Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, Roy Moore … and the Culture Wars

 

The usual names that come up when a Conservative thinks about Cancel Culture or the Culture Wars in general: Saul Alinsky, Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci, etc.

My thoughts on Cancel Culture made some other names pop up in my head; Roy Moore, Ed Stack, Brett Kavanaugh, Ben Shapiro, Andrew Breitbart, Stanley Kurtz, Thomas Jefferson, Jared Polis, Michael Corleone, John Roberts, Heather Mac Donald, Ronald Reagan, Michael Lind, etc.

Stay with me …

Thomas Jefferson: The adage that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is attributed (rightly or wrongly) to the 3rd President. Whatever the case, this is as true as it ever was. The problem for us on the Right is that we dropped the ball. We focused all our attention on the government as the only place from which the threat would come. We never credited the notion that it could come from the private sector (and many deny it even today), enabled by the nation’s cultural institutions. I do not know what to call a situation in which one fears to express an opinion because it could lead to a person being declared an “untouchable” by vast swathes of the private sector and will thereafter be unable to get a job, secure housing, start a business, avail himself of financial services, etc. I just know it’s not liberty.

Andrew Breitbart: It’s just now dawning on a lot of people exactly what Breitbart meant by “Politics is downstream of culture” and you suddenly understand why so many people on the Left celebrated his death. Turning up our noses and sniffing “who cares?” about the major cultural institutions – academia, entertainment, journalism – has now made it politically possible for celebrities, journalists, and politicians to call for “defunding the police” and the literal destruction of Mt. Rushmore. Worse yet, it has made it possible for Congress, or even a Supreme Court majority seeking to please Left-Wing tastemakers in New York penthouses to strip American citizens of any number of Constitutional rights, including the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments as we know it.

Roy Moore: He was an absolutely terrible candidate, and when it came down to it, as a simple matter of candidate and campaign quality and crisis management, he deserved to lose. But the manner in which his loss was engineered, and the aiding and abetting of it by numerous Conservative figures, was a travesty. The primary allegation against him was based entirely on a document showing his accuser was in the same office building where he worked as a prosecutor on a workday in the 1970s. Protests that this proved nothing at all and that he deserved the presumption of innocence was met by contemptuous retorts that this was not a court of law, and in an election, it is enough to be “credibly accused.”

Ben Shapiro: I admire Ben Shapiro enormously. But, he was one of the people who validated the “credibly accused” standard when it came to Roy Moore, explicitly dismissing the idea that he deserved the presumption of innocence because an election was not a court of law. What Shapiro missed out on was that the presumption of innocence is not just a legal standard, but a cultural one. Even outside a court of law, the circumstances must be extraordinary to warrant abandoning the presumption of innocence.

Jared Polis: As a Congressman, Polis took the notion that the presumption of innocence belonged only in a courtroom to its logical conclusion; why not automatically expel any male student who is accused of sexual misconduct? After all, being expelled for sexual misconduct is not the same as being sent to prison. He backpedaled once he got some pushback, but colleges were already dispensing with the notion of innocent until proven guilty in favor of the reverse. And then, encouraged by the Obama Administration’s infamous “Dear Colleague” letter, they instituted rules and procedures, for the ostensible reason of ensuring that the accuser is not “retraumatized”, that made it impossible for the accused to prove his innocence.

Brett Kavanaugh: The “credibly accused” standard came back to bite Brett Kavanaugh, much to the horror of many of the same folks on the Right who excoriated Roy Moore (including Ben Shapiro). Many claimed that there was no nexus between what happened to Moore and Kavanaugh. Except that in both cases; the allegation was made at the most politically opportune moment, there was no evidence the accused had ever met his accuser, the accuser faced no forensic cross-examination of her accusation and an appeal for the presumption of innocence for the accused was immediately dismissed because “this was not a court of law.” Again, as things from the college campus usually do, the prioritization of the accuser’s comfort over the accused’s possible innocence made its way out into the real world; including not just warnings against subjecting his accuser to a piercing cross-examination, but demands for Kavanaugh, the accused, to be questioned first.

Stanley Kurtz: Campus culture does not stay on campus, a large number of kids graduate and take their beliefs and attitudes with them into the real world. These are the people who get hired by big corporations, who make connections with venture capitalists, who staff HR departments, who get hired to teach the nation’s children and go on to work in journalism, music, publishing, film, and games. Some never fully leave the campus and become members of faculty or administration to indoctrinate the next generation. Others get into politics and law, and actually get elected to positions of power or even get on the bench. Kurtz (and others) sounded the alarm over two decades ago about the rolling purge of conservative voices on campus and the resulting ideological echo chamber producing a self-reinforcing army of extreme Left-Wing foot soldiers only too ready to use their positions in both the public and private sector to reward and punish ideological friends and enemies … only to be greeted with smug smirks and chortles about jobs and taxes.

