Is the world getting better? 9

Yesterday (November 28, 2019), Douglas Carswell ex-MP delivered – very engagingly – an invigorating lecture in London titled Cheer Up! Why The World is Getting Better. 

It was the second Jillian Becker Annual Lecture under the auspices of The Freedom Association. (The first was given in 2018 by the writer Theodore Dalrymple.)

Jillian Becker is editor-in-chief of this website, and a long standing member of the council of the Freedom Association.

The annual lecture must always be about individual liberty or the importance of the nation-state, or both.

Here’s the half-hour lecture:

We think he makes a good case for human life having improved in quality not just over the millennia, which is obvious, but over a couple of centuries, and acceleratingly over the last few decades. He attributes the improvement largely to the spread of liberty, and the resultant prosperity and innovation, with which we heartily agree.

He argues that optimism is a force for improvement in itself; that with it, our lives will go on getting better. He mentions some of the grave threats to our liberty – and so to prosperity and innovation – that confront us now: “terror attacks, wars in the Middle East, migration crises …”. He moves on, however, without explaining why he does not consider at least some of them – notably for instance the migration of peoples who do not value individual freedom into the Western world, threatening to change the demographic composition of many countries permanently – strong impediments to the advance of liberty.

If you listen to the lecture, please tell us if you agree with him, and if so – wholly or partly? If only partly, with what in particular do you disagree?

Posted under liberty by Jillian Becker on Friday, November 29, 2019

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What is conservatism? 21

A heated altercation is proceeding between two groups of American conservatives. Each group is claiming to be the true conservatives.

The one group calls itself “Alt-Right ” and “America Firsters”. All its members are white and proudly white-supremacist, convinced that the white race is superior to all others. They are also called “groypers”. What they want to conserve, they say, are what they consider to be the traditional cultural norms of the white race, laying particular stress on the Christian religion and heterosexual marriage. Their motto is “Faith, Family, Community”. They are fiercely – and at the same time facetiously – aggressive in word and deed.

The other, much bigger group in America, are the conservatives who (generally, but not invariably and not uncritically) vote Republican; are Christian, but want a separation of church and state; are nationalists and patriots, but not racists; are tolerant of homosexual marriage; and who loyally uphold the Constitution of the United States.

These two rival versions of conservatism are to be found in an article and a speech from which we select the most telling passages:

Matthew Boose defends the “Alt-Right” and attacks what he calls “Conservatism, Inc.” in an article at American Greatness. He refers to the “civil war” between representative of the two sides, and sums up the arguments as he understands them:

In the wake of the Donald Trump moment, conservatism is up for grabs: white identitarians, “Catholic integralists,” paleocons, and American nationalists all sense an opportunity for greater representation. But the bigger story is that the globalist, anti-nationalist, progressive “conservatism” that came before Trump isn’t yet quite dead, and it’s fighting for survival.

The degree to which this is true has become apparent over the past few weeks as a civil war within campus conservatism has raged on between Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA and paleoconservative activists who follow the nationalist podcaster Nicholas Fuentes.

Nicholas Fuentes is a Holocaust-denying anti-Semite.

As Kirk and his allies see it, the Fuentes fans, who call themselves “groypers,” have been trying to “hijack” campus conservatism by injecting “white nationalism” into the debate. But this so-called sabotage has been accomplished with extraordinary simplicity. The groypers have been showing up to Kirk’s events to air their grievances about the failures of mainstream conservatism and its wholesale embrace of the LGBT+ agenda and mass migration.

Rather than talk to these activists in good faith, though, the gatekeepers have decided their ideas are not worth debating. They have instead pursued a campaign of denigration and suppression. Leaving aside personalities, they have dismissed candid, important questions about demographics and the liberalization of the conservative movement as “bigoted” and “racist.” …

Kirk acknowledges that the demographic shifts … are real and that leftists are celebrating those changes. But Kirk ends up backing the leftist premise that such demographic shifts are inevitable and that the Republican Party’s only hope is to embrace this growing and diverse reality.

Kirk rejects without explanation putting a moratorium on immigration. Rather than restrict immigration to reverse the trend, Kirk [says that] … Republicans must reject “anti-immigrant” stances and instead do more to reach minority demographics. Only then can the GOP remain viable in a majority-minority future.

The premise is based on an obvious double-standard, one which is becoming more and more difficult to simply ignore. … If we’re talking about the interests of “natural Republicans” from El Salvador and “MAGA drag queens,” then Kirk and Conservatism, Inc. have no issue with appealing to demographics. But when it comes to talking about the interests of white Christians it’s a different story altogether. That’s “racist”. …

The leaders of the conservative movement must be able to answer these questions: why are white Christians, and only white Christians, prohibited from acting in their rational self-interest? Why must Republicans, given the prospect of a dim future in which it can only survive by pandering to the Left, respond by pandering to the Left now, just to win over people who hate and want to persecute them anyway?

In the end, this “strategy” is nothing more than a capitulation to the Left, the same surrender that has laid the country, and the party, so low for decades. By all means, the Republican Party must never waver in its support of the traditional family, of life, and of the Constitution. But it’s also not clear how exactly, or why, appealing to minority groups, and only minority groups, is the best way to do that.

It is disingenuous, not to say illogical, to say that the Republican Party must, for some unexplained reason, not think in terms of demographics when it comes to its most reliable voters—and join the Left in attacking any of those voters who may feel besieged by our liberal monoculture—and instead seek to recruit and celebrate other, reliably liberal groups, such as gays and Latino immigrants. With the exception of evangelicals and Cubans, Latino voters as a group are reliably Democrat, and they have been for decades. They support gun control, the welfare state, and even gay marriage by some margins. Their mythic social conservatism is not as solid as some Republicans would like to think. What does Conservatism, Inc. imagine it can do to change that in short order?

While the TPUSA controversy has focused on demographics, another core grievance of the “groypers” is the conservative movement’s inability to conserve the morals and traditions that made America great, especially traditional marriage. The conscious embrace of leftist identity politics, particularly LGBT rights, by Kirk and other Conservatism, Inc. figures justifies the impression that this is by unconscious design, if not conscious choice.

They pander to every identity group under the sun while at the same time feeling very free to attack white Americans who are troubled by the prospect of becoming a minority in their own country. Such people are denounced as “racists” just for feeling that way. It’s hard to see what’s conservative about this, or how it will help Republicans win elections in a deeply uncertain future.

It is no accident that some liberals have encouraged their Republican adversaries to embrace the “diversify” strategy Kirk advocates, as it advances the Left’s own goals and commitments. The gatekeepers in Conservatism, Inc. embrace the same ideas, the same methods, and even the same rhetoric as the Left to advance a globalist, anti-nationalist agenda. Their smears of outspoken America Firsters are indistinguishable from the Left’s familiar drive-by attacks on even the most unobjectionable conservatives.

