16 min read
Dear Intelligent American,
No, we are not referring to Orson Welles’s lubricated line, but—and you will note the date is July 14th—instead to the French national holiday. Oh, baguettes and escargot and Reign of Terror memories, washed down with a glass or three of Burgundy—quelle célébration! One wonders: Will any prison be stormed tonight, as France suffers its tireless rioters, whose ideological supporters are in petit debt, n’est-ce pas?, to their Jacobin forefathers?
Well, let us toast the Republic—after all, it helped us win at Yorktown—maybe with a glass of Paul Masson (thanks, Orson), and in the ensuing inebriate haze mesh commercial taglines with current realities and conclude that we shall end no revolution before its time.
Now, Let Us Ride to the Sound of Excerpts, Links, and Possible Gunfire
1. At National Review, Madeleine Kearns hears the compelling Sound of Freedom, a thing to which many in the media seem intentionally deaf. From the review:
The movie has also drawn critics and detractors. A critic for the Guardian described it as a “QAnon-adjacent thriller seducing America” and “paranoid.” The QAnon conspiracy held that child sex traffickers operate within the “deep state.” Is it “QAnon adjacent” to suggest that child sex traffickers operate anywhere?
Consider it this way. Let’s say this film fuels a “moral panic” or that we’re overestimating the problem of child sex trafficking. The harm in this would be, at worst, wasted energy and a disproportionate use of resources. But what if, contrary to the status quo narrative, we are underestimating the problem of child sex trafficking? Or even turning a blind eye? The harm there would be the widescale sexual abuse of children, left unchallenged.
It’s difficult to obtain reliable figures for the number of victims of child sex trafficking. But whether the figures are in the hundreds or thousands in any country, there’s no doubt that it’s real. According to a 2019 New York Times article, technology companies reported a record of 45 million online photos and videos of child sexual abuse in the previous year. The United Nations’ 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons noted that one in every three victims of human trafficking is a child and, furthermore, “globally, most victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.”
After the end of the movie, the postscript appears, reminding audiences that “there are more humans trapped in slavery today than at any point in history—including when slavery was legal.” And yet, most of the slavery that exercises people today is historic.
2. At City Journal, John Tierney tallies how pandemic lockdowns amounted to a self-inflicted disaster. From the piece:
Meantime, the lockdowns did have other significant effects on health. Rates of smoking, drinking, and obesity increased. The number of excess deaths from non-Covid causes in the U.S. rose by nearly 100,000 annually due to extra deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, obesity, drug overdoses, alcohol-induced causes, homicide, and traffic accidents. Many of these excess deaths, which occurred disproportionately among working-age adults, were presumably related to the lockdowns’ disruptions in people’s lives and in medical treatments. The delays in screening for heart disease and cancer will continue to have a deadly impact in the years ahead.
So will the economic and social consequences of the lockdowns, which showed up clearly in the Paragon Health Institute comparison of states’ performance. The researchers found that states with the more stringent pandemic restrictions had worse declines in economic output and higher rates of unemployment, and that children in those states lost more days of in-person schooling. These disruptions contributed to a substantial increase in domestic migration, the Paragon researchers found, as people escaped from the more restrictive states and moved to states with less stringent policies.
The lockdowns were the most radical experiment in the history of public health, implemented without evidence that they would work. (In fact, before Covid, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and other nations’ health agencies had specifically advised against lockdowns in their plans for dealing with a pandemic.) The experiment was promoted by computer modelers who projected that 2 million Americans would die by the end of the summer in 2020 unless governments mandated lockdowns, which they estimated would reduce mortality by 80 percent or more. Both estimates turned out to be absurdly wrong—and so was the modelers’ assumption that government mandates were the only way to change people’s behavior.
3. At Brownstone Institute, Jeffrey Tucker investigates the intellectual, de-civilization forces that were empowered by pandemic dictats—and finds them in the writings of an early 19th-century French writer. From the essay:
It was not really about health care. It was about the exercise of power over the whole population by a tiny elite in the name of science. . . .
We can’t go back, they said, but we can “at least use lessons from those times to bend modernity in a safer direction.”
There we have it. Preserve “essential” services (and people) but get rid of everything else. The lockdowns were merely a test case of a new social system. It’s not capitalism. It’s not socialism as we’ve come to understand it. It feels like interwar corporatism but with a twist. The big businesses that gain favor are not heavy industry but digital tech designed to live off scraped data and power the world with sunbeams and breezes. 
Grant that there is nothing new under the sun. Whence comes this strange new utopianism? 
