Monday, November 30, 2015

The Black Lives Matter Movement: The Preening of Petulant Millennials vs. Actually Accomplishing Anything

I remember once hearing a question posed by some would be philosopher: “If you could do something that cured all of the ills of the world, but only if someone you despised would get the credit, would you do it?” It’s an interesting question with a number of elements to it. Are you really a humanitarian or do you just want to be seen as such? What’s more important, your legacy or the lives of others? Are you able to overcome petty jealousy for the “greater good”? Of course as it’s a hypothetical question you can answer and gain all of the approval without actually having to do anything.

I couldn’t help but think about that question when I read about a group of Black Lives Matter protesters shutting down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district on Black Friday. The protests were in response to the killing of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Shouting “No Justice, No Shopping” the protesters were demanding the resignation of the mayor, the police commissioner and the prosecutor. Their crimes? Not releasing the dashcam video earlier and taking too long to charge Van Dyke. He had been charged earlier in the week. Whether there was obstruction somewhere, we will see. Justice may be moving slowly, but the system is working.

But of course that doesn’t matter to the BLM protesters. The goal of the BLM movement is not to save black lives but rather to give protesters a feeling of making a difference while actually doing nothing. If the goal of the BLM movement was to save black lives, they would be protesting the murder of 9 year old Tyshawn Lee by a black gang member who targeted him because his father was in a rival gang. If the goal of the BLM was to save black lives they would be protesting the murder of another 9 year old, Jamyla Bolden, who was doing her homework at home when she was killed by a black man with a history of violence. If the goal of the BLM was to save black lives they would be protesting the drive by shooting of 10 year old Marlon Eason by two black gang members. But of course they’re not. We don’t see attempts to close down highways in Washington or restaurants in Atlanta to protest those killings.

Why? Because focusing on those kinds of things would take courage, would require more than facile sloganeering. The thing that distinguishes the BLM movement from real civil rights heroes of the last century is that men and women like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, John Lewis and thousands of others did what they did in the face of real racism and threats of real violence… when police were spraying them with fire hoses, siccing 100 lb dogs on them and beating them with clubs. And those were just the government officials in front of the cameras. With the killings of Medgar Evans, Wharlest Jackson, four little girls in a Birmingham Baptist church and many others it became clear that it wasn’t only racist police that had to be feared but Klansmen and others seeking to stop the march of civil rights at any cost. Despite all of that, there were tens of thousands of people across the country who marched and sat in and sued for equal rights. That was courage. And it made a difference.

What we see today from the BLM movement and much of the left is not only not courageous, it’s nonsensical… in addition to being a disgrace to the memory and history of real civil rights heroes. It’s easy to picket a store where people are just trying to do their Christmas shopping and few are going to bother trying to cross your lines when they can simply choose Amazon. It’s easy to sit down in a bucolic Ivy League library and spew epithets until the targets simply go away. It’s easy to go on strike if your football team is so bad it doesn’t have anything to play for in the first place. While these are all courageous “civil rights” actions in the eyes of the lefties, most importantly, they can get activists seen on TV, pretending to make a difference. But make no mistake… They’re not making a difference. They’re not fighting for the right to vote. They’re not fighting for equal access to schools and universities. They’re not fighting to remove Jim Crow laws. No, these “civil rights” activists are fighting for “safe spaces” where they won’t get their feelings hurt. They’re fighting for “justice” for Michael Brown, an 19 year old black man who was killed while attacking a police officer after he had committed a robbery. They’re fighting to take names off buildings of men whose lives did not comport to modern values.  They're fighting to remove flags they find offensive.

Which brings us back to the initial question… Do BLM protesters truly want to do things of consequence that might actually help improve the lives of black Americans or do they simply seek glory? Count one for vanity. Picket gangs who are killing hundreds of young black men and women and children each year? Nope. Organize voters to dump leftist Democrats whose progressive policies have victimized urban communities across the country and saddled them with failing schools, high taxes, staggering crime and stultifying unemployment? Nope. Fight to repair black families where 72% of all children are born to single mothers? Of course not.

