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April 2018

The Dark Side of the Enlightenment Today’s advocates oversell the benefits of unfettered reason. They dismiss the contributions of tradition, religion and nationalism to human progress. By Yoram Hazony


A lot of people are selling Enlightenment these days. After the Brexit vote and the election of President Trump, David Brooks published a paean to the “Enlightenment project,” declaring it under attack and calling on readers to “rise up” and save it. Commentary magazine sent me a letter asking for a donation to provide readers “with the enlightenment we all so desperately crave.” And now there’s Steven Pinker’s impressive new book, “Enlightenment Now,” which may be the definitive statement of the neo-Enlightenment movement that is fighting the tide of nationalist thinking in America, Britain and beyond.

Do we all crave enlightenment? I don’t. I like and respect Mr. Pinker, Mr. Brooks and others in their camp. But Enlightenment philosophy didn’t achieve a fraction of the good they claim, and it has done much harm.

Boosters of the Enlightenment make an attractive case. Science, medicine, free political institutions, the market economy—these things have dramatically improved our lives. They are all, Mr. Pinker writes, the result of “a process set in motion by the Enlightenment in the late 18th century,” when philosophers “replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking.” Mr. Brooks concurs, assuring his readers that “the Enlightenment project gave us the modern world.” So give thanks for “thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant who argued that people should stop deferring blindly to authority” and instead “think things through from the ground up.”

As Mr. Pinker sums it up: “Progress is a gift of the ideals of the Enlightenment, and will continue to the extent that we rededicate ourselves to those ideals.”

Very little of this is true. Consider the claim that the U.S. Constitution was a product of Enlightenment thought, derived by throwing out the political traditions of the past and applying unfettered human reason. Disproving this idea requires only reading earlier writers on the English constitution. The widely circulated 15th-century treatise “In Praise of the Laws of England,” written by the jurist John Fortescue, clearly explains due process and the theory now called “checks and balances.” The English constitution, Fortescue wrote, establishes personal liberty and economic prosperity by shielding the individual and his property from the government. The protections that appear in the U.S. Bill of Rights were mostly set down in the 1600s by those drafting England’s constitutional documents—men such as John Selden, Edward Hyde and Matthew Hale.

These statesmen and philosophers articulated the principles of modern Anglo-American constitutionalism centuries before the U.S. was created. Yet they were not Enlightenment men. They were religious, English nationalists and political conservatives. They were familiar with the claim that unfettered reason should remake society, but they rejected it in favor of developing a traditional constitution that had proved itself. When Washington, Jay, Hamilton and Madison initiated a national government for the U.S., they primarily turned to this conservative tradition, adapting it to local conditions.

France: Soon with No Jews? by Guy Millière

Today, France is the only country in the Western world where Jews are murdered simply for being Jews.

Jews may be the main victims, but they are not the only ones. In just five years, 250 people in France have been murdered by Islamic terrorists.

The main problem is the spread of hatred against Jews, France and the Western world. Many Muslim extremists incite murder; and more and more often, murders occur.

A year ago, in Paris, on April 4, 2017, Sarah Halimi, an elderly Jew, was horribly tortured and murdered in her home in Paris, then thrown from her window by a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) . She had reported to the police several times that she was the victim of anti-Semitic threats — in vain.

Less than a year later in Paris, another elderly — and disabled — Jew, Mireille Knoll, was raped, tortured and murdered in her apartment by another Muslim extremist. Mrs. Knoll, a Holocaust survivor, had also contacted the police to say that she had been threatened. Again, the police did nothing.

For months, the French justice system tried to cover-up the anti-Semitic nature of Sarah Halimi’s murder; the judge in charge of Mireille Knoll’s case at least recognized the anti-Semitic nature of her murder at once.

Both women were victims of an anti-Semitic hatred that is rising quickly in France.

French Jews live in constant insecurity. The men who murder them evidently do not hesitate to break into homes and attack elderly women; they seem to know they can threaten their future victims without fear of arrest. More often than not, the police do not even record the complaints of Jews who go to the police station, but simply note in the daybook that a Jew claiming threats came and went.