4. At Public Discourse, Michael Lucchese reflects on the great political philosopher Robert Nisbet, and his “non-libertarian case for decentralization.” From the essay:
Nisbet’s conservatism rejected these liberal political concepts. He advocated an older, more deeply American vision of ordered liberty than either side of the Right’s contemporary divide offers. Conservatism, Nisbet argues, sees liberty and decentralized authority as innately linked. “The existence of authority in the social order staves off encroachments of power from the political sphere,” Nisbet said. Society ought to be conceived of “as a plurality of authorities.” Parents hold authority over their children; churches over their members; business owners over their employees. The intricate web of these authorities provides a prescriptive set of checks and balances to prevent abuse of both the authority of groups and the liberty of individuals.
To be clear, though some of the groups Nisbet is describing are voluntary in nature, others very much are not. No person freely chooses his or her own family; our parents are our parents whether we like them or not, and we will always owe them certain duties. As such, Nisbet is not even advocating a voluntaristic libertarianism—he is reasserting the significance of tradition.
Seen in this light, the web of authority has another important purpose: to educate people on how to act virtuously. Man has a duty to obey legitimate authority, and for the conservative this kind of just obedience is perfect freedom.
5. At First Things, Colin Dueck tells of the Victims of Communism Museum and its important message. From the piece:
The museum’s second gallery centers on the victims of Stalin’s rule and informs visitors about the gulags, forced labor camps, purges, and show trials that characterized his dictatorship. We see and hear gripping evidence of the deportations, the mass executions, the ethnic cleansings, and the deliberately engineered famines that killed millions, most notably in Ukraine. Once again, these atrocities are illustrated through vivid examples; visitors are shown the daily ration of one gulag prisoner, which consisted of a small crust of bread. It was mostly sawdust.
The museum’s third gallery describes the postwar expansion of the Leninist model into Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa. Yet even as the Soviet bloc was at the height of its power, the seeds of its destruction were being planted. Especially in the USSR’s European sphere of influence, ordinary people yearned for a better way of life. For them, simply listening to a smuggled revamped Beatles album—one of the many artifacts highlighted by the museum—was an act of joy and resistance. This gallery details the many acts of courage taken by everyday citizens as well as exceptional dissidents to chip away at the tyranny surrounding them, which ultimately led to the stunning collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. Americans can take pride in the indispensable role they played in these efforts.
During the 1990s, it was commonplace to write triumphalist obituaries of communism. Now we know better. For while the USSR was deservedly placed on the ash heap of history, the Marxist-Leninist template never entirely disappeared. Instead, it discovered new ways to tyrannize and survive.
6. At The American Conservative, Carmel Richardson finds the virtue in knowing who is behind your cow juice. From the piece:
Of course, raw milk and psychotropics are two vastly different things, but that has not stopped the public health P.R. campaign against it, either. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that consuming unpasteurized milk can spark an outbreak of food poisoning, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, kidney failure, and even death. While these things may be true under certain circumstances, it takes little more than pocketbook medical knowledge to know that they are not the result of raw milk itself, but of bad milk, raw or pasteurized. Such immoderate fear mongering encourages the consumer to doubt the honesty of the messenger, which even USA Today admits may be one reason raw milk has become more acceptable in the post-pandemic era.
The public health bureaucracy is right to note the changing tide on this one front: Iowa’s raw milk law suggests some hope for both our national health and that lingering ethos, as more Americans seem willing to bet on their local farmer over an unknown public health bureaucrat. But many other unorthodox food choices—or rather, healthy, orthodox food choices that have been lionized even by those in favor of modern farming techniques—remain illegal and taboo. Efforts to change this, such as Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie’s PRIME Act, have failed repeatedly, while farmers like Amos Miller of the years-long Miller’s Organic Farm debacle attest to the high cost of operating in any way that does not fall within the inflexible parameters of government food regulations. Who these regulations primarily benefit, the consumer or the biggest dairies and butcheries, is irrelevant, because the bureaucrat rules.
7. More Commies: At Law & Liberty, David Schaefer comments on the causes of Red China’s economic turmoil. From the piece:
For a time after Mao’s death, it was claimed that the Chinese communist government had found a way to combine continued authoritarian rule with the opportunity of prosperity for all, owing to the partial privatization of the economy (in violation, of course, of Marx’s tenets). Thanks to this policy, initiated by party leader Deng Xiaoping, the people’s standard of living did increase exponentially, at least in major cities. (Those who became too prosperous were nonetheless subject to the awareness that their wealth, just like that of Russia’s “oligarchs,” was subject to seizure by the authorities at any time.)
