Archives For Freedom

Weiss’ resignation last week raised eyebrows, ruffled feathers, and furthered speculation about the existence of an internal war being waged between the traditional Left and radical Leftists within modern liberalism.

This “civil war” isn’t new.

What has been emerging from a series of high-profile defections and protests over the past decade, is evidence of an unstable hegemonic power purging itself of the rational in order to exalt the radical.

Wiess’s protest exit adds to a growing list of intellectuals walking away from Leftism and its corrosive “convert, pay a tax or else” culture. The late Roger Scruton was exiled for not towing the party line, as was ex-Guardian journalist, Melanie Phillips. The rise of black conservatives, disingenuously called Uncle Toms by Leftists, also find themselves in a similar social position. Add to this the growing number of professionals calling out Apocalyptic Climate Change.

All of which is reminiscent of Jean-Paul Sartre’s disdain (and that of his French Communist intellectual clique) for Albert Camus’ critique of the Soviet Union, epitomized in Camus’, 1950 book ‘The Rebel.’ Cancelling people, they don’t like, or who disagree with them is what the radical left does.

Just as Sartre disowned Camus for questioning the new normal, for being applauded by the Right, and ‘refusing to call himself a Marxist’, Weiss has found herself in her own clash with ‘upstarts of the revolutionary spirit, nouveau riche and Pharisees of justice.’ (Camus)

For example, The New York Times ran a petty article snidely listing an array of Weiss’ “wrong think” misdemeanors. The list included Weiss ‘questioning aspects of [recent] social justice movements’ and expressing concerns about the “believe all women” witch hunt applied to Trump Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

They made no mention of Weiss’ allegations about being called a “Nazi and a racist” by staff members. No real surprise. Many on the Left genuinely believe those who aren’t ideologically aligned or marked on the forehead in exactly the same way are Nazis’ and racists. It’s also the manipulative fallback for any Leftist not willing to engage in an intelligent debate, or the thought process in an honest way, generally.

As if to prove my point, the NYT gave special attention to Weiss’ comments on Twitter. Specifically, those made about “staff unrest” over James Bennett deciding to run the now infamous opinion piece from Senator Tom Cotton ‘calling for military response’ to extremists hijacking civil protests in response to the killing of George Floyd.

The Left’s response to Wiess has been somewhat more of a laugh it off, arrogant “meh”. They’re both dismissive and indifferent. Despite the restrained tone, the NYT couldn’t hide its contempt for her. They may as well have just said: “Weiss was never really one of us, so don’t take anything she has to say seriously.”

Odd, since Weiss is Jewish, a (lower case) liberal, and is staunchly anti-Trump.

Set the smug NYT piece alongside Wiess’ resignation letter, and it’s pretty clear why the Leftist activists in the NYT, who self-identify as journalists, are happy for her to move on. It’s better for the brand. There’s no effort required in having to remove her, nor defend against the very Nazified image of the New York Times “canceling” a Jewish woman’s livelihood because she wasn’t welcome within the culture, or didn’t fit its ideological mold.

In true intersectional inquisition fashion, The Guardian published a bizarre academic rant mocking Weiss. Her allegations were discounted and the author declined to call her a victim of ‘illiberal liberalism.’ According to the Guardian, the culprit wasn’t Leftism, it was “right wingers”. The piece strongly insinuated that Weiss was a ‘professionally cancelled pundit; a genre of primarily center-right contrarian who makes their living by deliberately provoking outrage online.’

The reaction from the Left solidifies Weiss’ her overall claim about experiencing hostility in the workplace simply for having, and voicing a different opinion. The fact the Guardian so easily discounted her accusations, and that NYT seemed happy enough to see the back of someone who thinks for themselves, instead of following herd thinking, speaks volumes.

In line with Weiss’ resignation, Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, resigned from the New York Magazine saying the reasons were “self-evident”.

Sullivan’s support of Weiss seems to have triggered his own departure from a Mainstream media organization dominated by the Leftist cult of modern liberalism.

Sullivan wrote:

“Mainstream Media seems to believe, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media.’

Despite Weiss and Sullivan being staunchly anti-Trump. Weiss won huge support from Conservatives.

Donald Trump Jnr responded to the news on Twitter saying: “NYT editor Bari Weiss resigns in STUNNING fashion & exposes the Times’ rampant attacks on anyone who breaks from the far-left narrative.”

Rita Panahi tweeted: “Bari Weiss isn’t a conservative, far from it, and they still made her life unbearable because she challenged aspects of Leftist orthodoxy. The modern Left is ruled by its fanatics & poses the greatest threat to free expression.”

