Economy & Business

Take a Stand for the Iron Lady

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher points skyward as she receives standing ovation at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, England, on October 13, 1989. (Stringer UK/Reuters)
An app company cancels Thatcher following user complaints. But it could be persuaded otherwise.

It is a cliché, but you really, truly should be careful what you ask for.

I use a very helpful app called 1Focus, which I keep on my work computer to block Twitter and other similar websites that might distract me during my work day. It is a nice, simple procedure: You block the site for a specified period of time, and then, if you try to navigate there or click on a link to it (people send me a lot of Twitter links) the page will not come up.

Instead, you will get a page with some motivational quotations about procrastination and time-wasting. There’s Aristotle (“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self”), Bertrand Russell (“To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement”), Peter Drucker (“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”), and other figures of that kidney.

And then there is an anonymous quotation: “Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction.” No attribution.

These are, of course, the words of Margaret Thatcher.

The left-wing campaign to erase conservatives from public spaces and the public discourse is without limits: It is a project that exists at Harvard and the New York Times, the big book publishers and the social-media companies — but it also descends into the picayune. I suspected that was the case for 1Focus, and, as it turns out, I was correct.

I wrote to the developer of the app, who told me forthrightly that “the Thatcher quote is unsourced because several users got offended and emailed me about how Thatcher was a terrible person.” He included this example:

Can you please take the Margaret Thatcher quotes OFF whatever list of quotes you have that shows up when I go to a blocked site? She’s a despicable human being and it makes my stomach turn knowing I gave money to a company that would acknowledge her in a supportive way like this. You wouldn’t include a Donald Trump quote would you? Please amend this. Please.

Companies respond to the people they hear from. I told the developer that I understood his position, and asked: “How many angry emails do you need to get from those of us who admire Margaret Thatcher to put Margaret Thatcher’s name back on Margaret Thatcher’s words?”

His answer: Three.

I think we can arrange that.

I don’t want to put his email out there, which I think would be bad manners, and I would be mortified if anybody took this as an opportunity to treat this man discourteously. He answered my questions honestly and directly, which is a hell of a lot more than you could say for the typical ambassador from corporate America. So, send your emails to TheTuesday@nationalreview.com, and I will forward them. Together, we will take a stand for the Iron Lady, who is not here to defend herself.

I’ll also offer my friend at 1Focus an inspirational quotation from our founder, William F. Buckley Jr.: “The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence rather than ‘newness’ and of honest intellectual combat rather than conformity.”

And, since my correspondent will no doubt be catching some grief shortly, a thought from Mohandas K. Gandhi: “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”

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