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Dear Intelligent American, 

Whatever naughtiness was done to earn that full-bodied, elementary school teacher reprimand has been lost to the fog of time, as was the event (odds are, a loud burp) that brought forth this maternal recrimination—“You’re rude, crude, and vulgar.” Guilty as (brap) charged.

These castigations at least make sense. Unlike: “Lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” a bizarre line, attributed somehow to John Wayne, that has been brandished on several occasions by the Commander in Chief, most recently in a speech last week in Connecticut (it ended with a call—“God save the Queen, man”—unusual for an American president, or even a Brit). Can you be blamed for wondering what in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks he was referencing, as you scratch your noggin and scroll through your Duke movie recollections (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Searchers, True Grit, The Sands of Iwo Jima . . .)? Perhaps Rooster Cockburn or Ethan Edwards hurled that at some ne’er-do-well before cocking his Winchester? 

This missive should not be a place of bragging—its function is merely to share links and excerpts. But do allow, this one time, an exception. Your Humble Correspondent has cracked the Biden Brain Code. True! It did not require an Enigma machine, only some old-movies scouting and the reassembling of scene snippets. The good people of National Review were kind enough to publish the analysis—you can read it here.

Mystery solved. Now, belly yourself up to the awaiting smorgasbord of inspiring recommendations.


Jimmy Dean Never Saw So Many Links Outside of His Processing Plant


1. At The Wall Street Journal, Ann Atkinson decries a sucker-punching assault on free speech at Arizona State University, an institution allegedly in accord with the “Chicago Principles.” From the op-ed: 

But beneath ASU’s written commitment to intellectual diversity lies a deep hostility toward divergent views. The latest trouble started in February when the Lewis Center hosted Robert Kiyosaki, Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk for an event on “Health, Wealth, and Happiness.” This nonpartisan program was part of a popular speaker series focused on connecting students with professionals who can offer career and life advice.


At the names of Messrs. Prager and Kirk, the faculty of ASU’s honors college were outraged. Thirty-nine of its 47 faculty signed a letter to the dean condemning the event on grounds that the speakers are “purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, [and] institutions of our democracy.” The signers decried ASU “platforming and legitimating” their views, describing Messrs. Prager and Kirk as “white nationalist provocateurs” whose comments would undermine the value of democratic exchange by marginalizing the school’s most vulnerable students.


The faculty protests extended beyond the letter. Professors spent precious class time denouncing the program. On Twitter they lamented the university’s willingness to allow donor input on campus events. Mr. Prager received a death threat, forcing municipal and campus police to enact extensive security measures.


2. At the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Jenna Robinson reports on the effect North Carolina’s higher-ed rules against compelled speech are having. From the piece:

The policy is now being implemented and enforced at UNC institutions, ensuring that faculty members aren’t forced to take positions on ideological or political issues, including DEI.


Recent changes at NC State demonstrate that the policy is already working. In response to the new directive, the Faculty Senate Special Select Subcommittee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging has paused a project that appeared to promote the use of DEI statements in promotion and tenure considerations.


In an email to the Martin Center, Professor Corey Johnson, a committee co-chair, explained that the committee “was formed by NC State’s Faculty Senate in January 2023 after a year-long process of consideration, deliberation, and solicitation of faculty member volunteers who were interested and willing . . . to advance the institution’s priorities, specifically in relation to goal #4 of NCSU’s strategic plan.” (Goal #4 requires the university to “champion a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and well-being in all we do.”)


3. At Tablet Magazine, Lisa Klug reports on the story of a British chef who’s fixing a dilapidated French mansion that was a sanctuary for young Jews fleeing Nazi persecutors. From the piece:

At age 13, Fanny Ben-Ami—herself a refugee from the Nazis—rescued 15 children during the Holocaust. Her epic tale of survival has touched audiences via a children’s book, a feature film, sketches, paintings, and countless testimonies. Recently, however, a contractor’s passion project thrust a chapter of Ben-Ami’s saga from literal ruins into the social media spotlight.