Miranda Divine added,

“What an indictment of the NY Times. Rational leftie Bari Weiss driven out by the “illiberal environment” governed by trends on Twitter and workplace “bullying.” Appalling what Weiss endured. Kudos to her integrity.”

To be anti-leftist is not the same as being anti-Liberal (big “L” Classical Liberal). An anti-leftist, refuses to join the Leftist cult, an anti-Liberal is someone who tries to cancel those who refuse to join the Leftist cult.

It’s pretty simple math.

Weiss is another reminder that radicals on the Left are taking a form of theocracy; superiority. Where to be “sinless” is to be a Leftist.

I agree with Weiss. The Left has a serious problem.

Those who’ve pandered to the new normal, fanning the flames of cancel culture, shouldn’t wonder at why it’s so pervasive.  They are Frankenstein, and cancel culture is their monster. Literati on the Left shouldn’t be one bit surprised that they cannot control it, nor that they are finding themselves being cancelled by it.

Here, Hannah Arendt’s ‘revolutions devour’ its own, joins Karl Barth’s analysis of revolution: ‘far more than the conservative, the revolutionary is overcome of evil, because with his or her “No” they stand so strangely near to God. This is the tragedy of revolution. Evil is not the true answer to evil… Order and not disorder is the meaning of Divine revolt. The real revolt comes from God, not human revolution.’ (The Epistle to the Romans, XIII)

For Weiss there’s also the impossible-to-overstate irony of her signing an open letter that boldly claims Donald Trump ‘is a powerful ally of illiberalism’; that he’s a ‘threat to democracy,’ yet says nothing about the “illiberal” Leftist dominated Mainstream Media, and it’s repression of ‘the free exchange of information and ideas.’

Which is odd, since Donald Trump supports Classical Liberal freedoms, and is himself hounded by the Mainstream Media, Big Tech and American liberal elites. Some who have openly voiced how much they themselves want to cancel him, if not his Presidency.

Weiss’ resignation is a protest against the increasingly fascist Leftist hegemony. Her negative experiences provide the perfect reason for a Trump 2020 win. They also give reasons for why The Daily Wire, PragerU, and Caldron Pool (among others) are essential grass roots media service providers.


First published on Caldron Pool, 21st July 2020.

Photo by Marco Lenti on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Whether you love him, loathe him, or are indifferent towards him, it was hard to ignore the applause for Trump’s Keystone speech, in South Dakota.

It’s not hard to see why Keystone was so popular either.

Although I had more of an issue with what the leftist Episcopalian denomination does with the Bible, Keystone was a big bounce back from Trump’s admittedly cheesy (if understandably necessary, given the context) photo in front of the damaged-by-“peaceful protesters”, historic St.John’s Church.

Not a highlight of the Trump presidency, but with his hands tied behind his back, who can really blame him? Better to have the Leftist dominated mainstream media wail and gripe about a photo of him holding a Bible, in a visible revolt against chaos and disorder, than have the MSM dominant the political narrative with manufactured stories about the President not leading the country, because he’s “hiding away in a bunker from (so-called) “peaceful protesters.”

Democrats have been absent without leave since the height of the Wuhan COVID-19 crisis, few seemed all too concerned about their lack of leadership, or the equally cringe worthy photo-op where key Democrats, draped in a traditional African kente cloth knelt down in solidarity with the Marxist LGBTQAAI+, Black Lives Matter political party.

The contrast between Trump at Church, and the Democrats on their knees, is that the former refused to surrender and genuflect, whereas the Democrats, seeing some political gain in selling the appearance of virtue, sold themselves into the hands of the Marxist mob. Some may argue that the Dems defused the tension and upheaval, and I’d be willing to give that some credence, if it weren’t for the fact that leaders of the freest nation earth bowing before Marx, gave a green light to cancel culture enthusiasts, and by doing so added fuel to the Leftist mob’s history raping, irrational iconoclasm.

Keystone was no St.John’s. His reference to  ‘Manifest Destiny’ aside, this speech was Trump at his best. He wasn’t on the defensive. He was no longer playing political catch up in the same way he was when the Wuhan COVID-19 crisis was overrun with rioters triggered by the entirely avoidable death of George Floyd, and egged on by Washington’s anti-Trump cabal.

Keystone was Trump standing up to the bureaucratic caste, who have been relentless in their campaign of hate. Career politicians and tenured academics tethered to the teat of neo-pagan secular humanism, seeking to undermine the America people, and Trump’s presidency, in order to maintain the hegemonic power handed to them without question since the late 1960s.

For some politicians, that amounts to decades of cosy deals, cushy offices, and cheesy photo-ops of their own that has done nothing for their constituents, but has done plenty for themselves and their own careers.

