The Herman Cain Event I Never Got To See

In October, I received an email from Aristotle Boosalis, the President of the Columbia University College Republicans, announcing an event featuring Herman Cain, a former candidate for the 2012 U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination. I ended up on the CUCR mailing list after directly emailing Mr. Boosalis with words of encouragement and my support for his desire to challenge Columbia University students into spirited debate by hosting events with controversial speakers like Mike Cernovich and Tommy Robinson. To be clear, i do not agree with anything that Cernovich and Robinson have said in the past. Moreover, I think that the CUCR should strive to interface with speakers who are more mainstream and palatable than the ones whose services they have been procuring. Nevertheless, I believe we must never cower when confronted with ideologies from groups or individuals who appear to advocate hatred, always being aware of the fine line between free speech and hate speech. The opportunity to either isolate and verbally lacerate our enemies or give credence to the claims of our allies in a public forum for the world to see is a gift, and Columbia University students should delight in using the tools they have been learning in class to that end, but in my experience, they are unwilling to do so. Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack. As Jeff Sessions has noted, “The American university was once the center of academic freedom — a place of robust debate,but it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.” Sessions’ ideas are not without precedent and steeped in the spirit of Columbia University’s decision to invite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak in 2007, the man who vowed to “wipe Israel off the map.” The CUCR also stated in a general email that protestors planned to shut down the Herman Cain event, so they needed support. I decided to pre-register for the event. I ordered my free ticket on October 2nd. All that was required was my CUID, which I supplied to Eventbrite. Within minutes, my ticket to the event was sent to me at my LionMail email address. I looked forward to giving my support to Mr. Boosalis and the CUCR, as well as to Mr. Cain, who is surely not as controversial as Cernovich and Robinson, and whose only “sins” seem to be a love for American capitalism as well as allegations of sexual harassment.

I arrived at the Columbia University campus at 6.15 pm. It was exhilarating to be back on campus once again, as I have not been back to Columbia since my graduation in May of 2017. I walked into Roone Arledge Cinema with a sense that I was a valued member of the Columbia University family privy to events not accessible to the public. Unfortunately, the exhilaration was short lived, as I was denied entry to the event. The reasons cited were that my CUID was inactive, and that for security reasons, I would not be granted access to the event, even though I presented my Columbia University ID, as well as a hard copy printout of my ticket, as well as my driver’s license. I asked the person in charge of the event security to try and locate Mr. Boosalis in hopes that he could somehow resolve the problem. She was unwilling to locate him, stating that there would be nothing that he could do for me, as it was a security issue. As I walked back to my car, reality started to set in. All the talk of camaraderie and school spirit was just a lot of nonsense. I felt like an outsider; unwanted and unwelcome. When I finally arrived home, I checked my LionMail, and was amused to find a message about Columbia Giving Day, and an urgent plea for a donation. It was a fitting end to a very frustrating day. The next day I learned that there were only forty individuals present for Cain’s speech entitled Obamacare and the American Dream and not a single protestor attended.