Why Kevin Williamson Matters By Roger Kimball

Any rational person’s list of the most intelligent and pungent columnists now writing will perforce include the name Kevin Williamson, late of National Review and, as of Thursday, late of The Atlantic as well.

And anyone with a working internet connection knows that Williamson, hired to a chorus of drooling leftoid obloquy by The Atlantic a few weeks ago, was summarily fired by the magazine’s preening, oleaginous editor, Jeffrey Goldberg, after having written only one article, “The Passing of the Libertarian Moment.”

That article was not the problem. The problem (prescinding from Goldberg’s obvious spinelessness in capitulating to the baying mob) was a remark Williamson made about abortion during a podcast with his former NR colleague Charles C. W. Cooke. Like nearly 50 percent of the American public, Kevin believes that abortion is a form of homicide, i.e., murder (“homicide” somehow sounds more antiseptic), and noted he was “absolutely willing to see abortion treated like regular homicide under the criminal code.” When asked how he thought those found guilty of abortion should be punished, he said although he was “kind of squishy on capital punishment in general,” death by hanging might be appropriate.

If you listen to the exchange, it is clear—or so I think—that the bit about hanging was a flip provocation. It was a provocation that Kevin apparently liked, however, for he repeated it in a tweet (since deleted). The weaponized cyber garbage-dispensing service known as Media Matters insinuated its tentacles into the recesses of social media to compile snippets of Kevin’s views about abortion and other matters about which there can be only one opinion, and dumped the lot into the contemporary equivalent of the public square, i.e., much-visited internet sites. Then its politically correct masters sat back and waited for the mob to do its work.

Which it promptly did.

Anti-Trump Appeasers on the Right Empower the Mob By Julie Kelly

Before I get into the firing of Kevin Williamson, let me say this: Williamson is a talented, unique, and compelling writer. I have complimented his work privately to him and publicly on social media. Even when I strongly disagreed with him—particularly with his harsh assessment of Trump supporters—I still envy his way with words. Kevin has a painful personal history that he is not afraid to share, and it clearly shapes his view of the world.

He is also Donald Trump’s harshest critic on the Right. He wrote a book about the president, The Case Against Donald Trump. Williamson has mocked Trump’s business acumen, his family, and his supporters in a vile way. His Twitter timeline—before he deleted his entire account at the behest of his now-former employer—was filled with even more vicious remarks. (He was once a clever, engaging personality on social media, but had recently devolved into a nasty crank.) He is not a sympathetic character.

Conservatives are outraged that Williamson was fired Thursday by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, after a left-wing media watchdog released audio clips of Williamson supporting capital punishment for women who have abortions. He also referred to illegal immigrants as “peasants” and advocated waterboarding terrorists. But it was his view that women who abort their babies should endure “hanging”—and his dodginess in owning up to the remark—that primarily led to his ouster. (Williamson and his defenders originally downplayed it as an impetuous tweet.) But in an email to employees, Goldberg said:

The language he used in this podcast—and in my conversations with him in recent days—made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered views. The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it. Furthermore, the language used in the podcast was callous and violent.

The media don’t really care about Scott Pruitt’s ethics — just his reversal of Obama policies By Jack Hellner

The media are going after Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt for traveling first class and only paying $1,500 per month for a condo, pretending it’s all a matter of ethics.

It’s nonsense. They actually are going after him because he dares reverse some of the rules the Environmental Protection Agency implemented without going through Congress. Dissent is just not allowed from Democrat policies and the media are the method of choice for Democrats, using it to go after any Trump administration person they don’t like. Here’s a typical headline:

Scott Pruitt’s job in jeopardy amid expanding ethics issues

Somehow I don’t remember any of Obama’s people fired for massive ethical violations, including Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin for working for the Clinton Foundation, the State Department, and a consulting group at the same time. Clinton aide Cheryl Mills also did work for the Foundation at the same time she was working for the State Department.