Keystone was a speech that spoke for the working class against the contempt of the political class who use them.

Evident in these words:

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities…
One of their political weapons is “Cancel Culture” — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.  This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.
In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.  If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.  It’s not going to happen to us.
Make no mistake: this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.  In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress…
The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice.  But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society.  It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance, and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of repression, domination, and exclusion.”
FULL transcript.


© Rod Lampard, 2020

Firebrand Australian Tasmanian senator, Jacqui Lambie joins the Liberal National Party’s George Christensen, and Andrew Hastie, along with One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, and Mark Latham, in being among the few Australian parliamentarians to publicly challenge Chinese Communist interference in Australian society, education and politics.

Arguing for a “Make Australia Make Again” campaign, the senator channeled her fiery speech from December warning about government inaction with regards to the Chinese regime. Lambie took direct aim, and shot straight in the heart of the path of least resistance chosen by The Greens, Labor, and the LNP.

It was a clean shot across the bow of pro-Chinese Communist politicians like Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Former W.A. Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, and former Foreign minister, Julie Bishop. The speech was also a repudiation of poorly considered decisions from both sides of politics, such as Northern Territory Labor signing over the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company for 99 years, and corruption brought about by Chinese interference in state and federal politics, evidenced by disgraced NSW Labor senator, Sam Dastyari.

To recap: Andrews bypassed Federal government concerns about national sovereignty and signed up for the CCP’s expansionist “Silk Road” initiative. Barnett said that if he was Scott Morrison, he’d have told Peter Dutton to ‘be quiet’, after the Home Affairs minister, said that ‘Chinese Communist party’s values are inconsistent with Australian values’.

Julie Bishop just this week publicly remarked that what Australia needed in the face of Chinese belligerency was “more quiet diplomacy”. Bishop advocated for an approach that would appeal to the Chinese regime’s propaganda and its blame shifting, stating that the LNP government needs to include an investigation into the U.S and Europe, in order to get the CCP on board with any COVID-19 enquiry.

Without a doubt the official line when dealing with the belligerent Chinese Communist leviathan, from most of our politicians, is “keep quiet”.

This passivity communicates to the electorate that the majority of Australia’s elected representatives are more interested in giving Australians the run around, creating political bull, instead of cutting through it.

Their policy of silence furthers the idea that these politicians are in the back pocket of the Chinese Communist regime. Every time these politicians appear to be protecting Communist Chinese interests in Australia, over against Australia’s national interest, they lose legitimacy as elected representatives.

There is a tendency to play it safe. Up to and including playing the fiddle handed to them by the Chinese regime, where CCP’s belligerence is re-imaged as misunderstood benevolence. Public criticism is deflected – labelled racist and xenophobic. It’s no wonder that the Australian electorate finds themselves frustrated by the silence of politicians who, through a policy of appeasement, appear to put their own political self-interest, first and the interest of the nation last.

“Keeping quiet” isn’t a proactive solution. It’s a policy of surrender. Instead of our elected gate keepers defending the Australian constitution, and protecting Australian sovereignty, we hear crickets emanating from Canberra for fear of upsetting China or failing to be inclusive and “multicultural”.

If Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics, Clive Hamilton, is right, and the evidence backs him on this, Australians aren’t just facing a ‘Silent Invasion’[i]; they’re face to face with an elected political class who’ve signed Australia’s death warrant through a policy of quiet surrender.

This is why Christensen’s upcoming enquiry, Hastie’s resolute defiance, Hanson, and Latham’s persistence, and now Lambie’s impassioned speech to the Senate, are on par with the ringing of the Liberty Bell.

In defiance of this silence and its policy of quiet surrender, Australians are being rallied together. Not because of hatred for, or fear of the Chinese, but because of an inherent cultural disdain for totalitarianism; because of a deep respect for the many healthy aspects of our heritage, our laws, our faith, and our people; in defense of our constitution, in order to protect our national sovereignty. To do what our elected representatives have chosen not to do.

As Lambie warned back in December 2019,

“It is clear that China is actively trying to reshape our democracy, and no-one seems to be talking about that seriously enough…It’s about time the people in this place woke up to China’s attempts to infiltrate our economy and our democracy… Both sides of politics need to take a good hard look at themselves and make sure they’re acting in our national interest, which quite obviously, over China, they are not.”


References (not otherwise linked):

[i] Clive Hamilton, 2018. Silent Invasion, Hardie Books

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th May, 2020.

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Last weekend, ‘thugs for hire’ terrorized the town of Yuen Long, Hong Kong, beating up anti-extradition, pro-freedom, pro-Democracy protesters.