The “conservatism” of groups like TPUSA isn’t conserving anything—nothing, that is, but liberalism itself. It does not offer young people anything they cannot already find in the ethos of consumerism and vacuous personal “liberation” so pervasive in our liberal culture and advanced relentlessly by the globalist Left.

For conservatives to embrace gay marriage is not an intuitive position by any means, but Kirk and his boosters have done exactly that, denouncing those with questions about this development as “homophobes”. Especially at a time when leftists scheme in the open about taxing churches that don’t recognize gay marriage, it’s hardly a logical position for a conservative to take.

The “conservatism” of Conservatism, Inc. isn’t conservatism, but a species of libertarianism. Like many in the libertarian camp, Kirk takes the view that matters of marriage and morals should be left to private contracts between individuals and what they do in the so-called privacy of their own lives; never mind that the Left has already invaded the public square and has made persecuting Christians and conservatives a moral mission. To the libertarians of Conservatism, Inc., moral authority appears not to rest with a higher power, but is arrogated instead to individuals. All that matters is the “free market” and securing the freedom to legitimize a deeper and deeper backslide into barbarism.

I’m not going to question Kirk’s faith, but the morality he advocates has more in common with the Left than with Christian principles. In an interview … Kirk described himself as a “conservatarian” and expresses the view that there is no contradiction between the libertarian non-aggression principle and his religious views: “you should be able to make your choices as you see fit, as long as you’re not harming someone else.”

This is the classic formulation of liberalism: the idea that society should be arranged to make people as free as possible to pursue their own adventures. But there is nothing obviously conservative about this mentality. By following it, Kirk has embraced a very recent cultural shift that repudiates centuries upon centuries of tradition on marriage and the family.

This libertarian ethos of personal liberation justifies the damage done to the social fabric by leftism, while inviting further degeneration down the road. It has no cohesive social vision beyond securing the “blessings of liberty” to invite drag queens into libraries to read stories to schoolchildren. It has neither the desire nor the conviction to resist America’s free-fall into social anomie and moral decay, and it has no plan for repairing the destruction of the past decades of experimentation. America is imagined not even to be a concrete place at all, but rather a collation of hoary abstractions coined by the Founding Fathers, who surely fought and died so that future generations of Americans would embrace state-sanctioned gender reassignment surgery for 7-year-olds.

Coupled with this moral indifference is a worship of the “free market” and its miraculous power to distribute goods, resources, and labor as efficiently as possible. It’s not by mistake that conservatives of Kirk’s stripe talk more about markets than morals. If all that matters is the free market and “doing whatever you want,” then it’s hard to justify restricting immigration or opposing gay marriage to preserve American jobs, values, and traditions.

These “conservatives” understand that the common good is most helped by inviting millions of foreign laborers to boost the GDP, that the Gospel preaches acceptance of whatever sexually permissive fashions the Left dreamed up yesterday, that America is just an idea in which all lifestyles, peoples, and cultures except those which define the historic American nation must be celebrated. …

Conservatism, Inc. can offer no assurances that Americans may expect to raise their children in a decent, moral society that cares about family, community, and faith. It does not seek to build a world where Americans may live free and prosperous lives without bearing false witness to the same idols that the Left, and the controlled opposition of Conservatism, Inc., worship. Americans are provided not the least guarantees of job security, or that America will even speak their native language in thirty years time. Neither are they provided the reprieve of knowing that they will be able to worship and raise their families in the faith of their upbringing and their ancestors without incurring ruinous financial and social consequences.

Kirk acknowledges that conservatives are besieged by a “far-left mainstream culture leading an assault on American values,” but whether he realizes it or not, Kirk and his defenders are part of enabling that mainstream. The entirety of Conservatism, Inc. is working towards the same ends as the progressive, globalist left. The irony is that they do this while styling themselves the “real conservatives” and attacking anyone with serious questions about the movement’s priorities.

Rather than answer challenging questions about the future of conservatism, the Beltway conservatives have responded with emotive attacks, threats of censorship and doxxing, and outright smears. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) has warned that questioners who venture outside the gentle sandbox of Heritage Foundation good-think will regret showing their faces on camera. Ben Shapiro dedicated a 45-minute speech to obliquely attacking the groypers, but refused to engage with them directly. Coming from the guy who coined “facts don’t care about your feelings,” that’s just rich.

Conservatism, Inc. isn’t a movement but a corporate enterprise. Its self-styled “dissent” is all part of a shallow brand of rebellion that begins and ends with “triggering” blue-haired gender studies majors. Beyond these shallow displays of edginess, Conservatism, Inc. promotes the same agenda of social liberalism and open borders as the Left. They wear a mask of intellectualism and “free thought,” but the moment anyone questions the dogma, the gatekeepers fall back on exactly the kind of emotive attacks that they project onto the “triggered” Left.

Kirk says that the Right must resist “excommunicating” those with different opinions on important issues, but that is exactly what Kirk and his allies are trying to do to the America Firsters. He complains of being subjected to an ideological “purity test” by the America First crowd while simultaneously, and arbitrarily labeling them “fake conservatives,” “white nationalists” and “anti-Semites.” This is nonsense.

What Kirk calls a fake purity test is conservatives who are concerned about the direction of the Trump movement making sure that it actually remains committed to its priorities. Their concerns are legitimate. It doesn’t matter when and whether Kirk became a Trump supporter if his ideas don’t align with the agenda that propelled Trump to office.

The truth is that the groypers, however weird the “groyper” brand might be, are closer to the mainstream of how the American Right actually feels than the Beltway types who wear the conservative label while behaving exactly like leftists. They should be applauded for challenging Conservatism, Inc. and its bankrupt ideology. Their “trolling” is more effective activism than the totality of the establishment’s pathetic kowtowing to the gods of Diversity and Progress. …

Why don’t establishment conservatives like Kirk, who have also been smeared by the Left, ally with the conservative “trolls” who actually want to conserve something instead of pandering to the people who hate them? That they do not raises  two possibilities: that they are not sincere, or that they are sincere liberals.

Whatever they are, it isn’t “conservative”.

Ours is a conservative establishment that does nothing, and has done nothing, to conserve the traditions that made America great. This fact cries out for an accounting, and it is becoming impossible to ignore. If Conservatism, Inc. refuses to engage candidly with serious, legitimate questions about its priorities, then it deserves to be called out for its hypocrisy and emptiness.

It is an intensely emotional argument. It shows real fear that America is undergoing a demographic transformation that will make the whites a minority.

Ben Shapiro (who was not at first a supporter of President Trump, but seems to be now) defended the more common views of American conservatives and attacked the ‘”Alt-Right” in a speech he made at Stanford University (November 7, 2019):

I want to talk about the dangerous game being played by two particular nasty groups who feed off one another: I am speaking about the radical Left and the Alt-Right. …

The radical Left and the Alt-Right need each other. And they’re playing a game, in which the radical Left seeks to delegitimize anyone who isn’t radically Left by lumping them in with the despicable Alt-Right — and in which the Alt-Right seeks to make common cause with anyone “cancelled” by the radical Left, specifically with the supporters of President Trump who have been maligned falsely as evil by the radical Left, in order to artificially boost their numbers.