We don’t hear much of that, if any, because the BLM movement isn’t about finding solutions to the challenges that many blacks face in America. No, the BLM movement is an attempt by petulant millennials and other SJWs to find their inner Kim Kardasian so that people will pay attention to them and they can pretend that they are making a difference. They are making a difference, but it’s not the one they think it is. Take a look at Baltimore, Ferguson, Chicago and New York and see what’s happening with crime in general and murder in particular after the movement demonized police. The majority of the victims of those crimes are black men and women and children, many of whom are just trying to make their way through their daily lives of work or school or raising a family. They are doing so do so in crime riddled Democrat communities enabled by “activists” like those from BLM who focus attention on easy targets where they know they will encounter little resistance, but in the end accomplish less than nothing.

They do have one thing right however. There are problems in black communities across the country. The problem is not police however. The problem is not white racism or institutional racism. While those problems will crop up now and again, the real problems of black communities have much more to do with family breakdown, failing schools, black on black crime and individual responsibility – problems shared by the larger population but which seem to disproportionately cripple black communities. And of course government strangulation of freedom and opportunity.  But those are tough issues which don't lend themselves to empty headed sloganeering like "Hands Up!  Don't Shoot!".

Fittingly, the patron saint of the BLM movement is Barack Obama, the king of obfuscation, misdirection and failure. Perhaps when he is a “retired statesman” the country will finally have had enough of the tyranny of “community organizers” and “activists” who seek not to make real change, but rather to wrap themselves in the cloak and glory of “civil rights” as they seek to loot the public treasury and silence opposition. Something good from Barack Obama... finally!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

King Leonidas, ISIS and the Culture War Barack Obama Refuses to See… Nevermind Fight

A week and a half ago fascist thugs of ISIS attacked Paris. Three days later President Obama addressed the world from Istanbul and said the attack was “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.”

That is a wonderful sentiment, but like most things that come out of Barack Obama’s mouth, it’s wrong. There are not universal values.

Take freedom of speech. Across the planet, from China to Saudi Arabia to Russia to Venezuela, (and most places in between) nothing resembling freedom of speech such freedom exists. In the West, from Australia to England to Italy to Canada, freedom of speech ostensibly exists, but the restrictions continue to grow. Even here in the United States where freedom of speech is enshrined in our Constitution, it is under siege everywhere. On universities, the very places where ideas are supposed to be studied and debated, speech codes are suffocating liberty and mini fascists seek to limit your ability to say anything they disagree with. In everyday life criticizing anyone for anything opens one up for accusations of being racist or sexist or homophobic or some other form of intolerance.

Freedom of religion? One wonders how Coptic Christians in Egypt feel about freedom of Religion. Try wearing a crucifix in Saudi Arabia. How free do the followers of Falun Gong feel in China? Jews in Europe… Here in the United States Christians are under assault for refusing to participate in gay weddings while atheists seek to eliminate even the shadows of Christianity from the public square.

Freedom in general is not something found on most parts of the planet… Across the Muslim world women are slaves and getting raped is a crime for which one can be ostracized, jailed  or even killed. South America and Africa are rife with failed states where graft is the natural order of things and the populations are mired in poverty (real poverty… not what passes for poverty in the United States) while government officials and their connected cronies live in luxury. In China the government or government aligned corporations control virtually everything, even down to reproduction.

All in all, the values that Obama is suggesting are universal are nothing of the sort. Widespread notions of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and individual liberty simply don’t exist. The vast majority of people living on the planet today do not share or experience any of those values. There has never been a time in human history where a majority of people shared such values. Indeed it’s never even been close.

It is only with the rise of the West, where such freedoms and values were developed and flourished and codified, that the notion of “universal freedoms” could even be imagined. Such freedoms hit their apex with the writing of the United States Constitution. For the first time in human history there was a document that not only explicitly spelled out the rights of citizens that could not be impeded, but more importantly, explicitly limited the power of government to only those things it was specifically empowered to do by the citizens.

The reality is, the “universal freedoms” Barack Obama talks about simply don’t exist. They never have. But somehow he, along with the rest of the left pretend that they do, which is exactly why they seek to shift power away from the constitutionally constrained government of the United States to the unconstrained United Nations. They live in a fantasy world where if everyone would just put down their weapons and embrace one another that the world will suddenly be all right. They feel like if everyone simply kept the “fair share” of their income then magically the world become a nirvana in which every family enjoys a lifetime of Norman Rockwell dinners.