Two days ago, University of Toronto professor, Lynette H. Ong in an article for the Washington Post, noted that there were reports the “thugs for hire” were connected to organized crime, however Ong said that there was evidence to suggest ‘that the attacks were orchestrated by pro-Beijing forces, with one pro-Beijing lawmaker reportedly congratulating the attackers.’ [i]

Whether from a plausible deniability angle or open allegiance, authoritarian governments are historically known for outsourcing organized 3rd party mobs to do their bidding. The most famous being the Sturmabteilung (Nazi Storm Detachment/Troopers). According to Ong, it’s likely that “thugs for hire” offers the Communist regime an ‘expedient strategy to intimidate pro-Democracy protesters. This allows authorities to skirt responsibility for any violence that may take place.’ Ong continued, stating, ‘short of rolling in tanks, outsourced violence arguably may be the most effective means to ward of protesters.’ [ii]

Lily Kuo in the Guardian gave some geographical context, writing that Yeon long is ‘one of the more remote areas’ where pro-Democracy protesters ‘hadn’t planned to demonstrate’ against the extradition bill. This changed when ‘commuters returning from dinner, going to meet friends or some coming back from the pro-democracy rally in Central Hong Kong, were met by dozens of masked men in white T-shirts, armed with rattan rods (martial arts sticks) and other weapons’. [iii]

In the shadow of China’s incarceration of Church leaders, destruction of church buildings, and general persecution of Christians, including the Chinese Government’s reported reeducation camps where up to ‘one million Uighur Muslims’ have been detained, the concerns of pro-freedom, pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong appear justified.

According to Kuo, the change in law would ‘allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China [iv]; supporters say the amendments are key to ensuring the city doesn’t become a criminal refuge, but critics worry Beijing will use the law to extradite political opponents and others to China, where their legal protections cannot be guaranteed.’

The violence wasn’t just isolated to Hong Kong. On the 25th, pro-Beijing Chinese students clashed with pro-Hong Kong Chinese students during a protest on Brisbane’s, University of Queensland campus. The ABC described the clash as ‘four hour’ standoff between the two groups.

Alex Linder of Shanghaiist said that the standoff and subsequent ‘pushing and shoving’ began when pro-Beijing Chinese students ‘arrived blasting out China’s national anthem, chanting slogans, and later grabbing [anti-Communist] protesters signs and ripping them’. [v]

If Ong is right and the white shirts are “thugs hired” by the Communist regime it’s an escalation which reinforces the concerns of pro-democracy protesters. It’s doubtful that this well-worn authoritarian tactic of political intimidation will have the desired effect.

The events in Hong Kong on the weekend are also noteworthy for their similarity to Antifa. Semi-uniformed thugs wearing masks, rampaging against anyone wearing a MAGA hat, all reflect Antifa’s modus operandi – the stand out example being Antifa’s brutal assault on journalist, Andy Ngo, back in June. An event Quillette Magazine called ‘a wakeup call for authorities and journalists alike’, stating:

We are ‘hoping that our fellow journalists might awaken from the delusion that Antifa is a well-intentioned band of anti-fascists with a few bad apples sullying the cause. As Quillette reported last month, a simple statistical study serves to show that the journalists who cover Antifa most often and most energetically have turned their outlets into pro-Antifa propaganda organs. Indeed, this bias is so entrenched that some left-wing media responded to our report not with introspection, but with paranoid and maudlin claims that Quillette and its authors must be secretly in league with Antifa’s fascist enemies.’

If Antifa are true anti-fascists, where are they’re protests in solidarity with pro-Democracy Chinese demonstrators? Where is Antifa’s stand against real suffering under oppressive authoritarianism in countries such as Communist China, Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea?

As important as Ong’s tentative conclusions about pro-Beijing “white shirts” are, her conclusions also lead us to question Antifa’s origins, and backing. Are Antifa also “thugs for hire”? If so, who’s fitting the bill?


References:

[i] Ong, L.H, 2019. In Hong Kong, are ‘thugs for hire’ behind the attacks on protesters? Here’s what we know about these groups, Washington Post. Sourced 26th July, 2019

[ii] ibid, 2019

[iii] Kuo, L. 2019. All Hong Kongers are scared’: protests to widen as rural residents fight back, The Guardian, Sourced 26th July 2019

[iv] Kuo, L. & Yu, V. 2019 What are the Hong Kong protests about?’ The Guardian, Sourced 26th July, 2019

[v] Linder, A. 2019. ‘Chinese students interrupt pro-Hong Kong rally at Australian university, chaos ensues’. Shanghaiist, Sourced 26th July, 2019.