This incident laid bare the fact that Columbia University might need to reexamine how it oversees events featuring controversial speakers on campus. Moreover, I felt that someone at the university owed me a detailed explanation as to why I was not able to attend the Herman Cain Event presented by the CUCR. I used my CUID to obtain a valid ticket to the event, which I presented, along with my student ID, but even so, I was denied entry. I am an alumnus of Columbia University, not a security threat. If my CUID was inactive, I should not have received a ticket in the first place. Additionally, if something changed overnight because of security issues, and only current Columbia University students were granted access to the event, then I, as well as other alumni that pre-registered for the event should have been notified. I decided to email James Mc Shane, Columbia University’s Vice President for Public Safety, and the person behind the Clery Crime Alerts, which are distributed via mass email notifications sent to all columbia.edu e-mail addresses. Mr Mc Shane promised that he would investigate the matter for me. Within two days, I was contacted by John Murolo, the Director of Special Operations and Events. It turns out that the reason I was turned away on the night of the Herman Cain event was because I was not in possession of a valid Alumni ID, which grants former students of Columbia University access to Lerner Hall as well as the University Libraries. He informed me that an Alumni ID was available at Butler Library, and all that was necessary to obtain one was a valid picture ID, a UNI, school affiliation and graduation date. As Columbia University students scurry around campus worrying about the shame of getting an A minus rather than an A,how to deal with those pesky Republican classmates who are ruining their college experience, or debate who should or should not be entitled to speak on campus, most probably never stop for a moment to consider the daunting task of campus security, what I takes to achieve it, and the efforts of those who make it all come to fruition. While i was initially angered by being denied access to Lerner Hall, and planned to write a critique regarding the way Columbia University handles events featuring controversial speakers, and the possibility that the administration attempts to sabotage them, in retrospect I realize that Columbia University’s Department of Public Safety and the Operations Manager at Lerner Hall did what they deemed necessary to provide a safe environment for the students of Columbia University. They are esteemed professionals and deserve to do their jobs without micromanagement. Considering the events at Charlottesville, it is evident that these are challenging times all over America. We should to be more appreciative and cognizant of the efforts of those who work in public safety and law enforcement who work behind the scenes to keep us all safe. It is a never-ending and often thankless job. Correspondingly, we must uphold the time-honored tradition of the American university as a “safe space” for academic freedom without fear of repercussion.
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Even Witch Doctors Don’t Diagnose From Afar

