"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Myth, Fiction, Virtuality, And Legend - Reality Is Not All It Is Cracked Up To Be

Vladimir Nabokov was a self-described memorist, and from a very early age began recording memory.  He precociously understood that the past is far more defining of human existence than the momentary present or the possible future. We are what we were, said Nabokov, and those whose memories are full, vivid, and as complete as possible are themselves more complete.


However, most people are far from accomplished memorists.  In fact recent scientific research has shown that most memory is imagined, influenced by the accounts of others, events subsequent to the initial memory, and simple erosion.

Erika Hayasaki writing in The Atlantic (11.18.13) summarizes the conclusions:
Writers of memoir, history, and journalism yearn for specific details when combing through memories to tell true stories. But such work has always come with the caveat that human memory is fallible. Now, scientists have an idea of just how unreliable it actually can be. New research released this week has found that even people with phenomenal memory are susceptible to having “false memories,” suggesting that “memory distortions are basic and widespread in humans, and it may be unlikely that anyone is immune,” according to the authors of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Jill Neimark, writing in Psychology Today (6.9.16) echoes Nabokov in suggesting that ‘memory is the bedrock of the self’, but goes on to agree with Hayasaki that memory is very fallible:
Memory, it turns out, is both far more complex and more primitive than we knew. Ancient parts of the brain can record memory before it even reaches our senses--our sight and hearing, for instance. At the same time, "there are between 200 and 400 billion neurons in the brain and each neuron has about 10,000 connections," notes psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, M.D. "The parallel processing involved in memory is so complex we can't even begin to think how it works."
The one thing that we can say for certain is this: If memory is the bedrock of the self, then even though that self may seem coherent and unchanging, it is built on shifting sands.
So Nabokov’s prized past may be nothing more than a fictionalized composite of imperfectly-recalled experience, the recollection of others, and the additive ‘corrections’ of books, films, and drama.  We are not what we were, but what we think we were.

Our immediate perceptions of the outside world are, according to the latest psychological inquiries, just as fallible.  Eye-witnesses rarely agree on what they see, even though the event seems straightforward and incontrovertible.  Trials are not about getting at the truth but arriving at a semblance of it.

Browning’s The Ring and the Book; Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet; and Kurosawa’s Rashomon all tell about events seen through the eyes of different observers – all of whom conclude quite differently about what they saw.


Since character and personality are unique, formed by a combination of genes, upbringing, and early experience, everyone views the world differently; and therefore there can be no consensus on ‘reality’.  To co-exist we have developed conventions – streets, sidewalks, trees, and elephants are all what they seem; but each of us transforms them into our own personal vision.

None of this is new.  Philosophers from Aristotle and Plato to Hume, Kant, and Paul Weiss have considered the nature of reality, whether such a thing exists, and how meaning can be derived from what may be fictitious. 

There must be at least one unequivocal truth, we say.  Without some firm foundation, some absolute, commonly-derived and agreed-upon facts, we would all be adrift.  History is nothing but a reassembly of events according to contemporary perceptions.  Archduke Ferdinand may indeed have been assassinated, but the real causes of the First World War are far less clear and depend on the age in which a particular history is written.

Despite the insistence on facts, policies, and positions, political campaigns are all won or lost on the basis of image and perception.  Although this seems to be more true now than ever before, even a cursory look at past campaigns is enough to see that nothing has been changed, only magnified by media.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are currently (7.16) spinning their own particular emotional appeals to voters.  Both rely more on creating a vision rather than issue-based policies.  They know that the voting public will vote for them, not their policies.  They know that they must project, invent, or re-invent themselves not on the basis of fact, but feeling.

Myth helps to provide the context for image.  Conservative politicians often run on the basis of America’s legendary past.  Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ evokes an age of frontier justice, independence, enterprise, and heroism – a simpler age when America was uncomplicated and when a great cultural consensus occurred.   There is some truth to the legend, but progressives are quick to criticize most points of valor.  American is based not on unsullied heroism but on greed, venality, territorialism, and racial indifference.  Donald Trump’s America never existed.

Democrats base their appeal on a different myth – that of New Deal and Great Society compassion, equality, and cooperative justice.  Liberalism, they say, has been an essential brake on laissez-faire capitalism, tempering American individualism and enterprise with social values of cooperation, tolerance, and good will.

Conservatives will be quick to say that the human nature evident in human history will never be subject to artificially-constructed government programs to modify it.  Justice, equality, and tolerance come only from economic and social parity, and free enterprise and aggressive capitalism is the only way to assure it.

Every culture has its sustaining myths.  The French still consider themselves la fille aînée de l'Église, the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church, defender of Christianity, valiant conquerors of the Muslims at Roncesvalles, heroic Crusaders liberating Jerusalem.  Conservative politicians are always quick to recall this storied history and stress its relevance to today even though the situation in France and in Europe bears little resemblance to the past.  Yes, there is a threat from radical Islam, but a revisionist revival of the heroic myth of Charlemagne has no relevance whatsoever.

At the same time, given our predisposition to myth, legend, and fiction, why not persist in creating alternate truths?  We are headed in the direction of an all-virtual, post-human era in any case.  Within a few generations a mind-machine, brain-computer interface will be complete, and virtuality will replace reality.  We will no longer be constrained by our senses, obliged to see only those colors determined by rods and cones, smell only those scents which our highly individualized olfactory nerves dictate.  Our human interactions will be limitless when social networks become fully integrated into a virtually mediated world.  We will travel with whomever, wherever, whenever.  Fact, reality, actuality will cease to have meaning.

The abandonment of our insistence on fact, truth, and the way things are is the first preparatory step to this new electronic virtual world.  The faster we loosen the tethers which tie us to reality; and the quicker we reject the archaic perceptual framework which limits vision, spiritual growth, and full self-actualization , the sooner we will be truly free.

Reality is not all it’s cracked up to be, and the sooner we jettison our hardened preconceptions about it, the better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Misogyny And Misandry–Don’t They Have A Legitimate Place In Civil Society?

Stereotypes exist, and by and large they are not hysterical inventions but have at least a grain of truth in them.  Women, because of their centuries-long domination under male patriarchy, can indeed be uppity and demanding on their way to the glass ceiling.  Men, because of their hardwired genetic configuration and years of public adulation and private obeisance, can certainly dismissive of female concerns for truthfulness, family integrity, and feelings.

