In this week’s “Briefing” from Al Mohler earlier this week, he dove into the news that Bethany Christian Services has “pivoted” in their position — now serving “all people” including LGBT community people. See here (it’s long, but part I gets you there):
But of course, they are not really serving all people, right? They draw a line at deviants, perverts, those who indulge in child sacrifice and child sexual abuse. So they don’t serve all people. They have just moved the line of whom they will serve to avoid governmental restriction. Notice too that the statement from Bethany does not mention “marriage” only “parents” and that good Christians can reasonably disagree on numerous doctrinal issues. True, but while we might disagree on issues like the form of baptism, meaning in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, or the return of Christ, that is one thing; however, when the disagreement gets to the fundamental mission of an organization (serving children in adoption and foster care), then concepts like “marriage” and “parents” are not areas we can disagree on, right?
The Scriptures could not be more clear about God’s creation order and the way of family and life. And this will be the battlefield for the next generation: What will we be willing to sacrifice in order to avoid government restriction and cultural cancelation? Are we willing to discard fundamental Christian truth and creation order? Then remove the idea of “Christian” from your mission. By like the YMCA and remove the M, and the C and just become “The Y.”
And next time you hear that an organization decided to “pivot” on an issue of cultural importance, think “capitulation” not pivot. Ask what did they just give up in order to gain the love of the world? When The New York Times lauds your “pivot” . . . you had better ask what I did wrong. Remember, Jesus said, “When the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15). If the world, the culture, love your position, your cultural progress to a new stance, you are almost certainly losing Christ to gain status.
On Dec. 16, Not the Bee, which describes itself as a “humor-based news, opinion, and entertainment site,” shared on its Instagram account a photograph of Abraham Lincoln titled “San Francisco to rename ABRAHAM LINCOLN High School because—I swear this is real—‘he did not show that black lives ever mattered to him.’ ” Four days later, Facebook fact-checking partner USA Today (which receives funding from Facebook) published a fact check of the post, issuing a verdict that it was “Missing Context.” This means that anyone viewing the Instagram post since then has seen a large red warning label saying, “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say information in this post could mislead people.”
In its fact check, USA Today confirmed that all of the details of the Instagram post, including the quote, were absolutely correct. Why, then, did it flag it as misleading? In the paper’s words, “It is true that a renaming committee included Abraham Lincoln High School on a list of 44 schools whose namesakes met its renaming criteria. But the committee has not finalized its recommendations, and the school board has not voted on the name changes—so at this time, it’s not accurate to say that the school will be renamed.”
Appeared in the February 4, 2021, print edition as ‘Notable & Quotable: ‘Facts’.’
And the primary lead editorial today in WSJ also addressed the new “Truth Control” that is rearing it’s ugly head. This is important and will require resistance, being canceled, and perhaps even more as the future unfold:
Liberalism’s Ministry of Truth
Academics and the progressive press mull state media controls.
By The Editorial BoardFeb. 3, 2021
The academic establishment and progressive press want you to know two things: First, conservative claims of social-media bias are bogus. As Silicon Valley firms police content, their decisions are, miraculously, wholly uninfluenced by ideological preference.
Second, there is an urgent need for a much wider crackdown on political speech, perhaps led by the Biden Administration and requiring the creation of new government agencies. In other words, all that conservative suppression that’s, er, not happening? We need more of it.
New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights released a brief this week that is being amplified in the press entitled, “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives.” It argues that “some conservatives believe their content is suppressed on partisan grounds when, in fact, it’s being singled out because it violates neutral platform rules.”
That is sometimes true, but the report doesn’t remotely prove that it always is. What about when Twitter and Facebook tried to suppress a New York Post story about Hunter Biden before the 2020 election? Even the report concedes that “the question of whether social media companies harbor an anti-conservative bias can’t be answered conclusively.”
That doesn’t stop the authors from unabashedly asserting that “the claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation.” It is perpetuated partly because “it appeals to the same conspiratorial mindset that has fostered the QAnon movement.”
Got it? Anyone who argues social-media moderation has a progressive slant is spreading disinformation, and possibly drawn to a bizarre cult. And remember that disinformation is against the rules—which, once again, are neutral.