And that tells you exactly why ISIS is a problem and the West is in decline. Europeans, along with the left in America, willfully ignored what made the West a success in the first place… culture inspired by Christianity – although at times hindered by it as well, built on intellectual curiosity and empowered by individual liberty and freedom. The notions of freedom of religion and speech and private property as we know them today evolved in the West over a period of 800 years. They were not codified by an edict by a Pope or Martin Luther or Napoleon or Queen Victoria or even James Madison. These decidedly non-universal values came about as the result of a struggle between church and state and citizenry as well as between churches, states and citizens. Much bloodshed was spilled in the process of developing those values. They were hard fought for and won, and to the degree that they exist in other places around the world, for the most part they were brought there by westerners.

It is not so much that the West is collapsing because it’s being invaded (which it surely is) but rather rotting from within because it has spend the last half century protected in a cocoon of security provided by the American military. After rescuing much of the world from the Nazis and the Japanese in WWII, for more than half a century the United States has provided a bulwark against the Soviets and the Chinese and later the Russians. Under the protection of American power, the West - including the United States – deluded itself with the notion that peace was now the norm and that civilization had finally come to humanity. As such, it was possible to create vast social programs to nurture citizens from cradle to grave with little concern about fiscal or social responsibility. In addition, they opened their doors to allow millions of immigrants to enter their countries and enjoy those programs without ever being required to assimilate. Indeed, in many European countries assimilation could be almost impossible even if it were desired, which it rarely was.

Today we have the logical conclusion of the argument that no culture is superior to any other. Because Western culture is no better than any other, there is no basis to demand assimilation. Migrants by the millions move to the West and then seek to establish mini-me versions of the failed states and dysfunctional cultures they left behind… Indeed, across Europe there are movements under foot to implement Sharia law above national law while France, Britain and other nations are peppered with “No-Go” zones.

Given that it’s seen as racist or xenophobic to suggest that one’s culture is superior to another, it’s verboten to ask who put men on the moon, mapped the human genome or invented mobile phones. Such questions do not matter because all cultures are equal. And so it goes. As the self loathing West derides the very things that made it successful in the first place it finds itself under siege by those who are not only proud of their culture and values but are willing to both kill and die for them.

To see how this juxtaposition of passion and cultural apathy might play itself out, read or watch something about the Battle of Thermopylae. Observe how a small force of highly motivated and passionate fighters can have an impact exponentially larger than their numbers might suggest. King Leonidas and his men lose their lives and the battle… but the Greeks win the war. Unfortunately for America and the West, our impotent and incompetent leader is Barack Obama, who refuses to even see that we’re in the midst of a culture war, nevermind recognize that for the other side it’s literally a fight to the death. Let’s hope the next occupant of the Oval Office understands that America and the values she holds are not only, not universal, but they are exceptional, and indeed worthy of both praise and protection.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Paris attacks and the Mizzou protests are two sides of the same coin…

The ISIS attacks on civilians in Paris and the attacks on common sense across the country are two sides of the same coin.

Both were carried out by those who hate freedom…. Not their freedom of course, but yours. With ISIS (as well as fanatical Muslims around the planet) you are expected to live the way they want you to, to act the way they want you to, but most of all you must believe the way they want you to… or they will simply kill you.

At Mizzou, Yale and Amherst, protesters, (as well as liberals everywhere across the country, including the BLM movement) you are expected to understand their feelings of offense, recognize their “plight” and appreciate how difficult their lives are. Essentially you must believe them when they tell you the world is unfair for everyone other than straight white males. If you don’t agree they probably won’t try and kill you, but they will seek to kill your livelihood.

Both groups have their rules about what you can and can’t do and say. For the former it’s be Christian, be gay, drive a car if you’re a woman, be a girl in school, punish your rapist if you’re a woman or express a view that doesn’t comport with their interpretation of the Koran.

For the latter it’s pointing out that exponentially more black men die at the hands of other black men than white cops every year, support colorblind college admission standards, try police misconduct trials in a courtroom rather than the media, suggest women and men are indeed different with different abilities or that college students might be slightly over sensitive when it comes to being offended.

Neither group believes in the notion of free speech. Across the Muslim world one sees journalists and bloggers killed for the crime of speaking out against terrorism while in the west you have the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the fatwa on Ayaan Hirsi Ali among others.

