Dear Weekend Jolter,
What is there to say that you don’t already know? History has once again been repetitious and doomed.
We know this: The means of containing agitations to prevent their evolving into riots has been well-documented. And this: The preventative methods are proven! Indeed, it was the late Gene Methvin, the influential and renowned Reader’s Digest journalist, who penned a number of important pieces for NR in the early 90s in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots explaining how riots were born, and how they could be aborted. In the June 10, 1991, issue, NR published his remarkable piece, “A Riot Primer.” Its wisdom holds true three decades later. The great Chris McEvoy has made the essay PDF-linkable so we can share it with you. Here’s a slice from the piece:
In a nutshell: Riots begin when some set of social forces temporarily overwhelms or paralyzes the police, who stand by, their highly visible inaction signaling to the small percentage of teenaged embryonic psycho paths and hardened young adults that a moral holiday is under way. This criminal minority spearheads the car burning, window-smashing, and blood letting, mobbing such hate targets as blacks, or white merchants, or lone cops. Then the drawing effect brings out the large crowds of older men, and women and children, to share the Roman carnival of looting. Then the major killing begins: slow runners caught in burning buildings and—as civic forces mobilize—in police and National Guard gunfire.
The books are on the shelf: let the responsible authorities in city hall and police headquarters check them out.
The time to halt a riot is right at the start, by pinching off the criminal spearhead with precise and overwhelming force. The cops will usually be caught flat- footed (no pun intended) by the initial outbreak. But they need to spring into a pre-arranged mobilization that should always be as ready in every major city as the fire-department or hospital disaster-response program.
A year later, the LA riots having caused so much death and destruction — courtesy of police officials ignoring established rules of riot control — Methvin again wrote for NR. The 1992 piece was called “How to Hold a Riot.” From that article, also now a PDF:
Los Angeles was still burying its dead (58 and counting), nursing the 226 critically wounded (including Denny), clearing rubble from 3,700 fires, and trying to help thousands whose jobs were destroyed in the holocaust. As always after such social hurricanes, the debate rages: Why? Whose fault was it? What are the causes—proximate causes and “root causes”? How can we prevent recurrences? The causology of riots is not simple, and like the nine blind Hindus debating the shape of the elephant, people with different vantage points dispute furiously. Most black spokesmen yell “racism.” White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater blamed LBJ’s “Great Society.” I’ll nominate as my prime scapegoat Daryl Gates, and will prove it to you anon. But first, some basics.
Riots are analogous to avalanches in the Alps. A gentle breeze, a cracking limb, or a zestful yodel shakes loose a tiny handful of snow. Within minutes a thunderous avalanche may bury an entire town. What follows bears no relation in magnitude to the tiny triggering event. We could argue that the heavy winter snowfalls months before “caused” the avalanche. Or we could trace the cause back to the earth’s movement around the sun, or whatever force gave our planet a tilted axis, or even to the Big Bang that launched the universe. (And what came before that?)
But the practical Swiss don’t go back that far. They have studied the chain to discover where they can most expediently interrupt the process to minimize damage.
We have such specialists for riots. They are called cops. When family, church, and school fail, they are civilization’s last line of defense. But sometimes they do not do their jobs, and we need to understand why.
They’re very much worth reading. It might prove enraging: All of this madness was preventable. But for . . .? But for the weak, afraid to be portrayed as racist in the twisted moral calculus the Left uses on any and all occasions; but for the fools, too preoccupied with idiocies to see the bricks being stockpiled; and but for the evil, who cheer on the chaos because it serves their purpose. Which is? The destruction of America as we know it.
On to the WJ!
1. The top priority is and will remain restoring order. From the editorial:
Restoring order should be the first priority. The dynamic of riots is always that if the police don’t show up, if they hold back, or worse, if they retreat, the disorder gets more intense and destructive. Violence must be met with overwhelming (and, obviously, lawful) force. Authorities in Minnesota evidently finally figured this out after a couple of nights of letting things spin out of control, and implausibly blaming outside agitators for the mayhem.
It’s certainly true that “Antifa” extremists have taken a hand in the destruction around the country (and sometimes been rebuked by black protesters opposed to their tactics), but there are plenty of others breaking things and looting who clearly are local residents and not members of any ideological splinter groups. Regardless of the argument over who is most responsible for the riots, state and municipal authorities must resolve to bring peace back to their streets, with the assistance of the National Guard as warranted.
As for the matter underlying all the protest and chaos, police work involves violence, and there is no getting around that. Americans have for a long time understood this and made allowances for it, which is why a questionable police shooting is investigated in a way that is different from that of a questionable private act of self-defense. But it is worth exploring the protections bad cops get from union rules, and the level of deference that prosecutors afford the police in questionable cases, among other things. It’s not true that the police are a racist, occupying force in American cities, but we have to be cognizant of the fact that they have lost the confidence of many of the communities they serve.
2. Iowa Republicans have had enough of Congressman Steve King. We shed no tears. From the editorial:
Iowa Republicans began to wonder what King’s peculiar and troubling enthusiasm for an Alt-Right Internationale had to do with their priorities. Given the chance to vote for a viable alternative who is a mainstream conservative, they took it. Soon-to-be-representative Randy Feenstra may not generate as many headlines as his predecessor. But being a more effective, and decent, congressman should be feasible.
3. We have mixed feelings about the president’s call for the use of U.S. troops to quell riots. From the editorial:
Invoking this law would not constitute imposing a dictatorship or waging a war on the American people any more than when George H. W. Bush did it during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, when Lyndon Johnson did it during riots in 1968, or when Dwight Eisenhower did it to enforce federal desegregation law in 1957. There is no justice and no liberty without order and the rule of law.
That said, it’s hard to see how Trump could, as a practical matter, invoke the Insurrection Act over the objections of state and local officials. Having hostile and competing authorities trying to police the same out-of-control streets is not a formula for success. The main utility of talking of the Insurrection Act may be in prodding states to be more forceful in their response.
Minnesota called out the National Guard, and Minneapolis, the first city to get hit by these disturbances, has been relatively calm for three straight nights. New York has avoided calling the Guard, and New York City was a shameful festival of rioting and looting Monday night. Cities need to impose early curfews, vigorously enforce them, and call out the National Guard if they have any doubt that the police can’t do the job on their own.
If Trump’s language about “dominating” the streets is inflammatory, the basic point is correct. But the president has failed to rise to the moment with his incendiary tweets and insulting commentary on the performance of local officials.
Before We Get to the Main Course, Hear Our Appeal and Know that We Count on Your Helping
From time to time, NR especially proves why we are essential, not only to the debate of ideas, but to the fight to protect them. Right now, our principles are under assault. Under literal attack — from thugs, from complacent and cheerleading admiring ideologues who hold public office.