The bitchy Devil Wears Prada female executive and the duck-hunting, male-bonding philanderer are stereotypical images which may be exaggerated versions of reality, but nonetheless both women and men alike retain hardened perceptions of the opposite sex.


This is not surprising. The war between men and women began in the Pleistocene and continues today. Although women – and feminized men – may claim citizenship in a post-sexualized world, nothing could be further from the truth.  Men are always suspicious of their wives and partners because the political balance has been tipped in women’s favor, giving them a moral authority and a political power which they – women – have up until recently never have enjoyed.  Women will never be convinced that the New Age Sensitive Guy is really serious about his commitment to women, women’s rights, or feminism. 

Most women understand that human nature and X and Y chromosomes being what they are, men will never change.  They will always be skirt-chasers, womanizers, and generous with the truth.   They will construct a system of deception, prevarication, and outright deceit to preserve and protect their right to prowl.

Most men understand that women, regardless of  feminist rhetoric are still Daddy’s girls.  Too few generations have passed to expunge all patriarchy and male dominance; and the most savvy, if not most manipulative men take advantage of women who will always defer to them.

Women understand that men will always be restive and dissatisfied with the best of marital relationships.  In the movie Moonstruck, the matriarch of the Italian American clan asks her would-be paramour why men chase women.  He has no answer except that he can’t help it. Men, like wolves or tomcats are born to roam.  She says it is  because men fear death more than women; and that sex with younger women is the elixir of youth and longevity.

Whatever it is, women know that no matter how devoted and committed their husbands might be, they will fall off the rails at a moment’s notice.

Men understand that today as well as in any previous generation, women are hardwired to protect and defend the family unit they have chosen.  They will do all they can to prevent their mates from straying and will resort to the most extreme measures to return them to the fold.

In Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie will do anything to ensure that her husband, Brick, will inherit the family fortune.  “I was born poor”, she says, “and raised poor; but I, as certain as the sun rises in the morning I will never die poor.” She is willful, determined, and absolutely destined to keeping Brick as a husband and to having children with him despite his indifference and alcoholic melancholy.

Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra cares little for Antony, considers herself superior to him, but plays and manipulates him in order to secure her place and especially that of her children in the Empire.   The women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies are as protective as she-bears for their children, and as cunning as any man in working the court to their advantage.

If anything, four decades of feminism have hardened, not softened male perceptions of women.  The most secular and progressive among them might back campaigns for the civil rights of women and even speak out publicly in favor of women’s rights; but the more conservative resent the political, financial, and political preference given to women in hard times.

Socially conservative men often feel that they have labored in the vineyards and fought  in the trenches to provide for themselves, their wives, and their families, and now they are tossed into the dust bin as sexual supernumeraries.

The Father by August Strindberg expresses  best the frustration of men who sense the absolute control of women.  Only a woman knows the father of their children, and husbands will always wonder.  Laura cruelly manipulates her husband, The Captain, and drive him insane so that she can gain legal control of her daughter.  You have provided the rooster’s contribution, she says, and now your duties, responsibilities, and privileges have come to an end.

Image result for images the father strindberg

Women now seem to have the upper hand.  Physical strength counts for very little in the battle of the sexes; and  intellectual maturity, social savvy, and emotional subtlety win the day.  Men increasingly feel outmatched and outgunned.

Men, understanding that they have fewer cannon, are taking stock and regrouping.  Women’s belief in patriarchy, regardless of how quickly it is becoming discredited, is still a point of vulnerability.  There is still room for the sexually confident, emotionally strong, and socially willful male.  Despite women’s absolute sexual authority (viz. parentage, paternity) and increasing gender status, women still fall for potent rogues.

Since the War Between the Sexes is far from over and even farther from being resolved, then sexual dynamics are still in play.  An outgrowth of this healthy, evolutionary and social struggle is sexual frustration, anger, and misogyny.

Is quite normal for American men in this election year (20016) to think of Hillary Clinton as a dry, humorless, and desiccated bossy old woman.  It is as normal for women to think of Donald Trump as a typical male braggadocio, pompous, strutting Chanticleer, arch-predator, and misogynist hater of women.

Why are these feelings condemned?  Why stifle and strangle what is in everyone’s throats.  I know of few men who have bought the feminist line lock, stock, and barrel and who believe that subservience to women is the least they can do as reparations for past male abuse.  Most others, even the most progressive of them, feel that for all women’s obvious intelligence and ingenuity, they are still emotionally and genetically dependent on men.   It will take quite some time for them to prove their worthy comparison to Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Adams.

Women, no matter how much they will profess love and affection for their husbands, are still in the business of corralling them, fencing them in, and limiting their opportunities to prowl.  It is normal for women to express their frustration at men’ seeming intractability and inability to reform.  There is no harm in calling them ignorant pricks.

In other words, the war between the sexes would end far more quickly if the gloves were taken off now and if bare-knuckle brawls replaced kindly skirmishes.  The same is true for race relations.  No less animosity and hostility occurs between the races than between the genders.  Unless and until every racist, hateful, and barbaric insult is thrown, rejected, and countered, nothing will ever change.  Internalized hatred is far worse than externalized frustration.

It has been argued that without the Geneva Convention, there would be fewer wars; for no one would want to face absolute, amoral barbarity for doubtful causes.   The same is true for any other battle.  It is far better to strip down and face the enemy than make nice and then fight.

So there is indeed a place for misogyny, racism, and misandry.  Stop the parlor games and get real.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Insanity, Deranged Terror, And Mass Killings–Germany Has Caught The American Virus

The Munich shooter (7/16) was not a member of nor motivated by ISIS.  He was a mentally disturbed teenager who had been obsessed with mass killings.  He went on his rampage with a Glock semi-automatic, fled the scene, then killed himself.

It seems as if Germany has been infected with the American virus that causes psychotic, deranged individuals to go berserk.  This mass killing in many ways is worse than any organized terror attack, for there is virtually no way for even the best-trained civil authorities or members of an extensive security apparatus to anticipate such events.  In the United States there must be tens of thousands of unhappy, disaffected, chemically imbalanced psychotics who need only a nudge to push them over the line into violence and mayhem.

In the politically-divided, contentious environment of America today, when racial, ethnic, and gender hatreds are fueled by the force-feeding of a progressive agenda, it is no surprise that those on the edge of a psychotic episode need little to incite them to violent action.  In the unreal world of the schizophrenic there are no consequences, guilt, or responsibility.

