theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Obama’s Nuclear Delusions

nuclear proliferation
Titan II Missiles, formerly used as nuclear launch platforms, lie covered in clear plastic in an Air Force hangar. Image by © Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS


Irving Kristol famously wrote that neo-conservatism was an ideology for those who once considered themselves members of the idealistic left, but who have been “mugged by reality.” Barack Obama entered the Oval Office as one of Kristol’s wide-eyed idealists. He, too, has been assaulted by learned experience. Apparently, however, Obama is declining to press charges.

Ahead of his final summit on nuclear security and nonproliferation as president, Barack Obama penned a lengthy defense of his administration’s approach to the issue for the Washington Post. In that effort, Obama chose to declare his continued fealty to the naïve ideal of “a world without nuclear weapons.”

Of course, the objective of putting the atomic genie back in its bottle is no more attainable than is the idea the world could uninvent penicillin. As well as being sheer fancy, both outcomes would be undesirable.

Obama entered office a firm believer in the “nuclear zero” movement. “If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable,” Obama professed in April of 2009. That is a bizarre way to characterize a half-century of effective deterrence, but such are the tenets of the faith. To strengthen a binding non-proliferation regime, the president insisted that the nation’s responsible nuclear powers must be uncompromising. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something,” he asserted. If only Obama circa 2009 could see what he has become in 2016.

“[W]e’re taking concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama wrote for the Post, citing a reduction in the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the United States. That progress has not been consistent. In fact, the trend toward disarmament in Europe may be set to reverse. In 2015, Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mikhail Ulyanov, warned that America’s supposedly provocative actions have led the Kremlin to contemplate the development of new, more sophisticated nuclear weapons to accompany its buildup of intercontinental ballistic missiles and other modernized nuclear delivery vehicles. What’s more, Russia has flirted with the forward deployment of nuclear weapons in places like Kaliningrad and occupied Crimea.

In his op-ed, Obama bragged about his administration’s efforts to limit the development of new nuclear weapons in the U.S. and to narrow the contingencies that would necessitate their use, but this is a misguided pursuit. Much of America’s nuclear arsenal and its “triad,” – missile-capable submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers – are literally relics of the Cold War. The threat of deterrence breaks down when the deterred party believes it can act with impunity; retaliation must be assured. Worryingly, America’s nuclear arsenal is not necessarily reliable, as former Defense Nuclear Agency Director and Navy Admiral Robert Monroe warned last year.

“President Obama’s policy doesn’t permit research, design, testing or production of new, advanced nuclear weapons,” he lamented. “Our current nuclear weapons — strategic and tactical — were designed and built decades ago to meet different threats, and have gone untested for decades.” Equally disturbing, American nuclear weapons research and development specialists have seen the handwriting on the wall and have moved on to other more lucrative occupations. They are not being replaced.

While the United States is giving up on its nuclear weapons and Russia is leaning more heavily on its arsenal, the nightmarish threat of nuclear terrorism looms ever larger.

“Given the continued threat posed by organizations such as the terrorist group we call ISIL, or ISIS, we’ll also join allies and partners in reviewing our counterterrorism efforts, to prevent the world’s most dangerous networks from obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Obama wrote in the Post. On this, the president has been consistent, reflective perhaps of the sobering security briefings to which he is privy. “I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan,” the president said when dismissing the threat posed by Russia’s invasion and annexation of sovereign territory in Europe, the first of its kind since 1945. Obama is not wrong to fret about the prospect of fissile material falling into the hands of ISIS or like-minded groups. Terrorist groups are actively seeking the procurement of radioactive and fissionable substances.

An Associated Press investigation in October of last year revealed that a nuclear smuggling ring with ties to Russian governmental agencies was shopping weapons-grade uranium to radical Islamic buyers through Moldovan proxies. The smugglers’ aim, as one of the indicted smugglers told an informant, the hope that their clients “will bomb the Americans.” Today, there is no more Nunn-Lugar-style cooperative framework to prevent Russia from mishandling its bomb-making materials. In January of 2015, the Russian government informed Moscow that it would no longer permit U.S. personnel to protect its nuclear facilities. “I think it greatly increases the risk of catastrophic terrorism,” said one of the landmark post-Soviet cooperation law’s architects, former Senator Sam Nunn. “The housekeeping by the Russians has not been comprehensive,” his counterpart, former Senator Richard Lugar, agreed. “There had been work done [with the United States] hunting down nuclear materials. This is now terminated.”