That wasn’t even the half of what went down during the Obama administration. The huge donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign countries doing business with the State Department, along with escalating speech fees for Bill and Chelsea were obvious kickbacks or illegal campaign donations. But nobody’s head was called for when those things made the news.

The media cared so little about all the ethics and actual law violations of Hillary that they almost universally supported putting her, Huma and Cheryl in the White House.

Just look at the flavor of how things were done during the past administration:

A spring 2012 email to Hillary Clinton’s top State Department aide, Huma Abedin, asked for help winning a presidential appointment for a supporter of the Clinton Foundation, according to a chain obtained by POLITICO.

The messages illustrate the relationship between Clinton’s most trusted confidante and the private consulting company that asked for the favor, Teneo — a global firm that later hired Abedin. Abedin signed on with the company while she still held a State Department position, a dual employment that is now being examined by congressional investigators.

Meet the other David Hogg…who’s not like the first one By Monica Showalter ****

It’s said that everyone has a doppelganger. Well, in a weird twist to the saga of the high school shooting survivor-turned-gun control activist, David Hogg, it might just be true.

David Hogg of North Carolina has the same name as the David Hogg of Parkland, Florida; resembles the other teen; and is nearly the same age – he’s actually slightly younger, and he’s already studying engineering at the University of North Carolina.

He’s different from the Parkland David Hogg in two noticeable ways, though: he’s mature, and he favors gun rights.

He’s written a brilliant readable essay in the Wall Street Journal (paywall, unfortunately) on his own experience of being mistaken for the Parkland David Hogg. He wrote of the bad harassment and abuse a lot of trolls have thrown his way (which makes one wonder with a certain sympathy what the other David Hogg must be dealing with,) and how, actually, he’s in favor of gun rights, as well as gun education in schools. He tweets at @David_Hogg16

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a good summary of the piece here, noting:

Although he empathizes with the Parkland students and appreciates their use of their First Amendment right, he said gun rights are important, too. This Hogg’s solution is not gun control, but instead mandatory gun education and armed security officers in schools.

Hogg’s op-ed in the Journal is a real gem. He states his views and comes off as kind and empathetic to all sides in the debate, injecting civility into a debate that has long lacked it on multiple sides. Take a look at this passage to his entirely worth reading op-ed:

What Is the FBI Hiding? The bureau still won’t comply with an eight-month-old subpoena from Congress. Kimberley Strassel

Bit by bit, congressional investigators have wrested important truths from a recalcitrant Federal Bureau of Investigation about its suspect 2016 election dealings. But there’s one secret the G-men jealously guard: how central that Steele dossier was from the start.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes on Wednesday sent another letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand yet again that they comply with an August 2017 subpoena and hand over, among other things, the electronic communication—“EC” in investigative jargon—that officially kicked off the counterintelligence investigation into alleged Trump-Russia collusion.

That EC has taken on a central importance thanks to the FBI’s own leaks. The bureau exploded it on the country at the end of last year after the news broke that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National had paid for the infamous dossier. The public still doesn’t know how much the FBI used it. Critics started asking: Was it part of the application for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page ? Could it even have launched the investigation?

Thus the FBI’s scramble to minimize the dossier. And sure enough, the New York Times in December ran what became the “origin” story, titled “How the Russia Inquiry Began.” The story asserted definitively that the cause of the investigation “was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign.” It was rather information from an Australian diplomat claiming to have heard a drunk Trump junior aide, George Papadopoulos, talking about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Yet despite that claim being out there, the FBI and Justice Department have refused to verify it. The Nunes letter says the FBI has provided only a “heavily redacted” version of the EC and indicated on March 23 that it would “refuse to further unredact” the document.

The only plausible reason the FBI might have for denying House Intelligence access to an unredacted EC is that it contains intelligence from foreign sources. Intelligence-sharing agreements between allies sometimes include restrictions on dissemination. But it was precisely that intelligence that was already leaked to the press. We know the Papadopoulos story came via Australia, and we know what was said.