It is not possible to cool down the rhetoric.  Identity politics have given license to the most marginal groups, legitimizing their grievances and tolerating if not promoting any actions taken to seek redress.  Black Lives Matter is only the most recent example of such intemperate progressivism.  Within an atmosphere of collective anger and hostility, and within a movement without a highly-structured hierarchy, a borderline psychotic may be infected by the hysteria and act violently.  


In societies where multiculturalism and pluralism are celebrated and where ethnic, religious, and religious factions have become more numerous, tensions caused by initial social and economic inequality are exacerbated by progressive identity politics.  I want mine, and everybody wants theirs.
More broadly, in a society where airing frustration and anger at perceived injustice is encouraged, and where self-image and almost universal sanction for the expression of individual feelings, grievances, and abuse are canonized, no one should be surprised at employees ‘going post office’; at unstable marginalized teenagers acting out fantasies of power by killing classmates.

Coverage of tormented rampages are given 24/7 coverage by all-news networks and details quickly go viral.  To the sane, such killing sprees are unconscionable and unthinkable; but to borderline schizophrenics, they can be blueprints for carrying out twisted desires.

Since little can be done to censure the press for the coverage of violent events; and since no self-control has ever been exerted when ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ has been a media axiom for decades; other means of addressing the epidemic must be found.

Similarly, until a much more conservative administration is elected – one which will publically challenge identity-sponsored violence and mob rule – the tolerance for displays of black, Latino, American Indian, LGBT, etc. grievances, no matter how legitimate will only increase.
There are, however, certain steps which can be taken. 

Current privacy regulations restrict the sharing of personal medical histories with civil authorities.  Doctors who have diagnosed and chronicled a patient’s emotional instability and potential threat to others cannot inform the police.  Yet this new disease –schizophrenic violence – could easily be treated as typhoid or other infectious diseases were before the politicization of AIDS.  There is no reason why medical records of ‘infected’ individuals should not be shared.

As every civic institution has been mobilized in periods of epidemic disease, so could they now.   Most of the money spent on metal detectors, body scanners, and other security measures could be spent on the intensive training of teachers, counselors, and school administrators to detect problems before they become fully blown.

Mental illness should not be treated like any other disease except in the metaphorical infectious sense.  Extreme psychosis is not the same as invasive cancer or pernicious hypertension.  It can cause injury and death to others.  The normative culture should change.  Avoiding stigma should not be foremost in the minds of civil or medical authorities.  Avoiding harm to others should.  The severely deranged should be stigmatized and taken out of circulation.  It was wrong to empty mental hospitals; and it is just as wrong to treat serious mental illness as just another disability.

As was recently (7/16) seen in Nice, guns are not the issue.  The person who mowed down scores of people with a truck had a firearm with him, but did not need it.  A heavy vehicle at high speed had the inertia to be just as explosive as a bomb or an automatic rifle. 

Guns are never the issue.  The motivating forces behind gun slaughter is.  There is no doubt that a country which makes access to guns nearly impossible,  mass killings with firearms would be fewer; but the number of murderous incidents would not decrease.

Germany has a right to be concerned about the Munich shootings.  It is proud of the discipline, rationality, and morality of its population.  Yet they only have to look at Norway, a country similarly homogeneous, socially conservative, and morally sound, to see that unhinged rampages can occur anywhere.

If a new, more conservative American administration wins in November (2016) and begins to roll back the progressive-inspired Politically Correct hysteria of the past decade; if psychotic violence is classified as a public health problem and treated with as much surveillance and intrusion as any other disease; and if resources are moved away from physical security and gun control to prophylaxis (preventing violence by anticipating it), then perhaps the number of mass shootings by psychotic individuals can be reduced.

Germany and Norway have a chance to institute such measures before it is too late.  We can only hope that it is not too late to catch up.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

American Elites And The Tyranny Of The Masses–The Threatening Populism Of Donald Trump

The irony of this presidential election (2016) is that liberals, once champions of the underserved disadvantaged, and marginalized; and critics of wealthy elites, have changed their tune.  Only some bars of the melody have been kept intact.  Not all families struggling for traction in a bewilderingly competitive economy are equal.  The minority poor deserve and receive more attention because they are doubly put upon.  Not only do they live in poverty and ghettoized  by social dysfunction but they still labor in the traces of racism and slavery. 

If this selective discrimination were not enough, progressives have demonized the white underclass.  Not only are they not deserving of understanding, opportunity, and support; they are part of the problem.  The white lower middle class is steeped in racial hatred, ignorantly embraces discredited Biblical myths and historically inaccurate injunctions, clings to outdated views of sexuality and the role of women, and arms itself against imaginary, seditious foes.

Even worse, progressives find populism, an uprising of the white lower-middle class threatening.  It is bad enough that individual Americans hold retrograde ideas; but a collectivity of ignorance is terrible indeed.  Although progressives direct their fear at Donald Trump, they really hold his supp0rters responsible for his rise.  Without the support of ignorant, backwoods, inbred millions, he would be no more than a side show. 

Populism, a modern form of  the Twentieth Century socialist movements so much admired by the American Left,  has now been discredited.  Not only is this newly-energized mass of uneducated Americans threatening.  It is distasteful, rancid, and off-putting.  The patronizing nature of early 21st Century liberalism felt good.  White, well-educated, intellectually enlightened men and women of the coasts were proud of their support of civil, gender, and ethnic rights, and proudly wore the badges of battle.  What to do with white trash?

The liberal establishment and not a few of their Republican counterparts have been flummoxed by the popularity of Donald Trump, dismayed by the support of his ragged, intemperate supporters, and desperately committed to derailing his candidacy.  If he his not the devil incarnate, he is pretty close to it.

Ironically today’s progressives are reminiscent of Alexander Hamilton who, like them, was very concerned about popular democracy and the tyranny of the masses.  Hamilton expressed his conviction in the Federalist Papers:
When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests to withstand the temporary delusion in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. Instances might be cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men who had courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.
Progressive support is ironic because Hamilton, although far from an aristocrat, held aristocratic values.  The people, always a moment away from a mob, needed to be protected from themselves by a more reasonable, rational, and temperate intermediary.  Only those men highly-educated in philosophy, history, science, literature, and social dynamics could possibly guide the new republic forward.  Hamilton was neither dismissive of nor supercilious towards the masses, for they, when properly harnessed, were the necessary muscle and sinew of the economy.  He only knew as statesmen of every civilized empire since ancient Rome realized, that the mob was fickle, emotional, and given to precipitous judgment.