Over the weekend we are seeking to raise $50,000 (an understatement: it’s sorely needed) from good people, such as yourself, to support NR’s editorial efforts on behalf of our principles. Your principles. NR El Jefe, Rich Lowry, hits the bulls-eye with his accounting for NR’s role in this fight:
Over the past two weeks, we’ve witnessed an ongoing battle in the streets, with cops and National Guardsmen working to restore order before more livelihoods and lives are heedlessly destroyed.
All honor to them. And yes, sometimes they will make mistakes and even commit crimes, for which they should be held to account — justice demands no less.
But there is another dimension of the fight for peace and order that falls to us who write and argue for a living.
We must resist the corruption of our moral and intellectual culture from a strain of radicalism not seen since the rise of the New Left in the 1960s, a radicalism that was accommodated by a timorous liberal establishment.
We must insist that words have meaning.
That lawlessness is always wrong.
That order is the foundation of our society, without which there is no liberty or prosperity.
And I’m proud to say, we have been intensely waging this fight since the first brick was thrown in Minneapolis.
Read Rich’s powerful appeal here. Pray you are motivated by it. It’s hard to imagine you couldn’t be. If you are, please donate here. Our flash effort expires on Monday. But come Tuesday, we’ll still be engaged in hand-to-hand combat, in a furious fight for the truth, for our beliefs, for our civilization, refusing to retreat from our enemies’ blows, and drawing from our support to fix bayonets and counterattack – we will continue fighting as long as every writer at NR draws a breath.
Don’t Touch the Safety: This Thing Is Locked and Loaded with 15 Rounds of Conservative Must-Reads
1. Charlie Cooke says that the madness makes the case for why we need guns. From the reflection:
In any case, the idea that the existence of police officers in some way negates the right to bear arms has always been a ridiculous one. Police are an auxiliary force that we hire to do a particular job — there to supplement, not to replace, my rights and responsibilities. Every time we debate gun control in the United States, I am informed that the Sheriff of Whatever County is opposed to liberalization. To which I always think, “So what?” My right to keep and bear arms is merely the practical expression of my underlying right to self-defense. That, as a polity, we have decided to hire certain people to take the first shot at keeping the peace is fine. But it has no bearing on my liberties.
And how could it, given that I do not live in a police station? The old saw that “when seconds count, the police are minutes away” is trotted out as often as it is because it is unquestionably true. Whether the average police department is virtuous or evil is irrelevant here. What matters is that no government has the right — and in America, mercifully, no government has the legal power — to farm out, and then to abolish, my elementary rights. It would not fly if the government hired people to speak for me and then shut down my speech; if would not fly if the government hired people to worship for me and then restricted my right to exercise my religion; and it will not fly for the government to hire a security agency and then to remove, or limit, my access to weaponry. This is a personal question, not an aggregate question: I have one life, and I am entitled to defend it in any way I see fit against those who would do me harm. If there is a single principle that has animated this realm since the time of the Emperor Justinian, it is that.
2. Hard to believe it has to be said, but David Harsanyi says it: Riots are violence. From the piece:
Riots may excite the keyboard revolutionary, but they won’t bring racial equality. The opposite, in fact. Not only are the anarchists who burn and loot stores subjecting many of their neighbors to a dehumanizing experience, they are destroying poor and minority neighborhoods.
Big businesses might be able to afford to fix the smashed windows and ransacked supply room, but family-owned ones are going to struggle. Chain stores have insurance, but the individuals and smaller manufacturers who depend on them for their livelihoods also are threatened. The big stores themselves will be paying higher insurance rates, and some of them may decide to never come back to these poorer neighborhoods.
Because the forest doesn’t always grow back.
3. Hard to disagree with Kyle Smith’s diagnosis that cities are committing suicide. From the Corner post:
Trust in the government to provide basic services was already shaky and will tumble further. People who don’t trust the government to provide for them vote Republican. There will be an increase in homeschoolers. Homeschoolers vote Republican.
The involuntary experiment for telecommuting, particularly among white-collar workers, has proven that workers can be relied upon to work from home. People don’t trust the New York City subway anymore but those who don’t need to come into the office can live anywhere. This is especially true of some of the most successful people — lawyers, people in finance. High-income people will be disproportionately among those leaving.
The balance of cities, already hit by a fiscal hurricane because of the duration of the lockdown, will tip toward heavy consumers of government services and away from high earners. Cities will be forced to raise taxes. The taxes on high earners and corporations will seem punitive. Even more of them will flee as taxes go up. The things successful people like about cities, such as high-end restaurants and culture, will follow them out to the suburbs. Corporate office parks in the suburbs will see a resurgence.
4. Andrew McCarthy takes on the racial canard of white cops killing black men. From the piece:
As Heather Mac Donald relates in an insightful Wall Street Journal op-ed, blacks make up only a quarter of the total number of people killed in police shootings annually, a ratio that has held steady since 2015. The reigning canard, however, is that this 25 percent figure proves racism since African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population.
Ridiculous as this syllogism is (as we’ll see, it conveniently elides more consequential factors), it still puts the lie to the slanderous narrative that police are hunting down black men. Even if we ignore the fact that an increasing number of police officers — obviously including those involved in encounters with black suspects — are themselves African Americans, the percentage of black deaths from police shootings would be much higher if blacks were being targeted.
Police do not go looking for people to shoot. In shooting situations, police are confronting crime suspects, the majority of whom are armed. But given that George Floyd was unarmed, let’s consider unarmed people killed in such encounters. Such unarmed decedents, too, were twice as likely to be white as black in 2019 — i.e., 19 unarmed whites, nine unarmed blacks. As Ms. Mac Donald observes, this ratio is not stable (and there is some looseness in what the media define as “unarmed”): In 2015, it was 38 unarmed blacks to 32 unarmed whites.
5. Peter Kirsanow tells how the left’s article of faith is not supported by the facts. When it comes to policing and race, false narratives rule for the MSM. From the piece:
The indefensible killing — captured on video — of George Floyd, following closely after the release of video showing the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, triggered the riots, looting, and conflagrations that have engulfed scores of cities across the country. As horrific as these killings were, it’s questionable whether, in isolation, they would’ve prompted riots on the scale and in the numbers that have occurred in the last week. Demonstrations, sure. On a visceral level, the videos almost compel them. But nationwide riots would be unlikely.
Rather, the riots are a result of the narrative that the Floyd and Arbery killings are but the latest of increasing examples of innocent blacks being disproportionately shot by white cops and targeted by racist white civilians. The narrative is played hourly on cable news shows. It’s embellished by major newspapers across the country. Cynical and opportunistic politicians advance it every election cycle. Hollywood perpetuates the narrative in television and theaters. It’s a mantra of high-school teachers and college professors, regardless of academic discipline. Major corporations apologize for their nebulous complicity. The narrative is a staple of diversity and inclusion offices. It’s ubiquitous on social media.