Now, however, the Chinese government has expressly reneged on the promise of continued popular prosperity. Parents had typically scrimped at considerable hardship just to enable their offspring to receive an advanced education and hence professional employment. However, faced with a surfeit of millions of recent college graduates who cannot find jobs that are in any way commensurate with their training (for example, a record high of 20% unemployment among urban youth, higher among college grads), Chinese leader Xi Jinping has exhorted them to “eat bitterness” and settle for either doing manual labor in the cities or move to the countryside to take up farming. . . .
The domestic lesson here concerns the folly of believing that government can effectively “manage” an economy, whether through radical spending and debt increases, subsidies to favored industries (such as producers of electric cars, unwanted by most consumers), regulatory policies unmitigated by consideration of their economic effects, or redistributionist tax increases. Rather, a certain dose of governmental humility is in order. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek observed, efforts at “central planning” by government (much favored by Communist regimes) inevitably fail, because no government possesses the knowledge that is dispersed among individual producers and consumers.
8. More L&L: Adam Tomkins offers a primer on the realities of Britain’s unwritten constitution. From the essay:
Occasionally, we may mention Magna Carta, which dates from 1215, but even then we tend to do so anachronistically, and, certainly, few ever say anything about the four centuries which separate it from the constitutional conflicts of the seventeenth century.
This is a shame, as there is much that can usefully be learned about today’s constitution from the medieval political orders of the Middle Ages. One could start with Henry de Bracton, for example, and his thirteenth-century writings on kingship. Or with Sir John Fortescue’s De Laudibus Legum Angliae, written in the 1470s as a handbook for Edward IV but not published until the 1540s (well into the reign of Henry VIII). Or one could read Sir Thomas Smith’s brilliant Elizabethan overview of Tudor government, De Republica Anglorum, first published in 1583. All contain insights about the nature of rulership and government which remain pertinent to this day. Fortescue, for example, is as compelling as Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries are, written in the 1760s, that the genius of the English constitution is its mixing together of elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Blackstone was adamant that it was the mixed nature of the constitution that had given England her stability. But he was hardly the first great English jurist to alight upon this theme. Fortescue beat him to it by some three hundred years. . . .
Were I to try to convey a sense of the ongoing importance of today’s British constitution of the late Middle Ages, I would be inclined to reach first for Shakespeare. In particular, I would cite his great tetralogy of history plays, Richard II, the two parts of Henry IV, and Henry V. These are not only Shakespeare’s best histories: they are among the finest of all his plays. Richard II is a story of weak and conflicted rulership, when the ruler doubts himself and crumples under the weight of leadership. Henry IV is a story both of guilt (aka, the burden of taking responsibility for the means by which you have obtained power) and of the public/private split, asking us to reflect on the moral fibre of our putative leaders, as reflected not only in their public action but also in their private behaviour.
9. At the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Chris Corrigan explains how to cut costs at higher-ed institutions. From the piece:
So, what can be done? Despite the institutional inertia that makes cost-cutting difficult, colleges must address their largest expense: labor. Institutions need to give up on the idea that small class-sizes are universally beneficial. One benefit of the reaction to the Covid pandemic was to illustrate the usefulness of remote or online learning. Most institutions went fully or partially online, in some cases for two full years. Online learning allows instructional resources to be spread more widely and improves faculty productivity. Even before the pandemic, online programs like Georgia Tech’s highly successful M.S. in computer science were proof of concept for large-scale online education.
Faculty and others insist that there are important pedagogical reasons for retaining low-enrollment courses and programs. Yet many such courses simply have low student demand, and some, like gender studies and climate studies, exist only for ideological reasons. Whatever the intention, these courses and programs absorb costly institutional resources, and many institutions just can’t afford them anymore.
Institutions must also reverse the trend of increasing the number of administrative positions. The huge growth in administrative ranks in student services, sustainability, and DEI adds almost no value to the educational products that institutions are offering. At Yale, for example, “the number of managerial and professional staff . . . has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body” over the last two decades. According to Richard Vedder, “the number of (college) administrators has soared relative to the number of students and to the number of faculty, and there’s a corresponding increase in the cost of doing business.” During the 1980-81 academic year, instructional expenses were about double instructional support expenses nationally, whereas now they are about equal. Institutions need to ask whether a particular service or administrator adds value to the core educational mission. If not, the position should be cut.