Photo credit: TYRONE SIU/REUTERS

Originally published on Caldron Pool, 27th July, 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

One of the highlights of State of the Union Addresses, is the build-up and debriefing offered by commentators. Mainstream media “expert” panels have their place,  but in favour of a more conversational tone, I prefer to steer away from them. If you’re an Aussie, and are old enough to remember Channel Ten’s excellent, late night program, ‘The Panel’,  you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of the better American versions, is the gathering of Daily Wire front-men, and their, all-issues-on-the-board, round table.

Although a lot of what Donald Trump said throughout the blockbuster address, was worth a post on its own (particularly the last 45 minutes of his speech), the content of a four-minute discussion between Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan, during the Daily Wire’s post-SOTU discussion, also deserves highlighting.

Here’s why:

“You know it’s amazing; it just occurred to me when you watch that speech, you see all these Democrats and they’re constantly talking about check your privilege this, and check your privilege that; here’s the fact, everyone who is born today is privileged everyone who was born in the last 30, 40, 50 years in the United States these are the most privileged human being ever so check your privilege seriously check your damn privilege. Like all these women who are dancing there, “oh, look at us we finally overcame; [no], you didn’t overcome a damn thing. Your grandmother’s overcame something, your great grandmothers overcame something and that’s really what the speech was about”
“When Trump was saying, when he was paying homage, half the people he was paying homage to are people who are over the age of seventy, right? And he was saying you know our privilege is to be their grand-kids, our privilege is to be their kids. They’re the ones who did the heavy lifting. We’re just here picking up the leftovers and it’s our job to push it on to the next generation.”
“The one privilege that people will not recognise on the left is the privilege of having been born here and the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. They act as though the earth began spinning the moment they arrived here, and that they’ve had to overcome such terrible burdens. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has not had to overcome a burden. Neither have I by the way. With very rare exceptions there are some people who have had to overcome [terrible burdens].“ (Shapiro)

In the space of four minutes, Shapiro and company achieved, what large amounts of naval gazing commentators have failed to do from 2016 onward; and that is provide a succinct, proper explanation of what “Make America Great Again” actually stands for, and why its impact is important to understand.

 “…this is what the Left number understood about Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again. MAGA was never about this idea that America was ever at any point in the past to utopia it was about the idea that the people who inhabited America were infused with the idea of an American Dream that they were motivated by that idea and if you want to make America great again you have to get back to that idea that motivated people are grandparents to storm the shores of Normandy anybody in that chamber is storming the shores of Normandy, they’re bitterly storming the shores UC Berkeley.” (Shapiro)

Shapiro’s right. It’s wrong to say that MAGA is only the manifestation of old white men and their desperate, failing, attempt to hold onto a Utopian past. It’s just as wrong to say that MAGA is the product of a hidden pseudo-Nazi religion; as is pushed by some who’ve hijacked Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, amongst Leftist theologians; or Leftist politicians, and the small amount of delusional Neo-Nazis, who Leftists need in order to justify their own fascist tendencies (which include the widespread use of manipulation, reckless labelling and generalisations).

Despite what you’ve been told, or may think about Donald Trump, there’s no denying that the MAGA movement is multi-ethnic. Looking at MAGA through its multi-ethnic lens, shows that it was more than just an election slogan for Donald Trump, or the Republican Party. The multi-ethnicity of MAGA proves what many said from the start, often against a barrage of hatred, deliberate misinterpretation and false accusation: “Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion.

MAGA’s popularity, even amongst ethnic groups, can be explained by its line-in-the-sand message.  It’s about Americans. It’s about inheritance, faith and tradition.On a broader scale, it’s about taking a firm stand against the abuse of hard fought for freedoms, and the blurring of definitions; a firm stand against the surrender of Western Civilisation behind a veil of compassion, and the downgrade of both Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

MAGA is the defiant stand of a free people, thrown into a culture war they didn’t ask for; a war that is being waged on the West from within, while opportunistic people, determined to make an enemy of the West circle overhead.

MAGA is a megaphone, not for racists, but for ordinary everyday people. It’s allowed, and allowing, an increasing majority, who are not aligned, or who were once aligned with Leftism, to break free from Leftist ideology, such as their obsession with victimisation and their mob mentality. Significant examples of people who are breaking free are the #walkaway and #Blexit movements.

It wasn’t just Trump’s 2016 election win that unveiled just how far the culture war had advanced. It was also the fact that Hilary Clinton lost. Clinton’s “shock” election loss, unmasked Leftism and it’s war against all who disagree on reasoned ground with them. Clinton’s election loss exposed the Leftist march against people who are on both the Left and the Right. That loss woke people up to the actual nature of Leftism, as it began charging at them, celebrity venom at the ready, Antifa flag flying, faces hidden and bayonets drawn.