Hamilton would be appalled if he saw the state of American democracy today.  Not only has populism become the norm, but the mob the rule.  The old institutions of his day have been dismantled and a contentious free-for-all has resulted.  The era of intelligent compromise based on a respect for principles is long gone, replaced by factionalism and separatism.   The church has become a locus of religious populism rather than a conduit of divine authority.  Congressmen care less about their constituents than getting re-elected.  The old patrician caretakers of Wall Street have been replaced by financial predators lured by quick, risk-free profit.  Capitalism has always been ruled by the bottom line but never more so than today.

Social elites like the Boston Brahmins, Main Line aristocrats, New England patricians, and Southern cavaliers have been dismantled.  The former custodians of good manners and compassion within opportunity, governed by noblesse oblige and responsibility have disappeared.

The French aristocracy, said a former viscount whose family had fought in the Third Crusade, would always be necessary for the preservation and promotion of those cultural values now, after centuries of civilization, were innate in French society.  Although respect for art, literature, philosophy, and good taste came naturally to every French citizen, they could quickly be dismissed in favor of more pedestrian ones.  He, now much older, was dismayed at the course of the French republic, one beset by racial, ethnic, and religious factionalism.  The Old Guard was simply too small, too diluted, and too ineffectual to provide the moral suasion and power to hold the center.


Political and social elites have always had the function of guardians of civilization, custodians of cultural history, and icons of value and rectitude. America gave up true aristocracy at its founding, but continued with its own democratic aristocracy.  Washington, Jefferson, Monroe and others were patrician landowners as well as intellectual and philosophical leaders.  They were part of a new American ruling class, but one which still embodied Old World, Enlightenment values.  Gradually and progressively, the culture of the landed gentry and that of its urban sophisticated counterpart disappeared to be replaced by populism, separatism, and individualism.

The Eastern Establishment is the only remnant of our former American elite; but it predominates not because of the rightness of its moral and ethical principles but because of an undemocratic arrogation of intellectual authority.  Eastern liberals have no sense of noblesse oblige .  Only a patronizing self-congratulatory ‘solidarity’ with those less fortunate.  They are as insular as the old WASP elites, but hew to only secular, neo-socialist values.  They have less concern for the integrity of the nation as a whole than they do in promoting the ‘rights’ of minorities and their absolute right to project and defend their own individual identities.

It is hard to see where the new moral center of American society will be.  Right now we are without a center, without an intellectually temperate, morally anchored, socially appropriate anchor.  Without it, America has become ungovernable; or in the absence of a moral consensus which provides a civil brake, authoritarian.  It is a chaotic country, one fractured along every possible fault line, one still claiming exceptionalism but without purpose, vision, or commitment. 

If Donald Trump does not get elected, his tens of millions of newly-energized supporters will not quietly return home.  Hillary Clinton, the candidate of the Left, animated by progressive enthusiasm for race, gender, and ethnicity, committed to secularism and government patronage will, if elected, harden the political divisions and the country will be even more chaotic than ever.

If he does, the future is less clear.  We are in new and uncharted political territory.  Anything can happen.  The enthusiasm of Trump’s radicalized supporters may be hard to channel into policy, programs, and positions.

Perhaps this political paroxysm and civil fractiousness is exactly what we need to be able to find a center or at least a recasting of American identity.  Far from exceptional, we are rudderless and foundering without elites or institutions to guide us.  We can only hope for the best.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Get Over It–The Rise Of Donald Trump And The Left’s Bewilderment

Liberals have never gotten Donald Trump.  For months they have ignored his popularity, dismissed the millions of Americans who have voted for him, and cast him as a huckster, vaudevillian, and master of manipulation.  They have branded him a racist, misogynist xenophobe.  Yet, despite their attempts to derail Trump’s rise to political power; despite the GOP’s panic; and despite the warnings of the coming Armageddon,  he has finally secured the nomination for President of the United States.

Progressives today (7.19.16) are bewildered.  Donald Trump is actually and indeed the Republican nominee and, if the polls and betting markets are any indication, he has an excellent chance of winning the White House.

They never saw it coming.  They were sure that the circus would leave town, that a more reasonable candidate would emerge from the crowded Republican pack, and that the status quo would return.   Not only did Trump’s Barnum & Bailey show continue to set up its tents, but they were filled with supporters.  His campaign events were part revivalism, part Las Vegas and part Hollywood; but most of all they were signifiers of the candidate’s increasingly enthusiastic appeal.


American politics had always been more spectacle than substance, progressives admitted; but this was different, dangerous, and ominous.  Previous campaigns had plenty of hoopla, but beneath the banners and balloons there was substance – a platform, a set of principles, a policy playbook – but this time around there was only hoopla, bravado, and show.

Progressives not only went after Trump but after his supporters.  They were backward and ignorant, white trash ignoramuses who believed in Creationism, were armed to the teeth, and wouldn’t know an idea even if it were written in kindergarten capitals.

Yet more and more Americans came out to Trump rallies, cheered his outrageous defiance of liberal cant and self-righteousness and his political incorrectness, and deconstructed his hyperbole better than any Marxist academic.  While the Left parsed every line of his speeches about immigration, outraged that he could condemn all Muslims, all Mexicans, and incensed that he could laugh; his supporters took his exaggerations for exactly what they were – indicators of principle.


Trump supporters have been angry at illegal immigration which depresses wages, increases public expenditure, and erodes the polity of America.  Hispanics especially have applauded his no-nonsense stance on borders because they have the most to lose.  They, like their Anglo counterparts dismiss his charges about Mexican rapists and criminals and the impossibility of building a new Great Wall of China.  They know only that Trump means business and they are for him.

Likewise, only the liberal Left has taken seriously his intention to deport all Muslims.  His conservative supporters know how to read between the lines, to separate words from image, intended policy from posturing.  They know only that he, unlike the opposition of the Left, takes radical Muslim terrorism seriously.  While President Obama shilly-shallies, makes nice with Iran, wavers in its support of Israel, and worries about multiculturalism,  Donald Trump says the words defiantly.

Tens of millions of Americans are disaffected, frustrated, angered, and resentful by the juggernaut of progressive policies and programs which threaten what they see is the integrity and unanimity of America.   The universal liberal support of Black Lives Matter and its absolute hostility towards the police is but the latest assault.  Coming on the heels of gay marriage, usurpation by fiat and court order of the democratic process in matters of religious freedom and reproductive behavior, this distortion of American democracy is bilious and maddening.