Finally, and most importantly from the perspective of the White House’s image-makers, Obama made the effort in his op-ed to contend that his administration has been particularly hard on rogue proliferators like North Korea and Iran.

“After intense negotiations, Iran agreed to a nuclear deal that closes every single one of its paths to a nuclear weapon, and Iran is now being subjected to the most comprehensive inspection regimen ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program,” the president averred. “The additional sanctions recently imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council show that violations have consequences.”

But those consequences for North Korea have not prevented it from conducting nuclear tests at will, launching a satellite into orbit (demonstrating that it can put an atomic warhead on any major American city), and working on a second-strike capability in the form of missile-ready submarines. Pyongyang’s experience should prove a tempting model for Tehran to follow once it determines that the benefits of the vaunted Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka, the Iran nuclear deal) are yielding diminishing returns. The inspections regime the president touts is a joke. The Islamic Republic has continued to develop and test nuclear-capable delivery vehicles, and the punishments they have faced for their violations amount to a slap on the wrist. Obama himself has admitted that the deal’s restrictions merely lengthen the time it will take for Iran to complete a nuclear “breakout.” When that day comes, the United States will have to determine whether to use force as it’s final failsafe – force its allies in the West, who are now racing to get a piece of the action in Iran, will oppose.

“We’re clear-eyed about the high hurdles ahead,” President Obama concludes, “but I believe that we must never resign ourselves to the fatalism that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable.” If this is clear-eyed, we should pray for a return to the hard-nosed sobriety displayed by an earlier generation of Cold Warriors. The only effective way to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons is by eliminating the need for deterrence. South Africa, Belarus, and Ukraine surrendered their nuclear stockpiles only when the threats in their neighborhoods were neutralized. Today, a wave of democratization that crested in the 1990s is receding, and interstate conflict is no longer the stuff that fills the pages of history books. Obama can recite deluded liberal nostrums about the uselessness of nuclear weapons all he wants, but everyone else seems to see their utility perfectly fine.


Where Will the GOP Go After Trump?

04-164-170 DOE photo by Lynn Freeny


I agree with Alan Jacobs and Michael Brendan Dougherty that the GOP will be remarkably unchanged by having Trump as its nominee. If there is one rule that seems to govern the modern Republican Party, it is that its leaders learn little or nothing from disaster and reliably draw the wrong conclusions from their defeats. We saw that in the wake of the 2012 election, when party leaders and donors concluded that the only significant fix needed for the party’s problems was to embrace immigration legislation opposed by most Republicans. The idea that the GOP would benefit politically by pushing its donors’ agenda harder and aligning with corporate interests even more than it already had never made sense, but that was the lesson the strategists insisted on drawing from Romney’s loss. They took the one thing that distinguished Romney from Bush and decided that it was the big liability that needed to go.
These leaders and donors had no problem with the rest of Bushism, and saw no reason to repudiate perpetual war, constant meddling overseas, corporatism, or an outdated economic agenda that was irrelevant to most voters. Assuming Trump is the nominee and goes on to lose badly, we can be reasonably sure that the “back to Bushism” impulse will be even stronger than it was four years ago. That would be a horrible mistake, but the GOP has a knack for making those.
I’m a bit more skeptical than Jacobs that anti-Trump Republicans will go back to the Rubio well a second time. He writes:
Among the major figures in the Republican Party, the one least likely to defend, endorse, or support Trump is surely Marco Rubio. (A point recently reinforced.) And if Rubio denounces Trump, or just stays silent, then that will significantly increase the likelihood of the scenario I imagined in that earlier post: an essentially intact GOP leadership in 2018 wheeling out as their preferred candidate a four-years-older, four-years-wiser, four-years-more-seasoned Marco Rubio.
That’s certainly possible, but somehow I doubt it. Rubio won’t finish the year as the runner-up to Trump or even a strong third-place “winner” in the delegate count. His effort to hang on to his delegates seems more like a desperate bid for relevance than the foundation of a future political comeback. The senator will be a little older and possibly even wiser in two years (when the next presidential campaign will effectively begin), but he’ll no longer be a senator and all of the same problems he had this year will remain. Assuming that he even wants to run for office again, he would do better to try to rebuild his career in Florida before pursuing the presidential nomination again, and after his failed campaign this year he is likely to have far fewer boosters in the future than he had this time around. I’m a confirmed Rubio-skeptic, so I may be missing something here, but even if the GOP is foolish enough to think reviving Bushism is the post-2016 answer I don’t think they will want to go back to the same messenger who tried and failed to revive it this year.