Heather Mac Donald: The conservative confidence that the STEM disciplines would remain untouched by the poison being churned out into the minds of students by the corrupted Humanities and Social Science faculties is proving to be as ill-founded as the notion that earning a wage and seeing what is taken out by the government on a payslip is going to turn an indoctrinated Marxist into a committed capitalist. Mac Donald has documented numerous instances of pressure being applied to engineering schools to reduce the rigor of their courses to produce more demographically pleasing pass rates. Indeed, many STEM Departments have signed on to mission statements denouncing the very concepts of rigor, merit, logic, and objectivity, key elements of the scientific method, in favor of “diversity.”

Ed Stack: Apart from the incandescently stupid belief that work and taxes will undo years of indoctrination, conservatives also confidently held on to the notion that corporate America would always put profit first, and avoid unnecessary political entanglements. Except … that is not the case at all. The assumption that profits will always drive corporate America assumed that the leadership of corporate America will not come to value something more. The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods deciding to sacrifice nearly a billion dollars in sales just to be feted by Left-Wing tastemakers in New York by deliberately choosing to alienate tens of millions of gun owners is evidence of this. The CEO of Chick-fil-A deciding to abandon his company’s long time Christian supporters, who have been loyal through multiple boycotts and official harassment by Left-Wing local governments, by blacklisting the Salvation Army to appease the Left-Wing cocktail circuit is yet another.

Michael Corleone: There’s a scene in The Godfather Part II where Michael, in Cuba, witnesses a youthful supporter willingly carry a bomb/grenade in his hand and run up to destroy a military checkpoint for the communist cause. This immediately led Michael to accurately predict that Castro will be successful in overthrowing the Cuban government. The point here is that if people are convicted enough to be willing to sacrifice their lives for an ideology, how much easier to sacrifice a few hundred million, even billions of dollars when you’re worth hundreds of millions, or even many billions of dollars already? Especially if it comes with social acceptance among taste-making peers in media and entertainment? In case anyone missed it, the leadership of the tech giants in Silicon Valley, and much of corporate America, are increasingly making it clear that they have no use, regard, or even respect, for half of the country.

Michael Lind: A recent Tablet article by Michael Lind makes the point that progressives in corporate America are increasingly rejecting “any pragmatic attempt to try to win the votes of deplorable voters in flyover country as immoral or just tasteless” because “they have a second, undemocratic option, now that they represent much of the economic elite. They [will] just skip the hard work of electoral politics and use the raw power of the banks and corporations they control to impose … progressive policies on their customers or borrowers directly …” With the encouragement of fellow travelers in the public sector, “the [progressive] economic elite” are increasingly willing “to do an end run around electoral democracy by using its private economic power directly to impose partisan policies on society as a whole.” This means what they were taught in college – from speech codes to direct punitive action for expressing any form of dissent. Once we get used to living under such rules, imposed by the private sector, the codification of them into law is sure to follow, and there will be no recourse to the courts because their fellow travelers will be on the bench – law is downstream of politics, which is downstream of culture.

John Roberts: On that note, make no mistake; there are at least four sitting Supreme Court Justices right now who could very easily rule that a defendant in a sexual assault case can be prevented from confronting his accuser despite the clear wording of the Sixth Amendment, based entirely on current practices endorsed by law professors – their peers – in the nation’s most elite institutions of higher learning. And that’s not counting the threat they already pose to the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. With the Chief Justice increasingly basing his judgments on Left-Wing social acceptability, a majority may already be half-formed.

The point is this; freedom of speech and faith, the right to confront your accuser and challenge his allegations, the right to self-defense, equal treatment regardless of immutable characteristics, the recognition of innovation and merit, pluralism, and open debate, reason and empiricism, the presumption of innocence … these are not just legal but cultural precepts that should apply in, and out, of a court of law. They should apply in every section and institution of society to the extent possible.

No institution in America, not even the private sector, should do away with any of these except under exceedingly extraordinary circumstances. Sniffing that private companies or individuals are free to do what they want does not mean we in the wider society cannot expect and exert maximum social pressure to ensure, at minimum, that these precepts are the default.

Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same …

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  1. Dotorimuk Coolidge

    Some of the FIRST voices to prematurely attack the “Covington Kids” were voices from the Right, apparently eager to get a seat at the cool kids table.

    • #1
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:32 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  2. Samuel Block Support

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    Some of the FIRST voices to prematurely attack the “Covington Kids” were voices from the Right, apparently eager to get a seat at the cool kids table.

