Displaying posts published in

August 2017

The Problem of Competitive Victimhood Divisive identity politics are fading in favor of a shared American identity. By Victor Davis Hanson

The startling 2016 presidential election weakened the notion of tribal identity rather than a shared American identity. And it may have begun a return to the old idea of unhyphenated Americans.

Many working-class voters left the Democratic party and voted for a billionaire reality-TV star in 2016 because he promised jobs and economic growth first, a new sense of united Americanism second, and an end to politically correct ethnic tribalism third.

In the 19th century, huge influxes of Irish and German immigrants warred for influence and power against the existing American coastal establishment that traced its ancestry to England. Despite their ethnic chauvinism, these immigrant activist groups eventually became indistinguishable from their hosts.

Then and now, the forces of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage make it hard to retain an ethnic cachet beyond two generations — at least without constant inflows of new and often poor fellow immigrants.

The strained effort to champion the victimized tribe can turn comical. In the 1960s, my family still tried to buy Swedish-made Volvo automobiles and Electrolux vacuum cleaners. But it proved hopeless to cling to a fading Swedish heritage.

For all the trendy talk of the salad bowl and the careerist rewards of hyping a multicultural ancestry, America still remains a melting pot of diverse races, ethnicities, and agendas.

The alternative of adjudicating which particular group is more victimized and in greater need of government reparations is a hopeless task in a multiracial society — one that inevitably results in internecine strife among identity-politics groups.

Recent scholarly studies, here and abroad, have found that the aggressive effort to win government preferences for particular ethnic and religious minorities descends into “competitive victimhood.” In other words, such groups battle each other even more than they battle the majority.

After all, who can calibrate necessary government set-asides and reparations for a century and a half of slavery, for ill treatment of Native Americans, and for descendants of victims of the Asian immigration exclusionary laws, of segregation, of the unconstitutional repression of German citizens during World War I and of Japanese-American internment during World War II?

Trump vs. MS-13 Leave the poor misunderstood gangsters alone, cries the Left. Matthew Vadum

President Trump’s intensifying crackdown on transnational crime gang MS-13 is being met with fierce resistance by the Left.

Understanding the leftist mind is an inexact science but the complaints seem to center around the idea that in the Trump era trying to eliminate an ethno-culturally non-diverse criminal organization is somehow racist, no matter how horrifying and brutal the group’s crimes against innocent Americans may be. The Left habitually sides with antisocial causes, putting partisanship over the interests of the American people. Left-wingers promote so-called sanctuary cities which are magnets for illegal aliens and the crime that accompanies them. They don’t care about the damage such policies do to American society.

Although it may sound like hyperbole to some, leftists hate Donald Trump and everything he stands for, so if Trump comes out against rapists and serial killers, for example, the Left will defiantly take a stand in favor of rapists and serial killers.

Racist left-wing journalist Jamelle Bouie of Slate argues that MS-13 is nothing to be afraid of. It’s all hype. He writes that the president’s speeches on MS-13 and illegal aliens employ words to “make white people afraid.”

“Trump wasn’t just connecting immigrants with violent crime,” according to the in-your-face Black Lives Matter supporter. “He was using an outright racist trope: that of the violent, sadistic black or brown criminal, preying on innocent (usually white) women.”

The massive pile of corpses generated by MS-13 suggests otherwise.

Trump’s clampdown on MS-13 is “emboldening them, because this gives them the opportunity to tell immigrants, ‘What are you gonna do? Are you going to report us? They’re deporting other innocent people … [so] they’re going to associate you with us by you coming forward,'” says Walter Barrientos, Long Island coordinator for the far-left Make the Road, which CNN describes as an immigrant advocacy group.

“‘So what are you going to do? Who’s going to protect you?’ And that’s what really strikes many of us.”

Make the Road is heavily funded by George Soros’s philanthropies, National Council of La Raza, as well as by other left-wing funders, including the Tides Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund Inc., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and the Robin Hood Foundation.

What on earth could generate such apoplexy among left-wingers?

Chris Matthews Gets Thrill Up His Leg Over Republican Book Criticizing Trump Thrill up his leg Mark Tapson

Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona) appeared on Tuesday’s Hardball to promote his new book Conscience of a Conservative, and host Chris Matthews felt that familiar thrill up his leg at the thought that Flake’s book hits the GOP and President Trump hard, according to Newsbusters.