10. At The Heritage Foundation, Lindsey Burke, Adam Kissel, Armand Alacbay, and Kyle Beltramini level an important call for the dismantling of the higher-ed “accreditation cartel.” From the document:
Accreditation as it currently exists creates barriers to entry for innovative start-ups in the higher education market, while being a poor gauge of program quality and the skills students gain (or fail to gain) while attending college. What began as a voluntary system of accreditation in the 19th century became a de facto requirement, with accreditation losing much of its value as a result. In order to harness the potential of new learning modes, policymakers should consider meaningful structural changes to this ossified system. The appendix includes additional state and federal reform recommendations.
Any higher education reform worthy of the name must include accreditation reform. Addressing these issues would be a good step toward improving the system of higher education quality control and putting American higher education on the path to regaining its status as a model for the world.
11. At Commentary, Tal Fortgang explains the degrees of “Inclusion,” and when it can become a destructive force. From the essay:
Let us call this Collaborative Inclusion. Under its tenets, it is a desirable social goal to allow the entry of as many kinds of people as possible into our institutions. All can contribute to the extent of their abilities, and all are treated with respect. Collaborative Inclusion applies to all kinds of people who may lack access to education, jobs, or other goods, whether they face barriers because of their race, sex, disabilities, or something else. It encourages building ramps next to the stairs, letting Jews join the tennis club, and treating your gay colleagues as equals. Crucially, though, it does not ask institutions to change their most important constitutive characteristics, such as the rule that a basketball player must dribble the ball.
As Harvard Law School professor Kenneth W. Mack has put it, this form of inclusion means increased participation but not alteration. However, not all are satisfied with participation, and defenders of Collaborative Inclusion are often lulled into supporting something quite different and far less appealing. Recognizing that not all movements that go by “inclusion” are equally desirable is crucial to understanding the ongoing danger posed by the tidal wave of inclusion activism that threatens to advance a radical, intolerant, homogenizing worldview.
Under the guise of Collaborative Inclusion, which is rooted in values of equality, opportunity, and dignity, a second model often sneaks by. Let us call this one Imposed Inclusion. It is rooted in values of equity, result, and social justice. It’s concerned with how different identity-based groups experience advantage and disadvantage in the aggregate. While Collaborative Inclusion aims to honor the uniqueness and potential of each individual and differentiated social institution, Imposed Inclusion tends to homogenize people and institutions. It subordinates the value of individual achievement to equality of outcome and fails to recognize the good in institutions that must exclude people or ideas that will not advance their mission.
12. At WPSD Local in Paducah, KY, Jeremiah Hatcher and Bryaden Tremmel report on a good knight—actually, day—of local fundraising. From the beginning of the article:
The Knights of Columbus in Paducah hosted their annual Fourth of July food fundraiser, and this year, Jeff Warren said it was bigger and better than ever. The event, which takes place at the Knights of Columbus Community Center, featured a mouth-watering selection of classic American favorites and well-needed fellowship.
Jeff Warren has been a part of the Knights of Columbus for 11 years, during which time he has organized and helped execute several successful fundraising events. He enjoys meeting new people while serving delicious, locally sourced meals to those of Paducah.
The Knights of Columbus organization has been hosting this fundraiser for over a decade, and each year it attracts a large crowd of hungry locals looking for a delicious meal and a chance to support their community. The event is run entirely by volunteers, with all proceeds going toward local charities and organizations, including Cassidy’s Cause, Saint Mary School System, Paducah Family Kitchen, Easter Seals, and Habitat for Humanity.
Lucky 13. At Comment Magazine, Jeremy Day-O’Connell tells of an abandoned and isolated mining village that has become a Christian respite. From the piece:
Holden is the fruit of imagination—or, better, of two unrelated leaps of faith. The first chapter of Holden’s history is attested by Buckskin Mountain and Copper Mountain, rising magnificently to the south: the town infrastructure was built in 1938 to support a fledgling mining operation. In spite of its isolation and the estimable transportation challenges presented by the daunting terrain, the mine thrived for a time, as did the town, which housed as many as six hundred at the height of operations. Now, decades after the mine’s closure in 1957, most of the original structures continue to serve new generations of occupants. This second, longer chapter in the life of Holden took shape largely thanks to the bold vision of Wes Prieb, who proposed and then negotiated the wholesale donation of Holden’s vacant facilities to the Seattle-based Lutheran Bible Institute. Although the specifics would be worked out by others, Prieb envisioned a place dedicated “to the honor and glory of God.” In 1961 a regiment of Lutheran volunteers—the lifeblood of Holden ever since—went about refurbishing the abandoned buildings and preparing the way for intentional communal living inspired by Christian foundations. Holden Village as we now know it was born, and visitors have been flocking there ever since.