Hillary, Queen of Corruption to be Questioned by FBI

Pamela K. Browne

As the FBI enters the final phases of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized email server for government business, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey are meeting frequently to discuss the progress and handling of the highly sensitive case, a source told Fox News.
Among the issues discussed in the meetings, which have been taking place several times per week, are who will be interviewed and in what order, according to an intelligence source close to the ongoing case. Emails released by the State Department have already shown Clinton and several key aides used the personal, unsecured network to send more than 1,000 messages which have been deemed classified.
“In a case like this you get one shot at the queen,” the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said referring to Clinton, the former secretary of state and current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. “The pressures are enormous on the agents, as the case has to be airtight and perfect.”
“In a case like this you get one shot at the queen.”
- Source with knowledge of investigation
Comey and Lynch are likely involved in daily briefings on the status of the explosive investigation, said Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division.
“This in an incredibly high stakes, high-wire act,” Hosko said. “Timing is of the essence, but being right is absolutely critical. Comey must be the one to make the case that the law has been broken and a prosecution is recommended.”
Nearly a dozen people who worked with Clinton at State, as well as others linked to the Clinton family’s nonprofit foundation have received, or are expected to receive, formal interview requests from the bureau, the source told Fox News. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the FBI was setting up interviews with Clinton’s closest associates and would likely seek an interview with her.
“The authority for these formal interview requests by the Bureau is granted by the Attorney General,” the source added.
The formal interview requests are now being rapidly organized to set a time, date and place for the individuals to speak with federal agents about how their names have surfaced in the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation. The interviews would not require any statements under oath, and subjects could decline them.
As the interviews evolve, the FBI, as first reported by Fox News last fall, will explore possible violations of Criminal Code section 1001, which covers "statements or entries generally," and can be applied when an individual makes misleading or false statements that cause federal agents to expend additional resources and time. Legal experts, as well as a former FBI agent, told Fox News Section 1001 could apply if Clinton, her aides or attorney were not forthcoming with FBI agents about her emails, classification and whether only non-government records were destroyed.
High-profile names convicted of violating Section 1001 include Martha Stewart, as well as former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Clinton recently insisted to Fox News’ Bret Baier during a town hall that neither she nor her lawyers have been formally notified that they are targets of an FBI investigation.
“Absolutely not,” Clinton said.
But such formal notification typically comes at the end of a process that sometimes spans months or even years of investigation, and even then only if it is determined that a subject’s activities likely merit prosecution.
Former Clinton campaign staffer and State Department information technology specialist Bryan Pagliano, who installed Clinton’s private server, was granted immunity by the Justice Department and is cooperating with the FBI.
“His importance as a witness cannot be underestimated,” a source told Fox News.
Pagliano has first-hand knowledge of who held and used accounts on the server from Clinton’s dealings in politics, philanthropy and private enterprise.  Understanding how these worlds intersected is “causing rats to leave the ship and others to sweat blood,” said the source. 
Who was doing what while getting paid by whom is key to the ongoing criminal probe, as the FBI’s No. 1 priority is ferreting out public corruption. Putting the pieces together is a challenge for federal investigators and investigative journalists.
Key Clinton aide Huma Abedin told the State Department in a July 5, 2013, letter that, “in addition to my work for the Department of State, I performed work for three others.”
Those jobs included working during parts of 2012 and 2013 for the Clinton-allied firm Teneo Holdings, which paid Abedin $105,000 even as she earned another $135,000 as a State Department “consultant.” Teneo, which was founded by longtime Clinton insider Doug Band, “advised clients on communications and investor relations for 10 different merger and acquisition deals worth a total of over $60 billion,” according to Fortune magazine.
In the same letter, Abedin stressed that “it is my understanding that Teneo does not conduct business with the Department of State. I also was not asked nor did I provide insights about the Department, my work with the Secretary or any government information to which I may have had access.”
The Clinton Foundation, founded in 1997, before President Bill Clinton left the White House, was renamed the “Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation” six weeks after Hillary Clinton left the State Department in February 2013. Abedin worked for the foundation before and after it was renamed.
Critics, including Republican lawmakers, have suggested that Clinton may have used her influence as Secretary of State to reward donors to the foundation, which Hosko believes is an aspect of the email investigation.
“I am certain the FBI is looking at the nexus of State and the business of the foundation enrichment,” Hosko said. “Is there a shell game being played out on a global grand scale that creates a challenging paper trail?”