Matthews introduced the interview by referring to Flake as “the most outspoken Republican critic of president Donald Trump. And he makes it clear he blames his own party for enabling Trump’s rise to power. Well, with the title borrowed from former Senator Barry Goldwater, the book is called Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”

Flake played up the comparison to Goldwater:

Barry Goldwater in 1960 thought that the conservative party, the Republican Party had been compromised by the New Deal. And so he wrote Conscience of a Conservative. I think today we’ve been compromised by other forces. Protectionism, you know, populism, and I don’t think those bode well in the long term. That’s not a government policy.

Matthews gushed that he’s “fascinated with how tough you are on Donald Trump”:

Very hard hitting on Trump. “Demagoguery” is the word you used. Populism, protectionism, you used all the tough words and you don’t like them. You don’t think this President is good for the country, do you?

Flake conceded that he thinks Trump has made “great…cabinet picks” yet “where I think that he’s profoundly unconservative is on things like free trade.” He went on to tell an eager Matthews that Trump is not a conservative. “Conservative foreign policy ought to be measured and deliberate and sober and that’s not what we have today.”

Matthews waxed enthusiastic about the book. “I think it is a tough, well-written book and I just want to keep you to it. Anyway, a portion of your book focuses on conservative conspiracy theories and the recent spread of fake news. Most notably, you criticized those who pushed the false notion that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.”

“To me, the original sin was saying Barack Obama was born in Kenya or whatever and denying he was a legitimate President, calling him sort of a con-artist. That was, to me, racist in its nature, to claim the guy’s not a true American when he was clearly, to make fun of his documentation to say he was sort of an illegal immigrant. I think you’re dead right on that. I don’t understand why your party went along with it,” an appreciative Matthews added.

Matthews went on to read two excerpts from the book, then declared that Flake’s book contained the “same principles” as Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. He also predicted that “everybody’s going to talk about this book” seeing as how “it’s a tough, hard-hitting book” and “very compelling.”

Thanks but no thanks, Chris. We think conservatives should spend more time combatting the left than undermining a Republican President, so we’ll pass on Flake’s unhelpful book.

U.S. Military Infiltrated By Alien Recruits? Pentagon investigators discover fatal flaws in vetting process. Michael Cutler

On August 1, 2017, Fox News reported the worrying headline, “Pentagon investigators find ‘security risks’ in government’s immigrant recruitment program, ‘infiltration’ feared.”

Military bases are among the most sensitive facilities to be found in the United States. Classified materials, weapons and, of course, our members of the armed forces, can all be found on every military base. Time and again, we have seen terrorists in the Middle East carry out “Insider Attacks” by joining the military or police and then, when the opportunity presents itself, turn their weapons on their trainers and other soldiers.

Military training is highly prized and sought after by terrorists and criminals. Many terrorists travel around the world to attend terror training camps. Undoubtedly, the training our military recruits receive is a quantum leap above anything that terror training camps provide. Additionally, our soldiers learn the “playbook” employed by our military forces on the battlefield.

The thought that foreign terrorists may have successfully infiltrated our military and gained access to all of the above is highly disturbing, to put it mildly. One recruitment program, known as MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to National Interest), has especially raised serious concerns in this context. Under this program, according to the Defense Department:

The Secretary of Defense authorized the military services to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered to be vital to the national interest. Those holding critical skills – physicians, nurses, and certain experts in language with associated cultural backgrounds – would be eligible. To determine its value in enhancing military readiness, the limited pilot program will recruit up to 5,200 people in Fiscal Year 2016, and will continue through September 30, 2016.

The Fox News report on MAVNI began with this excerpt:

EXCLUSIVE: Defense Department investigators have discovered “potential security risks” in a Pentagon program that has enrolled more than 10,000 foreign-born individuals into the U.S. armed forces since 2009, Fox News has learned exclusively, with sources on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon expressing alarm over “foreign infiltration” and enrollees now unaccounted for.

After more than a year of investigation, the Pentagon’s inspector general recently issued a report – its contents still classified but its existence disclosed here for the first time – identifying serious problems with Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), a DOD program that provides immigrants and non-immigrant aliens with an expedited path to citizenship in exchange for military service.