The narrative has been repeated so frequently, so universally, that it’s an unassailable given, a fact not to be challenged. Indeed, it’s an article of faith which, if questioned, exposes the heretic to rage, venom, and ostracization. Some fear losing their jobs. Best therefore, not to even consider questioning the narrative.
The narrative is false. In fact, it’s not just false, it’s upside down. And it’s been false for quite some time. There are racist cops in a nation of 330 million. But 2020 America isn’t 1965 Selma.
6. Rich Lowry takes on the vogue of minimizing violence and destruction. From the piece:
Forced to choose between criticizing the George Floyd protests when they get out of hand and defending the indefensible, activists and writers on the left have been tempted into the latter.
Their inventive, if completely absurd, contention is that the destruction of property doesn’t qualify as violence, and, at the end of the day, isn’t such a bad thing, maybe even a salutary thing.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning architect of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, argued in an interview: “Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man’s neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things is not moral.”
The editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, favorably quoted a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network, who explained: “We don’t have time to finger-wag at protesters about property. That can be rebuilt. Target will reopen.”
An article in Current Affairs asserted that applying the word “violence” to the destruction of property risks “making the term conceptually incoherent and — much more important — conflating acts that do very serious physical harm to people with acts that have not physically harmed anyone.”
7. Officer Jack Dunphy tells how the riots went down in The City of Angels, and how they were intensified by the LAPD’s lousy leadership. From the first-hand account:
During my time with the LAPD, efforts were often made to prevent such people from being in charge during crucial incidents. They were relegated to positions from which they could cause little harm or compound confusion. This was not done last weekend, and the LAPD’s performance suffered for it. For example, on Saturday afternoon and evening, as officers struggled to contain looting in the Fairfax district, I monitored radio traffic from the scene in which an officer in a circling helicopter asked for more personnel to supplement the cops on skirmish lines and those chasing looters. No more officers were available, he was told. At that very moment, about 200 officers were waiting for instructions in a staging area miles away. They remained in that staging area for four hours before being dispatched to the trouble zone, by which time the looting had all but ended.
But it hadn’t ended completely, and I spoke to officers who had the maddening experience of waiting for orders at a command post while watching live news programs on their cell phones. A television-news helicopter was filming looters as they ransacked a computer store about a mile away, and the officers, who were among at least 200 at the command post at the time, could look up in the sky and see the helicopter hovering over the scene as it broadcast the images. The spectacle continued for 45 minutes as carload after carload of looters arrived and carried off computers and other merchandise, presumably until there was nothing left to steal. “I don’t know why anybody in the C.P. wasn’t watching the same thing I was,” one of them told me. “My partner and I could have walked there and handled it ourselves, but they didn’t send us. They didn’t send anybody.”
Perhaps some of those in charge were so preoccupied with demonstrating their solidarity with protesters that they simply forgot to do their jobs. Last weekend we were treated to scenes like this one, in which LAPD commander Cory Palka spoke to a group of protesters and promised to take a knee with them if they committed to remaining peaceful. It was a made-for-Twitter moment, and it surely endeared Palka to the group he was addressing, but the gesture was a pointless one, as the group consisted largely of aging hippies and young hipsters, some with young children in tow. An honest assessment of his audience should have told Palka that, even without the pandering showmanship, none of them would have been among the window-smashers and looters who did indeed rampage through the area later that night.
8. NR summer intern Dmitri Solzhenitsyn checks out the left’s violence-excusing rhetoric and warns of unintended justifications. From the commentary:
I do not wish to argue directly against the morality of this stance, nor to make an empirical argument as to the negative economic repercussions of lawless protest. Instead, I’d like to undertake a thought experiment: What if certain members of the Right took these anarchist, morally permissive sentiments to heart? Certainly, this is the last thing that any leftist — or any reasonable conservative — would want.
While the modern Left tends to emphasize the prevalence of oppressive systems, many on the right hold uncompromising beliefs of their own. For instance, conservatives are prone to believe that life is inviolable from the moment of conception, and that abortion therefore constitutes a form of murder. Others insist that the U.S. Constitution is immutable and must be protected at all costs.
Radicalized members of the Right have, in rare instances, already acted on these beliefs in extreme fashion: the 2014 Las Vegas Shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and various attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics all come to mind. Significantly, all of these events involved fringe right-wing individuals and groups acting independently — without a mainstream justification for their actions. But how many more Robert Lewis Dears and Timothy McVeighs might we see, were the Left’s stance on violent protest to become widely adopted on the Right?
9. So, what happened to social distancing? John Hirschauer asks and answers. From the piece:
Those who protested the lockdown regime were ridiculed. Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan said that anti-lockdown protests came “at a cost to people’s health.” Michigan nurses stood in front of protesters’ cars with folded arms, leering on in contempt. As hordes of looters and rioters turned to the streets, however, NPR informed us that “dozens of public health and disease experts have signed an open letter in support of the nationwide anti-racism protests.” Nurses in New York stood outside a hospital and cheered as protesters, some of whom were unmasked, packed together like sardines and marched through the streets to protest police brutality. The chair of the New York City Council’s health committee, Mark Levine, says that “if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks,” we ought not to “blame the protesters. Blame racism.”
If we shouldn’t “blame” them, then we ought not “blame” the regular people who break quarantine to mourn their dead. If it’s true, as the experts told us, that the virus does not discriminate, and does not care how trying your personal circumstances are, then the virus certainly does not care about how unjust the Minneapolis police department may be. If no “open letter” of apology from the “medical community” is forthcoming to the bereaved who stared at their casketed relative on an iPad, the least that those officials can do is admit that they never really cared about the lockdowns at all.
10. Yuval Levin scores the evils of mobocracy and lawlessness. From the essay:
In recent days, my mind has turned to Abraham Lincoln—maybe the greatest of the great-souled Americans. I’ve thought of him not only because he thought and acted with such moral clarity regarding the evil of racism and the inhumanity of slavery, but also because he understood that no just society was possible without respect for basic social order. He knew there was an ideal of justice above the law, and he knew that it could only be respected and put into effect through the law, not around it. Early in his life, he raised the alarm about what he called a “mobocratic spirit”—and he laid out its meaning in terms that help us to see its dangers not only in rioting and looting but also in lawless policing and in failures of leadership that undermine our solidarity.
In 1838, when he was 28 years old, Lincoln delivered a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, on “the perpetuation of our political institutions,” in which he expressed alarm about the dangers of mob rule. “Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times,” he said. “They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana.”