Now 93, Ben-Ami is among the few living beneficiaries of the WWII-era efforts of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants—the Children’s Aid Society. During the Shoah, this Jewish French humanitarian organization, commonly known as the OSE, brought Ben-Ami to safety in the French countryside. Over several years, the OSE nurtured more than 200 refugee children at the towering Château de Chaumont, a grand, seven-story manor—including Ben-Ami’s younger sisters, Erika, now 91, and Georgette, who died in 2015. They never saw their parents again.


The estate fell into disrepair after a fire ravaged the building in the mid-1980s. It sat in shambles until it was sold in 2022 to a British ex-pat named Daniel Preston, a trained chef. For his YouTube channel, “Escape to Rural France,” in which he also renovates a stone farmhouse, Preston filmed a visit to Chaumont in 2021. The self-taught builder has since posted more than 100 videos revealing the painstaking removal of Chaumont’s debris, trees, bees, and bathroom fixtures dangerously perched at perilous heights.


4. At UnHerd, Martin Gurri explores the genesis of the “identity cult” that seems to have America by the throat. From the beginning of the essay: 

We live in a time of ideological exhaustion. Our doctrines and ideals lie broken in pieces all around us and never fit into a whole. Jagged bits of Marxism and anarchism, nationalism and liberalism, clutter the landscape, tear at our feet and impede our way as we stagger onward in search of some promised land. Yet there can be no promised land, no future, no past, in such a psychotic jumble of first principles. All we can muster is rage at the structures around us, so inexplicably shattered, and the urge not to repair but to obliterate them totally—to negate them into dust.


Identity is the ruling orthodoxy of the day. Wesley Yang calls it the “successor ideology”, but it is less an ideology than a cockpit of grinding, wounding grievances contradicting one another: a perpetual conflict machine. Any piece of it, such as racial justice, can make perfect sense, but the whole dissolves into incoherence when it becomes clear that the highest ideal, equity, is a weasel word used to mask an inability to reconcile opposites.


Definitions of equity, whether provided by the White House or by elite universities, are baffling, I suspect intentionally so. Terms such as “fairness” and “anti-racist” are thrown around—but somehow this adds up to “investment” and “allocating resources” favouring designated grievance groups. Equity, in practice, means absolute equality of outcomes in all transactions, measured not in the liberal tradition, between individuals, but harking back to a more primitive outlook: between castes to which we have been assigned by birth and fate.


5. At Acton Institute’s Religion and Liberty Online, Abdulrahman Bindamnan makes the case for freedom to worship being inherently good and within the Islamic tradition. From the piece:

First, there is a famous verse in the Qur’an—“there shall be no ‎compulsion in religion” (2:256)—that establishes the freedom for people to ‎worship however they wish in this life. Humans have the ‎agency to choose; the consequences of their actions ‎may be judged in the hereafter, but that is a separate subject for ‎a decidedly different essay. For now, however, the Islamic scriptures are ‎unequivocally clear that neither manipulation nor coercion is a ‎valid means of proselytizing.‎


Second, if religion should not be coerced, then we have to develop civil ways to engage each ‎other in dialogue. Since humans are inherently fallible, having ‎conversations with diverse people presents opportunities for ‎growth and learning. To understand a particular tradition, we ‎often have to compare and contrast that tradition with an ‎opposing one. For example, if we want to understand Islamic ‎law, it behooves us to study it alongside Western law and its traditions. ‎


Third, both immigration and technology is making the world smaller and smaller, and so we encounter all manner of national and cultural diversity as a matter of course. Consequently, we have ‎to come up with a model of dialogue that will allow us to peacefully ‎coexist. Freedom of religion is needed both within a particular ‎tradition and across traditions. In the Islamic world, Muslims of ‎different sects and traditions should be able to converse and discuss their ‎ideas without fear of force being used to settle the debate. In fact, the debate does not need to be settled once and for ‎all, because we are all on a journey to understand that which we ‎call God.


6. At Quillette, Jukka Savolainen covers the state of scientific journals, and the uneven application of academic censorship. From the piece:

In 2020, five psychologists asked the editors of PNAS to retract their study of racial bias in police shootings. PNAS, which stands for the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, is one of the most prestigious multidisciplinary journals in the world. Retraction is an outcome no scholar wishes to experience because it signifies a serious research error and, as such, entails considerable reputational damage.