Defense Department officials said the program is still active but acknowledged that new applications have been suspended.

First of all, it is extremely important to not forget the honorable and dedicated service of many foreign nationals who have served in our nation’s military. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard America and Americans, while others have suffered grievous injuries. Those are facts that we must never lose sight of.

However, I ask that you stop and take notice that none of the aliens who participated in MAVNI were illegal aliens. All of the aliens in this program — among whom are those who have apparently gone missing and may have used this program to infiltrate the United States and gain access to military bases and military training — were, as a requirement, legally present in the United States.

Nevertheless, even as you read this, Congress is considering the creation of a similar program for illegal aliens under the auspices of the ENLIST Act (H.R. 60) The term “ENLIST” is an acronym for: “Encourage New Legalized Immigrant to to Start Training.” This dangerous and wrong-headed program would provide illegal aliens who, in the parlance of the open borders/immigration anarchists, entered the United States “Undocumented.”

The cold, hard, irrefutable truth is that these are illegal aliens who entered the United States surreptitiously, without inspection. In other words, they are undocumented. And you cannot tell a “good guy” from a “bad guy” without a scorecard. Undocumented aliens have no scorecards.

If there is a serious problem in vetting aliens who entered the United States with passports and visas, how in the world could our officials begin to vet aliens who evaded the inspections process conducted at ports of entry to prevent the entry of criminals, fugitives and terrorists?

Of course my question is not a really a question in search of an answer, but a rhetorical question. The answer should be self-evident. There is no easy or effective means of vetting such aliens.

The Third Lebanon War: Not A Matter Of ‘If,’ But ‘When’ Israel reflects on history and weighs its options. Ari Lieberman

In the weeks preceding the Six-Day War, Israel was faced with ever increasing existential challenges which warranted resolute action. Israel’s generals correctly argued to the political echelon that with each passing day, Israel’s strategic position became more compromised. The situation was particularly acute on Israel’s southern border with Egypt where the Egyptian army deployed seven divisions including three armored divisions. Official Arab government pronouncements, with ever increasing shrill and belligerence, made clear that the intention was to wipe Israel off the map.

On June 5th 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike aimed at destroying the Arab armies before they could launch their own attack (some historians have argued that the Arabs fired the first salvo by closing the Tiran Straits). Codenamed Operation Focus, the Israeli Air Force implemented its well-rehearsed plan of action and struck first, catching most of the Arab air forces on the ground and destroying the bulk of them. Contemporaneous with the air assault, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sprang into action, quickly routing the Arab armies in a matter of days.

It was a complete and decisive Israeli victory with few parallels in military history. Israel’s success in the Six Day War was attributed to many factors but chief among them was the fact that Israel had robbed the enemy of the initiative. Had the Arab’s attacked first, Israel would have still emerged triumphant but at a much higher cost in terms of men and material.

The doctrine of preemption is one that is ingrained in Israel’s military thinking. Israel is a small country with little strategic depth and a vulnerable civilian population. Preemption, the concept of striking the enemy first when there is a clear, present and imminent danger coupled with intent to injure, is a strategically sound doctrine and this is especially true in Israel’s case given its unique vulnerabilities, regional challenges and genocidal enemies.

In addition to exercising its right of military preemption, Israel has also acted preventative manner. Conceptually, this doctrine differs slightly from preemption as the threat while real, is not necessarily imminent. In 1981 and 2007, Israel destroyed the nuclear facilities of Iraq and Syria – both implacable foes – after intelligence confirmed that those facilities were capable of manufacturing atomic bombs. Israel has also struck Sudan and Syria dozens of times in efforts to thwart weapons transfers to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is currently mired in Syria’s civil war with 1/3 of its forces actively engaged in Syria to prop up Assad. In light of this, most Israeli experts agree that the probability of war breaking out in the near future is low. The last thing Hezbollah needs now is a two-front war. Nevertheless, Hezbollah’s raison d’être is to serve the Islamic Republic’s interests and do battle with Israel. A showdown with the terror group is therefore inevitable. The only question is “when,” not “if.”

Confluences of several factors make the probability of war more likely in the intermediate term. First, thanks to Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah assistance, Assad’s grip on power is the strongest it’s been since the beginning of the civil war while rebel groups opposing Assad are divided and often battle each other. This development will enable Hezbollah to shift its emphasis and resources toward Israel.