OpEd: Time to Stop Political Suicide

theodore  M I R A L D I.

Let me be clear. Although I speak out about issues regarding the resounding loss of Public Trust, both parties are responsible for the Decay of our Political System.

Both parties, along with the multitude of minor voices have been on a quest for power by any means and all costs. This is fundamentally wrong. There is little to no real dialog, or negotiation by lawmakers to find a safe place for all. The dilettantes on both sides are acting like packs of wolfs. They are more interested in their individual satisfaction, and not the society in which we must all exist within.

We should all be ashamed of the very people we have elected and given our power to. We should all be astonished by the vitriol by the media who's only objective is to get ratings and advertising money.

The Media no longer deserves the safeties guaranteed in the Constitution. It has become so bias and payed for, that it should now be classified as entertainment at best.

Neither party has the right answers at the moment. No one candidate can possibly satisfy every voter's individual wants. The chaos in the nation is far more dangerous than most will admit. 

We are no longer speaking about issues, both parties and every candidate is more interested in a scorched earth narrative, attacking personal attributes and qualification. It should be obvious at this point no one candidate is without reproach, no one candidate is a savior.

The Left speaks about high ideals and yet supports a candidate under Federal Investigation. How much worse a candidate could this be? A candidate who has been mired in scandal for her entire private and political life. Where are those high ideals, may I ask?

The Right, being beat back by Political Correctness has finally found its voice. Obviously, not the right voice or messaging. 

Both parties must put the public and nation before their own deceitful ambitions. The voters are not the problem. 

A Divided Right will go down in defeat.

A Corrupt left will seed a Political Revolution that may end Politics as we know it

The voices of reason have committed suicide by ambition.

The Evolution Of Obama’s Middle East Fantasy

Six years ago, Obama had a vision of a 'new beginning' for Islam and the West. But he retreated when hard realities shattered his Middle East fantasy.

The Evolution Of Obama’s Middle East Fantasy

 John Daniel Davidson

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces captured the city of Palmyra over the weekend thanks to heavy air support from Russian warplanes, dealing a blow to ISIS and strengthening Assad’s hold on power. Regime forces, with Russian support, are reported to be continuing the offensive to nearby ISIS-controlled cities. Meanwhile, Syrian opposition forces backed by the CIA and the Pentagon are fighting each other, and the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq has increased to about 5,000.
This is what President Obama’s Middle East foreign policy looks like today.
It’s a far cry from the peaceful vision Obama laid out in his 2009 Cairo speech. He spoke then of a “new beginning” for the Muslim world and the West, and the need to “act boldly in the years ahead” to face “shared challenges” in a globalized world. “When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience,” Obama said to thunderous applause. “That is what it means to share this world in the twenty-first century.”
One wonders whether Obama thinks the death toll in Syria, now estimated to be at least 470,000, counts as a stain on our collective conscience.

Obama Blames Others For The Middle East Quagmire

Whatever Obama meant in 2009 by “shared challenges,” he proved unwilling to shoulder much responsibility for them. Today, he’s ready to blame everyone but himself for the Middle East quagmire. In Jeffrey Goldberg’s long article in the current issue ofThe Atlantic, “The Obama Doctrine,” Obama comes off as dismayed that the many fractious elements in the Middle East have not responded to his agenda the way they were supposed to. The piece, impressive for its access to the president, chronicles the evolution of Obama’s Middle East fantasy.
Obama is dismayed the many fractious elements in the Middle East have not responded the way they were supposed to.
Goldberg writes that some of Obama’s “deepest disappointments concern Middle Eastern leaders themselves.” Assad was not supposed to use chemical weapons on his own people. Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey, was supposed to do more to end the civil war in Syria. The Europeans were supposed to do more to stabilize Libya after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. The king of Jordan, Abdullah II, was not supposed to complain so much about Iran. The Saudis were supposed to modernize in response to the Arab Spring, not try to crush the movement. Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to work harder toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians. They have all let Obama down.
All these leaders of course represent competing factions—tribes that have frustrated Obama by their backward ways. The problem, for example, with Libya? “The degree of tribal division in Libya was greater than our analysts had expected,” Obama explained. “And our ability to have any kind of structure there that we could interact with and start training and start providing resources broke down very quickly.” So Libya was left to its own unhappy fate.