Among the solutions to the non-problem of progressive bias is, naturally, government control. The NYU report recommends that “the federal government . . . press Facebook, Google, and Twitter to improve content policies” and “cooperate with these companies” on enforcement. This political suppression—er, neutral government-backed content policy—“could be enforced by a new Digital Regulatory Agency.”
Since we’re devising new entities for speech control, the New York Timesoffers another idea. Experts recommend “that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar,’” the beacon of progressive tolerance avers.
When disinformation (or at least disinformation that is not useful to the Biden Administration) spreads, then according to the Times, “a centralized task force could coordinate a single, strategic response” and enlist the tech platforms. That “could become the tip of the spear for the federal government’s response to the reality crisis.”
Government as the “tip of the spear” against political speech? Imagine if Donald Trump had floated that one.
Intellectuals don’t merely want the Biden Administration to promote progressive policies. Flush with power, they’re now suggesting that government should police the flow of ideas and assume the authority to define reality itself. So bring on the truth commissions. And if any political minority group complains that the Ministry of Truth is biased, worry not—the reality czar can make quick work of such disinformation.
If you were an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter, are you ready to enter a re-education program?
By Gerard Baker Jan. 25, 2021
Can you feel the unity?
Have you come together to bind the nation’s wounds?
Have you renounced your white privilege? Your unconscious bias probably hasn’t been eradicated in the last week, so it will need attention. But don’t worry. If you work in the federal government, you’ll soon have the opportunity—sorry, obligation—to get that fixed with a series of bias-elimination sessions. If you work for a large company, you’ve probably already watched the videos, so you’ve no excuses for continuing not to recognize that America’s foundational malignity is all your fault.
If you’re a woman, have you shared a restroom with some strapping-looking figure you’re sure used to be a man but now says she’s all female? I hope your high-school daughters are doing their part to unify the country by ceding whatever hope of athletic success they had to the new class of 6-foot-tall girls with bulbous triceps.
In the service of national unity, you should by now have agreed to welcome a new influx of illegal aliens into your community. Better yet, perhaps you’re an immigrant who’s been through the costly, protracted process to become an American citizen and are looking forward to welcoming those who opted to take the less “documented” route.
If you work in fossil fuels—maybe you’re employed on the Keystone XL pipeline—aren’t you grateful that your imminent joblessness is bringing the country together?
If you were an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter, are you ready to enter a re-education program? You may not realize that your reprogramming is essential to the preservation of democracy, but after attendance at a series of camps led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a team of journalists from the Washington Post, you’ll once again be able to contribute—civilly—to political discourse.
If you expressed doubt online about the reliability of the presidential election result, your contribution to bringing the nation together might be an interview with a pair of nice federal agents.
As a commentator on a conservative platform, I’m ready to do my part for national harmony by being deplatformed by technology companies the next time I step out of line. But if you’re that rare thing, a conservative in academia, you might want to make sure your barista skills are up to snuff, though you probably won’t be welcome in any of the Starbucks in Cambridge or Ann Arbor—or anywhere else.
After four years of hateful, divisive leadership that stoked raging enmities and fuelled murderous bigotries, I hope you’re feeling the soothing balm of comity as it pours forth from executive orders, presidential declarations and the various ministries of truth that used to be news organizations.
In President Biden’s inaugural address—which in its composition and significance was reminiscent of Lincoln’s second inaugural, Pericles ’ funeral oration and the Sermon on the Mount—he emphasized that the path to national unity lies not only through our acquiescence to the Democrats’ agenda, but in a renewed communal asseveration of the truth
“There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for profit and for power,” he said. “And each of us has a duty and responsibility . . . to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
It must have been in that spirit that on day one some administration official told CNN that the Biden team had discovered that their predecessors had left them a nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan. It was presumably heeding the president’s call to defeat lies that the CNN reporter decided not to challenge the official, given that, with almost 40 million vaccines already distributed, there might have been some plan in place.
Then there was defending the larger truth about Mr. Biden’s plan to get 100 million doses into American arms in 100 days—a million a day. An ambitious goal, his team called it. An ambitious goal, the press repeated, helping to lower the expectations bar for the new president.
Only in the small print did we learn that in the final week of the Trump administration, doses administered were already up to well over 900,000 a day, on a rapidly rising trajectory. Ambitious indeed.
Truth is attested to by actions as well as words. Wearing a mask, Mr. Biden has told us, is essential to saving lives. But on inauguration night, there he was, celebrating, maskless. His press secretary, in a searing moment of truthfulness, told us it was fine because he had “bigger issues” to worry about.
