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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thoughts on Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech

For me, the most important thing about President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech, apart from the splendour of what it says, is that, thanks to the internet, we can all of us, if we wish, read the entire speech, without depending upon any of those people whom Instapundit refers to as Democratic Party operatives with bylines to tell us what they merely want us to think that Trump said. We now live in a world where those old broadsheet “newspapers of record” have been reborn, and are now readable at no extra cost by anyone with an internet connection.

I’m a libertarian, and what I really want is a really libertarian enclave of territory, somewhere in the world, which will really prove to the world for ever the superiority of all of my opinions about how the world should really be, over the opinions of all others. But meanwhile, I’m the sort of libertarian (which nothing like all libertarians are) who will settle for the actually existing United States of America, as it is now is and as it has been since it was founded, a vast but very imperfect nation, constantly disfigured by unfreedoms imposed upon it by collectivist would-be despots of one sort or another, yet constantly disappointing those same despots with those pesky freedoms which it started out by proclaiming. Likewise, American military might is frequently hurled by careless American adventurers at places that ought to be left to solve their own problems, in a way which only makes such problems even worse. Nevertheless, the world is surely a better place than it would have been had America made no attempts of this sort to bully it into behaving better. A world that consisted only of the Old World would surely be a much duller and poorer and more brutal place.

The New York Times and the Washington Post, echoed by many other organs in America and beyond, have described Trump’s speech as “dark and divisive”. Well, it was a bit divisive. It divided Americans into two camps. In the one camp are violent looters and rioters and despotic cancellers, and their enablers in slightly less impolite society, like the people who run the New York Times and the Washington Post. In the other camp are all the many Americans of the sort who feel approximately as I do about America and its flawed and violent but nevertheless inspiring history.

I especially like what Trump said about how the fundamental principles of the USA meant that those principles would, in the end, put an end to slavery and legally imposed racial discrimination. The fundamental principles bloody well took their time, but they eventually did just this.

Here, in case you doubt me, is how Trump said this:

We must demand that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King, when he said that the Founders had signed “a promissory note” to every future generation. Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals. Those ideals are so important to us – the founding ideals. He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage.

To call this speech racially divisive, as many have, is a flat out lie.

And, a “dark” speech? Again, I don’t think so. Naive and optimistic, starry-eyed even, historically over-simplified, yes, maybe all of that. But “dark”? Hardly.

But what of Trump’s enemies? The rioters are saying: “Screw America, smash America!” Their Democrat enablers indoors are saying: “America, you want this to stop? Vote for us, and then we’ll stop it. Meanwhile, it’s all Trump’s fault.” That’s rather “dark”, isn’t it?

Trump’s America, aka “America”, is now resisting this uprising, and the uprisers and their enablers are now turning on each other. The rioters and outdoor looters, after all, have no love at all for Democratic Party insiders. On the contrary, they regard them as the people who stole the Democratic nomination from them and their man in 2016. Other rioters merely hate the rich and the powerful in their entirety, including those paying the wages of the people urging them to riot.

It is now – is it not? – almost entirely in Democrat-governed places that the rioting, and now the crime waves consequent upon the hobbling by Democrat politicians of local police forces, are happening. Those McCloskeys, rather inexpertly waving their guns at rioters outside their nice big home are classic Democrat insiders. As is the Mayor of Seattle, who only shut CHOP down after her own home had been attacked by rioters.

So, I want Trump’s America now to prevail and its enemies now to retreat in ignominy, many of them also to prison, because of their various crimes, indoors and outdoors. We win, they lose, as President Reagan said when asked about how to settle the Cold War. Reagan also made very “divisive” speeches about that big old misunderstanding, didn’t he? After which the Good Guys did win and the Bad Guys did lose. Again please.

In this same spirit of melodramatic divisiveness, I would like now to suggest that the way that the writers of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and their many imitators, are using the word “dark” is blatantly racist. These people are assuming that to be “dark” is to be bad. This is the language of white supremacist slave-owners. Next thing you know, they’ll be referring to African Americans as “darkies”.