When Donald Trump is politically incorrect, he is not merely targeting campus absurdity but shouting ‘basta!’ to all multicultural occupations of American institutions.

When he calls the Supreme Court rigged, he is not claiming that it is seditiously so, but politically biased.   The almost perfect alignment of liberal and conservative Justices on cases before the Court is testimony to the fact; and the arrogation of power in the hands of nine men and women, jurists who make final decisions on matters that should be left to the electorate, is untenable.


This morning, the day after Trump’s formal investiture, progressives are not only bewildered but flummoxed.   They have to finally admit that they didn’t see this coming.  Trump’s ascendancy is not only the rise of political opponent but a revelation that America is not what they thought.   The country is not a logical place.  Reason – i.e. carefully studied opinions and measured responses based on data and analysis – does not always prevail.  Secularism is not widespread. Diversity is not universally embraced.

In other words Trump’s success is troubling for the Left because it exposes the intellectual  insularity and righteousness of the Left and the Eastern Establishment of both parties.  “How could this have happened?”, they say, when Trump populism has been there for inspection for months.  It was the Left’s refusal to believe that anyone like Donald Trump could possibly have any chance at victory was its undoing.  They forgot to look at our evangelical roots – Amy Semple McPherson, Billy Sunday, Oral Roberts, and Pat Robertson.   They ignored our profound social conservatism and dismissed movements of state legislatures to restore order and religiously conservative values.   They mistook fundamentalism for ignorance.

Now what? The political lines have been drawn more markedly than ever before; but the Left has never faced an opponent like Donald Trump.  His manipulation of the media and poking his critics in the eye with his canny Michelle Obama-Melania Trump convention speech fol-de-rol has put the Left on notice.  The presidential campaign will be no different from the primaries.  His opponents are unprepared and overmatched; and the longer they shake their heads in bewilderment, the farther back they will fall.


It is wake-up time for America’s Left and moderate Establishment Right.  Donald Trump is here to stay.  Even if he does not win the election, his populist coup has been successful.  Even if it is repulsed, the disaffected rebels will still be there, even more consolidated and determined in defeat.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Corruption - From Ancient Greece To The Modern Day, Familiar, Persistent, And Permanent

Corruption is endemic to human society.  No country, empire, regime, government, or private sector has ever been exempt.  Whether the Seven Dwarves of the American tobacco industry who deliberately withheld damaging information about the dangers of nicotine and actively sought to boost its addictive properties; Enron who set up shell companies and impossibly complex derivatives to bilk the public and enrich their executives; or Bernie Madoff who lied to his Jewish friends and supporters and ruined them while his own financial holdings increased.

Political corruption in Ancient Rome is one of the principal reasons cited for its downfall:
One of the most difficult problems was choosing a new emperor. Unlike Greece where transition may not have been smooth but was at least consistent, the Romans never created an effective system to determine how new emperors would be selected. The choice was always open to debate between the old emperor, the Senate, the Praetorian Guard (the emperor's private army), and the army.
Gradually, the Praetorian Guard gained complete authority to choose the new emperor, who rewarded the guard who then became more influential, perpetuating the cycle. Then in 186 A. D. the army strangled the new emperor, the practice began of selling the throne to the highest bidder. During the next 100 years, Rome had 37 different emperors - 25 of whom were removed from office by assassination. This contributed to the overall weaknesses, decline and fall of the empire (Rome.info)
Electoral corruption was rampant, and most historians conclude that Julius Caesar won the office of Pontifex Maximus through electoral bribery.

In a letter to Lucilius, lamenting the electoral corruption in Rome, Seneca wrote:
Call it enjoyable when the tribes are called together and the candidates are making offerings at their favorite temples – some of them promising money and gifts…and wearing down their hands with the kisses of those to whom they will refuse the least finger-touch after they are elected…(Lisa Hill, ‘Conceptions of Corruption in Ancient Rome and Greece).
Ancient Greece was no different.  Despite its reputation as a philosophical idyll, it was run by bureaucrats like most countries.  Aristotle himself estimated that the city of Athens alone had 20,000 public employees who were badly paid and ‘made ends meet’.

Corruption in Imperial China was no different as Andras Csuka writes :
Corruption in China dates back over a thousand years and has been present through countless dynasties. In fact, widespread corruption is often cited as one of the factors that led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century.
As a result, the labyrinth of bribes and favors, corruption became an integral part of the entire administration. A European traveller in the 18th century described Chinese corruption as follows: “The man who preserved his integrity is generally considered as incapable or a dreamer. It is not easy to swim against the stream.”

In this complex system it was only normal that government officials would trade their influence for money. They also formed strong cliques to protect themselves from punishments by state businessmen, officials, military leaders and other high ranking state employees.

English monarchs have been no different.  John raided the monasteries to finance his ill-conceived wars.  John, Henry VI, Charles I, Mary I, and Richard III used the power of their regency to retain it at all costs, defying any and all rules of court, Church, and kingdom to attain their ends.