The fact that things have been allowed to get so hostile, isn’t entirely the fault of the Leftist cult of modern liberalism or its cult members. The culture war has been, by and large, triggered by the long complacency and entitlement of many in the West. As Shapiro and company explain, while there is a unity in universal privilege, there’s an absence of unity in gratitude and awareness of that privilege. Gratitude and universal privilege are overlooked in the American psyche, (and I’ll add, most of the West).

Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan added weight to Shapiro’s grand-slam response to the State of the Union address stating:

“Yeah, this is the thing that makes this speech so jarring even for me in this culture but especially for people on the left is gratitude we have utterly lost gratitude, there’s nothing but pride, and entitlement that people feel, and so [Trump] goes and he says thank you. Thank you for what you guys who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Thank you for what you did; and it’s so that we’re just not used to saying thank you anymore.” (Knowles)
“I’ve never seen a major war. I’ve seen racism and I’ve seen it disappear; they disappear, it vanished, you know. It was gone and I think it’s not personal racism. That’s always there; with us, but institutional racism it’s just erased. You know I’ve seen all this stuff I’ve never had to fight I’ve never had to pick up a rifle I’ve never had to do any of those things and I’m so grateful, I’d be of jerk if I weren’t an optimist.” (Klavan)

Through this lens, MAGA, is about showing gratitude for freedom, opportunity and American privilege. It’s not an empty boast about American exceptionalism, a longing for some Utopian past, or some fanatical quixotic return to a doctrine of “manifest destiny.””

As Ronald Reagan, said in 1964,

The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance. [This is] the meaning of “peace through strength.”[…] We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” [i]

MAGA is a renewed line-in-the-sand, drawn and backed by a people who refuse to surrender freedom in the name of what others call “progress”. Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion. It’s no longer just about Donald Trump. MAGA is a bulwark against Leftism, not just for Americans; not just for the Right, but for anyone in the West, who chooses to pick up both prayer and gratitude, knowing that we have what we have today, because we were not handed a gift to abuse, but a gift to preserve, and build responsibly upon.


References & Notes:

[i] Reagan, R. 1964 A Time For Choosing 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

In the debate about whether we create or discover a writing voice, it doesn’t matter which side of the camp you land on. It’s generally agreed that a writing voice takes time to develop.

When I started a blog in 2013, I had no real idea how it would develop. My plan was to use the blog as a way of networking, and as a way of improving my own writing skills. In my post-graduate world, I wasn’t sure a blog would achieve either.

Looking back, I can see areas where I’ve succeeded, and I can also see areas where I haven’t.

In the areas where I haven’t succeeded, I can see one specific reason for it. I let a fear of being misrepresented by critics, influence how I wrote.

This stumbling block is illustrated by some of my earlier articles from 2013 and 2014. Those posts are unintentionally hard to read. Some were convoluted or weighed down by my attempts to navigate what Douglas Murray calls, the ‘dishonest critic’.

Overcoming this stumbling block has taught me how fear hinders free speech. Speech is paralysed through the fear of offending someone with the truth, or fearing that someone might deliberately misrepresent what has been written or said. Insecurity complicates intention. This fear messes up content, intention and limits the development of a writing voice.

Lindsay Shepherd recently made the observation that when we ‘try to answer a dishonest critic’ we fail to communicate effectively.

Citing Douglas Murray, she noted:

‘It’s hard not to sort of self censor in some way in this era, because everyone who’s a writer, speaker, thinker, or public figure is basically trained, (you train yourself or you’re trained) to learn, to write, or speak in such a fashion, that an honest person cannot honestly misrepresent you; that what you said is faithfully understood by decent people, acting in a decent manner. The era of social media, among other things, has caused something different to happen which is that many people are now, having to write, think, and speak in a manner that ensures that a dishonest critic, cannot dishonestly misrepresent you. There’s a problem with this: it’s not possible to do.’

At certain times in my life, I’ve found myself surrounded by ‘dishonest critics’. Criticisms from my parents, sister and some friends would sometimes include back-handed compliments. Along with snide remarks, criticisms padded with some half-truths, were designed to tear me down in order to pull others up. Sometimes these involved passive aggressive whip statements, and sometimes those criticisms were intense cross-examinations, where words were selectively chosen to steer an argument in a selfish direction; all designed to discourage, control and put down.

Growing up in this kind of environment has given me a greater appreciation for free speech and its consequences. Just as I can see the dangers in muzzling freedom of speech, I can see how some people would want to subdue it; force a straight jacket over it, and muzzle people from saying things that we disagree with or that can be harmful to us; such as the words of the ‘dishonest critic’ and their manipulative ways.