That admission, in its own way, was a clarifying one, capturing as it did the real meaning of our new era of truth and unity: the truth is that our unity will be achieved by your doing what we tell you to do.
Following is my letter to the editors at WSJ written immediately after reading her column:
To the Editors, It must’ve been difficult for such a fine writer as Noonan to string together so many strained and contradictory ideas in one piece (A-13, Sat/Sun 01/23-24/2021). “A relatively normal inauguration” in a militarized, deserted, walled off Capitol? With Lady Gaga “delightfully freakish”? Nothing normal about her, or her being part of a presidential inauguration. “Everyone [she] knows and every conservative had tears in their eyes”? What? Who is she watching?
Biden, she says, wants to be the “Great Unifier” (with capital letters for goodness sake?); then within hours the new chief executive sent out a raft of divisive, politically leftist, job-killing executive orders and firings? “Good for him” she said . . . just not good for the other half of America. I fear Ms. Noonan has finally and fully displayed that she (along with the “moderate,” so-called conservative, and “Expert Class” in caps) lives in a Lala Land disconnected from reality or life in the trenches in our diminishingly great land.
Sometimes you are just beat, tired, fatigued. Paul Simon captures my sentiments almost perfectly today. Some of you know some of the travail the Beates family has suffered the past year — not sure anyone but Mary and I know all the depths. But this song . . . well, give it a listen.
From WSJ, Weekend, Jan 16-17. Tis is an important read! A bit long, but worth it!
For centuries black Americans debated how to overcome racism—but they always emphasized human agency and individual responsibility.
By Robert L. Woodson Sr. and Joshua Mitchell Jan. 15, 2021
The history of black American responses to slavery and Jim Crow generally followed three paths. They were hotly debated, but all emphasized human agency, sought liberation, and rejected despair.
First, there were the recolonization or “back to Africa” movements championed by the likes of Marcus Garvey. These movements sought an exit from America.
Second, there were the insurrectionists of the 19th century, who believed that black Americans should engage in armed rebellion or vocal opposition so that they might find a home in this country. Here lie Nat Turner and, later, W.E.B. Du Bois. They wanted to have their resistant voice heard in America.
Third, there were accommodationist movements of the sort undertaken by Booker T. Washington, who thought that loyalty to America was the best course.
Exit, voice, loyalty—however different these strategies were, each supposed that human agency mattered, that oppression wasn’t destiny. That is why, even amid great struggle, black Americans responded by building their own institutions and businesses. Great universities, medical schools, hotels, restaurants, movie companies and even a flight school sprung up. All of this was self-financed—and made possible by two-parent families, churches and other cultural institutions that provided shelter against the outside storm of racism.
In the 20th century, that same creative conflict between these three schools of thought reappeared. Debaters included the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Black Panther Party and the Republic of New Africa, which sought to establish a separate black state within our borders as an exit strategy.
King offered an inspiring combination of the strategies of loyalty and voice. In 1960, when students in Greensboro, N.C., became frustrated with the slow pace of legal action favored by Thurgood Marshall, King was sent to discourage them from engaging in civil disobedience. The students told King to lead, follow or get out of the way. They were determined to liberate themselves. They understood the difficulties and were undeterred by the obstacles. Like King, they were willing to persevere toward justice even when it was inconvenient, and to suffer the consequences of their actions. Hope, not hopelessness, animated all that they did.
King paid a heavy personal price for his hope that America was redeemable. Twice his home was bombed; once, his wife and daughter were nearly killed. Surrounded by hundreds of angry, armed black men after that bombing, he discouraged retaliatory violence. He was assaulted several times, and jailed as well, but he remained steadfast in his commitment to nonviolence. He united black Americans behind the proposition that racism is evil in itself, not simply because white people visited it upon blacks, and that all must unite to combat evil. He warned us about the self-destructive path of violence, not only for blacks but for the whole nation.
One of the original arguments to justify slavery was that blacks were morally inferior and thus incapable of self-government. John C. Calhoun famously asserted: “There is no instance of any civilized colored race of any shade being found equal to the establishment and maintenance of free government.” Black efforts at self-liberation in the 19th and 20th centuries were based on the opposite assumption.