I’m kidding, but I also sort of mean it. I entirely get what the wokist media are trying to say, and are not trying to say, with the word “dark”. Punishing them for being racist for using this word in this way is not a rule I’d want to see universally applied. On the other hand, rules of exactly this perverse sort are the rules that these people have been unleashing upon others. So the wokists now deserve, if not actually to die by this rule that I just made up, then at least to be chucked out into the streets for a while, there to think about what they’ve been doing.

But my basic point here is that you don’t need to take my word, or anyone else’s word, for any of this. Trump’s speech itself, the complete text of it, is worth a second link. Read the whole thing. And as I said at the start of this, be glad that you can.

LATER: Further thoughts from me about Trump’s speech in a piece entitled Trump as Republican Party Reptile. This is about how his Mount Rushmore speech echoes a piece by P.J. O’Rourke in the 1980s, about an epic journey across America in a Ferrari.

Exposing baby racists

“‘Cancel culture’ grows increasingly cruel”, writes Jeff Jacoby.

…A working man fired because his hands fell into what some read as a “white supremacist” gesture and someone took a picture He had never heard of this gesture and was not even white.

…A woman denounced by name in the Washington Post because she wore blackface to a party two years ago. She was a private citizen, not famous or active in politics. Once upon a time that would have meant that she was safe from the level of scrutiny that we expect to fall on those who seek office – but in these times ordinary people can be plucked out of obscurity to be pelted by the mob while the Prime Minister of Canada is forgiven for almost the same offence.

I had heard of these cases, and most of the others that Jeff Jacoby writes about. I thought I knew about the cruelty of the American Red Guards. But the next example of it that Mr Jacoby wrote about took my breath away:

Even children are being targeted as racist, with the encouragement of adults who explicitly call for the destruction of the kids’ future prospects.

Skai Jackson, a former Disney Channel star, urged her young social media followers to expose their classmates or peers for posting racist comments or videos. “If you know a racist, don’t be shy! Tweet me the receipts,” Skai tweeted on June 4. On Instagram, she posted a similar threat, saying she would spotlight “Caucasian teens” who say or write something inappropriate: “Let me say this: If I see you post it, I WILL expose you!! If you think you’re big and bad enough to say it, I will most definitely put your own words on blast!!”

What followed, predictably enough, was a flood of submissions from informers eager to publicly accuse young people of racism, sometimes expressed in online remarks years ago. Jackson readily publicized the accusations, making sure to include the targets’ full names and social-media handles. And for going out of her way to ruin the reputation of people for being young and foolish, she was extolled as a heroine. Entertainment Tonight hosts applauded Jackson’s “bold move” in ensuring that “justice can be served.” Essence magazine commended her for “using this time to reverse the blatant racism she’s seen on social media.”

“I am so proud of you, @skaijackson,” tweeted actress Yvette Nicole Brown. “The good work you’re doing exposing all these ‘baby’ racists will ensure that their names, faces & deeds will be known as they enter the work force down the line. Which will protect everyone from the havoc racists cause in the workplace.”

Note that the children whose lives Skai Jackson and Yvette Nicole Brown want to ruin for having succumbed to the common infantile desire to say shocking things are not the only children being harmed. The children who Jackson and Brown tempt into informing on their schoolmates and siblings will also have to live for a lifetime with the consequences of hasty words spoken before they were old enough to know better.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean”

UK Black Lives Matter on 29th June 2020:

When we say ‘Defund the police’ we mean ‘Invest in programmes that actually keep us safe like youth services, mental health and social care, education, jobs and housing. Key services to support the most vulnerable before they come into contact with the criminal justice system’.

UK Black Lives Matter on 21st June 2020:

We are an ABOLITIONIST movement, we do not believe in reforming the police, the state or the prison industrial complex. It is a direct contradiction to BLM for events to be held promoting reform and subduing valid criticisms of the police, the government and Boris Johnson. And when events are meant to be those heavily affected by police violence like the LGBTQIA+ Black community, this is especially disrespectful.