In a recent Rolling Stone magazine feature entitled The Madness of Donald Trump, Matt Taibbi asserts that “karma is a bitch,” and evil America got what they deserved in President Trump, a man he feels is a “perfect representation of who, as a country we are and have always been: an insane monster.” Fortunately for evil America, Taibbi has a plan to remove President Trump from office. While Robert Mueller continues his investigation into matters ranging variously from Trump’s dismissal of former FBI chief James Comey, and allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia, Taibbi and his cabal of left leaning psychiatrists and journalists are crafting a new narrative in case Mueller’s investigation fails: a declaration of Trump’s “inability to discharge duties” under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.” The linchpin of Taibbi’s argument is that President Trump is a “malignant narcissist,” a mental disorder which is based on narcissistic personality disorder, but with a pinch of paranoia, a sprinkle of sadism, and a dash of anti-social behavior.
Taibbi loathes America. His Zinn- infused history from below is one I am quite familiar with. He asserts that we are a “bloodthirsty Mr. Hyde nation that subsists on massacres and slave labor while we sit stuffing ourselves on couches blathering about our American exceptionalism.” While it might be true that Taibbi loathes America, he hates President Trump even more, and as his confusing and ill-conceived diatribe unfolds, the only thing that I am convinced of the weakness and desperation of his arguments, and the possibility that Taibbi, and not President Trump, needs psychological or biomedical treatment. The article is adorned with pictures of a bulging eyed President Trump grimacing in a strait jacket, and in his verbal attack against him, he spends an inordinate amount of time using words and phrases like “mad as a sack of bees,” “crazy,” “insane,” “damaged,” “unwell,” “delusional,” and “loony-bin administration” with no regard for the pain he is causing to those struggling with mental illness on a daily basis, the corresponding stigmatization those words bring on, or the possibly that speaking about mental illness in this manner makes those that suffer from it less inclined to seek appropriate treatment. Taibbi’s argument is premised on what he believes to be the sanctity and infallibility of the diagnoses contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (the manual that lists Internet Use Syndrome as a mental disorder)and the expert testimony of John Hopkins trained psychologist John Gartner who has “managed to gather more than 62.000 signatures from self- described mental health professionals who attest that Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.” Taibbi also claims that “everyone with half a brain and a recent copy of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) knew the diagnosis on Trump the minute he entered the race.” Clearly that statement neither effuses confidence in in our modern-day health professionals, nor gives credence to his claims and the “experts” he references. On the other hand, Taibbi’s thoughtlessness in constructing his argument does lay bare the phenomenon of the decline of once highly esteemed professions and institutions, and our current society of comedians, musicians, politicians, celebrities and ordinary citizens feeling confident in rendering armchair diagnoses of President Trump’s alleged mental illness, claiming the latest New York Times or CNN news items to be fake news, or weighing in on matters of constitutional law while gathered around the office water cooler. It is important to note that not everyone is as convinced of the validity of the diagnoses contained in the DSM as Taibbi and Gartner are. According to Thomas R. Insell, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, “unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure.” He continued, “this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.”Correspondingly, Gary Greenberg, a psychotherapist and one of the most outspoken critics of the DSM asserts:
The American Psychiatric Association owns the DSM. They aren’t only responsible for it: they own it, sell it, and license it. The DSM is created by a group of committees. It’s a bureaucratic process. In place of scientific findings, the DSM uses expert consensus to determine what mental disorders exist and how you can recognize them. Disorders come into the book the same way a law becomes part of the book of statutes. People suggest it, discuss it, and vote on it. Homosexuality was deleted from the DSM by a referendum. A straight up vote: yes or no.
One year ago, in my final class as a Columbia University undergraduate majoring in sociology, I enrolled in The Science of Psychology under the tutelage of a most wonderful instructor who ultimately helped me to rethink my negative perceptions of psychiatry. I decided to enroll in the class because a classmate advised me that it might be the easiest way to fulfill my science requirement. The class was largely based in neuroscience, and proved to be quite a challenge for me. There is a concerted effort among the new breed of professors and students in the field of psychology to rely on science to add validity to the methods and perspectives that psychologists employ, thus elevating the respectability of the discipline. After one semester, I experienced a remarkable volte-face. I learned that there is a lot more behind human thoughts and acts than the theory that every female desired a penis, and every male wanted to give his mother a thorough rogering. As part of our class participation grade, my classmates and I had to answer questions with our iClickers,which were projected onto a large screen. One question asked if the mental illness of a friend or family member significantly affected our lives. The histogram that depicted the results was powerful; the lives of 95 percent of my class of over 160 students were impacted in varying degrees by mental illness, but perhaps none more impacted than my own. I told my professor after class that the failure of psychiatry to properly diagnose and treat my late sister from the time period between 1975 and 2007 was the reason for my disdain for psychiatrists, the diagnoses contained in the DSM, as well as the reason why I was her student at fifty-four years of age. While i would rather not publicize my family’s problems and relive the pain, i will simply say that my family and i had to raise my niece, because my sister was so ill, she was unable to do so herself.  Over a thirty-year period, my sister was treated by five different psychiatrists, each with a different diagnosis. While the medications prescribed changed monthly, her condition only worsened. I understand the unique challenges of treating mental disorders, and I have neither commented negatively about psychiatry, nor spoke publicly about my family’s struggles with mental illness. It took the travesty of mental health professionals attempting to circumvent the Goldwater Rule to publicly diagnose President Trump without his consent to get me fully engaged, and sufficiently enraged.
The take home message of Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article is that the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the White House is in many ways a reflection of “who, as a country, we are and always have been: an insane monster.” Furthermore, to Taibbi and the #notmypresident/#resist factions, Donald Trump is a symptom of a terminally ill society. In contrast, those who support the President believe that America is infirm, but it is only Donald Trump who can render the social prescription that can restore an America that has strayed too far from the path that our Founding Fathers set for us. The question as to whether President Trump is fit to perform his duties should be decided by either the investigative process currently underway, or by the political process in 2020, not by a psychological fitness examination conducted by a biased and partisan Congress under the auspices of a handful of rogue psychiatrists who hate President Trump, and whose  behavior violates long established American Psychological Association standards.Hatred is never a good motivation for a diagnosis, especially on a patient that you have never seen in a professional capacity. Even witch doctors don’t diagnose from afar. Anyone with half a brain and a copy of the DSM would most likely agree with me.

It’s the Right’s Fault that the #TakeAKnee Protests are Spreading

Congratulations patriotic Americans, it is YOUR fault that more athletes are joining the “Take a Knee” movement.