African dictators have a long and sorry history of corruption.
The leader of Ethiopia who either just died or was murdered was a dictator, and despite years of misrule, was the beneficiary of billions.  Idriss Deby, the dictator of Chad played the US and the World Bank for fools, duplicitously agreeing to a gas-for-reform agenda and then reneging completely and continuing his despotic rule over one of the poorest countries in Africa..  The lionized Kagame presides with a repressive regime which muzzles opposition.  He has lied or distorted reports about his support of anti-government clandestine military operations in the Congo.  There are many more examples.
Helen Epstein recently described in these pages the support that aid donors give to Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi, who has roughly matched Biya [President of Cameroon]  in aid receipts in a shorter period of time.
Peter Gill in his excellent recent book Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid (2010) documents Meles’s misdeeds further, which rise to the level of war crimes in his counterinsurgency in Ethiopia’s Somali region. Other long-serving aid-receiving dictators include Idriss Déby in Chad ($6 billion in aid between 1990 and the present), Lansana Conté in Guinea ($11 billion between 1984 and his death in 2008), Paul Kagame in Rwanda ($10 billion between 1994 and the present), and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda ($31 billion between 1986 and the present)William Easterly, NY Review of Books, 11.2010
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           Idress Deby  www.wikimedia.org
These are just some examples of misrule, notable because of the perpetuation of dictatorial regimes thanks to Western largesse.  But there are more.  Take the case of Togo where President-for-Life Eyadema ruled for decades until his death in a suspicious air disaster:
President Eyadéma died on 5 February 2005 while on board an airplane en route to France for treatment for a heart attack. Papa Gnassingbé is said to have killed more than fifteen thousand people during his dictatorship. His son Faure Gnassingbé, the country's former minister of public works, mines, and telecommunications, was named President by Togo's military following the announcement of his father's death. 
After the announcement of the results [of an ‘election’ in 2005], tensions flared up and to date, 100 people have been killed. On 3 May 2005, Gnassingbé was sworn in and vowed to concentrate on "the promotion of development, the common good, peace and national unity" (Wikipedia).
The Central African Republic which endured decades of despotic rule by Bokassa, emerged from that period by fits and starts
In 1999 Mr Patasse beat nine other candidates to become president again, but there were allegations of electoral fraud. He was overthrown in a coup in 2003 and went into exile in Togo.
Illegal weapons proliferate across the CAR, the legacy of years of unrest. Armed groups are active in the volatile north. The unrest has displaced tens of thousands of Central Africans; many of them have crossed the border into Chad.
Another threat has appeared - the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of neighboring Uganda, whose insurgency has spread to the wider region, including CAR. In 2009, LRA activities forced the populations of several towns and villages to flee, while government forces struggled to contain the gunmen.

                            Bokassa  www.uhurospirit.org
Why is corruption so universal?

Although large public sector bureaucracies have been cited as hothouses for corruption whether in Ancient Greece or modern-day America and Africa, they are facilitators of corruption, not the underlying cause.  Their low pay, subservient status, and lack of advancement are more important factors in bending or overlooking rules and regulations for personal gain.

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” said Baron Acton.  Not only are those with limited power given to corruption; but those with immense power are even more so.


Is corruption endemic because of the lack of moral authority?  Doubtful. Church and State were one throughout most of history.  The threat of excommunication by the Pope reined in all but the most self-serving ambition of English kings until Henry VIII defied them; and most ordinary subjects feared eternal damnation for their sins. Yet even in such societies governed by strict moral precepts – every religion has its injunctions against lying, stealing, covetousness, and deceit – immoral and unethical behavior are rampant.   Although these principles are taught and passed down by parents, Church, community and state, they are routinely and regularly dismissed as irrelevant, inapplicable, or outdated.

Both the Old and New Testaments are very clear about moral codes.  Although the message of Christ is one of forgiveness and redemption, the gospels and epistles set forth the moral and ethical conditions for salvation.

Ivan Karamazov in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov argues that theocracies are the most moral and incorruptible of regimes because the fear of damnation is far more threatening than any punitive measure of the state.


Despite theocracies, the Ten Commandments, the code of Hammurabi, and Koranic law, corruption has persisted and thrived in every human civilization.

The same review of history which has revealed corruption at every turn will also reveal familiar, predictable, and seemingly unavoidable patterns of violent self-interest, territorialism, acquisitiveness, and self-protection – the essential expressions of human nature.

It is not hard to see, therefore, how self-interested politicians, ordinary citizens, and family members resort to corrupt, venal, and manipulative means to achieve their goals.  Not only is history filled with chronicles of political distortion and overweening ambition, but literature as well.  Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Histories are all about such familiar ambition and how everyone at court, in the Church, or among the populace falls prey to it.

Transparency International publishes a corruption index every year, and it is obvious that wealthy countries with a strict rule of law within modern, culturally homogeneous societies are less corrupt than those without.  It is no surprise that Denmark, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, and the Netherlands are among the top ten least corrupt; and that Somalia, Afghanistan, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Angola are among the worst.

In other words although corruption is endemic, naturally occurring, and persistent, it can be mitigated by strong economies in which most share the wealth, where  a rational, fair, and universal legal system exists and where disputes are adjudicated by impartial courts.

USAID has a number of programs designed to reduce corruption in the developing world.  These are likely to end in failure because no amount of information, education, or good will can possibly remove entrenched dictators, reform corrupt bureaucracies, expunge the culture of corruption which pervades countries like Bangladesh where bribes and favors are required from the bottom up despite democracy and civil law.  Nor can such well-meaning initiatives improve economic performance or guarantee reasonable access to wealth. .

In other words, since self-interest is an essential feature of human nature; and since in countries where the achievement of personal ends is only possible by circumventing ineffectual rules and regulations, then corruption will continue only until wealth increases universally. At some point all countries corruption curves cross.  Government and citizens both realize that more wealth is to be had more equally under the rule of law.  This cannot be taught.

At this same juncture, the citizenry will reject venal dictatorship and politicians will realize that their future is more dependent on upholding the rule of law and equality of opportunity than bilking the public.

The once impermeable borders of the least corrupt countries have been breached by forces of corruption.  There is no way that Northern European nations suddenly transformed from quietly homogeneous, socialist countries into heterogeneous ones with increasingly poor, disaffected, and angry minorities can retain their moral and ethical integrity.  Corruption is bound to increase.

Corruption must be accepted as a normal although unacceptable expression of human nature.  Although until recently there was a hope for The End of History – a new, democratic, equal, and fair world – it has been dashed once and for all.  New geopolitical configurations once unimaginable are changing world order.  Every one within these new configurations must once again sort through the conundrums of governance, civility, ethics, morals, and responsibility.  Until then, corruption will increase.

On a mission to Senegal a number of years back, a colleague of mine reported a telling incident.  The head of his UN team, invited by the  Minister of Health to his home for dinner, challenged him, accusing him and his ministry of corruption.  The Minister, immaculately robed in traditional dress and speaking elegant French said,
“Mr. _____, you don’t seem to understand.  How is it that I have become Minister in my President’s government?  It is because of the support I have received from my family, my tribe, my region, and my country; and I will repay each and everyone of them in turn and in that order.”

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For - 'Diversity', Dallas, And The Erosion Of A Civil Society

When the Founding Fathers wrote the articles of federation, they could never have imagined the complex world of today.   They did know however, thanks to their reading of history, that the world of 1787 would certainly change in unimaginable ways; and therefore they crafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as fundamental rights which would be applicable and appropriate for any age.  Taken together they were an Enlightenment canon, a set of secular principles that paralleled the Ten Commandments.