These two goals are mutually reinforcing. Here’s how this garbage works… Let’s say, for example, that you believe that ‘white civilization’ — a nonsensical term, since civilization is not defined by color but by history, culture, and philosophy — is under attack from multiracial hordes. Let’s say that you’re antipathetic toward Jews and enraged by the liberties guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of the United States. Let’s say you spend your days ranting about how American conservatives and traditional classical liberals — the sole protective force against the radical Left — haven’t “conserved” anything. You say America is not a propositional or creedal nation, even though the nation’s founding literally begins with the words, ‘We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights… Let’s say you cite Christianity as the basis of your values, but you’re more likely to quote Nietzsche than Christ. …

First, you declare your allegiance to President Trump, and declare that you aren’t really Alt-Right, even though you obviously are. You show up to lectures wearing a MAGA hat in order to get the media to cover it – and in order to demonstrate that you’re truly a representative of the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump. You call yourself “America First”, hijacking Trump’s slogan, but twisting it to mean “white Americans first”.  The media will eat it up, because the media love nothing better than suggesting that Trump is a white supremacist, despite the fact that he has repeatedly condemned white supremacism. …

You do so by simply lying about mainstream conservatives. You suggest that mainstream conservatives are insufficiently committed to social conservatism. You do this by asking questions like, “How does anal sex help us win the culture war?” [a reference to an Alt-Right heckler’s question at a TPUSA event]. “The purpose is to simultaneously pose as edgy and also preserve your ability to say you were just joking. …

What helps America win the culture war is freedom: freedom against a government encroaching on your activities that don’t harm anyone else. … As Edmund Burke put it, “Whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself.” You know what else helps win the culture war? Engaging with your community, involving yourself in the social fabric. Not creating Pepe memes online and then jabbering about anal sex.

In fact, there’s great irony in watching alt-righters claim that they should use the commanding heights of government to cram down their viewpoints on others – while complaining that the Left uses the commanding heights of government to cram down their viewpoint on others. You can’t really whine about other people shutting down your viewpoint and activity that harms no one else while planning to shut down everybody else’s viewpoints.

The Left everywhere in the Western world likes to condemn all conservatives as “far-Right white-supremacists, Nazis, fascists, racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes”. Shapiro stressed how the Left does this in America:

[The Left] will label anyone on the right Alt-Right, even if we say vocally and in no uncertain terms that the Alt-Right is pure, unbridled, vile garbage — even if members of the Alt-Right target those on the mainstream right. Even if Donald Trump condemns the worldview. …

So the Boston Globe will call my website, The Daily Wire, an “Alt-Right outpost” (we forced them to recant); the Economist will call me “the Alt-Right sage without the rage” (we’ll force them to recant). Students at Boston University are festooning my posters with a Hitler mustache. Students at this university will mob those trying to put up posters for this lecture …

The media will suggest that Trump is in league with the Alt-Right, even at this late date – they’ll neglect all Trump has done to purge his administration to those who were remotely friendly with the Alt-Right  and his forcible disavowal of white supremacism. They’ll simply overlook that Trump isn’t a white supremacist, and declare that the MAGA hat is equivalent to a Nazi swastika – and they’ll say that, by extension, anyone who wears a MAGA hat or votes for Trump is a secret Brownshirt.

[But] if someone believes that all men are created equal, … that every American should have equality before the law, in free market capitalism, in small government, in equal opportunity for all people of all races, that person is not on the Alt-Right. In fact, they despise the Alt-Right, and the Alt-Right despises them. But people on the Left know this, they just prefer the lie. Why? Because their goal is to delegitimize the entire Right.

“The only difference between the radical Left and the Alt-Right,” he pointed out, “is they reverse the victim hierarchy.”

Despite Boose’s protests, it is obvious that the “groypers”, the “America Firsters”, are homophobic, anti-Semitic, white-supremacist racists.

We are none of those things.

We have a lot in common with the conservatives who are defended by Shapiro – and who are not “globalist”, “anti-nationalist”, or “progressive”. But we do not share all their principles, values and views. We quote neither Nietzsche nor Christ to support our opinion.

So why do we call ourselves conservatives? What is it that we think needs to be conserved?

Christopher Roach, writing in the same issue of American Greatness Conservatism to defend Nicholas Fientes and Matthew Boose’s notion of conservatism, says, “Conservatism is not a checklist of particular positions, an ‘established dogma’ or set of ‘doctrine’. It is a disposition, a love of what already is, and is in danger of being lost.”

Certainly it is not a set of doctrines. But it is a set of values.

Our motto, inscribed on our Facebook page, declares those values to be “Freedom, Justice, Reason”We were endowed with them by the Enlightenment. They are interdependent, and essential to our civilization. They need to be conserved if our civilization is to survive.

Freedom is our highest value. We want personal freedom. All our other wants flow from that one; wants of systems, policies and institutions. (This, as Matthew Boose observes, is libertarian – but we share little else with Libertarians.)

Freedom needs the protection of the rule of law, a system of impartial justice which treats all sane adults equally, and which the nation state – and only the nation state – can administer. (Something which libertarians we have read and listened to seem not to be convinced of.)

As we are so fortunate as to live in such a nation state, we are patriotic nationalists. We are uninterested in the race, color, ethnic background of our fellow patriotic nationalists.

We want a strong military to defend us from foreign invasion (but not to force outcomes in other countries).

We want our government to be no more powerful than it needs to be to do its essential job of protecting freedom; never to become so big and strong as to be our master. (It is here that we are furthest from the Left.)

Capitalism is essential to prosperity, and prosperity sustains freedom. The free market is inseparable from a free society. The Alt-Right’s contempt for business, trade and profit is as stupid as it is hypocritical, arising from the absurd value placed on poverty by Christianity (and endorsed by socialism).

We part company with the majority of American conservatives over the issue of “faith”. We accept no “truths” that cannot survive critical examination in the bright light of reason.

Nothing else is essential to our conservatism.

We do, however, have preferences which we do not expect all atheist conservatives to share.

We are against the killing of people except as condign punishment for those who kill, so we are against the killing of unborn living children unless for compelling reasons. We are unconcerned about individual adults’ sexual choices as long as they do not involve the exploitation or corruption of children, although we continue to understand the meaning of “marriage” to be a solemn (not “sacred”) contract between a man and a woman primarily (not imperatively) for the begetting of children.

Where do we stand on immigration, the future demographic composition of the United States? That seems to be the biggest issue in the argument between the Alt-Right and the mainstream conservatives.