When it comes to creating content, writing and posting my own thoughts online, I was a clumsy beginner. I could have cried victim, for fear of the ‘dishonest critic’, and stayed there. Instead I’ve persevered, learnt some news things along the way, and made improvements[1].

I don’t blame any one for my own clumsy writing, but I can acknowledge the root cause of it. Only then am I able to rise, and be raised above it.

Insecurity complicates communication. When we try to navigate the ‘dishonest critic’, how we communicate is bound in a type of psychological straight jacket. This breeds uncertainty. From uncertainty (self-doubt) comes insecurity and eventually silence. We end up saying nothing at all.

This why I believe, that the area in Western society where Jesus’ commands to ‘turn away from offence, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’[2], are most applicable, is freedom of speech.

Our response is our responsibility.

The Apostle Paul, in his Second letter to the Church in Corinth highlights personal responsibility in thought, deed and attitude, by encouraging Christians to remember that:

‘..the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…’ (2. Corinthians 10:4-5, ESV)

Paul’s statement, ‘we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion, taking captive every thought’ means taking personal responsibility for our actions. This includes how we use free speech and respond to the speech of others. In acting without fear of the bureaucrat, or ‘dishonest critic’, we deny those who would shut down freedom of speech, the room to stifle freedom, and complicate communication by forcing what we say through a bureaucratic tea strainer, like political correctness.

If we can relearn the Jesus-art of turning the other cheek, and recognise that words are only harmful to us, if we let them have power over us, we don’t have to restrict, or stifle freedom by asking bureaucrats to police speech. As Paul said, ‘..the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds…taking every thought captive to obey Christ’.

This doesn’t mean ignoring the ‘honest critic’, making laws restricting freedom of speech, or refusing to take an assertive stand when wrongly accused, or misrepresented. What it means is that the freedom to speak, includes the freedom to listen, it implies room for self-limitation, and personal responsibility, because freedom of speech allows for honest rebuttal.

Jean Bethke Elshtain puts it this way:

‘Our ideas have to meet the test of being engaged by others, far better than having people retreat into themselves and nurture a sense of grievance, rage and helplessness…thoughts must be tested in the public square where you have to meet certain standards…we must be careful not to confuse tolerance with complete and total embrace…total acceptance does not mean universal love’ (Maxwell School Lecture, State of Democracy 2013).

Rather than limiting freedom of speech by advocating that free speech be forced through a bureaucratic tea strainer, perhaps we could keep this in mind. Even when ‘dishonest critics’, stand at the ready, with pen in hand, eager to pounce on any misstep, or easily misinterpreted statement, our response is our responsibility, their response is theirs.

 


References:

[1] For ‘the man who believes in the providence of God is distinguished from the man who does not, [by the fact that he does not rest his head on his own prudence], and is not too proud to be a continual learner.’ (Karl Barth, CD.3:3:25)

[2] Matthew 5:43-48, ESV

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©Rod Lampard, 2018

For those who believe in absolute freedom, any “no” spoken to humanity from outside humanity, is repressive, and unfairly restrictive.

In the shadow of this logic, even a lighthouse or global positioning navigation is offensive. Both the lighthouse and GPS direct humanity. They protect freedom, because in their very confrontation with us, they invite true freedom.

They remind us of individual responsibility. Their existence shows us the necessity and power of decision. They direct us to make responsible choices.

The existence of the lighthouse warns us that danger awaits. To act in absolute freedom and ignore this warning, is to deny freedom. The light which shines forth from its lantern encourages us to not see freedom as being without the necessary choice guided by self-limitation and external direction.

The presence of a lighthouse warns us about the consequences of living out the false doctrine of the nihilist.

In the shadow of this false doctrine, the lighthouse is viewed as anachronistic.

The lighthouse is viewed as an oppressive social construct from a by-gone era. So violence is done to it. Alongside well positioned propaganda, walks the advocate with placards demanding that the lighthouse be torn down. Through ridicule and raw emotion, the lighthouse is mocked, sentenced to the museum and ignored.

The ruling is that the lighthouse should be denied its right to speak; its right to signal danger and direct a pathway to safety. The lighthouse is viewed as something to be denied its right to confront us with it’s “no, not that way”.

In the case of the nihilist Captain and his ship, the lighthouse is ignored.This is until the unmovable brunt of a reef tragically rips apart the hull of his ship, and the shadow of absolute freedom is exposed for what it is: a denial of freedom. The reef is hit and lives are lost. Freedom is sacrificed to the abyss.

The ability and permission to say “no”, is as much a part of freedom, and love, as is the ability and permission to say “yes”. If someone is without the ability and permission to say “no” to themselves or to others, it cannot be said that this person is truly free. This is because direction and self-limitation are ultimate necessities for survival and healthy progress. Direction and self-limitation are necessary for freedom to remain freedom. In other words: No self-control, no freedom. Know self-control, know freedom.

