Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cruising the Web

Gret Lukianoff and Nico Perrino of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education write in Politico to explain why even detestable people such as Nazis deserve freedom of speech. They talk about student opinion on college campuses supporting limitations on free speech. And many people want to have a Nazi exception to the First Amendment so that Nazi supporters can be jailed as they can be in some European countries with the goal of stopping Naziism from spreading.
There are a few problems with this response that free speech advocates have long recognized. For one, it doesn’t necessarily work; since the passage of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism laws in Europe, rates of anti-Semitism remain higher than in the U.S., where no such laws exist. In fact, the Anti-Defamation League found that rates of anti-Semitism have gone down in America since it first began measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in 1964.

What’s more, in the 1920s and 30s, Nazis did go to jail for anti-Semitic expression, and when they were released, they were celebrated as martyrs. When Bavarian authorities banned speeches by Hitler in 1925, for example, the Nazis exploited it. As former ACLU Executive Director Aryeh Neier explains in his book Defending My Enemy, the Nazi party protested the ban by distributing a picture of Hitler gagged with the caption, “One alone of 2,000 million people of the world is forbidden to speak in Germany.” The ban backfired and became a publicity coup. It was soon lifted.

We cannot forget, too, that laws have to be enforced by people. In the 1920s and early 30s, such laws would have placed the power to censor in the hands of a population that voted in large numbers for Nazis. And after 1933, such laws would have placed that power to censor in the hands of Hitler himself. Consider how such power might be used by the politician you most distrust. Consider how it is currently being used by Vladimir Putin in Russia.

What does history suggest as the best course of action to win the benefits of an open society while stemming the tide of authoritarians of any stripe? It tells us to have a high tolerance for differing opinions, and no tolerance for political violence. What distinguishes liberal societies from illiberal ones is that liberal societies use words, not violence or censorship to settle disputes. As Neier, a Holocaust survivor, concluded in his book, “The lesson of Germany in the 1920s is that a free society cannot be established and maintained if it will not act vigorously and forcefully to punish political violence.”

But we should not be so myopic about the value of freedom of speech. It is not just a practical, peaceful alternative to violence. It does much more than that: It helps us understand many crucial, mundane and sometimes troubling truths. Simply put, it helps us understand what people actually think—not “even if” it is troubling, but especially when it is troubling.

As Edward Luce points out in his excellent new short book The Retreat of Western Liberalism, there are real consequences to ignoring or wishing away the views that are held by real people, even if elites believe that those views are nasty or wrongheaded. Gay marriage champion and author Jonathan Rauch reminds us that in the same way that breaking a thermometer doesn’t change the temperature, censoring ideas doesn’t make them go away—it only makes us ignorant of their existence.

So what do we do about white supremacists? Draw a strong distinction between expression and violence: punish violence, but protect even speakers we find odious. Let them reveal themselves.

As Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says, it’s important to know who the Nazis are in the room.


Because we need to know not to turn our backs to them.
Well said.

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This story of Wal-Mart allying with Uber must make liberals' heads explode.
Wal-Mart is stirring the pot and defending its fast-growing online grocery business in the Dallas area by partnering with Uber to make home deliveries.

The test with Uber started last year in Phoenix and expanded Monday to Dallas and two Florida markets, Orlando and Tampa.

Eight stores in the Dallas area will fill the orders, and Wal-Mart's personal shoppers will pack groceries into "special cold pack bags," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield.

Kate Pavlich asks
why the media, always so determined to ask Republicans to condemn the #alt-right, don't ask Democrats to condemn the violence of Antifa?
But given the standard of necessary response that's been set by the media and the left, why is it that reporters aren't demanding Democrats condemn and disavow the far-left group Antifa? After all that group, responsible for torching American flags and throwing urine at Boston police officers over the weekend, believe they have the support of Hillary Clinton and other high profile liberals. Further, a number of people in media equated Antifa to World War II veterans last week because they claim to take on Nazism. DNC Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison classified Antifa as protestors who show the values President Trump does not.
For example, what about these actions in Boston this past weekend?
While thousands of very fine people may have gathered to condemn bigotry, at least some of them went to extremes that could hurt people. Fox News showed a protester assaulting a woman holding an American flag. Protesters also pelted police with rocks and bottles filled with urine. The Associated Press reports that 33 protesters taken into custody will be in court this week. “Arraignments are set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Boston Municipal Court,” says the A.P.

It’s unclear exactly how many of those present were very fine, but coverage of the event revealed significant numbers of “Antifa” activists wearing masks. CNN calls this “a tactic known as ‘black bloc’ that aims to unify demonstrators’ efforts and hide their identities.” Journal reader Kathleen Schauer asks why this is necessary if people are showing up to promote a righteous cause.

Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight
dives into the number to try to figure out how many Republicans support the "populist, nationalist, and isolationist policies of Steve Bannon. The results might dismay many conservative Republicans.

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Nicole Gelinas makes a good point for those who think that the experiment of the "market economy" has been a failure proving that we should abandon free-market policies. The problem with that assumption is that the West doesn't have anything near free-market capitalism. Here are the definitions that economists provide.
What is free-market capitalism? Allan Meltzer, an economist at Carnegie Mellon, a Hoover Institution scholar, and onetime advisor to President Ronald Reagan, offers a classic definition. “As long as you engage in actions where your actions don’t impinge upon other people, you’re free to buy and sell anything you want,” he says, adding that free-market capitalism protects private property. Thomas Coleman, a hedge-fund veteran heading up an economic-policy shop at the University of Chicago, adds another key element: free-market capitalism functions best when people and companies can trade “without systemic distortion of prices.” Deirdre McCloskey, until last year a professor at the University of Illinois, and author of the recent book Bourgeois Equality, says, “I don’t like calling it capitalism, anyway, which was a word invented by our enemies. . . . I call it instead market-tested betterment, innov-ism. . . . That’s what’s made us rich.” McCloskey says that the heart of “betterment” is Adam Smith’s ideal of “every man to pursue his own interest in his own way”—and that “doesn’t mean a large government sector,” she emphasizes.