Matthew Boose writes:

The elephant in the room is demographics. Not even progressives any longer pretend that mass migration won’t, at the rate we’re going, transform America into a majority-minority nation within our lifetimes. The implications for the nation and the Republican Party because of this shift are profound, and any conservative movement that is not willing to engage with it seriously cannot be taken seriously.

The Alt-Right wants America to be a nation of European-descended, heterosexual, English-speaking, Christian whites.

Do we agree with them?

To the only official language being English, yes. To the bearing and raising of children by husband and wife as a general custom, yes.

To worshiping Jesus Christ, no.

And we are not against immigration. While we see the influx of large numbers of people from less civilized countries, bringing customs and systems of law which we abominate, to be bad for the economy and the quality of life, we do want immigrants bringing inventiveness, expertise, wealth, ability, talent to enrich the nation.

Keeping the country white? Why? European culture, above all Anglophone culture, owes its greatness partly to being eclectic, taking what it likes from other cultures.

We took the zero from brown-skinned India. We took our numerals from India too (though they are wrongly called Arabic).

Did not your Christian god come from the Jews? More beneficially in our view, mobile phones did too.

Veterans Day 2019 1

The First World War, which ended 101 years ago today, was an utterly unnecessary war. It was started for no better reason than to satisfy the vanity of kings.

According to War History Online:

There were around 8 million Frenchmen fighting, 13 million Germans, 9 million Austro-Hungarian men, 9 million British soldiers, 18 million Russians, 6 million Italians and 4 million from the United States.

Here’s the “official” break down [of dead and injured in the engaged armies]:

France: 1.4 million dead, 4.2 million injured.

Germany: 1.8 million dead, 4.2 million injured.

Austria-Hungary: 1.4 million dead, 3.6 million injured.

Russia: 1.8 million dead, 5 million injured.

Britain and British Empire: 900,000 dead, 2 million injured.

Italy: 600,000 dead, 1 million injured.

Serbia suffered the greatest losses [proportionately] to their military. Nearly three quarters of their soldiers were either killed (130,000) or wounded (135,000).

The battles of Verdun and the Somme in 1916 left 770,000 and 1.2 million (respectively) missing, wounded or dead from both sides.

Some of the most devastating losses were caused in the beginning weeks of the world war. In one day, August 22, 1914, nearly 27,000 French soldiers were killed. That day remains the deadliest day in France’s history in regards to military men killed.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I: about 40 million.

It was a vast blood-letting that started the ever accelerating decline of Western civilization.

It destroyed a great part of a whole generation of men.

It facilitated the turning of Russia into a Communist torture-chamber and graveyard, and source of sepsis for the whole world, still spreading.

It led causally to the Second World War, which the allies had necessarily to fight, and in which there were even greater numbers of dead and injured.

Yesterday Queen Elizabeth wept as the customary wreaths were laid at the foot of the cenotaph in memory of the men and women killed in the two world wars.

Today in America we honor all those who have served and serve now in the US military.

It was because America came to the aid of Europe twice in the last century, that liberty was preserved for our world. Whether it will survive much longer remains to be seen. Half the voters of America seem to want to live under the tyranny that was militarily defeated in the last century.

We do well to remember, as Europeans mourn their heroes and Americans honor theirs, how precious and rare is the liberty they fought for.

Posted under Austria, Britain, communism, Europe, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, liberty, nazism, Russia, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 11, 2019

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Enlightenment values 8

Christian values (as described in the post immediately below) are alien to human nature. Human beings do not, cannot, love all other human beings. (Many find it hard to love a few. Some find it impossible to love any.) A thirst for vengeance is common among us. Normal people do not prefer poverty to riches.

Christian values do not underlie our civilization. What values do?

Freedom, justice, reason.

None of which are of any interest to the Christian religion – though millions of individuals who are Christian benefit from them and, to their credit and reward, consciously defend them.

The rewards of reason are, most importantly, scientific knowledge, technological progress, innovation. “Measurement began our might,” wrote W. B. Yeats, referring to ancient civilizations.

To live in freedom, to make justice attainable, to reap the rewards of reason, we need government by Law.

In its beginning, Christianity rejected Law. The author of the Christian religion, St.Paul, contended that the sacrifice of Christ marked a new era and the Law was no longer needed. Christianity was instead of the Law. Later the Church found it necessary to retrieve the moral law of Judaism, and to compile its own canon law. The period of Christian antinomianism was short-lived, but Catholic rule failed spectacularly through the centuries of the Church’s power to provide justice to the peoples of Christendom. It punished heresy, blasphemy, innovation, mere disagreement. It opposed scientific discovery. The Church of Rome was a totalitarian tyranny. So were the Protestant regimes of the Reformation.

The greatness of our civilization began with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the recovery of ancient thought, the launch of the Age of Reason. Europe measured again. Our age of science dawned.

And on the principles of reason, freedom, rule of law, the United States of America was founded.

Yes, some of the Founders were Christians. (And some were deists. And some, though pre-Darwin, were probably quietly atheist.) Yes, the Declaration of Independence mentions a Creator. It designates this Creator as “Nature’s God” – a bold statement of an Enlightenment perception. (Spinoza’s god was nature, the laws of physics.) This god, the Framers said, “endowed” human beings with certain rights. In other words, they saw them as natural rights. There is barely a trace of Christian doctrine in the founding documents, but just enough for those to discern it who want it to be there.

 

Jillian Becker    October 22, 2019

Celebrating freedom 3

Our wish for this and every Fourth of July –

May all our American readers, commenters, contributors, associates, critics, visitors and passers-by have a happy Independence Day!

 

 

Posted under liberty by Jillian Becker on Thursday, July 4, 2019

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Freedom forever? 0

These words were spoken by President Trump today (June 6, 2019) in France, in his speech commemorating D-Day (June 6, 1944):

Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come. Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children, and their children, will forever and always be free.

Stirring, exciting, memorable words. And we wish they may be true. But the free world, our nation, our civilization are facing a threat to-day at least as grave as they faced in 1944. And now the enemy is within our gates, in our midst, inside our government. It’s name is still national socialism, now allied with globalism. It again has an ally in Islam. Will we defend our way of life for centuries to come? Will our children, and their children, forever and always be free?

The whole of the President’s speech can be read here.

Posted under liberty by Jillian Becker on Thursday, June 6, 2019

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Freedom of speech on the internet 7

In 2011 Elizabeth Warren said:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

In 2012 President Obama said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me – because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t – look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

Whether or not they meant to be attacking private enterprise capitalism, that is what they were generally understood to be doing.

The capitalist, free-market argument is that if you own something you can use it as you like for all lawful purposes. If bakers of wedding cakes do not want to sell a cake, or florists do not want to supply bouquets, to same-sex couples, they are within their rights not to do so.

It is generally agreed that the private owners of places of public entertainment such as restaurants, movie theaters, hotels cannot be permitted to shut out some customers on grounds of personal antagonism.