Rather than injunctions, they were statements of high purpose and reason.  The rights to free speech, religion, and assembly were not only derived from the decades of oppression which forced the earliest American settlers to migrate; nor from the more recent authoritarian regime of British colonial rulers, but from the philosophical principles of Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Montesquieu.

There were indeed such things as ‘inalienable rights’, endowed by the Creator.  The Bill of Rights was, then, far more than a determined and final rejection of Europeanism, the divine right of kings, and the pseudo-established order of monarchy, subjects, and exploitation.   It was a statement both of obedience to God in whom these rights were immanent, and a declaration of the duties and obligations of His subjects.

Today, the Rights enshrined in the Bill have been distorted and used for parochial, personal ends.  Freedom of assembly did not mean, in the minds of Jefferson, Adams, and Monroe, violent protest.   Freedom of speech did not include inflammatory rhetoric, and demagoguery.   Freedom of religion did not include the right to intimidate and marginalize those who value religion above secular interests.  Freedom of the press did not mean a sanction of exploitative mass marketing of intemperate actions in the name of democracy.

Jefferson in particular was insistent on this point.  The ‘pursuit of happiness’ did not give license to any and all personal ambitions for wealth, power, or status.  It acknowledged the role of individual enterprise in economic, societal, and personal affairs; but such enterprise was sanctioned only within a communal context.  One’s own ambitions were not to be pursued at the expense of others.

Image result for images jefferson

Of course Jefferson and his colleagues understood the nature of capitalism as well as any.  They knew that private enterprise could be a zero sum game; but they insisted that for the sake of polity, and the rational, progressive growth of the new Republic, individual ambitions must be restrained.

In other words, the freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights were essential for any modern society for they would ensure both individual growth and socio-economic progress.  Hamilton, however, was a conservative outlier.  He worried that an uneducated populace could easily pervert these essential principles, and that demagogues could use such uneducated ambition for their own venal ends.  He advocated for a more traditional, less populist form of government than Jefferson.

Hamilton has been proven right.  American society is in chaos because the brakes on populism and the excesses of popular democracy envisaged in the Jefferson-Hamilton compromise have been removed.  Every 'progressive' cause has been legitimized by elites who, in the name of diversity and multiculturalism, have sanctioned them.

Image result for images alex hamilton

The Founding Fathers who wrote checks and balances into the Constitution and created the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of law and jurisprudence, never anticipated and would never welcome the partisan nature of the high court today.  Far from the disinterested, removed, objective reviewer of lower court (and therefore popular) opinion, it has become an interventionist force in American society.  The appointed Justices vote, in most cases, strictly along party lines; and anyone paying attention must conclude political partisanship in the extreme.

The divisiveness provoked by radical populism, progressivism, and the championing of any claim of ‘diversity’ has now reached crisis proportions.  As the National Review has stated in an editorial (7.8.16) responding to an orchestrated sniper attack on police guarding a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas:
We don’t yet know who executed this attack, and we must wait for details, which should be forthcoming soon enough. But to suggest that lethal attacks on the police are not made more likely by the hateful anti-cop climate stoked by Black Lives Matter — with the indulgence and often the encouragement of government officials and opinion elites — is to be detached from reality.
In other words, the rights of freedom of expression and assembly have been distorted.  Racial hatred and venomous and now physical attacks against the police when many of the racially-motivated claims against police brutality have been dismissed by the courts are increasingly common.

The media – ‘freedom of the press’ – have been complicit in this call to violence. After the latest incident in Minnesota, the fiancée of a black shooting victim and her mother were interviewed on a national news outlet with no representatives of law enforcement present.

Given the successive legal dismissals of cases against  policemen in Baltimore, Atlanta, and elsewhere; and given the heightened sensitivity of the issues of police-minority incidents, one would have hoped for a more balanced and fair reportage.  Nothing of the sort.  Not only was the reporting biased, but it demeaned and degraded those who were close to the man who was killed.

Even to the casual observer, it is clear that the intentions of the Founding Fathers have been disregarded and their words and declarations manipulated and perverted for venal, political ends.

There is no way to promote radical diversity – that is that all racial and ethnic minorities deserve favorable treatment  in the courts, in college admissions, in hiring, and social expression – without promoting its ugly side.  Activists whether on campus or in the streets, emboldened by the unequivocal support of ‘progressives’ and protected by distorted judicial renderings of free speech and assembly, have provoked more civil disorder than at any other moment in the recent past. .

There is good reason for foreign observers – both those sympathetic to American exceptionalism and those dismissive of it – to wonder what is happening in America today.  It certainly seems as though civil discourse, respect for Constitutional provisions, and concern for polity and social harmony have gone out the window; and that America, far from the beacon of civilization, has become an ordinary, Third World state of intellectual corruption, untamed disorder, and venality.

Much of the responsibility lies with the ‘progressive’ Left which has been unalloyed in its championing of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity and its unforgiving criticism of those who oppose them.  The Left has ignored the legitimate claims of religious fundamentalists, conservative Christians, and the white majority in its insistent calls for diversity at any cost.  It has categorically refused to consider anything but its own political agenda.

The Left must accept responsibility for provoking, aiding, and abetting Black Lives Matter.   The violence in Dallas is but the latest expected result of such partisan promotion of a radical agenda.

The Real Cost Of ‘Diversity’– Race, Responsibility, And Integration

The campaign to promote diversity has focused on race, gender, and  ethnicity as key indicators of a pluralistic society; and individuals should be seen first and foremost through this particular lens.  
It is important to retain this focus, advocates say, because of the discrimination directed at members of racial groups, those of alternate sexuality, and immigrants from backgrounds different from those of white, Christian America.

Racial, sexual, and ethnic identity should not only be a source of pride which validates individual worth but which provides strength in numbers.  Only if members of such disadvantaged and marginalized communities march together and adhere to a common agenda, mission, and purpose can the cause of final, full, and unequivocal acceptance in America be achieved.

Such political solidarity has strong historical antecedents – the labor movement, for example, succeeded in America largely because the AFL-CIO, a national organization which included unions of many different trades and millions of members, had political clout and workingman muscle.  Although such solidarity came at a price – threats and intimidation were how union leaders ensured a loyal membership – it was essential in the fight for better wages and benefits.

Image result for images logo afl-cio

Political movements organized to fight global warming, protect women’s rights to abortion or fight to limit its access have been successful because they are unified collectivities, all of whose members hew to the same, clear, and unwavering party line.   When AARP lobbies Congress, Representatives and Senators know that is speaking with one voice for tens of millions of older Americans.