The responsible parent will say “no” to an infant wanting to play with a loaded gun, sharp knife, and hot stove or in the middle of a freeway. The loving limitation of the infant’s freedom protects the freedom of the infant.  The loving parental “no” directs the infant towards true freedom. Absolute freedom denies this[1].  It denies that freedom exists in limitation[2].

This is because freedom-in-limitation is counter to the flawed logic of advocates who believe in absolute freedom (such as the nihilist). The denial of self-limitation, and rejection of direction, both form the cornerstone of a false doctrine which preaches that freedom can exist without limitation; without direction.

Advocates who believe in absolute freedom have no time for discussion about issues such as self-control, perseverance, and commitment. Their “Yes” is always spoken; permission always given, and their “No”, if spoken at all, is a quiet, uncertain “no”.

Under the nihilist doctrine of absolute freedom, the only one who is free to say “No” is the nihilist himself. In this way advocates of absolute freedom assert themselves as lords over others.

We saw this in Australia, when the State Government in Queensland, with the support of a broad list of representatives from different parties, passed a bill that would legalise abortion up to 22 weeks. The bill also allows for a mother to abort her unborn child right up to birth. This latter option is, however, conditional. The mother must have the signatures of two doctors. (Even if she does obtain two approvals, the doctor isn’t even required to view her file or meet with her.)

No amount of arguments in favour of abortion changes the fact that abortion is the deliberate violent interruption of pregnancy[3]. It’s where women (and some men on behalf of women) demand the absolute freedom for pregnant women to”miscarry on demand”.

With abortion, absolute freedom claims the higher moral ground. The battle cry is that absolute choice, and gender equality, must be won, no matter what the cost. Freedom of choice reigns over against any forms of, or reasons for, moral restraint. Like the lighthouse,  the warnings from those who fight for, and seek the protection of life, are pushed aside as irrelevant. The value of human life is shattered on the reef. Abortion is made into a commodity, where human life is bought and sold, at the command of doctor, parent or state.

Like the nihilist Captain who ignores the lighthouse, the reality of man and woman’s new dilemma is brutal. They are unaware of what they’re entertaining and what they’ve bought into.Absolute freedom negates freedom.

Industrial abortion is another manifestation of lebensunwertes leben (The Nazi ideology of life [deemed] unworthy of life). That’s good reason for why it should be rejected, not embraced. It’s certainly not to be celebrated as liberation, and abortion clinics should not be paraded as liberators – where all who are opposed to abortion are painted as anti-freedom or oppressors.

The false doctrine of the nihilist should be fervently rejected. In its theological form, this false doctrine spawns the false interpretation of grace as freedom to sin, as opposed to grace being freedom from sin; freedom to be for God and for others[4].

Consequently, under the shadow of nihilism, the light of God’s “no” spoken to humanity from outside itself is rejected. The power and sovereignty of God over life, is subsumed into the hands of men and women; patients, the government, family and professionals.

Man takes up the power of life and death, and (as he has done from the beginning of his choice against God, in order to be God), man puts himself in the place of God.

As summed up by anti-Nazi theologian Karl Barth:

‘he who destroys germinating life kills a man and thus ventures the monstrous thing of decreeing concerning the life and death of a fellow-man whose life is given by God and therefore, like his own, belongs to Him. He desires to discharge a divine office, or, even if not, he accepts responsibility for such discharge, by daring to have the last word on at least the temporal form of the life of his fellow-man. Those directly or indirectly involved cannot escape this responsibility.’ (CD.3:4:416)

God is thought to be dethroned or an unconcerned spectator. His absolute power is now viewed as a weapon in the hands of the nihilist. Power handed to them by man and woman’s selfish and self-destructive quest for what they have accepted, without question, as being true freedom.

Absolute freedom negates freedom. We cannot afford to ignore the lighthouse. For what we face without it is an age of darkness.

To be so convinced that true freedom is existence without the One who birthed that existence, is to give in to an arrogance which rejects grace, and chains humanity to the Dark agenda of total extinction and self-annihilation.

‘Blessed is the one who hears instruction and responds wisely to it’ – (Proverbs 8:33-34)


References:

Barth, K. Respect For Life, Church Dogmatics 3:4 Hendrickson Publishers

[1] My conclusions here rest on those of Albert Camus. To paraphrase, ‘absolute freedom is ultimately a lie.’ (The Rebel)

[2] Karl Barth

[3] Ibid, CD.3:4:416

[4] Karl Barth

©Rod Lampard, 2018

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