For those who aren’t in the know, athletes across the country, mainly in the NFL, are taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence and specifically, the murders of black people at the hands of police.

The protests have now found their way into baseball with Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell dropping down to his knee for the Star-Spangled Banner before a Saturday night game against the Texas Rangers. To be fair, in Maxwell’s case, he explained,

And this goes beyond the black community, and this goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having an indifference and a racial divide in all types of people. It’s being practiced from the highest power that we have in this country, and it’s basically saying that it’s OK to treat people differently.

I mean, what? But still, the protests surround the idea that there is an epidemic of black people-murdering cops across the country. Stupidity.

However, that the protests have become this widespread is the fault of proud Americans. Right wing pundits are the biggest perpetrators, and even now, the president deserves fault too. As president Trump stated during a rally in Alabama the other night, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.’”

See what this does, is make the debate about disrespecting the flag, country, anthem, etc, instead of highlighting how the protest itself is invalid because it is based on untruths and lies. I mean we can go over again and again about how wrong the Black Lives Matter movement is, about how cops do not often kill anyone, let alone black people, whose violent crime rate would predict a higher rate of contact, specifically lethal contact, with cops. The information is out there and easily accessible, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, linked above, has been shouting about this for years now and is a great source to look to for information on all the lies told by Black Lives Matter.

Continue reading “It’s the Right’s Fault that the #TakeAKnee Protests are Spreading”

Hysterical Populace – Part II: Based Stickman is Not a Hero

Yeah, so…Based Stickman is the present darling hero of the alt-right. He’s this guy who gained internet fame at the so-called “Battle of Berkeley” where amidst a clash of protesters, Kyle Chapman, dressed in some sort of amalgamation of various gear one might find in a zombie killing video game, started bashing anti-Trump protesters with a stick:

From then on he became known across Reddit boards everywhere as Based Stickman, a hero of right wing edgelords. He has tens of thousands of twitter followers, and the alt-right has lionized him into a mythical superhero.

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To all of this I say, “what in the holy hell?” This guy is not a hero, he isn’t brave, he is a nut, acting like a five-year old bully at playtime. Now I get it, he’s in his early twenties, he still has that sense of rebelliousness, he still thinks The Dark Knight is a documentary…he….oh what wait…he’s 41 years old?

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So you mean to tell me that this is a 41-year old adult male dressing up in a costumes and wielding a stick as a weapon? Oh.

Pathetic and he is being heralded for his actions. Let me be very clear, no one and I MEAN NO ONE, among Antifa or the alt-right, who is going out and pushing dumpsters towards each other, is fighting for anything. It doesn’t matter who wins the dumpster fight, no values are actually being fought over, these are just immature, bored, vandals, who want to break stuff and pretend like they’re battling for the fate of this country without having to go to Iraq and risk having their faces blown off. Listen, I don’t have to tell you who the real heroes are (actual soldiers), we already know, I am not trying to virtue signal with that, it is simply the truth.

Continue reading “Hysterical Populace – Part II: Based Stickman is Not a Hero”

Hysterical Populace: Part I – A Reminder

In 2015 murder was out of control in the United States. You could walk into any Panera Bread and, boom!, shanked. Of course, of the killings, radical political movements accounted for a large chunk. White supremacists accounted for guess how many of the killings? About half. America as usual. Radical leftists, like the one who shot Rep. Scalise, accounted for another 15%.

Okay, if you believed that you’re nuts. But examining the rhetoric following the events in Charlottesville, you’d think America has a huge white supremacist homicide problem despite the KKK’s imposing .001% makeup in the U.S. population.

Killings and violence by extremists just don’t happen that often – at least in the U.S. It’s hysteria and selfishness that make the Scalise shooter and the White Supremacist killer seem like common occurrences, as it takes unique neglect of the truth to arrive at such a conclusion. We can sit here and normalize psychos and fringe movement and further our own claims of grievance for the groups we have an identity-driven stake in or we can look at the facts.