We incline to worry about angry mobs out of fear that they will harm the innocent, but Lincoln argued that even when their cause is understandable (even when, as in one of his examples, they are rightly livid at “the perpetration of an outrageous murder”), their lawlessness is a grave danger, because they ultimately liberate “the lawless in spirit…to become lawless in practice,” and then leave good citizens with no choice but to become lawless in their own defense. “Such are the effects of mob law; and such as the scenes, becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order,” Lincoln said. And then he reached for his core concern:
By the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed—I mean the attachment of the People.
11. Hong Kong ain’t dead yet, argue Yang Jianli and Aaron Rhodes. From the analysis:
With China facing its worst economic performance in 50 years, the CCP’s unforced errors have crippled China and the markets upon which it depends. In a corner, like a defensive wild beast, the regime has reacted with irrational aggression, confirming that its leadership exists in a bubble of denial. Xi Jinping thinks China’s post-modern, narrative-bending propaganda can reverse the pandemic’s damage to China’s legitimacy in the minds of both its own people and the world’s. He believes China can silence its critics by threats. And he thinks China’s illegal crackdown will force Hong Kongers into submission, rescuing his legacy.
But it won’t. Hong Kong is not dead, and we need only look back toward Tiananmen to see why. After 1989, heroes such as Liu Xiaobo and many others emerged despite an arbitrarily enforced “National Security Law,” revealing by their courage and sacrifices the immorality and fraudulence of the Chinese Communist regime. The people of Hong Kong are better equipped, spiritually, politically, and materially, as well as internationally, than the 1989 generation of human-rights dissidents (including one of us, Yang Jianli).
Unlike the mainlanders, the people of Hong Kong have lived in freedom, under the rule of law, and in a polity close to a democracy. They have a better understanding of, and treasure more, a life of freedom and dignity. Backing down before Chinese Communist Party pressure would mean the end of their way of life, the end of their unique and cherished identity and community, and indeed, a kind of spiritual death. They are ready to sacrifice their lives to avoid this.
12. Rong Xiaoqing explains why some Tiananmen protestors are supporting Donald Trump. From the commentary:
The deep anger and resentment directed at the CCP is generating Trump support among the Tiananmen protesters. Many support his trade war against China and his attempts to punish Beijing for concealing information about the coronavirus when it first emerged. They also defend his description of COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus,” saying the moniker is reasonable given the provocative claim by Chinese government spokesperson Zhao Lijian that the American military brought the virus to Wuhan.
“Many American politicians are too close to Beijing. Finally, we got Trump, who is vehemently anti-the Communist Party,” said Chen, 62, who voted for Trump in 2016. She had voting for Obama in 2012, soon after becoming an American citizen. “Trump represents my values better.” She said that she’ll vote for him again this year even though she is living on welfare payments as a disabled person and might typically expect to have more protection from a Democratic president.
Wang Juntao — labeled by Beijing as one of the “black hand” masterminds behind the Tiananmen student movement and sentenced to 13 years in prison — has also been gravitating toward Trump, though he is still not a U.S. citizen and therefore cannot vote. “I wouldn’t have voted for him in 2016, but I would now,” said Wang, who was released and came to the U.S. after pressure on Beijing by the Clinton administration in 1994.
Now 62 and armed with a master’s degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia, he is still campaigning for democracy in China from his base in New York. He is concerned, though, that some dissidents are relying too much on Trump. “They need a hero to fight against the Communist Party. And they project their hope on Trump. But the American president’s job is not to fight against China,” he said.
13. Victor Davis Hanson lays out the paradoxical Joe Biden’s ten “Jiujutsu Commandments,” From the article, we share two:
I may show cognitive disabilities during the campaign, but therein I am allowed to dish it out without commensurately being dished. If you think it is cruel and insensitive to caricature or even note my mental confusion as I go on offense, then please keep quiet while I continue my attacks.
Overlook my handsy habits, gaffes, biographical lies, and racialist commentaries because I, at the eleventh hour, am the only vehicle left by which progressive ideas can take over the White House.
14. When lefty governors and mayors get around to slowly undoing the lockdown, left out in the cold are churchgoers. Alexandra DeSanctis reports on the nefarious actions happening in Madison, Wis. From the piece:
Religious leaders in Madison, Wis., have written to local officials, calling its reopening policy unconstitutional and a “discriminatory restriction.” The letter asks that the City of Madison and Dane County COVID-19 regulations be revised to apply to houses of worship the same way they apply to other organizations and businesses.
In a letter on behalf of the Catholic Diocese of Madison, several attorneys outline how local authorities are applying reopening rules unequally in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns, targeting places of worship with stricter policies than those applied to other public activities. This, they argue, “treats religious interests unequally and unfairly.”
The letter notes that the local reopening plan subjects “the routine operations of houses of worship—and of no other category of organization—to a ‘Mass Gathering’ limit of 50 persons.” Meanwhile,
retail stores, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, offices, factories, gyms, salons, tattoo parlors, spas, dog parks, contact sports, trampoline parks, movie theaters, museums, hotels, community centers, car washes—the list goes on—are all permitted to open and conduct “everyday operations” at 25 percent of their certified occupancy but without a generally applicable and blanket numerical cap.
15. Is the Universal Basic Income here? Jerry Bowyer and Charles Bowyer urge conservatives not to fool themselves about what we’ve just done under the name of stimulus. From the piece:
In a few short months, we went from UBI (the idea of giving almost every adult citizen a check) being an idea favored only at the margins to its being the official policy of a Republican administration backed by a Republican-controlled Senate.
The counterargument is clear. These are extreme times. This is not UBI but merely a temporary support measure for working families in exceptional circumstances. It is an argument that might have more force had not conservative political parties in the Western world found it so difficult to rein in an expanding welfare state that can no longer be afforded, something that became all too obvious in the battles over “austerity” after the European debt crisis.
Since America’s current “UBI” was promoted as an essential element in a stimulus program, it seems reasonable to assume that, whatever is being said to the contrary, it will be more difficult to end it until the economy gets strong enough to no longer need stimulus. The list of temporary spending programs instituted during a crisis but later discontinued is distressingly short.
Fearing the electoral consequences of challenging this regime, many conservative parties of the Western world seem to have given up on the task of decreasing the size of government. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has made protecting the U.K.’s public health-care system one of the cornerstones of his government.
The Trump administration has signed relief plans totaling over $2 trillion, in an environment where were already spending $4.45 trillion a year. The small-government that once defined conservative politics appears to have fallen out of fashion.
The June 22, 2020, Issue of Your Favorite Magazine Has the Red China Threat in the NR Crosshairs
It is off the presses and, as we speak, in the mail (although, we really aren’t speaking are we?), but each and every brilliant word of it is available to you right now if you have an NRPLUS membership. As is our custom, we share four pieces from the June 20, 2020, issue that we’re confident will put more snapper in your whipper. Or is it whipper in your snapper?