Today many black leaders defer to angry white progressives who make the same arguments about blacks’ lack of moral agency, reject the country’s founding principles, and seek to undermine its institutions. For months, the radical left has been exploiting the country’s genuine concern for fairness to keep blacks in a constant state of agitation, anger and grievance, urging them toward behavior that lives down to the slanderous stereotypes of white supremacists. The leaders of these movements insist that every inequity suffered by blacks is caused by institutional and structural racism, that they have no power to liberate themselves, and that they will remain oppressed until white people change. Even to raise the issue of what role self-determination plays for blacks earns you the label of “racist.”
Civil-rights organizations and their leadership, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, need to wake up before it’s too late. A faction of black leaders has been silent about, or complicit in, the takeover of the civil-rights movement by the radical left. The effect of this is not to glorify black achievement but to crucify low-income blacks, who are represented in national media outlets by their worst-behaved members, and bear the brunt of the attacks by the woke radical left on the cities where they live.
“Justice” for black America cannot be achieved by framing it solely through the distorted lens of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others in fatal police encounters. For every unarmed black American killed by the police, hundreds are killed in neighborhood homicides.
Those who call for the defunding of police departments, such as leaders of the official Black Lives Matter organization, are silent about this inconvenient truth. They have a narrative and cannot let the facts get in the way. Their story is that the whole of American history is stained and the whole of America must be overthrown. When citizens declare that they support Black Lives Matter, do they share its opposition to the nuclear family, its objective of abolishing the police, and its view that the Christian cross is a symbol of white supremacy? These positions of the organization—language that has largely been scrubbed from its website—in no way improve the lives of black Americans. They give up on black America and encourage its needless suffering.
Like all Americans, blacks have triumphed over their circumstances only when they have adopted bourgeois virtues such as hard work, respect for learning, self-discipline, faith and personal responsibility. In the 19th century, Frederick Douglass found reading to be the key to his own personal liberation amid slavery, and he understood that whites deliberately withheld literacy from blacks precisely because it was so valuable. Bourgeois values drove blacks to build the powerful religious, fraternal, and other voluntary associations that helped them thrive in the worst days of Jim Crow and cultivated the essential virtues in the next generation.
There would have been no civil-rights movement without this. But radical progressives now insist that such virtues are the legacy of white supremacy, colonialist values that reflect the continuing bondage of blacks to oppressive Western culture. The only “authentic” expression of blackness in America, they claim, is the opposite of bourgeois self-restraint and discipline—indulging in the passions of the moment, whether anarchic rioting, insulting teachers or other unsalutary forms of expression. The radical left—disdaining exhortations toward work, family and faith as “respectability politics”—argues that blacks should feel free to indulge their “true” nature, echoing the age-old white-supremacist notion that said nature is violent, lascivious and incapable of self-restraint.
The slave masters’ trick of old was to dissuade blacks from adopting bourgeois values precisely so they could be kept in servitude. Marriage was forbidden and families were split apart. Douglass observed that slaves were encouraged to indulge in drink and debauchery during the holidays so they would be “led to think that there was little to choose between liberty and slavery. We felt, and very properly too, that we had almost as well be slaves to man as to rum. So, when the holidays ended, we staggered up from the filth of our wallowing, took a long breath, and marched to the field—feeling, upon the whole, rather glad to go, from what our master had deceived us into a belief was freedom, back to the arms of slavery.”
But there were always those who saw through the trick and used the holidays to hunt, make items for sale, visit distant family members, and hire out their own labor. Some of these were even able—eventually—to purchase their freedom.
Tellingly, leftist elites teach their own children the values of working and studying hard even as they encourage behavior among blacks that will make sure they remain uncompetitive but “authentic.” By the time young blacks today discover, as did the slaves of Douglass’s time, that freedom understood as “do whatever you feel like” is no way to build a worthwhile life, it will be too late. The fruits of the civil-rights movement’s hard labor—teaching the young to be so self-disciplined that they were able to resist responding in kind to hatred and abuse from whites—will have been lost.
We must turn away from the present course, which preaches despair rather than hope. Black achievement must be glorified. The crucifixion of black America by the radical left must halt. There is a grander, more fruitful future for us all.
Mr. Woodson, a veteran of the civil-rights movement, is founder and president of the Woodson Center and author, most recently, of “Lessons From the Least of These: The Woodson Principles.” Mr. Mitchell is a Washington Fellow at the Claremont Center for the American Way of Life and author of “American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time.”