Controversy has arisen as to whether the private owners of the “social media”, notably Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, have a right to refuse the use of their forums to persons whose opinions they dislike, or whether they have the same obligations as owners of restaurants, movie theaters and hotels not to discriminate against some on grounds of personal disagreement.

Daniel Greenfield writes this magisterial opinion on the arguments:

“But, it’s a private company.”

It’s a familiar argument. Bring up the problem of Google, Facebook and Twitter suppressing conservative speech and many conservatives will retort that it’s a free market. The big dot com monopolies created their own companies, didn’t they? And we wouldn’t want government regulation of business.

In a FOX Business editorial, Iain Murray writes that breaking up dot coms like Google would be “a repudiation of conservative principles”. He argues that “Twitter is a private company” and that “there is no positive right to free speech on Twitter or any other private venue.”

“The same goes for the president’s attacks on Google and the complaints of conservative censorship,” Diane Katz writes at the Heritage Institute. “These private enterprises are not obligated to abide any sort of partisan fairness doctrine.”

The talking point that Google, Facebook and Twitter are private companies that can discriminate as they please on their private platforms, and that the First Amendment doesn’t apply, is in the air everywhere.

But it overlooks two very simple facts.

The driving force behind the censorship of conservatives isn’t a handful of tech tycoons. It’s elected officials. Senator Kamala Harris offered an example of that in a recent speech where she declared that she would “hold social media platforms accountable” if they contained “hate” or “misinformation”.

“Misinformation” is a well-known euphemism among Democrats and the media for conservative political content. It was originally known as “fake news” before President Trump hijacked the term to refer to the media. The recent Poynter list of “unreliable” sites was stacked with conservative sites. Lists like these aren’t hypothetical. Poynter runs the International Fact Checking Network which had been empowered by Facebook and other sites to deplatform conservative content through its “fact checks”.

All of this got underway in response to claims by Hillary Clinton and her allies that “fake news” had cost her the election and represented a grave attack on our democracy. The call was quickly taken up by Democrats in the House and the Senate. It’s been commented on supportively by powerful Clinton allies in the tech industry, like Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google.

Dot coms like Facebook are cracking down on conservatives as an explicit response to pressure from elected government officials. That’s not the voluntary behavior of private companies. When Facebook deletes conservatives in response to threats of regulatory action from Senate Democrats, its censors are acting as government agents while engaging in viewpoint discrimination.

Free market conservatives can argue that Facebook should have the right to discriminate against conservatives. But do they really want to argue that Senate Democrats should have the right to compel private companies to censor conservatives?

What’s the difference between that and a totalitarian state?

It might, arguably, be legal for your landlord to kick you out of your house because he doesn’t like the fact that you’re a Republican. But is it legal for him to do so on orders from Senator Kamala Harris?

Defending abusive behavior like that is a desecration of the free market.

The second fact is that the internet is not the work of a handful of aspiring entrepreneurs who built it out of thin air using nothing but their talent, brains and nimble fingers.

At this point we are going to have to concede, however much it stings our political nerve to do so, that Obama got something right when he said that Government research created the internet.

The internet was the work of DARPA. That stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA is part of the Department of Defense. DARPA had funded the creation of the core technologies that made the internet possible. The origins of the internet go back to DARPA’s Arpanet.

Nor did the story end once the internet had entered every home.

Where did Google come from? “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” the original paper by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, reveals support from the National Science Foundation, DARPA, and even NASA.

Harvard’s computer science department, where Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg learned to play with the toys that turned him into a billionaire, has also wallowed in DARPA cash. Not to mention funds from a variety of other DOD and Federal science agencies.

Taxpayers sank a fortune into developing a public marketplace where ideas are exchanged, and political advocacy and economic activity takes place. That marketplace doesn’t belong to Google, Amazon or Facebook. And when those monopolies take a stranglehold on the marketplace, squeezing out conservatives from being able to participate, they’re undermining our rights and freedoms.

“A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, whether public or private and under whatsoever laws these interests arise (to wit: of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right,” Thomas Jefferson argued.

There should be a high barrier for any company seeking to interfere with the marketplace of ideas in which the right of free correspondence is practiced.

Critics of regulating dot com monopolies have made valid points.

Regulating Google or Facebook as a public utility is dangerous. And their argument that giving government the power to control content on these platforms would backfire is sensible.

Any solution to the problem should not be based on expanding government control.

But there are two answers.

First, companies that engage in viewpoint discrimination in response to government pressure are acting as government agents. When a pattern of viewpoint discrimination manifests itself on the platform controlled by a monopoly, a civil rights investigation should examine what role government officials played in instigating the suppression of a particular point of view.

Liberals have abandoned the Public Forum Doctrine, once a popular ACLU theme, while embracing censorship. But if the Doctrine could apply to a shopping mall, it certainly applies to the internet.

When dot com monopolies get so big that being banned from their platforms effectively neutralizes political activity, press activity and political speech, then they’re public forums.

Second, rights are threatened by any sufficiently large organization or entity, not just government. Government has traditionally been the most powerful such organization, but the natural rights that our country was founded on are equally immune to every organization. Governments, as the Declaration of Independence asserts, exist as part of a social contract to secure these rights for its citizens.

Government secures these rights, first and foremost, against itself. (Our system effectively exists to answer the question of who watches the watchers.) But it also secures them against foreign powers, a crisis that the Declaration of Independence was written to meet, and against domestic organizations, criminal or political, whether it’s the Communist Party or ISIS, that seek to rob Americans of their rights.

A country in which freedom of speech effectively did not exist, even though it remained a technical right, would not be America. A government that allowed such a thing would have no right to exist.

Only a government whose citizens enjoy the rights of free men legally justifies its existence.

If a private company took control of all the roads and closed them to conservatives every Election Day, elections would become a mockery and the resulting government would be an illegitimate tyranny.

That’s the crisis that conservatives face with the internet.

Protecting freedom of speech does not abandon conservative principles, it secures them. There are no conservative principles without freedom of speech. A free market nation without freedom of speech isn’t a conservative country. It’s an oligarchy. That’s the state of affairs on the internet.

Conservatives should beware of blindly enlisting in leftist efforts to take regulatory control of companies like Facebook. The result would be a deeper and more pervasive form of censorship than exists today. But neither should they imagine that the “free market side of history” will automatically fix the problem.

We have an existing useful toolset to draw on, from anti-trust laws to civil rights investigations to the Public Forum Doctrine. This will be a challenging process, but we must remember through it all, that we have a right to freedom of speech on the internet.

Our tax dollars, invested over generations, built this system. It does not belong to the Left. Or, for that matter, the Right. It belongs to all of us.

Now how to make sure Facebook etc. do not discriminate against us because of their political bias?

President Trump is willing to help us. (Though exactly what he can do we don’t know.)

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear “violations” of user policies. 