1. Oh my. It is a colossal and brilliant analysis — a “Special Report” by Nicholas Eberstadt and Daniel Blumenthal — of the threat Red China poses to the international order, and how America has spent the past four decades empowering this Communist state. From the essay:
As is increasingly understood in the United States and abroad, the Chinese government and its agents bear a terrible and immediate responsibility for conduct that turned a localized contagion into a global pandemic. But the COVID-19 disaster could not have devastated America and the world as it is now doing if China were still an impoverished, isolated Maoist The world is suffering a planetary plague because China today is deeply integrated into the world economy, and into the institutions of global governance as well—even though it is ruled by a dictatorship whose values, priorities, and objectives are fundamentally incompatible with those of the liberal international order.
It was not by accident or happenstance that China became a major player in the world economy and, more broadly, in the liberal international order that the United States was instrumental in fashioning. That outcome, rather, is largely a result of concerted American policy.
For four decades, the United States has pursued a deliberate and explicit strategy, reaffirmed by innumerable public and private decisions under both Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses, to “engage China” and enmesh that enormous country in “globalization,” the free world’s great webs of commerce, communications, travel, education, research, and culture.
For many long years, this strategy, though not without critics, was widely regarded as a triumph of American statecraft. For a generation and more, the policy of “engaging” China paid handsome and obvious dividends, both financial and geopolitical. Indeed, the engagement policy appeared to be a monumental win-win. Not only did China turn away from the revolutionary hostility that had characterized its international conduct in the Maoist era, but its outward-oriented economic policies and more pragmatic domestic practices unleashed an extraordinary domestic boom. China’s remarkable economic transformation not only dramatically reduced poverty at home. It also generated prosperity for trading partners around the world.
2. Kevin Williamson looks at the history of American riots in the last half century, and sees destruction and sanctimony. From the end of the piece:
If the riots we are seeing now are meant to effect positive change for African Americans in Minneapolis and other cities, they are unlikely to succeed. Governor Brown’s free school lunches are not going to get it done. In Minneapolis, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, etc., Democrats and progressives have had something very close to an unbroken monopoly on political power for decades. Minneapolis hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the Eisenhower years. There are no Republicans on the Minneapolis city council, and there hasn’t been one in decades. Democrats have unimpeded political power in Minneapolis and many other cities, and it shows. They may have added free breakfasts to the free lunches, but the blood on the streets suggests that progressivism isn’t getting it done.
If the riots are not about poverty and police procedures—if John S. Hampton had it right back in 1967—then they should be understood mainly as expressive. If there is a cure for the “powerlessness which black people feel in an alien white society,” it is not to be found in legislation or in more-generous health-insurance subsidies. How much worse are the rioters willing to make things for—if not themselves, exactly, then the communities they purport to represent? The answer in the 1960s was: a lot worse. Detroit and Newark were more or less ruined and have never really recovered. New York City was essentially bankrupt and literally powerless (the looting of 1977 was occasioned by a blackout) and foundered for years until the administration of Rudolph Giuliani, who used to be known as a successful mayor before he signed on as Donald Trump’s very dull hatchet man. Reducing Minneapolis to a smoking ruin is not going to improve the life of a single black family—but if it makes some college kids feel better . . .
3. Jay Nordlinger rides out the pandemic in the belly of the beast — Manhattan. From the essay:
Trader Joe’s, like other stores, allows only a small number of people in at a time. There are long lines outside Trader Joe’s, made all the longer by social distancing: The standers are six feet apart. I thought of GUM, the old department store in the Soviet Union, outside of which people spent huge chunks of their lives, standing, waiting.
I was in another store—Jubilee Market Place—in the checkout line. I was keeping my distance, I thought. But the elderly woman in front of me turned and said, with a shaky, urgent voice, “You’re too close.” I apologized and backed off (way, way off, so you could hardly tell I was in line). I try to cut people slack. There is a lot of fear in the air. And people, for the most part, have been patient and kind.
“That’s when you have to worry,” said a friend of mine. “When New Yorkers are being patient and kind, there’s serious trouble afoot.”
I have come to love the young cashiers at Rite Aid, Pinkberry, and other places. I see them almost every day. They are behind plastic partitions, working their tails off, scrubbing their hands, putting up with all manner of customer weirdness and nervousness. We have formed something like a bond. I feel quasi-parental toward them.
In the beginning, the only restaurant open, within blocks of me, was a pizzeria. You could not dine in, but you could take out, or have the pizza delivered. The place was operating 24/7. As I watched them, the workers seemed well-nigh heroic. Were they foolhardy? Were we, who patronized them?
Come to think of it, the McDonald’s next door to the pizza place never closed either. At least I don’t think it did. Maybe for a week or two, max. You can sooner take down the Statue of Liberty than you can the Golden Arches.
4. Daniel J. Mahoney reviews the Andrew Bacevich–edited Library of America collection, American Conservatism. He finds an overall good assemblage, but with undeniable issues. From the review:
Fitting selections from William F. Buckley Jr. and Whittaker Chambers are also included in this anthology. Chambers’s “Letter to My Children,” the opening section of his great 1952 memoir Witness, beautifully evokes the existential choice that modern man must make between human self-sovereignty, or self-deification, and deference to the sovereignty of the living God. No conservative or true ex-Communist, and Chambers was both if anyone was, can accept the Communist “vision of man without God.” To reject Communism, to truly reject it, is to recover the truth of the soul. For Chambers, the soul had its own logic, its own needs, its own integrity. The Communist who heard screams emanating from the secret-police torture chambers in Moscow in the 1930s broke with Communism because its logic of history and class consciousness could no longer efface the truth and needs of his soul. Chambers famously remarked that political freedom finally depends on “interior freedom,” on the soul as the defining mark of human dignity. For Chambers, political freedom is in the end “only a political reading of the Bible,” as he tells us near the beginning of Witness. Like the great Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn a generation after him, Chambers rejected a false humanism, an anthropocentric humanism, that warred on man even as it showed contempt for the divine ground of human existence. To reject totalitarian mendacity is to vindicate both God and man.
In his charming 1963 essay “Notes toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism,” Buckley credits Chambers with driving Ayn Rand and her Objectivist followers out of the conservative movement. Chambers saw a different kind of godlessness at work in Rand and her followers: a “materialism of technocracy” and limitless self-assertion, a contempt for charity and kindness toward the weak and vulnerable. Most strikingly, Buckley speaks of Rand’s “hard, schematic, implacable, unyielding dogmatism that is itself intrinsically objectionable, whether it comes from the mouth of Ehrenburg [a liberal but ultimately loyal Soviet writer], or Savonarola, or Ayn Rand.” Perfectly said. Buckley makes clear that the conservative need not be a religious believer. But active disdain for the religious sensibility, or the intimations of transcendence and the natural moral law available to human beings, are hardly compatible with a conservatism whose tenets certainly include an acute recognition that “man is not God.” Atheistic dogmatism, or what the 19th-century American Catholic man of letters Orestes Brownson called “political atheism,” has no place in conservatism, rightly understood.