Perhaps you have heard the taped interview with a D.C. policeman this week. He feared for his life when thugs sought to over-run him at the Capitol. They were clawing at his uniform, took his badge, ammo clips and were struggling for his gun. In desperation he cried out that he had kids and didn’t want to die. Some people came to his aid and shielded him from further assault.
So his comment at the end was something like, “So looking back, I am grateful those people saved me, . . . but f— you for being there.” Hmmmm, seems the cursing of someone’s very presence somewhat negates any expression of gratitude. Perhaps he needs to remember that, if there were a million people in D.C., 999,000 were calm, respectful, American-loving patriots, expressing the God-given and American-enshrined right to gather and speak and protest.
“F— you for being there” . . . never heard any official or law enforcement officer say that to any protesters all of 2020. More of the confused thinking that characterizes our times.
But on a lighter note, a young colleague tells me this morning that podiatrists are quite busy these days. Seems Covid-restricted Americans are breaking toes at a record rate by walking around the house bare-footed. One of the most common causes? Dropping full wine bottles on their toes.
Somethings to watch out for, right?
Have a great Friday. It was 12 years ago this Friday, January 15 that Sully made that heroic and miraculous Hudson River landing. Wow that was a fast dozen years!
‘My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.’
Jan. 8, 2021
A Jan. 6 letter from Vice President Mike Pence to members of Congress:
Today, for the 59th time in our Nation’s history, Congress will convene in Joint Session to count the electoral votes for President of the United States. Under our Constitution, it will be my duty as Vice President and as President of the Senate to serve as the presiding officer.
After an election with significant allegations of voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election. The American people choose the American President, and have every right under the law to demand free and fair elections and a full investigation of electoral misconduct. As presiding officer, I will do my duty to ensure that these concerns receive a fair and open hearing in the Congress of the United States. Objections will be heard, evidence will be presented, and the elected representatives of the American people will make their decision.
Our Founders created the Electoral College in 1787, and it first convened in 1789. With the advent of political parties, the Electoral College was amended in 1804 to provide that Electors vote separately for President and Vice President. Following a contentious election in 1876, with widespread allegations of fraud and malfeasance, Congress spent a decade establishing rules and procedures to govern the counting of electoral votes and the resolution of any objections.
During the 130 years since the Electoral Count Act was passed, Congress has, without exception, used these formal procedures to count the electoral votes every four years.
Given the controversy surrounding this year’s election, some approach this year’s quadrennial tradition with great expectation, and others with dismissive disdain. Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally. Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress.
After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct.
The President is the chief executive officer of the Federal Government under our Constitution, possessing immense power to impact the lives of the American people. The Presidency belongs to the American people, and to them alone. When disputes concerning a presidential election arise, under Federal law, it is the people’s representatives who review the evidence and resolve disputes through a democratic process.
Our Founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances under the Constitution of the United States.
Vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design. As a student of history who loves the Constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress, and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority. Instead, Vice Presidents presiding over Joint Sessions have uniformly followed the Electoral Count Act, conducting the proceedings in an orderly manner even where the count resulted in the defeat of their party or their own candidacy.
As Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley wrote following the contentious election of 1876, “the powers of the President of the Senate are merely ministerial. . . . He is not invested with any authority for making any investigation outside of the Joint Meeting of the two Houses. . . . [I]f any examination at all is to be gone into, or any judgment exercised in relation to the votes received, it must be performed and exercised by the two Houses.” More recently, as the former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig observed, “[t]he only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the Electoral College votes as they have been cast,” adding “[t]he Constitution does not empower the Vice President to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain votes or otherwise.”
It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.
While my role as presiding officer is largely ceremonial, the role of the Congress is much different, and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 establishes a clear procedure to address election controversies when they arise during the count of the vote of the Electoral College. Given the voting irregularities that took place in our November elections and the disregard of state election statutes by some officials, I welcome the efforts of Senate and House members who have stepped forward to use their authority under the law to raise objections and present evidence.
As presiding officer, I will ensure that any objections that are sponsored by both a Representative and a Senator are given proper consideration, and that all facts supporting those objections are brought before the Congress and the American people. Those who suggest that raising objections under the Electoral Count Act is improper or undemocratic ignore more than 130 years of history, and fail to acknowledge that Democrats raised objections in Congress each of the last three times that a Republican candidate for President prevailed.