No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

https://whitehouse.typeform.com/to/Jti9QH?fbclid=IwAR1oumZ36_InMnU29hRFZukzdSUrbBAxAaQ338B2_Lf-DYxMTJr2UBJMJWs

It’s worth trying.

.

(Hat-tip to liz for the White House link)

 

 

Brave talk on a doomed continent 18

Two objectives have to be achieved by those Europeans – numbering probably a little more than half the indigenous population of the continent – who still want their civilization to survive.

One is to bring their respective countries out of the phony ‘superstate’ , the European Union (EU).

The other is to save them from Islamization by stopping the advance of the centuries-long and recently escalating Mohammedan jihad.

Increasing numbers of Europeans are engaged in an active struggle to attain those ends. Nationalist parties are gathering strength. Their leaders are trying to get an international movement started to unseat the rulers who have betrayed the peoples, to break up the EU, to stop immigration from the Third World, and to take back the areas that have fallen to the Muslim foe.

On April 25, 2019, some of these leaders gathered in Prague, a few weeks before the European Parliament elections set for May 23-26.

Soeren Kern reports at Gatestone:

The rally was sponsored by the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom (MENF), a pan-European alliance of nine nationalist parties dedicated to stopping mass migration and recovering national sovereignty from the European Union.

The speakers were:

The president of the Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), Tomio Okamura [who organized the event], was joined by Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, French National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen, the [Belgian] President of Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom (MENF), Gerolf Annemans, and British MEP Janice Atkinson, who is also Vice Chair of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) political group in the European Parliament.

The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the Anti-Mass Migration League party, sent a video message.

They addressed an audience in Prague’s Wenceslas Square.

We quote parts of Soeren Kern’s extracts from the keynote speeches:

Tomio Okamura, President, Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) and Deputy Speaker of the [Czech] Chamber of Deputies:

Today, Europeans are once again fighting for their survival. It is not just the migration of colonists from Africa and the Arab countries that is changing the face of Western Europe. It is also the growing assault from Brussels on the sovereignty of Europe’s nation states in the name of a multicultural superstate.

For those who downplay this warning, I would like to mention a quote from the former President of the European Union, Herman Von Rompuy: ‘The time of the homogenous nation-state is over. Each European country has to be open for different culture.’ In contemporary Europe, the Brussels aristocracy has no place for nations, and no place for democracy either. The former President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has been quoted as saying: ‘It is not the EU’s philosophy that the crowd can decide its destiny.’

And for those who are still not sure about Europe’s ambitions, German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth has called for replacing the principle of unanimity in EU decision-making with qualified majority voting.

The mass immigration of millions of Africans and Muslims to Europe is no coincidence — it is a targeted liquidation of traditional European nation states, as well as the targeted destruction of traditional European values — hence the concept of the traditional family is being liquidated, and patriotism becomes a rude word, because these values ​​are the biggest obstacle to the demolition of nation states.

It is up to us to decide whether we give up all that our ancestors have sacrificed their lives for, whether we will savor their memory, or defend their heritage.

I say clearly that the current EU must end! I remind you that at present, European Union directives and regulations outrank the laws of the EU’s member states …

National patriotic parties are on the rise all over Europe, promoting freedom, democracy and the sovereignty of their peoples.

 

Geert Wilders, MP and Chairman, [Dutch] Party for Freedom:

We are gathered here today to stand up for our freedom and our sovereignty. The most precious things we have. Because without a strong nation state, there is no democracy. And without democracy there are no liberties.

Today, we are fighting for our existence. And the biggest threats to our survival and our freedom are the European Union, mass immigration and the Islamic ideology of submission and violence. 

First, let’s talk about the European Union. An undemocratic superstate. It is forcing its commands on the peoples of Europe. It is trying to take away our national sovereignty!

The European Union is attempting to erase our nation states … shaped by their own history, culture, language and identity …

We want to control our own borders again. We do not want mass immigration. And we do not want to be invaded by a tyrannical ideology.

The European Union has been pampering Islam for decades now. But Islam is a medieval cult that denies freedom to others. So why should we grant Islam any liberties? We should not, we should stop Islam. By depriving Islam of the means to destroy our identity, we are not violating freedom; we are preserving our identity and guaranteeing freedom.

A choice has to be made between Islam and freedom. There is no middle way. Nothing is more precious than liberty and freedom.

Defending our freedom, defending our way of life, requires all of us to be vigilant, courageous and audacious. It requires all of us to raise our voice. To raise our voice against the enemies of freedom. Against the tyranny of Islamization. Against everyone who tries to silence us!

The European Union and many governments facilitate Islam and Islamic immigration. Why are they facilitating a totalitarian ideology? Why are they accommodating an intolerant dogma? It is as if they have surrendered. It is as if they have capitulated. But not on behalf of the people. Not on behalf of you.

Islam and freedom are incompatible.

 

Gerolf Annemans, President, Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom (MENF):

We are the resistance. Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, my party president Tom Van Grieken of the Flemish party Vlaams Belang, and all the others, we are proud to have you and Tomio as strong allies in Central Europe of what will become a force for change in Europe. For our homeland and for our freedom, let us join forces and let us stand strong. No matter how strong our opponents could be, we will be stronger because we have the strength of our conviction, and we are the hope that the people of Europe have in us.

 

Janice Atkinson, British MEP and Vice President, Europe of Nations and Freedom:

Vote for the parties that will take you out of the EU. It is the evil empire. Vote for the parties that will tear down the EU state, so that power is returned to the nations of Europe and freedom.

The EU is the dictatorship of the unelected, the failed politicians of their own nations, as they suck the lifeblood of democracy out of our countries. These unelected dictators have imposed mass uncontrolled immigration on our countries. They have failed to secure our external borders.

They have failed to stop migrants arriving by foot, by boats and via people smugglers.

 They have Europe’s blood on their hands.

They have changed our cities and our streets and towns so that they are unrecognizable, and we are foreigners in our own lands. They encourage radical Islam, which has brought into our lives Sharia law, female genital mutilation, child marriage and medieval clothing such as the burka. Enough. No more!

Do not accept that this is Europe’s fate. It is reversible and can be stopped. If you value your freedoms, your way of life, your rule of law, your culture and heritage, the EU has to be stopped.

I hope you follow the British and vote to leave [the EU].

It isn’t easy to leave the EU, as the British have found out. Despite a majority voting for Brexit, the establishment and the EU have colluded to stop us. And that’s the trouble.

We have given control of our lives and our countries and our day to day life and our future to people who do not believe in the nation state, sovereignty and control over our own laws.

We are at a tipping point in Europe.

 

Marine Le Pen, President, [French] National Rally:

The battle for Europe has begun.

The supporters of globalism stand against supporters of the nation state.

European federalists support total deregulation, the complete abolition of borders, the free movement of migrants across the planet and the weakening of nation states for the benefit of oligarchs and bureaucrats. On the other side, there are us patriots from all across Europe.

My country offers a sad example of migratory submersion.

Whole neighborhoods have become non-French areas!