Lights. Camera. Links!
1. Armond White reflects on the hits and, mostly, misses and legacy of Spike Lee’s 1989 film, Do the Right Thing. From the end of the piece:
Spike Lee has not yet made a film that comes close to explaining the festering anger that may define individual character. (Black Americans’ different ways of coping and persevering is August Wilson’s contribution to American literature.) Lee’s stump-speech movies merely specialize in the surface of complicated experience, which, as we now see, political opportunists can easily exploit. In light of recalling Do the Right Thing, one Twitter sage added: “Black votes matter to many politicians — more so than black lives. That is why such politicians must try to keep black voters fearful, angry and resentful. Racial harmony would be a political disaster for such politicians.”
Do the Right Thing’s legacy is based on exploiting racial disharmony and political disaster, which befits a misconceived cri de coeur. Today, Lee’s ideological knot puts a knot in one’s stomach. Looking for answers in that film does not help clarify this exasperating moment. For the liberal politicians who boast that they “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with protesters,” the advisory title Do the Right Thing proves to be an impossibility.
2. Jack Butler has made it his mission to defend the honor of LOST. From the piece:
Some of what the creators hoped for in LOST they simply could not do. One reason was its sheer popularity. In its first two seasons, LOST was one of the most-watched shows on television, helping to revive ABC’s reputation. Network brass would try to keep that going for as long as they could, forcing the showrunners to strike a tricky balance between keeping the network happy and satisfying their creative vision. As Lindelof said in a 2006 interview, “If we told them we could only do the show if we ended it after 100 episodes, they never would’ve agreed to it. And who could blame them?” LOST fans — and detractors — can see this tension most clearly during the third season, much of which is aimless in a way that lives down to criticism. But it also comes to reflect the finality the writers eventually procured from the network concerning how long the show would go, drawing to an exciting and propulsive climax. Even so, this forward momentum eventually confronted the television-wide Writers’ Guild strike of 2007–08, an exogenous event that resulted in a shortened fourth season. To the end, external factors inhibited the show. It seems unfair to knock a show excessively for such things.
It is more fair to knock it for what it did make up along the way. But even some of the things that were improvised made the show better. The character of Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) was originally written as a bit role but expanded as Emerson made the role his own, lasting until the show’s very end. Ditto the role of Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick), who became one of the most important characters in the series. Likewise, the famous “Smoke Monster,” a malevolent, literally nebulous force that first appears in the very first episode, was originally planned to be a kind of mechanical creation; instead, it developed into an evil entity at the heart of the island’s significance. That some of these developments occurred over the course of LOST is not in itself a strike against them, as some helped the show become better than it otherwise might have been.
1. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss Keith Ellison’s appointment to the George Floyd case, the new charges brought against the former police officers involved in his death, Tom Cotton’s New York Times op-ed, and much more. Listen here.
2. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the nationwide riots and lootings, the president’s poor performance during these outbreaks, and the hypocrisy surrounding the media’s coverage of the chaos. Listen here.
3. And then on another episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss James Mattis’s denunciation of Trump, the ridiculous outrage provoked by Tom Cotton’s NYT op-ed, and the double standard of health officials when it comes to the recent protests. Catch it here.
4. On The Bookmonger, John J. Miller is joined by Paul Matzko to discuss his new book, The Radio Right. Slap in the ear buds and listen here.
5. Changing costumes, JJM is joined on The Great Books by Jessica Hooten Wilson of John Brown University to discuss Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Listen here.
6. Keeping with the one-term theme, on the new episode of Constitutionally Speaking, Luke and Jay consider POTUS 8, the “Red Fox of Kinderhook,” in the first of a two-part look at Martin van Buren. Put the kids to bed and listen here.
7. On Radio Free California, David and Will discuss California’s problem with bad cops (it isn’t that they’re racist, it’s that they’re protected), the push for affirmative action, and the slow coming of justice for an Orange County assemblyman who offered political favors in exchange for sex. Open up that Golden Gate . . . listen here.
8. On Episode 19 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses with his dimwit of a co-host his thoughts on Donald Trump’s announcement of military force to counter riots, the president’s lack of focus, the paradox that is Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo’s latest failures, Tucker Carlson’s clobbering of conservative morality lecturers, America’s standing in the world, and lefty media sanctimony. Find it here.
1. Heather Mac Donald at City Journal finds the collapse of the rule of law to be terrifying. From the piece:
The attacks on local law enforcement were already happening out of sight of TV cameras before the most photogenic scenes of arson and the stomping of squad cars started showing up on network and cable news. On Tuesday, May 26, and Wednesday, May 27, Chicago residents surrounded and threw bottles at Chicago Police Department officers trying to arrest gun suspects. One suspect was the likely perpetrator of a shooting that had just hit a five-year-old girl and two teenage boys. The other had just thrown his gun under a car; the cop-haters tried to free him from the squad car. No surprise that Saturday night, downtown Chicago was plundered.
This pandemic of civil violence is more widespread than anything seen during the Black Lives Matter movement of the Obama years, and it will likely have an even deadlier toll on law enforcement officers than the targeted assassinations we saw from 2014 onward. It’s worse this time because the country has absorbed another five years of academically inspired racial victimology. From Ta-Nehisi Coates to the New York Times’s 1619 project, the constant narrative about America’s endemic white supremacy and its deliberate destruction of the “black body” has been thoroughly injected into the political bloodstream.
Facts don’t matter to the academic victimology narrative. Far from destroying the black body, whites are the overwhelming target of interracial violence. Between 2012 and 2015, blacks committed 85.5 percent of all black-white interracial violent victimizations (excluding interracial homicide, which is also disproportionately black-on-white). That works out to 540,360 felonious assaults on whites. Whites committed 14.4 percent of all interracial violent victimization, or 91,470 felonious assaults on blacks. Blacks are less than 13 percent of the national population.
2. At The American Conservative, Ryan Girdusky looked into the White House’s weekend of dithering while mayors let their cities burn. From the report:
President Trump and many other Republican leaders condemned the murder of Floyd and demanded action against the police officers involved. In the days that followed, however, the White House felt absent in the national conversation. Protests turned to riots and cities like Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta turned into war zones, yet the president was nowhere to be found. Outside of Twitter and the few remarks given by Trump during the SpaceX launch, the silence from the White House was deafening.