Today it will be my duty to preside when the Congress convenes in Joint Session to count the votes of the Electoral College, and I will do so to the best of my ability. I ask only that Representatives and Senators who will assemble before me approach this moment with the same sense of duty and an open mind, setting politics and personal interests aside, and do our part to faithfully discharge our duties under the Constitution. I also pray that we will do so with humility and faith, remembering the words of John Quincy Adams, who said, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.”
Four years ago, surrounded by my family, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which ended with the words, “So help me God.” Today I want to assure the American people that I will keep the oath I made to them and I will keep the oath I made to Almighty God. When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of the Electors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history. So Help Me God.
Democratic speech police demand not only tolerance but endorsement of the progressive agenda.
By Jason L. Riley
Jan. 5, 2021
In his 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell wrote that political language “consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” The description fits Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new House rules on gender-neutral speech to a tee.
On Monday, the Democratic-controlled lower chamber voted along party lines to approve new official language guidelines. Words such as “himself” and “herself” are to be replaced by “themself.” Out with “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “brother,” “sister,” “uncle,” “aunt” and other familial terms, and in with “parent,” “child,” “sibling” and so forth. An incensed Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader, tweeted that the changes “are stupid,” which is true but incomplete.
Mrs. Pelosi is obviously attempting to placate the progressives in her caucus, however it’s also another example of how the political left today demands not only tolerance but endorsement. You can’t disagree respectfully, let alone agree not to agree. It’s bad enough when our colleges and universities enforce what amount to speech codes, or indulge efforts to shield students from dissenting viewpoints. Now we have lawmakers in Washington offering a kind of a federal imprimatur on limiting free expression.
The next time Republicans control the House, they can and should reverse these changes. There’s little evidence that anyone besides far-left elites is obsessed with a gender-neutral vocabulary. In recent years, Democratic activists have tried to popularize the word “Latinx” in lieu of Latino and Latina. But a Pew Research Center poll taken last year found that just 3% of Hispanics self-describe as Latinx.
Nevertheless, what the left is attempting to do here goes well beyond semantic tinkering. The goal is not simply to tell us what we can or can’t say aloud, but to redefine common words and expressions to advance a political agenda. Hence, discussions of “racial diversity” somehow omit Asian-Americans. And blacks are to be identified by their race—with an uppercase “B,” no less—when they are victims of police shootings but not when they are criminal suspects.
Robin DiAngelo, the bestselling author and “diversity training” guru, insists that black people can’t be racists, which can only be true if she’s using a definition of racism that is utterly unrecognizable to the average person. Ibram X. Kendi, a critical-race scholar, has called for the creation of a federal “Department of Anti-Racism” that “would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas.” How this is compatible with our Constitution’s free-speech protections is anyone’s guess.
Nor is it clear how policing speech advances racial equality. The civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s was liberalism’s crowning achievement. How far would it have gotten without free speech? Civil-rights icons like Martin Luther King Jr. , Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall didn’t try to silence their opponents. Instead, they debated them, and managed to do so successfully without mangling the English language.
Last month the New York Times ran two disturbing stories that illustrate what’s at stake in these culture wars. Both involved teenagers and use of the notorious N-word. In one story the mother of a black student objected to her son studying an August Wilson play in English class because some of the characters use the N-word. In the other story a black teenager maliciously disseminated a three-year-old, three-second Snapchat video of a white classmate using a racial slur while listening to a rap song. In the first instance, the mother’s vehement objections led to her son leaving the school, the only one he’d ever attended. In the second case, the white classmate, now college-bound, was forced to withdraw from the University of Tennessee under pressure from admission officials.
What went unmentioned in both stories is that the N-word is inescapable in black culture and regularly employed by the country’s most popular comedians and music artists. Moreover, the word is far more likely to be uttered by blacks than by whites. It’s hard to believe that the mother in the first story and the black teenager in the second one were really offended by the use of the N-word in these contexts. What’s easier to believe is that they are opportunists who were playacting for attention.
The question going forward is how long society will continue to indulge this sort of fake outrage. How long will liberals get away with telling people what pronouns they can use, and when racial slurs are and are not appropriate? If Mrs. Pelosi and the Democratic left get their way, it could be quite a while.