At the same time, here in the US on the rare occasions conservative speakers make it to the podium on a college campus, they are usually shouted down; counter intuitive “free speech zones” greatly limit a speaker’s ability to be heard; and memorializing the victims of 9-11 is somehow racist. And when there aren’t enough actual incidents of racism or sexism or this or that ism, they must be contrived

At the end of the day, Paris, Mizzou, and bakers being bankrupted for not participating in a gay wedding are all about one thing… intolerance. Your ideas don’t matter. Your freedom doesn’t matter. Your life or livelihood doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you understand our “pain” and agree with our ideas and bend to our will. If not, we will strike.

One might bristle at the notion of equating the terror in Paris with the “crybullies” on the left, but the parallel is appropriate. Terror is not an ideology, but a tactic, just as hunger strikes and temper tantrums by football players and other “aggrieved” groups are. In both cases the goal is the same: silence dissent, quash freedom, and coerce obedience. Whether it’s a threat to life and limb or a threat to the order of civilized society, both the demands and the actors should be rejected. The actors of the former should be hunted down and killed while the actors in the latter should be ignored, ostracized and in the case of students who think they have a right to interfere with the education of others, they should simply be expelled.

The poorly named “War on Terror” is a war we have no choice but to engage in and win.  We didn't start it, but we must win it in order for our civilization to survive.

The protest war of aggrieved crybullies on the other hand is one that we win by not engaging in. Like a child that bumps his knee, the attention is what propagates the wailing. Ignore him and his attention goes elsewhere. So too with the crybullies. Ignore them and their insipid demands and eventually they will have to start focusing on things of consequence such as getting a real education and learning to be productive members of society.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Twilight Zone Zombie Education Apocalypse: Detroit Government Schools Fail 95% of the Time...

Sometimes in life there are things that are so obvious that when others don’t see it you’re left scratching your head wondering if you are living in a Twilight Zone episode. Such was the case when I read a headline last week: Detroit Public Schools: 93% Not Proficient in Reading; 96% Not Proficient in Math.

Somehow the Detroit government schools, despite spending $1.2 billion a year – equating to $18,000 per year per student – were able to succeed in teaching reading only 7% of the time and math only 4% of the time. That is a failure rate of 93% and 96%. That reminded me of something I read a few years ago stating that 47% of Detroit’s population was illiterate. Now that statistic makes perfect sense.

How is it remotely possible that so much failure could continue year after year, decade after decade? (Could it be zombies?) Frankly, it forces one to ask a fundamental question… Most certainly a society needs an educated workforce in order to prosper, particularly in a world of rapidly increasing technology, but must government be the one in charge of the education?  And for black and Hispanic parents, the children of whom are largely the ones being steamrolled by the failing government schools, it makes you wonder why they keep pulling the lever for the Democrats who have been destroying education for 50 years.  And that doesn't even include the damage being done by Common Core!

Given that the Detroit government schools succeed less than 5% of the time, what might happen if… rather than spending $18,000 per student to support an administration heavy bureaucracy (15,000 staff vs. 3,300 teachers) the city simply gave parents a check of $18,000 per student? Then let the parents spend the money however they want and let Darwin’s law decide the rest. It would be virtually impossible for even the most incompetent  parents left to their own devices to fail as badly as the Detroit government schools have.

Or perhaps the city could simply sell the entire school system, much like cities across the country have sold contracts to provide other public services, everything from parking meters to trash collection to water to the issuance of business licenses. Even the most inept businessman would likely succeed more often than 5% of the time. And there are for profit and non profit school operators across the country, from Kipp Academy to Harlem Academy to a plethora of online operators. Whether private or charter or Catholic, virtually every alternative to traditional public schools outperforms those government schools operating in their same communities.

And it’s not like wholesale change hasn’t ever happened. After Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans a decade ago the city handed over management of 80% of the schools to charters, and not so surprisingly student test scores doubled.

But of course none of that will likely ever happen, because there are too many union jobs to protect and too many government regulators seeking to keep their power. Any parent, any businessman, any non government organization would be loathe to continue to fund a program that fails 95% of the time, but unions and government apparatchiks don’t actually care about educating children. In the Twilight Zone Zombie Education Apocalypse the machine must keep churning, regardless of the cost or consequence.  There are simply too many union jobs and too much government power at stake to risk losing them just so kids can learn to read and write and have a chance to go on to achieve success in life.  Pffffttt.

Keep that in mind the next time you hear union brownshirts clamoring for more government money “For the children”.