Free-market capitalism isn’t the same thing as radical libertarianism....To work well, capitalism needs “an environment where people can concentrate on being productive,” rather than, say, having private armies to assure personal safety. Free-market capitalism requires laws and rules, more than ever, now that more people live in close proximity in dense cities than ever before. Human activity leads to disputes, and disputes can be solved, or at least moderated, by resolutions that govern behavior.
Does this sound like what we have today? For example, think of all the laws that limit price hikes, set minimum wages, or regulate when and where buildings can be constructed. That isn't a free market. What country has totally open and free trade policies? Think of the subsidies that the government provides through tax breaks such as for mortgages or spending on health care.

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Why was this decision even made in the first place?
Cambridge University Press, the world's oldest publishing house, has changed its mind on censoring content in China.

The 485-year-old publisher, based in Ebgland, had agreed to suppress access to 300 articles from The China Quarterly that dealt with subjects sensitive to the Chinese authorities, including the Tiananmen Square massacre. China said the publisher would not be able to publish other material in the country if it didn't concur.

But it reversed its decision after a petition Monday signed by more than 600 academics from around the world protested what they called China's attempts to "export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative."

Cambridge University, which owns the publisher, said the academic leadership of the university had reviewed the publisher's decision and agreed to reinstate immediately blocked content to "uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the university's work is founded."

Maxine Waters, one of the most clueless members of Congress, is at it again.
You already know that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has gone off the deep end on a consistent basis, whether it is peddling conspiracy theories about Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) resignation from Congress, or pushing for Donald Trump’s impeachment, she’s a politician who gives zero you know whats (I can’t use the word but it begins with “F”) when it comes to achieving her goals. Heck, you saw the shameless side when Water said it wasn’t fine for Trump to fire James Comey from the FBI, but she would have been okay with it if Hillary had won the election and done the exact same thing. Trump’s impeachment isn’t going to happen, but her fighting looks like she’s doing something up on the Hill.

Now, there’s a new circle of nutty. Waters has called Ben Carson a white nationalist. She lumped in the Housing and Urban Development secretary during a town hall event last Thursday. (links in original)
For some on the left, being a conservative is tantamount to being a white nationalist.

Not only are Republicans, by leftist definition, racist, but one writer for The Atlantic, finds racism in the path of the solar eclipse. Alice Ristroph, the article's author, traces the path of the solar eclipse and find that it passes, remarkably, over areas of the country mostly uninhabited by African Americans.
On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will arrive mid-morning on the coast of Oregon. The moon’s shadow will be about 70 miles wide, and it will race across the country faster than the speed of sound, exiting the eastern seaboard shortly before 3 p.m. local time. It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people.

Presumably, this is not explained by the implicit bias of the solar system. It is a matter of population density, and more specifically geographic variations in population density by race, for which the sun and the moon cannot be held responsible. Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message. At a moment of deep disagreement about the nation’s best path forward, here comes a giant round shadow, drawing a line either to cut the country in two or to unite it as one. Ancient peoples watched total eclipses with awe and often dread, seeing in the darkness omens of doom. The Great American Eclipse may or may not tell us anything about our future, but its peculiar path could remind us of something about our past
Oregon is guilty because its 10% minority population includes few blacks. Then it goes through Idaho and Wyoming. Enough said. And, the census is also to blame because it's racist. After that come Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. And, somehow those states are to blame that people forget the history of the Missouri Compromise, but Bruce Springsteen composed an album, Nebraska, that tells us how bleak the area is. I'm not sure what her point is because it's so incoherent. She also observes that the total eclipse goes over Lincoln, Nebraska which has only 3.8% blacks but it won't pass in totality over Omaha which has 14$ blacks. Do what you will with that factoid. And get this, the eclipse will go over the prison at Leavenworth which must be racist because so many blacks are in prison there.

And how is this for a fatuously striking fact. The eclipse will go over St. Louis which has lots of blacks, but the totality is going over the southern half of the city while most of the blacks are in the northern half. It will miss Ferguson. I bet you're shaking your head right now at the unconscious racism this all reveals.

The eclipse will go through southern Illinois which used to have an active KKK. Then it heads over the south, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Phew! There it will pass over some African Americans, but it doesn't matter because those states were slave states.
Former slave-holding states are still the home to most of America’s black population. In Kentucky, Tennessee, and eventually South Carolina, the eclipse will finally pass over black Americans. Even here, though, the path of totality seems to mark the legacy of slavery and the persistence of segregation more than any form of inclusion. Kentucky permitted slavery but never seceded and instead tried to remain neutral during the Civil War. “I hope to have God on my side,” Lincoln reportedly said, “but I must have Kentucky.” Cautious, careful, incrementalist, the Emancipation Proclamation declared freedom only for slaves in rebel states and didn’t apply to border states like Kentucky. Nonetheless, the state grew increasingly disenchanted with Lincoln, and it would not ratify the Thirteenth Amendment (which formally abolishes slavery) until 1976.
Basically, she's taking the opportunity of the eclipse to put forth a history lesson from the whole premise that too much of our country has a racist path. And the eclipse is tracing that path.