No study is perfect. Falsification, i.e., disproving prior research, is a normal part of scientific progress. However, journal articles do not get retracted simply because they were wrong or imperfect. Typical reasons include data fabrication or the presence of a fundamental mistake in the analysis. So, what was the reason why Johnson, Tress, Burkel, Taylor, and Cesario asked for their study to be retracted? Did they fudge the data? Was there a major mistake in the analysis? No and no. . . .

The retraction of the PNAS study is a clear case of academic censorship. It is a perfect example of the all-too common tendency among social scientists to use different standards of rigor depending on the implications of the findings. 


7. At The American Conservative, Carmel Richardson looks at the data and finds American women are moving left. From the piece: 

But beyond this is another factor more particular to America in the 21st century which may be playing a role. It is by now no secret that American universities have almost entirely flipped their once all-male classrooms. In the last several years, women have first outranked and then outright dominated men in college acceptance and attendance, in grade point average, in extra-curricular leadership, and in post-graduate job acceptance. Women now compose 60 percent of all college students in America, while men account for 71 percent of the decline in college attendance. The Wall Street Journal’s reporting on this trend in 2021 was not so much an exposé as it was a confirmation of a reality that could no longer escape notice. And, as further studies have shown, this shift had less to do with comparative intelligence as it did institutional priorities.


As the university has gone female, it has also gone left. This was the conclusion of a study by Bo Winegard and Cory Clark, a woman with a Ph.D. in social psychology, in their analysis of the changing sex composition of higher education, published in Quillette magazine last year. As broader phenomena, wokeness, "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," and ever-narrowing boundaries around acceptable speech have traced the same trajectory as the feminizing of higher education. Women themselves express placing higher value on inclusion than objective truth (males express exactly the opposite), which is why Winegard and Clark called recent trends in higher education “precisely what one would expect as women’s representation in academia grows.” If the future is female, the future is also both left-wing and, adding Stone and Wilcox’s data into the mix, post-familial.


8. At The Federalist, writer “Reddit Lies” warns how the popular website radicalizes ideologues and encourages political violence. From the piece:

Discourse on Reddit often quickly devolves into the kind of language that can encourage radicalization. Redditors can often be found using extreme language to attack and belittle their opponents. However, the most vile rhetoric often manifests itself in “safe-space” subreddits where their opponents are either unable or unwilling to retort. The pattern of comments often becomes detrimentally self-reinforcing, where Redditors are praised for doubling down and repeating increasingly radical ideas.


The lack of disagreement radicalized individuals on Reddit encounter means they often come to believe they are a bastion of virtue fighting against the predations of an ontologically evil opponent. This manifests itself in the wholesale hatred of entire groups such as the GOP, where accusations like “All Republicans are Fascists” are repeated dozens if not hundreds of times per day. These baseless accusations often receive hundreds or thousands of approving upvotes, boosting the message to the top of comment threads.


Another common result of residing in radicalizing echo chambers is that Redditors consistently perceive threats that are not actually there. For instance, claims of a “trans genocide” never hold up to academic scrutiny or official definitions of “genocide.” And Redditors are constantly concerned that Republicans, due to their religious nature, are “fundamentally theocratic” or worse, they are “Christofascists.” To say that Redditors frequently demonstrate fundamental misunderstandings of Republicans and conservatives would be a monumental understatement.


9. At National Review, Dan McLaughlin takes on a college president’s attack of a Supreme Court Justice. From the critique 

Clarence Thomas is one of the most prominent and distinguished alumni in the college’s history, probably rivaled among living alumni only by Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy and, if you must include him, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Justice Thomas is in the arena of legal and political controversy, so I would never argue that he should be immune from criticism, including criticism from individuals within the Holy Cross community. (I have not hesitated to quarrel with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, even though she was in my law-school graduating class). But for the president of the college, its public representative, to wield the authority of his position to criticize Thomas is a disservice to the college, its students, and its alumni. Doing so says much about how politics have superseded a sense of good stewardship among so many of the liberals and progressives who today run our major institutions.