Perhaps I should not be so harsh. Among the multifarious possible meanings of the phrase “Defund the police” there are a few I could support. While I think about it, please send me a million pounds.

It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression

The most significant thing about this Daniel Hannan tweet, I think, is not his praise of a Michael Gove speech, but his aside to the effect that FDR “turned a recession into a depression”. This idea is really getting around, and this is a very good thing.

It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression. (I found myself emitting this sentence at the end of this at my personal blog, which started out being about something else entirely, namely the current Lockdown, rather than about how the world will or will not emerge successfully from it.)

I just googled the above epigram, and the first piece I got to asked: Did New Deal Programs Help End the Great Depression? That item one in such a search casts doubt on (rather than simply endorsing) the claim that The New Deal did end the Great Depression, is a big propaganda step in the right direction.

What people now think is the quickest and best way to end an economic recession matters very much. That surely being why Hannan felt the need to say this about FDR’s disastrous economic policies, even though he was tweeting about something else.

A dilemma if you think private individuals shouldn’t own firearms

Here’s a thought for today: If the Democrats claim (the cynic in me suggests that party is full of BS on this) that police forces must be “defunded”, ie, that fewer resources should be steered to said police, how are they also going to make good on any threats to outlaw the private possession of firearms?

I know that those of a more libertarian slant have no problem with wanting to reform policing to reduce abuses and so that police actually protect life and property rather than enforce victimless crime laws, and be corrupted by the likes of asset forfeiture rules, politically-motivated “woke” crime enforcement, and so on. One thing to be clear on is that if qualified immunity is removed from cops, cops are also entitled to be protected against frivolous lawsuits from idiots since otherwise no rational man or woman will want to serve as a cop in such a situation. And that applies to any kind of policing or security, including private security guards.

And a more libertarian model of policing is congruent with a population of law-abiding persons being free to own firearms and competent to look after themselves. In fact, having law-abiding people own guns, and be trained in their responsible use, is a net plus for civil society and peaceful order. (An armed society is a polite society, as R A Heinlein liked to point out.) But what is NOT compatible is to claim that we should shut policing down, empty the jails, and all the rest of it, and still push for gun control. To take that stance is to treat the public as idiots.

Police free zones – do they always have to end this way?

“One dead and one wounded in shooting in Seattle police-free zone”, the Guardian reported an hour or so ago.

Let me say at once that I know nothing about the circumstances of this killing, other than that it occurred and that young men should not die by violence at nineteen.

But almost regardless of the circumstances, a lot of people are going to be saying, “I told you so” to the leftist protestors who formed CHAZ, the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

They might also say it to us. “Hey, you ‘libertarians’ or ‘anarcho-capitalists’ or whatever you call yourselves, this is what you want, isn’t it? No state, no cops, citizens with their own guns making their own rules?”

How would you answer?

Similarities between today and Ulster in 1969

  • Riots
  • Claims of discrimination
  • Calls for the police to be abolished
  • Involvement of communists
  • The media taking the side of the rioters
  • The creation of no-go zones for the police
  • Calls for the army to be used
  • Attempts to appease the rioters

I need hardly remind readers that over the following 30 years some 3,000 people were killed and that even though now the killing has stopped the enmity remains.

The similarity is intentional.

Samizdata quote of the day

To be fair: I don’t eat food. Food here is so unsafe I decided years ago to subsist only on internet memes.

– Perry Metzger, in response to this breathtaking absurdity.