Tribalism and Fatalism

Obama had a similar response to countries across the Middle East, especially once the Arab Spring descended into violence. Today, he seems to have resigned himself to the intransigence and tribalism of Muslim leaders on the one hand, and American impotence on the other. “One of the most destructive forces in the Middle East, Obama believes, is tribalism—a force no president can neutralize,” writes Goldberg. “Tribalism, made manifest in the reversion to sect, creed, clan, and village by the desperate citizens of failing states, is the source of much of the Muslim Middle East’s problems, and it is another source of his fatalism.”
Instead of creating a new beginning for the Middle East, Obama created a vacuum by pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq at just the wrong moment.
But of course tribalism can be neutralized—by force, if necessary. That’s precisely what the U.S. military did in Iraq in 2007-08, when President Bush ordered the troop surge that finally pacified the country. By making itself the most powerful tribe, the U.S. military became the necessary arbiter between Iraq’s warring Sunni factions, including some groups that would eventually help to form ISIS. When Obama inherited Iraq from Bush in 2009, it was within our power to negotiate a continuing U.S. presence that likely would have preempted the formation of ISIS and might have also prevented the Syrian civil war.
But instead of creating a new beginning for the Middle East, Obama created a vacuum by pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq at just the wrong moment. Goldberg’s piece reveals just how far Obama has drifted from those heady days of his 2009 Cairo speech. Back then, Obama’s idée fixe was that tribes and factions will eventually melt away in the face of globalization. Here was the adjunct faculty lounge philosopher at his finest:
For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes—and, yes, religions—subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.

Obama Retreated From Hard Mideast Realities

Although Obama hasn’t fully abandoned that comforting view of history, the chaos his foreign policy has unleashed in the Middle East has chastened him somewhat. Goldberg calls him a “Hobbesian optimist,” which means he thinks the Saudis and Iranians need to “share the neighborhood” so we don’t have to “start coming in and using our military power to settle scores”—as if the purpose of checking Iran’s revolutionary ambition were merely to stroke the Saudi royal family’s ego.
Obama still hasn’t grasped the maxim James Madison set forth in Federalist No. 10: ‘The latent causes of faction… are sown into the nature of man.’
In other words, Obama’s encounter with reality has not helped him to see it more clearly. He is dismayed by the disorder and chaos of the world because he still hasn’t grasped the maxim James Madison set forth in Federalist No. 10: “The latent causes of faction… are sown into the nature of man.”
In 2009, Obama believed that, for some reason, “we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.” What he found in the Middle East is the world as it really is: fractious and violent and stubborn. In response, he retreated from it. Whatever Obama thought was possible for the Muslim world six years ago, today he is deeply disillusioned with the region—but still convinced America is powerless to tame its factions.
It will take another administration to impose order in the Middle East, one that understands, as Madison did, that “the causes of faction cannot be removed… relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.”

Activist Left Can’t Help Its Intolerance

Defacing monuments is an age-old tactic meant to suppress speech and intimidate political enemies. The activist Left is now using it on elementary schools.

Why The Activist Left Can’t Help Its Intolerance

John Daniel Davidson

In ancient Rome, damnatio memoriae was the practice of condemning Roman elites and emperors after death. The phrase means, “the condemnation of memory,” and the idea was to dishonor people by erasing them from history, usually by seizing their property, removing their name from public monuments, and destroying or re-working their statues. As you might imagine, those subject to damnatio memoriae tended to be traitors or deposed emperors—like Maximian, who ruled Rome for a decade before he was forced to commit suicide by Constantine the Great in 310.
In other words, the practice of purging names and images was a political tactic of Imperial Rome to suppress dissent and intimidate enemies.
Now it’s back. Not in Russia or Iran, but here in America among left-wing activists, for whom the names and images of many historical figures have become intolerable—especially those on the losing side of the Civil War. As the campus protest movement gained momentum last year, students groups called for, among other things, the removal of Confederate statuary and all names of Confederate generals and segregationists from college buildings. Some schools complied, like the University of Texas at Austin, which removed a statue of Jefferson Davis from its historic quad last fall. Many other schools are still “in consultation” about student demands.