Second, though Hezbollah has suffered substantial casualties since it began its military entanglement in Syria – at least 2,000 of its members have been killed – the group has emerged militarily stronger. It has been lavishly equipped by Iran with modern weapons, including T-72 tanks, weaponized drones, Konkurs anti-tank missiles and Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, and thanks to the Russians, improved its electronic warfare and special operations capabilities.

Third, in 2006, Hezbollah was believed to have possessed 11,000 rockets and missile of various calibers and guidance systems. Today, Hezbollah is believed to possess between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles and rockets. To place things in proper perspective, that figure is more than the combined arsenal of all NATO countries, with the exception of the United States. Moreover, with Iran’s assistance, the terror group has managed to build subterranean factories buried 50 meters below ground. These factories are capable of producing everything from small arms to Fateh-110/M-600 surface-to-surface missiles, making Hezbollah partially self-sufficient in arms, a capability that it lacked in 2006. If Iranian claims are to be believed, the Fateh-110 has a range of 300km and carries a payload of 500kg. The missile is believed to possess an accuracy level of 100 m CEP, which means that there’s a 50/50 chance that the missile will fall within 100 meters of its intended target. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has made clear on numerous occasions that his missiles would target a vulnerable ammonia plant in Haifa, Israel’s nuclear research facility in Dimona and other critical civilian infrastructure in any war with Israel.

State Department Officials Quitting Over “Complete and Utter Disdain for our Expertise” Break out the champagne. Robert Spencer

The New York Times reported last Friday that “an exodus is underway” in the State Department. The Times didn’t think this was good news; it gave space to one career diplomat who lamented that there was “complete and utter disdain for our expertise.”

This could be the best news to come out of Washington since the Trump administration took office.

We can only hope that with the departure of these failed State Department officials, their failed policies will be swept out along with them. Chief among these is the almost universally held idea that poverty causes terrorism. The United States has wasted uncounted (literally, because a great deal of it was in untraceable bags full of cash) billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries in the wrongheaded assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because they lack economic opportunities and education. American officials built schools and hospitals, thinking that they were winning over the hearts and minds of the locals.

Fifteen years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars later, no significant number of hearts and minds have been won. This is partly because the premise is wrong. The New York Times reported in March that “not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001…Alan B. Krueger, the Princeton economist, tested the widespread assumption that poverty was a key factor in the making of a terrorist. Mr. Krueger’s analysis of economic figures, polls, and data on suicide bombers and hate groups found no link between economic distress and terrorism.”

CNS News noted in September 2013 that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”

Yet the analysis that poverty causes terrorism has been applied and reapplied and reapplied again. The swamp is in dire need of draining, and in other ways as well. From 2011 on, it was official Obama administration policy to deny any connection between Islam and terrorism. This came as a result of an October 19, 2011 letter from Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates to John Brennan, who was then the Assistant to the President on National Security for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, and later served in the Obama administration as head of the CIA. The letter was signed not just by Khera, but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: 57 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA; and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

College Protesters Demand Peers Pay Them for ‘Emotional Labor’ By Tom Knighton

A new low for these appalling brats.

It often seems that campus activists are less about actually creating positive “change” and more about personal vanity. The latest entry comes from the upper-crust Sarah Lawrence College, where The College Fix reports that some activists feel they deserve to be compensated for their activism.

And not by the organizations they’re working with, but by the very peers they tend to annoy with their antics:

Students at Sarah Lawrence College, a posh, private liberal arts college in New York consistently ranked one of the most expensive colleges in the nation, recently called on peers and others to pay female campus activists for their “emotional labor.”

It was posted once on March 26 on Facebook in honor of Women’s History Month, then reposted in April as students exchanged heated words on Facebook over a campus controversy.

“In honor of Women’s History Month, and the labor that women and femmes of color do for Sarah Lawrence every month of the year,” the post states, then lists the student Venmo accounts. Venmo is a payment service app. The post, which includes a brightly colored poster declaring “Give your $ to Women & Femmes of Color,” was inspired by the #GiveYourMoneyToWomen hashtag created by prominent feminists.