Discussion point

The far-Left’s attempted putsch in places such as Seattle and the statue-defacing/removal frenzy in the UK, among other outrages, are a delayed reaction not so much to a specific police act in Minneapolis, but because the far Left suffered a major electoral setback in December 2019 in the UK (yes, I get that the Tories ran to the political centre, but it was still a reverse for Corbyn & Co) and also because of the dawning horror that Trump could well retain the White House in November. Trump was on course to win because of factors such as the Russia-gate scandal that wasn’t, the pre-COVID-19 economy, the fact that the Democrats are led by people either out of their minds or losing them to infirmity, etc. So street politics – or “riot ideology” fills the vacuum of political power that parts of the far Left perceive they have lost. (See a related discussion here.)

Related thoughts from Joel Kotkin on the economic drivers of anger (not that he is excusing it).

A list of abuses

I saw the following list of problems with the US legal and law enforcement system, which taken individually may not appear to be major issues in terms of it being a “systematically unjust” country, but which taken together do tend to suggest there is a big problem. This is mirrored to a certain extent in other countries, such as here in the UK.

qualified immunity;
LEO unions;
LEO militarization;
inadequate civilian oversight;
plea bargains;
victimless criminal statues (e.g. drugs, sex-work, immigration);
occupational licensing;
civil asset forfeiture;
eminent domain (esp in re gentrification);
unaccountable fines & fees, and quota-based policing;
private prisons;
FISA Courts; and
no-knock warrants.

That is a good list for radical classical liberals and small-government conservatives to get to deal with.

The revolting revolting rich

Ed West provided the quote about younger sons of Norman lords which became the SQotD for June 4th. He has now written a follow up piece, “Why the rich are revolting”

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

I knew that, but I did not know this:

That noble tradition of haute bourgeoisie revolution continues today, especially in the US. The Occupy movement, for example, is deeply opposed to the 1% but largely because they come from the 2-5%; Amy Chua cited figures suggesting that in New York, more than half it members earned $75,000 or more while only 8% were on low incomes, compared to 30% of the city. They also have hugely disproportionate numbers of graduates and post-grads among their members.

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black.

I think I might be able to guess

In the Guardian James Heathers, a research scientist, asks,

“The Lancet has made one of the biggest retractions in modern history. How could this happen?”

The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. Recently, they published an article on Covid patients receiving hydroxychloroquine with a dire conclusion: the drug increases heartbeat irregularities and decreases hospital survival rates. This result was treated as authoritative, and major drug trials were immediately halted – because why treat anyone with an unsafe drug?

Now, that Lancet study has been retracted, withdrawn from the literature entirely, at the request of three of its authors who “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources”. Given the seriousness of the topic and the consequences of the paper, this is one of the most consequential retractions in modern history.

It is natural to ask how this is possible. How did a paper of such consequence get discarded like a used tissue by some of its authors only days after publication? If the authors don’t trust it now, how did it get published in the first place?

The answer is quite simple. It happened because peer review, the formal process of reviewing scientific work before it is accepted for publication, is not designed to detect anomalous data. It makes no difference if the anomalies are due to inaccuracies, miscalculations, or outright fraud. This is not what peer review is for. While it is the internationally recognised badge of “settled science”, its value is far more complicated.

Just a guess, but I think there is a more immediate explanation for the way that this study was accepted a little too readily: a widespread desire among doctors and scientists to believe that anything Donald Trump believes must be wrong.

As it happens he probably was wrong. Though the use of hydroxychloroquine to try to treat the coronavirus appears not to be the disaster it was reported as being, the latest tests say it is not a cure for Covid-19 either. It does pretty much nothing either way. But we would have found out that useful piece of information earlier if the trials had proceeded without interruption.

All the more credit to the Guardian for its role in uncovering inconsistencies in the paper by Dr Mandeep Mehra, Sapan Desai and others that was retracted. That was a demonstration that ideology does not always trump old fashioned journalism, even when it means forgoing a chance to denounce Trump.

But it does not inspire confidence that the editor of the Lancet is Dr Richard Horton. Some of you may remember him of old. In October 2006 I blogged about him sharing a stage with George Galloway and saying,

“As this axis of Anglo-American imperialism extends its influence through war and conflict, gathering power and wealth as it goes, so millions of people are left to die in poverty and disease.”