In 2015 there were 4.9 murders per 100,000 people in the U.S. In comparison, the murder rate in Baltimore in 2015 was 55.2, in Detroit it was 43.8, in D.C. it was 24.1, in Las Vegas it was 20.1, in Chicago it was 17. Thanks to a glorious murder rate of 9.7 in the country’s 30 largest cities (which doesn’t include New Orleans at 42.7 and Cleveland at 30.8), the U.S. murder rate (per 100,000 people) actually got up to 4.9.

You are very unlikely be to be killed in America, for any reason. You have a much better chance if you live in crime ridden parts of urban areas though.

What’s going on in this country right now is hysteria, engendered in order to score political points. People are sitting lustfully on their couches, salivating for any event to take place that they might use to further their own political agenda. A few weeks ago a psycho shot up a congressional baseball game. For awhile, a popular narrative was that leftists like to shoot people. The stats don’t support that. Nor do they support that white supremacists are running around killing people.

We won’t get anywhere as a country until, rather then constructing narratives to suit preordained conclusions in order to support groups we “belong” to, we attempt, as individuals, to seek out the most objective form of the truth as close as we can get to it. Instead, we have two groups of idiots running around, pushing dumpsters at each other. Neither side is actually fighting for any sort of ideals. It’s just a way to cosplay, waste time, and make angry noises.

Fake News and Fascists: The Paranoid Style in American Journalism

Donald Trump may suffer from a lack of humility, but he is not a fascist.

In his essay entitled, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (1965), Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter explored what he believed to be the inextricable connection between conspiracy, paranoia and conservatism in American political life during the Goldwater era. According to Hofstadter, the linchpin of the paranoid style of right wing politics was the “existence of a vast, insidious, preternaturally effective international conspiratorial network designed to perpetrate acts of the most fiendish character.” Hofstadter distilled the elements of contemporary right wing thought into three; First, the presence of un-American traitors who desired to “undermine free capitalism, to bring the economy under the direction of the federal government” thus paving the way for socialism or communism. Second, the view that the United States government was already “infiltrated by Communists, who sold out American interests”. Third, the revelation of an alliance between Communist agents who had infiltrated the “whole apparatus of education, religion, the press, and the mass media and our education system to “paralyze the resistance of loyal Americans.” Although historian-cum-pseudo psychiatrist Hofstadter asserted that he had “neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past and present as certifiable lunatics,” that is precisely what he did in his diagnosis that Rightism was not a system of rational political beliefs, but rather a pathological disorder. Hofstadter made a distinction between the clinical paranoiac in society and the paranoid spokesman in right wing politics; the former “sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him.” The clinical paranoiac in right wing politics finds it “directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone, but millions of others.” Despite this fundamental difference, an extemporaneous and symbiotic relationship is forged. Thus, the existence of enemies, either real or imagined, serves as the foundation that right wing politics is built on.

At the same time, Hofstadter offered evidence that paranoia was not the exclusive domain of politics and conservatives in his claim that a paranoid style was often a component of the left-wing press. The history of journalism as seen through the lens of paranoia and grandiose conspiracy is well documented. Fox News provided the fertile ground for President Trump’s birther beliefs from 2011 to 2016. Even so, on December 8th, 2015, Rachel Maddow and MSNBC took the paranoid style of journalism to heights hitherto unknown. Proceeding with a seemingly innocuous synopsis of various styles of auto racing from around the world, Maddow transitioned from auto racing to an old story about Max Mosley, the former boss of the Formula One organization, and son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the founder of the British Union of Fascists in 1932. In 2008, Max Mosley gained infamy when a video of his sexual escapades surfaced. Maddow conveys how the British tabloid News of The World broke the story of the five-hour long video tape with the headline: Formula One Boss Has Sick Nazi Orgy with Hookers. What Maddow fails to mention is that later that year, Mosley won £60,000 in a privacy action against News Of The World. In his judgement, Mr. Justice Eady “found no evidence of Nazi themes in the video,” and said that Mosley’s life had been “ruined” because of the tabloid. Nevertheless, Maddow used the Max Mosley sex scandal as an introduction to the true purpose of her feature, which was to draw parallels between Sir Oswald Mosley’s failed efforts to move Britain towards fascism, and the rise of Donald Trump, which she considered the beginning of a “flirtation with fascism” in the United States based on Trump’s desire to call for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. She concluded her character assassination of Donald Trump by raising the question as to whether fascism as a word was too “over the top” to use to describe politics in America, or “helpful because it was accurate.” She chose the latter, and closed the segment stating that the rise of Donald Trump can be viewed as “America’s Sir Oswald Mosley Moment.”