The fight for civil rights has been one characterized both by peaceful demonstration and by violent protest.  The marches led by Martin Luther King throughout the South and the March on Washington were examples of non-violence and the power of peaceful collectivity.  The defiant and violent protests encouraged by the Black Panthers and Malcolm X were necessary, supporters said, because the cause of the Negro would never be furthered in a white society which which for centuries had kept black people in their place and expected obedience and complaisance.  The race riots of Detroit, Newark, and Watts in the late 60s were examples of the frustrated rage that had long festered within black inner-city communities.


The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement combines elements of MLK’s peaceful marches and demonstrations and Malcolm X’s militant defiance of the white power structure.  Although there has not yet been the level of civil disorder seen in the Sixties, the threat of it is felt.  BLM protests, while non-violent in action have been threatening in character.  No one can miss the virulent anti-police rhetoric of the movement.  The police are the armed extension of a privileged, entrenched, white political and social elite which has and always will do anything to preserve it.


The repercussions of recent violent events involving black people and the police are still to unfold; but partisan positions have never been more hardened.  Black Americans joining BLM and who feel disaffected, marginalized, increasingly angry,  and frustrated by what they see is the slow progress towards full acceptance,  have felt that anything other than a full frontal assault on their oppressors – the police, the courts, the Congress, mayors, aldermen, and the white, smug, rich – is not acceptable.
White conservatives  see only an illegitimately empowered mob given the license, cover, and immunity of ‘diversity’ by a radically ‘progressive’ liberal elite.  The rest of America is frustrated, appreciative of both sides of the argument, but befuddled, concerned, if not afraid.

What has been lost in this contentious and now dangerous clash of wills is responsibility.  Any group which claims legitimacy and feels the right to present its grievances and to demand recompense and radical change must operate from a position of a moral authority.  It is not enough to demonstrate in the name of moral injustice – discrimination – but to protest with full disclosure and objective determination of the nature of discrimination.

The champions of ‘diversity’ have delayed this acceptance of responsibility and examination of those factors originating in the black community which may have led to the persistent delay in its social and economic progress.  ‘Progressives’ have chosen to ignore social dysfunction.  By accepting if not glamorizing  the street culture of macho swagger, an ethos of intimidation and ‘respect’, and a dismissal of traditional majority values, ‘progressives’ have done an irreparable disservice to the black community.

A by-product of this attitude is the sluice of entitlement money poured into inner-city communities without exacting any conditions.  The damage done to them by centuries of slavery, racism, and discrimination is so serious, progressives claim, that demanding internal reform according to white standards is in itself racist and unacceptable.

Black politicians thrive on this misguided conclusion.  In cities like Washington, Detroit, and Chicago, they are quite happy to demand reparations in the form of unconditional transfers of public funds to be administered by the community itself.  Their political longevity is based largely on being able to deliver such unencumbered funds.

Those members of the community in the best positions to promote a renewed and restored culture of responsibility – preachers – have not done so convincingly.  They whose livelihood also depends on the will of their constituents are unlikely to challenge received wisdom. 

While there is no doubt that police have overstepped their authority and have in certain instances acted more on racial prejudice than principles of law enforcement (the LAPD recognized the problem and set out to rectify it), there is equally no doubt that they are aware of the violent communities in which they work.  They are aware that anyone stopped for even a minor offense may be carrying an illegal weapon.  They are aware that in communities where shootings are common even in minor disputes, where schools are policed by armed officers and protected by metal detectors, and where disrespect for law enforcement is at a new high, they might be the next victim.

This is not to exonerate police who use unnecessary force; but only to expose the socio-cultural envir0nment within which law enforcement operates.

A black Washington, DC policeman, about to retire after 30 years on the force, related how things have changed since when he began his career.  In the old days, he said, when someone was pulled over, the officer would be treated with deference and respect – an attitude which encouraged the same response from the police.  Now, he said, the officer is often met with angry defiance and threat.

“Why do you suppose?”, the policeman was asked. “Because they feel entitled”, he answered. 

Unless communities can accept responsibility for their dysfunction and resolve to do something about it, they will always be marginalized if not demonized.  Unless they fully and willingly accept the need to adhere to majority norms of  behavior and in fact do so, they will be perpetually behind the curve. 

It is no surprise that a black man is President of the United States or that a black man was Secretary of State; or that black professionals thrive in law, banking, and industry.  Their color disappears when they perform according to the standards set by the community at large – i.e., the nation.  Residents in white neighborhoods will be the first to call the police when a black hooded sweatshirt-wearing teenager is seen walking at night; but they will also be the first to welcome a black CEO or White House official.

Image result for images colin powell

These men and women have achieved success despite great hardship.  Many of their stories are familiar – sons and daughters of sharecroppers, victims of discrimination and racism in the South – but all have found ways to survive and to thrive.  America may – with some justification – categorize individuals by the groups to which they belong; but they also value and appreciate people of any background who have achieved recognition within the rules of American values.

Few young men and women manage to escape the urban ghetto; but some do, largely because of strong families, religious faith, and individual intelligence and will.  Many more are consigned to the streets because these values have not been generalized.  If communities as a whole valued family, faith, enterprise, intelligence, and ambition like selected families do, then the road out would be a lot less difficult to travel.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Democratic Senator, adviser to Presidents, Harvard scholar and confirmed liberal wrote the following in the mid-Sixties:
The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence—not final, but powerfully persuasive—is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle-class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated. There are indications that the situation may have been arrested in the past few years, but the general post-war trend is unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself. 
The situation described by Moynihan has become far worse, aided and abetted by those who, in the name of ‘diversity’ and inclusiveness, have ignored these social and cultural determinants of success and chosen to focus more on racial identity.


The conclusion is clear.  There is no way for minority communities to advance into the mainstream of American life – to be integrated – unless reform is begun from within.  No civilization since the Ancient Greeks and before has not adhered to the same basic, fundamental notions of honesty, courage, discipline, respect, compassion, and faith; and no community today can survive without adopting and adhering to them.

Polity – an organized society – depends on these values.  They must be first and foremost, and must precede the demand for civil rights.  Jefferson and the Founding Fathers knew quite well that although the new Republic valued individuals, it could never survive without respect for commonly accepted norms and standards.  The value of the individual has worth only within a community context.