Sources inside the administration said that throughout the tumultuous weekend, the White House was running on a skeleton crew. Advisors Jared and Ivanka Kushner were celebrating a Jewish holiday, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was at his daughter’s wedding, other key members of the administration were out of state. While Washington burned, Trump was ushered into a bunker with the few aides that were by his side, including Dan Scavino.
On Thursday, Kushner and his allies, Brooke Rollins and Ja’ron Smith told the White House and the campaign that they shouldn’t discuss the riots in overtly negative terms because it could harm the campaign’s efforts at coalition-building with the black community. They insisted the whole thing would eventually blow over.
With no team and no plan, Trump took to Twitter, demanding that mayors and governors take more action. Writers and media personalities from nearly every conservative outlet tweeted, “where is Trump?” Presidential sycophants, many of whom campaigned against the president in the 2016 primary, tried to calm the growing chorus of concerns. Their reasoning ranged from there was nothing he could do, the optics would be bad, and this will help him in November. Yet as the days mounted and the riots spread to every major American city, it became glaringly obvious that the situation was only becoming worse and the president was missing in action. It seemed that the president was just tweeting as America burned.
3. On his blog, Matt Taibbi documents the left’s censorship attack on Michael Moore for his calling–B.S. documentary, Planet of the Humans. From the piece:
Environmentalists denounced the film as riddled with “lies” and “misinformation,” claiming among other things that Moore used old data to discredit green technology. A campaign to remove the film from circulation immediately took shape.
“Within 24 hours of it going out on YouTube, people got to work on trying to take the film down,” explains Moore. He immediately started hearing about emails denouncing the film that were being circulated to what seemed like “everyone on the left.”
An “action letter” composed by environmentalist Josh Fox was circulated, describing the film as “dangerous, misleading, and destructive” and demanding an “immediate retraction.” Films for Action, an online archive of progressive movies, initially bent to Fox’s demands by taking the film out of its library, only to put it back up a half-day later out of a desire to avoid a “messy debate about censorship.”
An intense campaign of editorials followed, and a roughly month later, YouTube actually removed the film. The platform cited a four-second piece of footage shot by filmmaker Toby Smith that supposedly was a copyright infringement. Moore, who says all his films are “heavily lawyered,” insists the footage was legal under Fair Use laws, which allow the use of portions of copyrighted work without the permission of the owner. (In one of many ironies, Fair Use laws have long been celebrated by progressives as an invaluable tool for journalists and artists).
The significance of the Moore incident is that it shows that a long-developing pattern of deletions and removals is expanding. The early purges were mainly of small/fringe voices on either the far right or far left, or infamously fact-challenged personalities like Alex Jones. The removal of a film by Moore – a heavily-credentialed figure long revered by the liberal mainstream – takes place amid a dramatic acceleration of such speech-suppression incidents, many connected to the coronavirus disaster.
4. In Public Discourse, Carson Holloway considers Pierre Manents’ important new book, Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason. From the review:
As Manent observes, the origins of the modern idea of human rights can be traced back to the radical and daring intellectual experiment undertaken by the sixteenth and seventeenth century pioneers of modern political philosophy. This experiment was performed with the greatest clarity, consistency, and ruthlessness by Thomas Hobbes, to whom Manent pays special attention. Human beings, as we ordinarily and perhaps even universally encounter them, live under some system of law. Nevertheless, modern political philosophers, such as Hobbes, finding the then-prevailing system of law confused and inadequate, undertook to tear law down and rebuild it from the ground up, so to speak. They postulated a “state of nature,” a pre-political state in which all human beings are equal and free, and they sought to base their political teaching on that allegedly original and natural human condition. In other words, according to Manent, they tried to strip law entirely away from man and then restore law on a more solid foundation, or on what they thought was a more solid foundation—the desire of each person to be safe from the personal danger that necessarily accompanies the lack of law.
Such a radical undertaking was bound to have momentous and grave consequences. The modern theorists of the state of nature wanted to correct a source of confusion and instability in the law of their time—the conflict between political and religious law. They ultimately succeeded, however, only in introducing a new and perhaps worse form of confusion and instability. Having taught human beings that they are by nature utterly free, that there is no natural law constraining their naturally limitless “rights” to freedom of action, what do you get?
If you teach human beings to assert their rights, but deny any natural standards by which to judge the rightness of their actions, you unleash an endless quest for rights not governed by any intelligible principle—a quest that sows confusion at all levels of society. You get governments that try to advance and regulate the explosion of rights, but with no clear conception of any authoritative common good for their citizens. You get social institutions that can no longer regard their purposes as in any way authoritative and therefore have to succumb to demands for individual rights that are not compatible with the flourishing or even the existence of such institutions. Finally, you get individuals who seem to be free, and who demand ever more freedom, but who have no idea what to do with their freedom and who in fact end up lacking the truest kind of freedom. They are dominated by their passions, because they have no conception of an authoritative practical reason in light of which they can judge some of their passions as more worthy than others. They are free to the extent that the external obstacles to their passions have been removed, but they are not free to act responsibly in light of their reason—which is to say that they lack the freedom to lead an authentically human life.
5. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern explains how the EU places a higher principle on trade with Red China than on the freedom of Hong Kong-ers. From the article:
Germany, which takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1, has announced that it will prioritize relations with China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is particularly determined to proceed with a major EU-China summit to be held in the German city of Leipzig in September. She is reportedly under intense pressure from German automobile manufacturers, who are concerned about maintaining their access to the Chinese market.
The continued cowardice of European leaders is a reflection not only of Europe’s geopolitical weakness and economic overdependence on China, but also of a moral vacuum in which they refuse to stand up for Western values.
In April, European officials caved in to pressure from China and watered down an EU report on Chinese efforts to deflect blame for the coronavirus pandemic. A few weeks later, the EU Ambassador to China, Nicolas Chapuis, allowed the Chinese government to edit an op-ed article signed by him and the 27 Ambassadors of EU member states, to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China.
The EU authorized the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remove references to the origins and the spread of the coronavirus from the article, published in China Daily, an English-language daily newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China.
6. At First Things, George Weigel says the Vatican has to make a choice, between (Catholic!) Hong Kong businessman and freedom activist Jimmy Lai or Red China regime boss Xi Jinping. From the piece:
In mid-May, Chinese leader Xi Jinping unveiled a plan to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and impose draconian new “national security” laws on the former British colony. Putatively intended to defend Hong Kong from “secessionists,” “terrorists,” and “foreign influence,” these new measures are in fact designed to curb the brave men and women of Hong Kong’s vibrant pro-democracy movement, who have been aggravating the Beijing totalitarians for a long time. With the world distracted by the Wuhan virus (which the Chinese government’s clumsiness and prevarication did much to globalize), the ever-more-brutal Xi Jinping regime evidently thinks that this is the moment to crack down even harder on those in Hong Kong who cherish freedom and try to defend it.