From College Campuses To Elementary Schools

What started on college campuses has now trickled down to elementary schools. The school board in Austin, Texas, voted Monday to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, an historic building named after the Confederate general upon its completion in 1939. Kendall Pace, the school board president, said history is important and we should never forget it, but then revealed the shallowness of his own grasp of history, saying, “students should not be required to attend schools named for people who made a choice to lead the fight to keep a race of people in slavery.” (A passing knowledge of Lee’s life and times would be enough for anyone who cares about history to refrain from such an oversimplification.)
For the activist Left, defacing public buildings and historical monuments is a small price to pay for political correctness.
Some objected to the name-change on the grounds that the building itself is an historical landmark that was funded by a New Deal program under President Franklin Roosevelt. Changing the school’s name, after all, would require defacing the historic art deco building’s stone façade.
For the activist Left, though, defacing public buildings and historical monuments is a small price to pay for political correctness. Similar efforts are underway across the country. The Houston School Board is changing all school names with ties to the Confederacy. Recently, it addedReagan High School to the list, named after John H. Reagan. His crime? Serving as postmaster general of the Confederacy. In Charlottesville, Va., the city council has begun the process of moving a large statue of Lee that sits in… Lee Park. In New Orleans, the city council voted in December to remove four Confederate monuments from prominent places around the city, including a statue of Lee in the middle of… Lee Circle. Without a trace of irony, Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for the statues to be put in a museum or a Civil War park, saying, “The Confederacy, you see, was on the wrong side of history and humanity.”
The mayor must think those who tear down monuments and war memorials are on the right side of history.
One problem with all this is that there is no end to it. Today, Confederate generals must go. Tomorrow, who can say what names or historical events must be purged from public places? More importantly, how do you learn from history if you banish it from the public square? It’s not as though American students are especially knowledgeable about their history. Encountering a plaque on a statue or a memorial might be the only way some students learn about episodes from our country’s past, especially the darker periods like the Civil War.

The Left’s Rejection Of Truth Demands Separatism

Purging the past is of course just one symptom of a pervasive intellectual malady on the Left. The internal contradictions of identity group politics necessitate not only the suppression of history but also separatism in the present. As Tom Lindsay notes in a recent column at Forbes about the rise of white student unions, “Racial separatism is what is now taught in too many universities. More precisely, what we teach provides no principled barrier to separatist agendas.”
Purging the past is just one symptom of a pervasive intellectual malady on the Left.
If all principles are relative, if the “self-evident truths” listed in the Declaration of Independence are merely “values,” then there’s no basis for asserting equality, freedom of speech, or government by consent. Everything is reduced to competing groups pressing their subjective values.
That’s how you end up with The National Union of Students’ LGBT Campaign passing a motion last week calling for the abolition of representatives for gay men because they “don’t face oppression” the way other members of the LGBT community do. One can find endless examples of this sort of special interest group in-fighting. On Monday, a video surfaced of a black female student at San Francisco State University accosting a white student in the hallway for his cultural appropriation of dreadlocks.

College Campuses Breed Intolerance

It’s easy to see why students would act this way toward one another: they learn it in class. Last week, a staff writer at the Harvard Crimson spoke out against a campus culture “defined not by open expression—but by sensitivity.” The writer, Rachel E. Huebner, describes scenes at Harvard that read like satire:
In a class I attended earlier this semester, a large portion of the first meeting was devoted to compiling a list of rules for class discussion. A student contended that as a woman, she would be unable to sit across from a student who declared that he was strongly against abortion, and the other students in the seminar vigorously defended this declaration. The professor remained silent. In a recent conversation with peers, I posed a question about a verse from the Bible. A Harvard employee in the room immediately interjected, informing me that we were in a safe space and I was thus not permitted to discuss the controversial biblical passage. And these are just stories from the past three months.
Alas, this is real life on many college campuses today—and the speech police routinely target not only students but also tenured faculty. Marquette University has apparentlyfired and barred from campus political science professor John McAdams because he criticized a female grad student on his blog. The university has said McAdams can be reinstated only if he apologizes and admits his “guilt” in the next two weeks.
Instead, the professor plans to sue Marquette, which is a great idea because he has a good chance of winning. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) keeps a running list of free speech cases at colleges across the country, many of which are blatant violations of the First Amendment. Earlier this month, for example, the University of Kansas reinstated an assistant professor after a four-month “investigation” into comments the professor made during a class discussion that offended some grad students. FIRE sent a letter to the university reminding them what all university administrators should know: speech is protected by the First Amendment and any punishment would violate the professor’s constitutional rights. The university backed down.
Such victories are a small comfort, though, in the face of a rising culture of intolerance on the Left—one that now seeks to unleash a new damnatio memoriae against its modern-day political enemies.