Now, keep in mind that Sarah Lawrence is one of the most expensive schools in the country. These activist students are either from wealthy families and don’t need the money, or they’re scholarship students who should appreciate the amazing gift they are already getting from others, or they are receiving loans and working and should have a better sense of the value of a dollar.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop this pathetic attempt at extortion: a comment stating “[t]he community is watching you and holding you accountable” sounds an awful lot like a threat to me, and this “labor” they’re demanding to be paid for needs to be negotiated … beforehand.

Immigration: How Trump Derangement Syndrome Dumbs Down the Press By Roger L Simon

How many IQ points do you lose from Trump Derangement Syndrome or similar conditions of blind political rage?

I was asking myself that while listening to the stupefying question asked of Trump adviser Stephen Miller by CNN’s Jim Acosta at Wednesday’s White House press conference. Miller had been explaining — with a level of clarity and specificity not often seen at these events — the immigration proposal being proffered by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue and now being backed by the president. The press audience appeared impatient with these details, however, waiting to pounce as it almost always does.

And the pounce came from Acosta, who was irked the proposal listed some level of facility with the English language as one of the new preference points for possible immigration applicants. Wasn’t that de facto discrimination in favor of people from the UK and Australia (read: white skin privilege)?

Earth to Acosta: As of 2015, there were 54 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. These include India (population: 1,247,540,000), Pakistan (199,085,847), Nigeria (182,202,000), the Philippines (102,885,100), Tanzania (51,820,000) and Kenya (45,010,056) among, obviously, many others. In China (population 1.39 billion), almost all school children begin English in the third grade. In Japan, South Korea and Singapore, it’s also mandatory beginning about the same time. Anyone who’s been to Europe recently knows it’s hard to find anyone under fifty in those countries now who doesn’t speak some degree of English. I could go on, but it’s pointless. English has become, for all intents and purposes, the world lingua franca. The number of possible immigrants from the UK and Australia is less than minuscule by comparison and the implication of racism (hidden in plain sight in Acosta’s question) therefore ludicrous. It’s the opposite.

So, assuming he didn’t have a lobotomy on the way to the press conference, what made the CNN reporter so (to be blunt) catastrophically uninformed that he would ask such a thing?

Answer: a cocktail of blind rage, the overwhelming self-centered need for you and your side always to be right with (for bitters) a healthy splash of malignant moral narcissism. In 2017, that’s called “The Trump,” served neat or on-the-rocks and stronger even than Dorothy Parker’s martini. Two glasses and the only word left in your vocabulary is “Russia,” three and it’s “impeachment” (slurred heavily). Rational discussion has gone out the window. It isn’t even a possibility.

I could say it’s unfair to Acosta to single him out, but it’s really not. He has been especially bad, ensconced in a front-row seat at these events as if he were a wannabe starlet preening for a photo opportunity. (“Are you watching, Mr. DeMille?”) He was also constitutionally incapable of letting Miller speak for fear, as is so often the case, he would have to deal with what Miller was actually saying.

But the real loser in all this is not Acosta or even CNN. It’s the American people who learn less than zero from the press conferences, in fact are brutally misled by our media in a wanton and selfish matter. It’s all about them and not one jot about informing their audience. In fact, there is an almost palpable rejection of the latter because then they (that unwashed audience) might see something, anything, good in what Trump or one of his minions might be proposing. That is not allowed to happen under any circumstances. Dialogue nyet!

The immigration question on the table Wednesday is an excellent case in point. Miller was treating the press (and the television audience) as adults, carefully explaining the administration’s rationale for the proposal. It is their contention that some restriction on immigration is greatly for the benefit of the many unemployed American citizens already here — particularly minorities. Blacks and Latinos have the most to gain from this. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Seth Rich case is back on the front burner – and it now involves the Trump White House! By Peter Barry Chowka

After lying dormant for several months, the unsolved cold-case brutal murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich was front and center once again, yesterday[1]. Rich was shot in the back as he was walking to his apartment in Washington, D.C. in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016.

It fell to taxpayer-funded NPR to drop the story and introduce the latest spin on it, which it did on its Tuesday Morning Edition program accompanied by a lengthy article, “Behind Fox News’ Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale.”

Bringing the tale back to life with a startling new anti-Trump angle this time was a defamation and discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court in New York City later Tuesday morning by attorneys representing Rod Wheeler, the former Washington, D.C. homicide detective, which NPR had an advance and “exclusive” look at. Wheeler was suing his current employer, the Fox News Channel; 21st Century Fox; Malia Zimmerman, a Fox News reporter; and a Republican operative named Ed Butowsky for a variety of alleged offenses.