At present the European Union does not have the capacity to send tanks on the streets or to fire on the crowd… But the goal is the same: to reduce our political, legal, and national identity — our capacities of resistance.

During a press conference, Le Pen added:

Immigration must be stopped, and the Islamist ideology must be eradicated…. Islamization and globalism are new totalitarianisms that threaten European countries.

 

In a video broadcast at the Prague event, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said:

I hope we will be working together in a new Europe that defends borders and our children against immigration and Islamic extremism, which must be stopped.

Salvini is trying to unite nationalist parties scattered across the 28-nation European Union to join forces in a new political alliance. On April 8, Salvini was joined in Milan by representatives of Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the Danish People’s Party and the Finns Party, to launch a new alliance called Towards a Common Sense Europe.

Salvini hopes that the new bloc will emerge as the largest in the 751-member parliament after the elections in May.

These leaders and their parties have the right goals. But the European Parliament can effect nothing. It is a powerless talking shop; a window dressed to look as if it had something to do with democracy. True, its members are elected, but they do not legislate. They are powerless.  They go, once chosen by their constituents, to the grand building in Strasbourg where the European Parliament is housed – and they talk. They can say what they like in there. But nothing they say will make the least difference to how the EU’s ‘dictatorship of the unelected‘ , as Janice Atkinson rightly called the government of the EU, rules the continent.

Nothing they say can stop millions of Third World migrants pouring over the continent and before long dominating it.

They will have to stop talking and act. A good start would be to arrest the conceited poseurs who gather in their dark tower in Brussels and decide that the European states must be ended and the Islamic Republic of Europe take their place. Arrest them, bring them to trial as traitors, and sentence them to condign punishment.

Then disband the European Union.

And then if there is still some way to save Europe from Islam, they will need to take it.

But is there a way?

The European Union’s Parliament in Strasbourg: a useless talk tank

A question of liberty 2

If Julian Assange has published information that has harmed anybody working for the United States, it is right that he has been arrested and right for him to be brought to trial.

But has he?

The BBC (no longer a trustworthy source in general but quoting other sources here) reported and commented in 2010 when “a trove of US diplomatic cables which offer, among other things, unflattering and candid assessments of world leaders” was released by Assange’s organization Wikileaks: .

Much of the criticism of Wikileaks … revolves around the notion that releasing such information risks lives.

Identities of informants could be compromised, spies exposed, and the safety of human rights activists, journalists and dissidents jeopardized when information of their activities is made public, the argument goes.

US military officials contend that allowing enemies access to their strategic and operational documents creates a dangerous environment for American troops serving abroad. ..

But is there any real evidence of this peril?

The problem … is proving direct links between the information released and any loss of life.

After the release of an enormous haul of US defense department documents in August, [a] Pentagon spokesman… told the Washington Post: “We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the Wikileaks documents.” …

After this latest release a Pentagon official … [said] that even three months later the US military still had no evidence that people had died or been harmed because of information gleaned from Wikileaks documents.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers which detailed government lies and cover-ups in the Vietnam War, is skeptical of whether the government really believes that lives are at stake.

He told the BBC’s World Today programme that US officials made that same argument every time there was a potentially embarrassing leak.

“The best justification they can find for secrecy is that lives are at stake. Actually, lives are at stake as a result of the silences and lies which a lot of these leaks reveal,” he said. “The same charges were made against the Pentagon Papers and turned out to be quite invalid.” …

Assange did not steal Pentagon documents, he published them. If he was wrong to do so, then so were the newspapers that did the same, such as the New York Times.

Professor Alan Dershowitz writes at The Hill:

Before WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gained asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, he and his British legal team asked me to fly to London to provide legal advice about United States law relating to espionage and press freedom. I cannot disclose what advice I gave them, but I can say that I believed then, and still believe now, that there is no constitutional difference between WikiLeaks and the New York Times.

If the New York Times, in 1971, could lawfully publish the Pentagon Papers knowing they included classified documents stolen by Rand Corporation military analyst Daniel Ellsberg from our federal government, then indeed WikiLeaks was entitled, under the First Amendment, to publish classified material that Assange knew was stolen by former United States Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning from our federal government.

So if prosecutors were to charge Assange with espionage or any other crime for merely publishing the Manning material, this would be another Pentagon Papers case with the same likely outcome. Many people have misunderstood the actual Supreme Court ruling in 1971. It did not say that the newspapers planning to publish the Pentagon Papers could not be prosecuted if they published classified material. It only said that they could not be restrained, or stopped in advance, from publishing them. Well, they did publish, and they were not prosecuted.

The same result would probably follow if Assange were prosecuted for publishing classified material on WikiLeaks, though there is no guarantee that prosecutors might not try to distinguish the cases on the grounds that the New York Times is a more responsible outlet than WikiLeaks. But the First Amendment does not recognize degrees of responsibility. When the Constitution was written, our nation was plagued with irresponsible scandal sheets and broadsides. No one described political pamphleteers Thomas Paine or James Callender as responsible journalists of their day.

It is likely, therefore, that a prosecution of Assange for merely publishing classified material would fail. Moreover, Great Britain might be unwilling to extradite Assange for such a “political” crime. That is why prosecutors have chosen to charge him with a different crime of conspiracy to help Manning break into a federal government computer to steal classified material. Such a crime, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, would have a far weaker claim to protection under the Constitution. The courts have indeed ruled that journalists may not break the law in an effort to obtain material whose disclosure would be protected by the First Amendment.

But the problem with the current effort is that, while it might be legally strong, it seems on the face of the indictment to be factually weak. It alleges that “Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records” from federal government agencies, that “Manning provided Assange with part of a password,” and that “Assange requested more information.” It goes on to say that Assange was “trying to crack the password” but had “no luck so far.” Not the strongest set of facts here!

It was Manning who committed a crime, not Assange.  Where Assange is concerned, we ( in agreement with Mark Steyn – see the video in the post immediately below – who is as firm a conservative as we are) do not accept that the US has a legal or moral right to have an Australian arrested in London and extradited here for offending the US. In his case, it is not a question of treason and betrayal as with Manning. It is a question of liberty.

Even if Assange is a Leftist, with opinions we strongly dislike, we cannot approve the gross interference with his personal liberty, cannot but object indignantly to his arrest and incarceration.

However, we are interested in what sort of person we are defending.

Is he a Lefty?

Hard to be sure. A sign that he is not, is that there are people on the Left who wish him dead. For instance, Bob Beckel said on Fox News:

A dead man can’t leak stuff. This guy’s a traitor, a treasonist, and he has broken every law of the United States. The guy ought to be — And I’m not for the death penalty, so if I’m not for the death penalty, there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.

Chris Hedges writes cogently (in part only – we strongly disagree with some of his comments) at truthdig.com:

The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy — diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory — to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States? …

Pause here for a particular disagreement. President Trump has not personally approved the extradition. During his presidential campaign he defended Wikileaks.

