rest assured, they will do all that’s in their power to force the rest of us to accept their opinions.

They will be the same people who will abolish the Constitution as archaic and irrelevant, and regard the Bill of Rights as hate speech.

And that’s why I, and many others, decry the outrage going on at our college campuses. If you don’t speak or write in support of all speech (regardless of whether you agree with its content or not), you will lose your right to speak.

You will be forced to conform.

Then you will lose your dignity.

Then you will lose your self-respect.

And at the end of this dark path, you will politically, socially, and yes, even materially, lose it all.

Bursting the Campus Bubble

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The college campus is a social system unto itself. We outsiders refer to it as academia. We expect the freedom and funding that academia receives to give us intellectual advances in civilization. We expect the recipients of higher education to be innovative, productive and on the cutting edge of science, technology and the arts.

We acknowledge that the campus is a bubble, an incubator for young, virile minds. We acknowledge that the time one spends within the walls of this bubble should be an educationally worthwhile season. And though we rib with tongue-in-cheek those professors who never leave its enclaves, we give them a pass because they are preparing others to go forth and carry abroad their messages of intellectual freedom and, hopefully, some notion of ethical obligation.

We don’t expect the bubble to become an end in and of itself. We don’t expect the graduate to enter the real world just as mentally and emotionally immature as when they entered the bubble. We are stunned by the outrageous cost of tuition verses the comparatively pitiful return. We feel sorry for the person holding a bachelor’s degree who can’t find a job because they majored in popular culture or puppetry or theme park management. In short, we expect more from the bubble.

Instead, we get a whole mess of college grads who should have saved their (parents’) money. They should have gone to a vocational school. They should have gotten an entry-level job and worked there way up the ladder. They should have nurtured a creative idea and started their own business. They should have, at the very least, taken a year or two off to travel, meet people and figure out what they heck they wanted out of life.

Instead, they learned how to view pornography. They learned how to mix drinks. They learned how to hook up. They learned the new liberalism that is unabashedly leftist and outright collectivist. They learned that capitalism is bad, that western civilization is hurtful and that the most productive thing to do with one’s time is to worry about a statue of a man who had slaves and incidentally penned the Declaration of Independence.

The bubble has betrayed us. Perhaps we ignored it for too long. We assumed all was well within. We shrugged because we were once in that bubble and we turned out okay. Perhaps we forgot that there is a whole generation of people who were raised in a culture descending into decadence, with a smart phone glued to their hand and a premature hunchback to accentuate their teenage frames.

These same socially underdeveloped and naïve youngsters then go to an institution that teaches them equality is God and no one should be left behind. It teaches them that the worse sin is to possibly hurt someone’s feelings, and that any perceived offense deserves to be punished. It teaches them that only certain people and groups have free speech, that one person can decide what books don’t get read, and that professors can be bullied into submission.

These institutions of higher education foster the notion that nothing is as important as getting a “like” on social media. They encourage narcissism, racial division and a loathing of costume parties. They lure these youth into a bubble, coddle them and send them forth completely unprepared for life and financially broke.

Yes, the bubble has betrayed us. And we’ve yet see the full consequences of this betrayal on society.

A Small Step for Freedom

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In my first post of the new year I’m pleased to write about a positive development. Irish evangelical pastor James McConnell was found not guilty. This is a tiny ray of hope in the encroaching darkness of religious censorship.

It’s tragic that charges were brought against McConnell in the first place. Thankfully, the judge had enough sense to not overstep the bounds of his legal jurisdiction, correctly stating, “The courts need to be very careful not to criticise speech which, however contemptible, is no more than offensive. It is not the task of the criminal law to censor offensive utterances.”