    Or perhaps desperate for an “Aha! Trump is ruining our children” moment. Most of these people bet their professional careers on the idea that we ought to trust their expertise (on everything). They didn’t take the loss well.

    Excellent post, Martin.

    • #2
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:46 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  3. Ray Gunner Coolidge

    MartinKnight: The point is this; freedom of speech and faith, the right to confront your accuser and challenge his allegations, the right to self-defense, equal treatment regardless of immutable characteristics, the recognition of innovation and merit, pluralism and open debate, reason and empiricism, the presumption of innocence … these are not just legal but cultural precepts that should apply in, and out, of a court of law. They should apply in every section and institution of society to the extent possible.

    They should, but they take the fun out of tyrannizing. That is why every one of these principles is under attack by an ever more confident class of aspiring totalitarians, operating in both the public and private sector. Each one of these principles functions as a barrier to the accumulation of power. We should expect totalitarians to ignore them. 

    • #3
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Quite the march. These corporations need to lose customers. And better corporations need to gain customers. Buy Goya. Drop Amazon. 

    Jefferson and the private sector. How is it that Teddy Roosevelt knew that the private sector could become a threat but we act like this is unexpected. This is the weakness of laissez-faire writ large. Florence King laughed at the deregulators, she knew executives and company men. They need good regulations to keep them clean and in line. Not the stuff they write themselves. Today the security agencies operate under the theory that they can seize information about us from the third parties that provide us devices and software that the courts would never let them seize directly, and under contract the companies have greatly expanded the surveillance of every device owner with little effective resistance. TikTok, a social app, has huge market share here and is continually shipping data to the CCP on individual Americans, government agencies are finally acting to have the app removed from employee phones. But their kids all have it. Soon the CCP will be measuring the White House for drapes. And what they can’t get from TikTok they’ll buy from FaceBook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google. 

    Roberts is the new Kennedy. Surprise. Saw that with the ludicrous ACA decision. But Gorsuch! Ouch!

    Breitbart was a wonder and irreplaceable and is sorely missed. Who will don the rollerblades ever again? Little of what has been done under his brand since is worthy of his memory. I shared a hallway with him while he gave interviews at CPAC a month before his death, quite accidentally. He was blocking the hall I needed with his press conference and it made me twenty minutes late. Inconsiderate twit. I knew I would have many other opportunities to see him speak as I finally made my way through the crowd. Not so much.

    All of those do-nothing rationales you cite were and are, of course, abrogations of responsibility. Transparently so, especially in hindsight, though I would not be surprised if words under the name Sisyphus appeared here supporting one or another of them at some point. But my children are canny and that made me over-optimistic at times. The idiots who wanted us to not vote for the Republican candidate in the last several elections think that this, again, will be Ragnarok if we do not turn the republic over to Totalitarian hellspawn. I know the face of evil when I see it.

     

    • #4
    • July 14, 2020, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    Some of the FIRST voices to prematurely attack the “Covington Kids” were voices from the Right, apparently eager to get a seat at the cool kids table.

    And their own coreligionists. Bishops, for crying out loud.

    • #5
    • July 14, 2020, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. philo Member

    Saw this at the other site on Sunday. Keep bringing it here, Mr. Knight, and bring some of your friends over too.

    • #6
    • July 14, 2020, at 7:43 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have made some of these points in the past, but you have done so in a vastly more eloquent and detailed manner than I am capable of. Thank you! This all needs to be said and repeated.

    • #7
    • July 15, 2020, at 12:24 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. brad2971 Inactive

    The adage that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is attributed (rightly or wrongly) to the 3rd President. Whatever the case, this is as true as it ever was. The problem for us on the Right is that we dropped the ball.”

    We do more than just “drop the ball.” Whenever any of us on the Right use phrases like “The process is the punishment,” or wonder why groups like Little Sisters of the Poor have to go through government paperwork hoops for their religious exemption, we deny that the phrase “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” should apply to us.

    • #8
    • July 15, 2020, at 10:06 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    brad2971 (View Comment):

    The adage that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is attributed (rightly or wrongly) to the 3rd President. Whatever the case, this is as true as it ever was. The problem for us on the Right is that we dropped the ball.”

    We do more than just “drop the ball.” Whenever any of us on the Right use phrases like “The process is the punishment,” or wonder why groups like Little Sisters of the Poor have to go through government paperwork hoops for their religious exemption, we deny that the phrase “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” should apply to us.

    Those women have wailed righteously on Team Obama! If milquetoast Romney had a mustard seed’s worth of that he would be wrapping up his second term now. Trump for all his faults has done better than a thousand Romney’s could have. Xi and the Big Donors want the office back. How dare those lazy spoiled Americans upset their righteous leadership.

    • #9
    • July 15, 2020, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 5 likes