This latest display of Beijing’s intent to enforce communist power in Hong Kong coincides with the most recent persecution of my friend, Jimmy Lai.
Jimmy and I have only met once. But I have long felt a kinship with this fellow Catholic, a convert who first put his considerable wealth to work in support of important Catholic activities and who is now risking all in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Arrested in February, and then again in April, Jimmy Lai has been charged with helping organize and lead “unauthorized protests.” That he was in the front ranks of pro-democracy demonstrations is true. The question is, why do the Chinese communists regard peaceful protest in support of freedoms Beijing solemnly promised to protect as treasonous?
BONUS: At The American Spectator, my pal Anne Hendershott bemoans the meaning behind NYPD officers forced to take a knee. It ain’t about solidarity. From the piece:
Taking the knee was always a protest against the police. This is why it is so disturbing for the many good police officers who know that their fellow officers are equally committed to protecting and serving the public. Taking the knee to protest their fellow officers is anathema to good police officers. They understand that the horrific treatment afforded to George Floyd was an aberration and they are disgusted by it. But to take a knee that suggests systemic racism within the NYPD is a bridge too far for many in the rank and file.
Unfortunately, the status degradation ceremonies for police officers continue to escalate throughout the five boroughs of New York City and in other parts of the country. On Sunday in Foley Square, hundreds of protesters chanted “NYPD, take a knee” until the uniformed NYPD police officers gave in to their demands. Those officers unwilling to participate in the new street theater are derided while those who take the knee are cheered.
Much of this recalls Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities — a satirical novel of racial politics in New York City in the 1980s. Often described as that decade’s defining novel, it offered a scathing portrayal of the racial power struggles permeating the city at the time. Wolfe’s brilliant satire skewered the rich, portrayed a corrupt legal system that was up for sale, and presented a cast of pandering politicians and community activists more interested in helping themselves than helping the poor. The police officers in the novel are portrayed primarily as good men just trying to do their job, but their police department was also held captive to craven politicians and prosecutors. One of the main characters in the book, Reverend Bacon, spends most of his time shaking down rich white power brokers and philanthropists — telling them that money going to his organization is an investment in “steam control” of black anger.
BONUS BONUS: At The Spectator, Damian Thompson figures that BLM is a religion for woke whites. Read it here.
Seventy years ago this week, the Boston Red Sox engaged in one the National Pastime’s great expositions of offense, worth remembering because, well, that’s what we do in this here section. 1950 was, of course, a Yankee year — part of the Bronx Bombers’ 1949–1953 arch of pennants and World Championships — but it was a close thing as they battled Boston and Detroit down the stretch for the pennant.
The Red Sox may have finished in third place, four games behind the Yankees, but when it came to run production, Boston ruled the American League: The Bosox scored 1,027 runs, clobbered 161 home runs, and had a team batting average of .302.
Of those runs, a tenth came in that one-week stretch in early June, with the Sox taking two games each from Cleveland, Chicago, and the St. Louis Browns, scoring 104 runs as they took six of seven games.
It all began with a fury on a Friday night game at Fenway Park, with Indians ace Bob Feller facing Ted Williams and his comrades. It did not go well for Rapid Robert: He pitched but 2/3 of an inning and gave up 6 runs and took the loss as the Sox prevailed, 11–5.
The offensive muscle flexing continued, the next day, this time against Cleveland righthander Mike Garcia: Like Feller the day before, he could not get out of the First, and indeed, could not even get an out, as six Red Sox crossed home plate on the way to an 11–9 victory.
Exit Cleveland, enter Chicago: To Fenway came the White Sox, who on a June 4 affair found their Sunday prayers falling on deaf divine ears. Unable to quell the Boston bats, a quartet of White Sox pitchers gave up 21 hits and 9 walks, and Boston enjoyed a 17–7 victory. More home-team double digits followed at a packed Fenway the next night: A crowd of 29,372 saw Mickey McDermott relieve sore-shouldered starter pitcher Ellis Kinder with one out in the top of the First, and hold Chicago to four measly hits and no runs, while another quartet of White Sox pitchers allowed a dozen Red Sox runs — all but one at the expense of starter Billy Pierce.
But the White Sox refused to be swept: On a June 6 afternoon contest at Fenway, White Sox starter Ken Holcombe pitched a complete-game 8–4 victory, behind four Chicago home runs.
Then came the St. Louis Browns, who would take the greatest of whuppings. In fact, two whuppings. It began innocently enough: On Wednesday afternoon, the Browns notched two runs in the top of the first off Sox starter Joe Dobson. In the bottom of the frame, the Red Sox did the Browns one better, and then in the third came the deluge: seven more runs. And another ten after that, thanks to 23 hits, five of them homers, and seven walks. When Dick Kokos flied out to end the beatdown, the final score stood at 20-4. If you didn’t think it could get worse for the Browns, well . . .
The next day — a Thursday afternoon, before an impish crowd of 5,105 Boston fans, in a game that took but 2 hours and 42 minutes to cram in all that would be crammed — the Red Sox lashed 28 hits, took eleven walks, banged seven home runs (two each by the Splendid Splinter and Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo, and three by Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, who had eight RBIs to Dropo’s seven). The final score was 29–4.
That set an MLB record for most runs in a game by one team. Soon enough it was tied: On April 23, 1955, in Kansas City, the White Sox would pummel the Athletics, 29–6.
Cool facts: Dropo, now playing for Chicago, would hit a homer in that game too, while Sherm Lolllar, who caught for the Browns in the epic 1950 game, went five for six, with two homers and five RBIs, for the White Sox.
Back to 1950, and of double-digiting note: Its capacity for bullying having been spent, the Red Sox lost the ensuing two games after their 29-run performance. Badly. The Browns would take the third game at Fenway by a 12–7 margin, and then the Tigers pulled into Boston for a three-game set, which they swept, with the first victory an 18–8 drubbing.
Your Humble Correspondent had asked for prayers recently for a young man, ravaged with cancer – the report on initial treatment is quite good, the doctors saying to family, whatever you are doing, keep doing it. Extending that directive to WJ friends who care enough to read until the end of this eyeball pilgrimage, please, if you can spare such, add another prayer for his cure.
And then a prayer maybe not only for the protection of America, but also for the confounding of its enemies, foreign and domestic, of which there are many, driven by their hatred of our Republic’s principles.
God’s Love and Blessings on You and Yours,
Jack Fowler, who awaits mockery and castigations directed to his inbox, can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S.: The production values are, to say the least, minimal, but Panic in the Year Zero in not a bad way to spend an hour and a half (Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, and Frankie Avalon headline the cast). You can watch it here.