Well said, judge. It is not the job of the courts “to censor offensive utterances.” If it were, then speech would simply be judged in the court of public opinion. The problem with Mr. Public Opinion is that he is used by those in authority positions to condemn what they personally find offensive. That’s today’s tyranny.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t don military uniforms. Instead, it parades around in pin-stripe suits.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t pound a podium in the middle of a packed stadium. Instead, It raves and rants about microaggressions and reparations in ivy-league classrooms.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t scream and yell, spittle flying. Instead, it talks in measured and soothing tones while sneering at anger as an inappropriate reaction to the loss of liberty.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t have its detractors disappeared into the night. Instead, it openly, and with a straight face, has pastors prosecuted for “offensive” sermons.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t refer to the perpetrators of religiously-motivated violence as Islamic terrorists. Instead, it demonizes peaceful, evangelical pastors as criminals because they dare to speak their minds.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t take over newspapers and raid its opposition. Instead, it buys off its competition and ridicules “fringe” media.

Today’s tyranny doesn’t blame societal problems on a culture of violence and death. Instead, it projects the illusion that inanimate objects called guns are responsible.

Today’s tyranny is the most dangerous yet to be seen because it wears the guise of political correctness. Sometimes it even boasts a bushy beard, horn-rimmed glasses and talks with a lisp. It scoffs at those who disagree as uneducated and backward. It promotes freedom of speech for itself alone.

Obviously no one else is worthy to have an opinion.

SO, it’s refreshing to see than in at least in one courtroom in Northern Ireland a judge refused to violate a man’s right to express a personal belief. It’s a small victory for freedom and a not so insignificant chink in the shiny armor of tyranny.

May 2016 see more of the same!

 

The Pulpit is a Free Speech Zone

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The trial for the evangelical Irish pastor James McConnell is gaining international attention, and well it should be. He is charged with making “grossly offensive” comments from his pulpit, statements that went out as a broadcast over the internet. Hence, the charge specifically reads, “improper use of a public electronic communications network.”

This begs the question, what were these comments that were so offensive they call this man to be brought up on criminal charges? It’s no surprise in our current political climate that the comments in question have to do with Islam. McConnell referred to the religion as “satanic” and “heathen.”

I’m not going to opine on the Muslim religion here. I am going to rant about freedom of speech. If it’s not protected in the pulpit, it’s not protected anywhere.

I’m not sure if Northern Ireland has a First Amendment, per say. But they are a part of the United Kingdom, whose political heritage claims the Magna Carta, John Locke and the balancing power of Parliament. We’re talking about the soil upon which the notion of individual liberty budded. It is in McConnell’s natural right as human being within a supposedly democratic and free society to preach what he desires from the pulpit.

I can see McConnell not being able to make such comments in Saudi Arabia without legal (and perhaps lethal) repercussions. But for him not to be able to say what he said in Northern Ireland is a slap in the face to freedom. Shame on the government of Northern Ireland.

Shame on them because freedom of speech covers offensive speech. After all, anyone’s opinion will inevitably offend someone. To prohibit “offensive” speech is to ban talking all together.

But of course, banning all speech is not the intent. Banning certain kinds of speech made by certain individuals is. McConnell’s evangelical opinions are condemned. But what about the imams in Northern Ireland who preach that Christianity is “satanic” and that western civilization is the “Great Satan”? Maybe I missed the simultaneous trials going on targeting Muslim clerics who’ve made “offensive” statements against Christianity. 

This is nothing less than selective enforcement. Only particular religions and groups enjoy free speech. Surprise, surprise.

The spin placed upon this case by the courts is this: because the statements went out over the internet, they are liable for prosecution. I thought speech was still free on the internet. I guess not.

I’m a Christian. I’m an evangelical. I often preach from a pulpit. And I say what I feel God lays upon my heart. If I were to heed the social critics, I would cower in fear. I would apologize for what I believe. I would put duct tape over my mouth and grovel at the feet of political correctness.

But I’m not going to do any of that.

I wrote The Hidden Altar back in 2009 (but didn’t publish it until 2012). One of the main characters is an American pastor who is charged under anti-terrorism laws for a comment he inadvertently makes from the pulpit. I’ve had people that read the novel tell me they really enjoyed the story, but the scenario seemed unrealistic.  

When I read an article like this, it only confirms to me that in fact The Hidden Altar’s story-line is not fantastical. We’re seeing it happen right now.