The village is nestled in a steep valley forged by Railroad Creek—so named after plans for rail access into this severe topography within the Wenatchee National Forest. As it happens, those plans never materialized, and there remains no direct vehicular access to Holden. Instead, from humble Chelan, Washington, it takes a three-hour boat ride up Lake Chelan to the lonely dock where a Holden-operated school bus collects travellers and then slowly climbs into the wilderness along a dirt road, ascending two thousand feet of elevation before arriving in the village itself.
Each such arrival is greeted by a mob of current residents who wave, hold signs, applaud, holler, and sway to the improvised rhythms of hand drums. This practice, a proud tradition among the villagers, offers both a celebratory welcome for the weary traveller and, more deeply, a sort of ritual of initiation into the community. First-timers are happily bewildered by the reception, while veterans feel a reassuring sense of homecoming. The veterans tend to be in the majority: this is a pilgrimage that inspires return visits, often blossoming into regular, multi-generational family commitments.
BONUS: At Hillsdale College’s Churchill Project, the great historian Andrew Roberts scores the good, bad, and ugly from among the contributions to The Cambridge Companion to Winston Churchill. From the review:
For someone who has won prizes from the RAF History Museum, Victoria Taylor ought to have approached “Churchill and the Bombing Campaign” more even-handedly. Instead, she writes of Churchill’s “incriminating role in the German firestorms.” She takes a negative stance over the one way Britain was able to fight back against the Germans after Dunkirk: by bombing their cities in the way that they had bombed ours.
Worse, Taylor tries to make out that the retaliation policy was not popular, citing dubious pacifist organizations and individuals. These certainly did not represent British public opinion. . . .
To take but one of a legion of examples, Pug Ismay writes of a visit to an air-raid shelter in London’s docklands: “As Churchill got out of his car, they literally mobbed him. ‘Good old Winnie,’ they cried. ‘We thought you’d come to see us. We can take it. Give it ’em back.”’ There is plenty of other evidence from aides and journalists that retaliating against German cities for the Blitz was overwhelmingly popular. But all Taylor says is that, “Although [Churchill] tended to be favourably received when visiting Blitzed cities across the North and Midlands, his London-centric perspective arguably resulted in him overstating the nation’s appetite for retaliation.”
Really? Taylor herself cites Churchill’s Commons speech of 8 October 1940, in which he stated that “There is also the cry “Give it ’em back.’” She has presumably read the debate, as anyone can here. If Churchill’s views were so “London-centric,” where are the non-London MPs who take issue with him?
For the Good of the Order
Uno. At Philanthropy Daily, Bruno Manno dissects the “Grantmakers for Education” report. Read his excellent take right here.
Due. AmPhil’s “Scotch Talks” is back, and, as ever, the informative hour doubles as a safe space for you and your tumbler and ice and an enervating libation (black sambuca!). Such ain’t required (bring a cold glass of almond milk if that’s your happy place) to attend the free webinar, this to be hosted by Jeremy Beer, who, along with aces Therese Beigel and Mark Diggs, will, between sips, explore tried-and-true methods for making your nonprofit’s direct-response program rock. It takes place (via Zoom) on Thursday, July 20th, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Eastern. Belly up to the registration page and . . . register, right here.
Tre. Mark Thursday, August 17th, on your calendar. Why? Because that’s when AmPhil will be hosting (via Zoom, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) its occasional—but always vital—Master Class on “Acquiring, Retaining, and Upgrading Your Most Valuable Donors.” It’s only the rarest of nonprofits that can give short shrift to a fully strategized and gung-ho (and takes-no-vacations) major donor program, which comes with very learnable ways and means for success. Odds are you’re not part of a rare nonprofit, are you? Didn’t think so. Ready for some instruction on the ways to achieve success? You’d better be. Learn more, and sign up, right here.
Quattro. You think maybe that America’s skyrocketing irreligiosity has something to do with the problems affecting this nation? This critical issue demands your attention. Show it at the forthcoming C4CS conference—“Rise of the Nones: How Declining Religious Affiliation Is Changing Civil Society.” It takes place on November 7–8 in glorious Scottsdale, AZ. Get complete information, right here.
Department of Bad Jokes
Q: What do the Bastille and a tick have in common?
A: They’re both Paris-sites.
A Dios
Let’s just let it go at that, lest we get worked into a lather over left-lane nincompoops!
May Peace Reign in Our Hearts,
Jack Fowler, who reigns over jfowler@amphil.com.

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