The media only recently reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fed up with the FBI’s spurning Congress and ordered it to be more cooperative. Yet here it is again inviting a contempt citation, and that says something about how badly the FBI wants this EC kept out of sight. CONTINUE AT SITE

A Broken FBI Promise A week after the bureau promised cooperation, it’s back to obstruction.

Just last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray released a statement saying he was unhappy with how the bureau was responding to “legitimate congressional requests” for information—and promised a “transparent and responsive” FBI. But already both the FBI and the Justice Department are back to their old tricks.

At issue is a memo related to the opening of a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russia in 2016. Such information is crucial for Congress to get an accurate picture of how Justice and the FBI handled this investigation. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) has written to both Director Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asking for an unredacted version for all committee members to see. The bureau says it will not provide the material because it is too sensitive.

Mr. Nunes notes this is ridiculous, given that the document “is not highly classified.” More to the point, if an Intelligence Committee made up of elected representatives of the American people is not qualified to see such material, no one is.

Mr. Nunes says he’s willing to go to federal court to enforce his subpoena. We are further told that the House leadership supports this and other efforts to compel cooperation from Justice and the FBI.

In a better world Mr. Wray and Mr. Rosenstein would have worked out a good faith solution. In the apparent absence of that good faith, we hope Congress is willing to use all its powers, including contempt and impeachment if necessary, to persuade Mr. Wray and Mr. Rosenstein it is in their interests to make good on the FBI’s promise of transparency and responsiveness.

Why Does The Left Get A Pass On Anti-Semitism? Democrats are ignoring — and worse, rationalizing — the bigotry in their midst. By David Harsanyi

This week, an assemblywoman from Brooklyn — the New York City borough with approximately 2.7 million people, not some far-flung hamlet in flyover country — went on an near-hour-long rant in which she accused Jews of conspiring to gentrify her district and steal her home. In the midst of this outburst, Diane Richardson reportedly referred to one of her rivals as the “the Jewish senator from southern Brooklyn.”

This incident comes not long after a DC Council member named Trayon White Sr., a Democrat who represents the Eighth Ward of the capital of the free world in the twenty-first century, posted a video offering some of his thoughts on how “the Rothschilds” were controlling the climate to squeeze money out of the oppressed.

Both of these people have been treated as raving lunatics, which they might very well be. But a person could easily imagine the fate of any elected official in a large city had he or she aimed similar conspiracies at African-American neighbors. We would almost assuredly be plunged into a national conversation about the shameful bigotry that plagues our cities.

That’s not to argue that we should overreact to these incidents. Although certainly a serious concern, anti-Semitism is a relatively minor problem in American life. It is, however, getting difficult not to notice a trend among liberals of either ignoring, rationalizing, or brushing off anti-Semitism, which seems to be more commonplace on the Left than it has been in a long time.

But when identity politics and class warfare propel your movement, as it does the progressivism that’s becoming increasingly popular on the American Left, it’s almost inevitable that the Jews, who’ve tended to successfully navigate meritocracies, will become targets. This hate has traveled with socialists since Karl Marx first declared that “Money” was the god of the Jews.

Judicial Watch: Obama State Dept. Gave Soros $9 Million to Support ‘Socialist-Communist’ Activities in Albania By Debra Heine

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2016 sent $9 million in U.S. taxpayer funds to a Soros-backed group which used the money to fund far-left political activities in Albania, newly released documents show.
Judicial Watch
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Important Judicial Watch obtained docs revealing the Obama Admin sent U.S. taxpayer funds overseas to a group backed by billionaire George Soros – which used the money to fund left-wing political activities benefiting the socialist government in Albania.http://jwatch.us/aWfFnm
According to Judicial Watch, which obtained the 32 pages of records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the American tax dollars were used to help the country’s socialist government push for highly controversial judicial “reform.” The records also provide insight into how the Soros operation “helped the State Department review grant applications from other groups for taxpayer funding. CONTINUE AT SITE