Think about it: When you hear from your old school, the tone used to discuss prominent alumni is typically as celebratory as a family Christmas card talking about the kids. This is intended to convey a sense of communal pride not only in the accomplishments of alumni but also in the many and varied paths they have taken in life. It’s supposed to convey a sense of family and belonging, and for alumni of a politically or socially left-leaning bent, it is nearly always done without a sense of judgment. That is doubly true of a small college with a huge reservoir of communal spirit and a long tradition of families attending across multiple generations. It is certainly how Holy Cross talks about all the other illustrious members of that group of black men—many of them prominent in public life—who were recruited along with Thomas.


The message sent by these sorts of jeremiads, when they are done with the official seal of the school’s approval, is not merely we disagree with you, but you do not belong; you are not one of us. Is it any wonder that conservative-leaning students and alumni, even those who are not all that politically active or vocal themselves, frequently feel alienated from their schools by this kind of thing?


10. At Brownstone Institute, Rob Jenkins surveys the battlefield of campus closures and assesses the damage and consequences. From the analysis: 

For years, higher ed leaders have known we were headed for an enrollment “cliff.” As I explained in a November 2019 essay for The Martin Center, the US birthrate basically fell off the table in 2008, with the onset of the Great Recession. Adding 18 years (the average age at which young people start college) to 2008 takes us to 2026. That’s when enrollment was expected to drop precipitously due largely to demographics—namely, not as many high school graduates.


By their irrational, unscientific, panicked response, colleges and universities only succeeded in speeding up that decline by five years. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse, campus enrollment plummeted by eight percent between 2019 and 2022—and continues to fall, although it has leveled off somewhat. An August 2022 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, aptly entitled “The Shrinking of Higher Ed,” noted that “nearly 1.3 million students . . . disappeared from American colleges during the Covid-19 pandemic.” . . .


In the wake of this disastrous loss of enrollment, vulnerable campuses around the country are hurting. Some have closed their doors permanently. A study by Higher Ed Dive found that, since March 2020, over three dozen higher education institutions have gone out of business, including 18 private Christian colleges. Administrators point to covid—which is to say, to our covid response—as the final nail in their coffin. Said Paula Langteau, president of Presentation College, a small Catholic school in South Dakota that had been struggling financially for years, “Things were starting to turn around . . . to look better, [then] covid hit.”


11. At California Policy Center, Ed Ring makes the case for fossil fuel being central to freedom. From the analysis:

It is reasonable to question the assertion that eliminating fossil fuels will inevitably result in an impoverished society subject to punitive restrictions on individual behavior. But the numbers are compelling and can be distilled to two indisputable facts: First, fossil fuel continues to provide over 80 percent of all energy consumed worldwide. Second, if every person living on planet Earth were to consume half as much energy per year as the average American currently consumes, global energy production would need to double.


Several inescapable conclusions derive from these two facts, if one assumes that energy is the driver of prosperity. Just in case that is not obvious, imagine Americans living with half as much energy as they use today. Where would the cuts occur? Would they drive their cars half as much? Heat their homes half as much? Operate manufacturing, farming, and mining equipment half as much? They would need to do all those things and more. The economy would collapse.


These consequences don’t escape the intelligentsia who promote “net zero” policies; The consequences explain the policies they advocate. The recent promotion of “15-minute cities” that will inform rezoning and redevelopment to put all essential services within a 15-minute walk of every residence. The rise of “congestion pricing” to charge automobiles special tolls if they drive into an expanding footprint of urban neighborhoods. “Smart growth.” “Infill.” “Urban Service Boundaries.” Bike lanes. “Smart buildings,” “smart meters,” and “smart cities.”


12. At Comment Magazine, Laura Fabrycky pens a fascinating essay on beguines, forgotten lay religious women of old. From the essay:

Alone, in pairs, or in small clusters, single and widowed women charted a course of life that didn’t exist in the religious or social imaginary for women (the available two being marriage or monastery). They did so with no mind to unseat or threaten the institutional church, but were often still met with suspicion, scrutiny, and downright hostility. The women had their own real human needs. Some of the beguines were fleeing coercion into miserable marriages. For others, the convents had no room for them. Widowed beguines found safety, security, and provision within beguine communities, as well as peaceable purpose in service. All of them risked serious breaks with families, and social and ecclesial expectations. But some clergy came to see them as essential spiritual friends and leaders, and it was clear they were meeting real needs in the world, theirs and others.