At risk of getting preachy here, I have to ask. Where do you stand on this issue? Will you tolerate the selective persecution of free speech? Will you remain silent? Today it’s some unknown Irish pastor. Tomorrow it will be an American pastor. Soon enough, it will be you.

   

I Weep For Huck Finn

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I liked Huckleberry Finn. It’s been a while since I’ve read it. I should probably read it again to see what I think about it these days. Regardless, I am considering buying a few extra copies and handing them out. Talk of book banning always motivates me to promote seditious material.

Of course, striking ole’ Huck from a school reading list is nothing new. It’s also merely symptomatic of much, much bigger problems. All I can picture is bonfires surrounded by masses of college-attending zombies, gleefully tossing “offensive materials into the flames as they wear malicious smiles and smugly think themselves progressive. How terrifying. (insert shudder here)

According to this article, …a Montgomery County school removed Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum after a group of students said the book made them feel uncomfortable.”

So feelings have really become the new standard by which we decide what can be read and what can’t. I guess that means I can run around demanding that anything that makes me “uncomfortable” must be struck from society. Even if I could do something so ludicrous, I wouldn’t.

The annoying thing about free speech is that it includes all speech—even the speech you or I don’t like. The satisfying thing about free speech is that Mark Twain is allowed to write what he wants and I’m allowed to read it.

Guess what. Some white people in nineteenth-century America used the N-word.

Shocker, I know.

Guess what else. Part of learning who we are and where we’ve come from is reading books that were written in time periods when people spoke and acted in ways that wouldn’t be socially acceptable today.

One way to ensure that a student doesn’t receive an education is to filter the information they receive so they never learn to think for themselves. Another way is just to ignore the parts of history and literature that they don’t like.

I think the scariest statement in this article is, “We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits.”

Community costs? Where did that come from? Right out of Mao’s Little Red Book?

All I can say is look out when classic literature begins to be sacrificed for community “feelings.” I can’t even believe that I’m having to comment on it. Suddenly it’s normal in a supposedly free society to ban a book because someone might get their feelings hurt. Truth be told, the very idea of catering to community costs offends me. 

Libertybased societies emphasize the freedom of the individual. Collectivist societies emphasize the good of the community. In the latter some bureaucrat gets to decide what is best for everyone and enforces that idea via state directive. You and I don’t get to choose what we think is best. It is decided for us.

I was entertained and intellectually enriched by reading Huckleberry Finn. I’m glad I took the time to read it. You may disagree. That’s fine. But please, Mr. Principal (or whoever else), don’t pretend that you decree the standard for making judgments on behalf of the community.

I don’t have a right not to be offended. And I accept that. In this real world in which we live, contrary to the group-think city-states that colleges and high schools have become, there is no “safe space” from offense. The First Amendment is politically the safest space for us all.

The Murky Swamp of Libertarianism

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I read with a chuckle today this Washington Post article. The writer can’t stand that Trump is doing so well in the polls. He is perplexed and annoyed that Trump would endorse someone like Alex Jones by going on his radio show. The charge leveled at Trump is that his “more controversial assertions…come from the murky swamp of right-wing, libertarian and flat-out paranoid sources.” I’m not a Trump supporter, but goodness me, I didn’t realize that right-wing, libertarian views slithered out of a murky swamp.

If so, I guess left-wing, liberal views floated down from the heavenly spheres.

Let me try to understand. Free speech, freedom of the press and freedom or religion (the First Amendment) slithered out of a murky swamp. The right to self-defense (the Second Amendment) slithered out of a murky swamp. The right to privacy (the Fourth Amendment) slithered out of a murky swamp. After all, the Bill of Rights is a “libertarian” document.

That means that “safe spaces, the banning of classic literature, the promotion of internet censorship, the attack on Christmas, gun registration, and mass government surveillance floated down from the heavenly spheres.

I think it’s interesting how demonized Trump is by the left, especially since I remember another candidate in 2008—a senator from Illinois—who was wildly popular, telling the masses what they wanted to hear. It was something about fixing the economy and giving everyone free healthcare. A few right-wingers I know thought this man becoming president would be the end of the world, or at least the end of the nation. They kind of viewed him like so-called liberals view Trump. 