Britain will use as its legal cover for the arrest the extradition request from Washington based on conspiracy charges. This legal argument, in a functioning judiciary, would be thrown out of court. Unfortunately, we no longer have a functioning judiciary. We will soon know if Britain as well lacks one.

Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense allegations that were eventually dropped. Assange and his lawyers always argued that if he was put in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. Once he was granted asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship the British government refused to grant Assange safe passage to the London airport, trapping him in the embassy for seven years as his health steadily deteriorated.

The Trump administration will seek to try Assange on charges that he conspired with Manning in 2010 to steal the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs obtained by WikiLeaks. …

U.S. government lawyers will attempt to separate WikiLeaks and Assange from The New York Times and the British newspaper The Guardian, both of which also published the leaked material from Manning, by implicating Assange in the theft of the documents. …

Once the documents and videos provided by Manning to Assange and WikiLeaks were published and disseminated by news organizations such as The New York Times and The Guardian, the press callously, and foolishly, turned on Assange. News organizations that had run WikiLeaks material over several days soon served as conduits in a black propaganda campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks. This coordinated smear campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called on the U.S. to eradicate the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and destroy Assange’s reputation.

Assange, who with the Manning leaks had exposed the war crimes, lies and criminal manipulations of the George W. Bush administration, soon earned the ire of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the primary architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs, should have remained hidden, but they can’t then call themselves journalists. 

What has Julian Assange himself said that reveals what motivates him?

He is against governments keeping secrets from the people. He thinks it is the job of journalists to reveal them.

Journalism should be more like science. As far as possible, facts should be verifiable. If journalists want long-term credibility for their profession, they have to go in that direction. Have more respect for readers.

One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice.

It raises questions about the natural instincts of Clinton that, when confronted with a serious domestic political scandal, she tries to blame the Russians, blame the Chinese, et cetera.

Although I still write, research and investigate, my role is primarily that of a publisher and editor-in-chief who organizes and directs other journalists.

Cablegate [the scandal over the release by Wikileaks of State Department documents in 2010 and 2011] is 3,000 volumes of material. It is the greatest intellectual treasure to have entered into the public record in modern times. 

You can either be informed and be your own rulers, or you can be ignorant and have someone else, who is not ignorant, rule over you. 

Wikileaks is a mechanism to maximize the flow of information to maximize the amount of action leading to just reform.

True information does good. 

In the history of Wikileaks, nobody has claimed that the material being put out is not authentic. 

Well, I mean, the real attack on truth is tabloid journalism in the United States.

With these statements at least, we agree. We agree that Western governments have become too secretive. We agree that it is a journalist’s business to report what a government is doing to the people who elect it …

… always provided that no individual working for the country is harmed, and no planned strategies of war are betrayed to our enemies. For that to be prevented, it is the responsibility of governments to keep their secrets safe.

The man who let out secrets 3

Julian Assange, the man who published secrets stolen from the Pentagon by Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London yesterday (April 12, 2019) and is being held in jail while an extradition request from the US is being considered.

 

 

AP reports:

A bearded and shouting Julian Assange was pulled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and hauled into court Thursday, the start of an extradition battle for the WikiLeaks founder who faces U.S. charges related to the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents.

Police arrested Assange after the South American nation revoked the political asylum that had given him sanctuary for almost seven years. Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said he took the action due to “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols”.

In Washington, the U.S. Justice Department accused Assange of conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon. The charge was announced after Assange was taken into custody.

His lawyer said the 47-year-old Assange would fight extradition to the U.S.

Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 after he was released on bail in Britain while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped. He refused to leave the embassy, fearing arrest and extradition to the U.S. for publishing classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.

Manning, who served several years in prison for leaking troves of classified documents before her sentence was commuted by then-President Barack Obama, is again in custody in Alexandria, Virginia, for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

Over the years, Assange used Ecuador’s embassy as a staging post to keep his name before the public, frequently making appearances on its tiny balcony, posing for pictures and reading statements. Even his cat became well-known.

But his presence was an embarrassment to U.K. authorities, who for years kept a police presence around the clock outside the embassy, costing taxpayers millions in police overtime. Such surveillance was removed in 2015, but the embassy remained a focal point for his activities.

Video posted online by Ruptly, a news service of Russia Today, showed several men in suits pulling a handcuffed Assange out of the embassy and loading him into a police van while uniformed British police formed a passageway. Assange … shouted and gestured as he was removed …

He later appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where District Judge Michael Snow wasted no time in finding him guilty of breaching his bail conditions, flatly rejecting his assertion that he had not had a fair hearing and a reasonable excuse for not appearing.

“Mr. Assange’s behavior is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests,” Snow said. “He hasn’t come close to establishing ‘reasonable excuse’.”

Assange waved to the packed public gallery as he was taken to the cells. His next appearance was set for May 2 via prison video-link in relation to the extradition case.

Assange’s attorney, Jennifer Robinson, said he will fight any extradition to the U.S.

“This sets a dangerous precedent for all journalist and media organizations in Europe and around the world,” she said. “This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the United States.”

Asked at the White House about the arrest, President Donald Trump declared, “It’s not my thing,” and “I know nothing about WikiLeaks,” despite praising the anti-secrecy organization dozens of times during his 2016 campaign.

Speaking in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the arrest shows that “no one is above the law”.

A stupid remark that, inapplicable to Julian Assange. It would apply to people in power who evade answering for their crimes, such as Hillary Clinton.

Moreno [President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador] said in a video posted on Twitter that Ecuador was no longer willing to give Assange protection. Other Ecuadorian officials in Quito accused supporters of WikiLeaks and two Russian hackers of trying to destabilize the country. …

Assange has been under U.S. Justice Department scrutiny for years for WikiLeaks’ role in publishing government secrets. He was an important figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as investigators examined how WikiLeaks obtained emails that were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Democratic groups.

WikiLeaks quickly drew attention to U.S. interest in Assange and said that Ecuador had illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.

“Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to de-humanise, de-legitimize and imprison him,” the group said in a tweet over a photo of Assange’s smiling face. …

Assange’s arrest came a day after WikiLeaks accused Ecuador’s government of an “extensive spying operation” against him. It alleges that meetings with lawyers and a doctor in the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed. …

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called [President] Moreno’s decision “cowardly”, accusing him of retaliating against Assange for WikiLeaks spreading allegations about an offshore bank account purportedly linked to Moreno’s family and friends.

Allegations were made that the publication by Wikileaks of the stolen information endangered American agents in foreign countries. Of course that would tell against Assange. But he has denied it, and it has not been confirmed.

Assange was at one time accused of acting for Russia, which he also denied.

We agree with Mark Steyn’s opinion of the matter.

At issue is not the honesty or the virtue or the motives of Julian Assange.

The issue is liberty. 

We would like to know our readers’ opinions. 

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