These rivulets of lay religious commitment began to form into real rivers of belonging. Pockets of beguines soon became small polities, even if these women could only be adjacent to the urban centres to which they were drawn. Whether single or widowed, beguines took simple—not solemn—vows, promising to a bishop or clergyman to live chastely, obediently, and to observe at least a qualified form of poverty. Beguines did not beg or receive alms as part of their way of life, as mendicants did. In the main they worked for pay and earned money through manual labour. At times, they gave reigning textile guilds a run for their money. They were open to serving the vulnerable poor who came to them for help, including fellow beguines.


Lucky 13. At The Virginian Review in Lewisburg, WV, Jennifer Bailey reports on a little-league fundraiser that raised big-league bucks for locals in need. From the article:

On June 10, the Clifton Forge Little League held a fundraiser, which doubled as a car show, for the Alleghany Highlands Family Emergency Relief Fund. This fund, designed to assist families during their time of need, can also be used by individuals. It is designed to cover small things such as gas vouchers, or big things like electric bills.


Chris Rohr, vice president, and communications officer of the Clifton Forge Little League, said the fundraiser collected over $1,000 for the Alleghany Highlands Family Emergency Relief Fund. They raised $510 from entry and vendor fees, $500 from the grill raffle, and $52 from the 50/50 drawing, totaling $1,062. . . .


Rohr says this is the third year the Clifton Forge Little League has done this fundraiser and plans are already underway for a repeat next year.


BONUS: At Gallup, Jeffrey Jones notes that Americans who self-identify as “socially conservative” are increasing, sharply. From the analysis: 

More Americans this year (38%) say they are very conservative or conservative on social issues than said so in 2022 (33%) and 2021 (30%). At the same time, the percentage saying their social views are very liberal or liberal has dipped to 29% from 34% in each of the past two years, while the portion identifying as moderate (31%) remains near a third.


The last time this many Americans said they were socially conservative was 2012, during a period when consistently more U.S. adults identified as conservative rather than liberal on social issues.


The results are based on Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted May 1-24. The survey comes at a time when many states are considering policies regarding transgender matters, abortion, crime, drug use and the teaching of gender and sexuality in schools.


The increase in conservative identification on social issues over the past two years is seen among nearly all political and demographic subgroups. Republicans show one of the largest increases, from 60% in 2021 to 74% today. Independents show a modest uptick of five percentage points, from 24% to 29%, while there has been no change among Democrats (10% in both 2021 and 2023).


For the Good of the Cause

Uno. Ask for the Fowler Discount! For what? For the Center for Civil Society’s Major Gifts Training Seminar—taking place in Denver from Monday, July 10th, through Wednesday the 12th. It’s a bona fide must for development professionals looking for intensive training and buffed-up knowledge in the critical art of dealing with key prospects and generous givers. Consequential knowledge awaits, so don’t miss it. Get more information, and sign up, right here. 

Due. Geeze Loueeze there’s hardly any time left—but that means there is indeed still time . . . time for you to sign up for two C4CS webinars happening next week. On Tuesday, June 27th, the terrific trio of Sandy Shrader, Kerry Alys Robinson, and Scott Bucko will gather to discuss capital campaigns. Do you work for a nonprofit considering one, or that is likely to consider one soon? Well then you should sign up—do that here—and learn a thing or two or dozen. It’s all happening via Zoom from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) and is free. Then on Thursday, June 29th, Yours Truly will be hosting Luke Sheahan, the man who knows more than anyone in America about the centrality of the right to association (you’ll find it smack dab in the middle of the First Amendment) and how it needs our attention and protection. Is there an echo in here? It’s free and will take place via Zoom from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern). Sign up here.

Tre. 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.


Point of Personal Privilege

In National Review last week, Your Cranky Correspondent opined on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dodgy support of faux, foul nuns. Read it here.


Department of Bad Jokes

Q: Where does seaweed look for jobs?


A: In the kelp-wanted section.


A Dios 

God save the Queen, man.

May He Who Calms the Seas Calm Our Fears,

Jack Fowler, who can be sent pictures of pony soldiers and more at jfowler@amphil.com.

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