Apparently, if you question the official story about anything you yourself crawled out of the murky swamp of slimy, right-wing libertarianism. This includes considering the mountain of evidence bringing into question the official story of Oklahoma City. This includes questioning the “safe and effective” vaccine narrative. This includes being concerned that fluoride might actually cause health problems (even though Harvard is concerned). This also includes questioning Obama’s origins, especially since Ben Carson got raked over the coals for a few possibly distorted details in his autobiography (I’m not a Carson supporter either, by the way).

However, I don’t think it is bombshell information that The Washington Post is a liberal publication that floated down from the heavenly spheres.

What I do find interesting is how obviously terrified the writer of this article is of rising “fringe” media. Apparently I should trust the traditional, mainstream media outlets but turn my back on information I might stumble across in the backwaters of the internet. How about this. I’ll receive all my news with a healthy dose of salt, mainstream or otherwise. I’ll do my own research. I’ll come to my own conclusions.

I’ll hold Trump to the same standard that I hold Hillary, or Bernie or Obama. That is, when it comes to my political views, I’ll hold them all up to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I’ll dunk them in the murky swamp of libertarianism (they might meet folks like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson hanging out down there). I’ll even consider an article from a “fringe” website. In fact, I might be more inclined these days to give credence to the latter over the mainstream view.

I might be tempted to do that because freedom of the press means anyone can take up the reporter’s mantle. What makes me leery is not investigating the moon landing. What makes me leery is some reporter from the Washington Post presuming to tell me what I’m supposed to believe and what I’m not.

That, my friends, is totalitarianism. But maybe totalitarianism floated down from the heavenly spheres.

The Drums of War

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Then events that took place in Paris on Friday are tragic and reprehensible. They are examples of real terrorism. We should all be outraged and saddened by the darkness that dwells in the hearts of those who would kill and maim in the name of religion. My prayers are with the French people at this time, for we are all in this together.

That said, let me comment on what is already raising my eyebrows in the aftermath of the Parisian attacks. The first of these are some Facebook posts I saw this weekend. They were reminiscent of what I remember hearing after 9/11. That is, there’s already a whole lot of war-mongering going on.

When I say war-mongering, I mean that knee-jerk reaction that calls for the wholesale extermination of large population swaths in the middle east. I’m not exaggerating. I actually saw a picture posted displaying a nuclear mushroom cloud with the caption “August 6, 1945.” The message was that the “solution” for ending terrorism is to deal with it in the same manner that the US dealt with the Japanese.

Even if this was supposed to be a joke, I fail to find the humor in nuclear holocaust. In case nobody noticed, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed tens of thousands of civilians. Nor do jokes about nuclear war take into account the number of countries that now possess nuclear weapons. There’s no longer any such scenario as a one-sided strike.

I then turn on the radio Sunday morning and hear about the pope throwing around the phrase “piecemeal world war 3.” An increase in international terrorist activity could very well spiral the world into another world war. But we should do all we can to avoid that. World wars never turn out well for anyone, even the “victors.”

Therefore, it’s highly concerning that the pope, who millions of people look to as an authority on spiritual and political matters, would even bring such a phrase as “World War 3” into any conversation or speech. All that does is plant the idea into the minds of people who are already hopping mad and looking for any justification to act in an irrational and rash manner.

It’s not that ISIS doesn’t merit an appropriate response. They have certainly proved themselves a force that needs to be reckoned on an international scale. But recent history should have taught us that rushing into war is is fraught with undesirable consequences (“collateral damage”, I believe, is the blithe expression). Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither worked out too well.

Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and the “intelligence” to justify the invasion has been proved faulty. Let’s also not forget the one million dead Iraqis as a result.

The danger lies in those heat of the moment decisions, or the support that’s given to such decisions by an emotionally-charged rather than rationally-informed populace.

I hear in the distance the drums of war. But let’s consider the innocent. Let’s remember the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about. And, oh yeah, let’s consider the crumbling economy and the fact that international wars always distract people away from reflecting on their domestic woes.

Let’s not be duped again.