A Fox News contributor since 2005 who was paid for his occasional on-air reporting and commentary on crime cases, Wheeler quickly achieved his 15 minutes of fame – that was over within one week – last May when he emerged as the person hired by Seth Rich’s family to investigate Rich’s unsolved murder. In several on-camera interviews, initially with the local Fox channel in Washington, D.C. and the next day with his employer the Fox News Channel (which took the story national), Wheeler claimed that he had uncovered evidence that lent credence to the previously unpopular theory, pushed by independent conservative media, that Rich had been taken out because he might have been the source of DNC emails leaked to WikiLeaks in July 2016 that damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign and resulted in the resignation of DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz.

For example, on May 15, Fox 5 D.C. reported the following conversation with Wheeler:

FOX 5 DC: “You have sources at the FBI saying that there is information…”

WHEELER: “For sure…”

FOX 5 DC: “…that could link Seth Rich to WikiLeaks?”

WHEELER: “Absolutely. Yeah. That’s confirmed.”

The following day, Wheeler appeared by remote from D.C. on several Fox News channel programs broadcast from New York, including Hannity. Wheeler told Sean Hannity:

When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it’s very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, well, perhaps there were some email communications between Seth and WikiLeaks. Every time I talk with the police department, though, Sean, every time I talk with the police department about the WikiLeaks or the emails, it’s automatically shut down. That discussion is automatically shut down.

The six-minute video of Wheeler’s May 16 Hannity interview is online here, and since May 16, Fox News has also had it online here.

Defending the Founders and the (American) Enlightenment By Robert Curry

In his article “Modernity and the Secularization of Reason,” Tim Jones claims that fascism and communism are “rooted in the reason midwifed out of philosophers such as Hegel, Kant, Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, Bacon, Hume, and Marx.” He then makes this astonishing assertion: “[This] makes American democratic republicanism a first cousin of those tyrannical ideologies [fascism and communism] since it, too, grew out of the same philosophical soil.”

The claim Jones makes – that American democratic republicanism is a first cousin to fascism and communism – is simply not true.

Trying to sort out everything in the article would be a huge challenge. Let’s keep it simple by beginning with Rousseau. The line from Rousseau to Kant is direct. Kant had only one picture in his austere household: a picture of Rousseau on the wall above where he wrote. From Kant to Hegel and on to Marx is also a direct line, and the line from Hegel and Marx to fascism and communism is, obviously, direct as well. But this line misses the American Founding entirely, and misses it by a country mile.

This line from Rousseau begins with his “general will” and his rejection of individual rights. In Rousseau’s political vision, everyone surrenders all rights and submits to the general will, which then maintains absolute equality. What is required, Rousseau wrote, is “the total alienation of each associate, with all his rights, to the whole community.” Submission to the general will entailed the surrender of all property rights.

Rousseau’s vision was finally realized in the 20th century in Nazi Germany and in the USSR. Nazi ideology – national socialism – and Soviet ideology – international socialism – aligned with Rousseau quite precisely. Here is Richard Overy in his book on Hitler and Stalin, The Dictators: “The two dictatorships … preached the absolute value of the collective and the absolute obligation to abandon concern for self in the name of the whole.” Hitler and Stalin showed us what it means for everyone and everything to be subject to the general will.

Note the word “alienation,” which Rousseau uses. In the language of Rousseau’s time, to alienate is to transfer the title to a property or other right to another person. The American Founders used the negation of that term to advance a different vision of rights. They claimed that we have “unalienable rights,” rights that cannot be alienated, which cannot be surrendered. According to the Founders, our unalienable right to our lives and our unalienable right to our liberty cannot rightfully be transferred or taken from us, because those rights are inherent to us as human beings, part of what it means to be a rational being and a moral agent.

The American idea did not grow out of the same philosophical soil as fascism and communism.

Let’s briefly turn to another claim made in the article, a claim about the Enlightenment era: “The Enlightenment secularized reason with no moral strings attached making it morally neutral.” This claim is perhaps a fair assessment of the French Enlightenment, but not of the very different American Enlightenment.