Continue reading “Fake News and Fascists: The Paranoid Style in American Journalism”

A Call for Constitutional Amendments

First and foremost, the United States Constitution, the greatest political accomplishment of the modern world, does not need to be replaced and is not outdated.  The previous link comes from a right of center institution; the left often draws the same conclusion: less freedom, less representation, more centralization and concentration of power in smaller hands.  We should feel lucky this document has lasted as long as it has and we should do as much as we can to preserve it. However, slight alterations at times that preserve freedom and limited government, rather than radical changes that diminish freedom and diminish legislative bodies, is what best reflects the outcome of the movements we have experienced over the last decade or so.  The founders gave us the amendment process to expand liberty and to protect the rights of the individual over the mob or the state, not do the opposite.

Over the past decade there have been a series of movements by the people of various ideological backgrounds and factions to take back government and return it to the people.  Notable movements such as the Tea Party Movement, the Contract for America (the outcome of the Republican take over of Congress in 1994), and Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again movement all aim to put government back in its rightful, subservient place. Despite these movements, and others, there never seems to be the sweeping reform America needs to truly reflect the change the people desire.  The only true way to secure the change the people currently demand is to etch in stone a series of amendments that secure the blessings of liberty and respect for the rule of law within the framework of limited government.  Therefore, this author argues that the following amendments should be proposed to our national constitution:

The Clarity Amendments and Liberty Amendments:

These will be a series of amendments that either through new language altogether or through slight modification of existing amendments will bring about more freedom (not less) for individuals and the family unit.  For example, some argue that the original meaning of the word “militia” in the second amendment does not mean the individual and only pertains to law enforcement or military members. Further, some would suggest there are weapons the public should not have altogether. To settle this, we should amend the second amendment to leave no doubt what we, citizens today, understand the militia to be, the individual; and arms shall be defined as any weapon available to the general public used for defensive purposes.

Beyond clarity, it is time to write new language into the constitution expanding our freedoms and right to defend ourselves. The people shall have the right to defend their property and livelihood against assailants aiming to threaten the peace and security of one’s domicile. Many states have passed what is known as Castle Doctrine.  Yet some protest this idea thinking it is a dangerous abdication of power from central authorities to individuals.  It is unacceptable to live in a world where people have to doubt whether or not they can defend themselves, their family or their property should violent criminals present themselves on one’s property.  A Castle Law amendment would go a long way in showing the world America is a place that defends life and respects the concept of private property.  Government has a responsibility to defend its citizens and that responsibility starts with unshackling the people to defend their homes and livelihood.

Continue reading “A Call for Constitutional Amendments”

The Right Wing Extremist Lie

Back at the end of January, CNN announced a job opening for a Senior Writer dedicated to uncovering Fake News. So when on Feb. 4th an article by Reza Aslan entitled, “Facts still matter on US terror threat,” appeared on CNN’s website, I wondered if this article would be one of the first to be exposed by the nascent Fake News department.

In the article, Aslan makes the claim that “Americans are almost seven times as likely to be killed by a white extremist than by an Islamic one” and he links this stat to a New York Times article entitled, “The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat.” First off, I’m not exactly sure how he got to this number. Here is what I think happened: The New York Times article Aslan links to references a few studies, two of which are important here. One is a 2013 study by Arie Perliger, published when he was with the Combating Terrorism Center, that tracks right wing violence in America. The other is a 2015 study by UNC’s Charles Kurzman that tracks Muslim-American violence. The former study claims American right wing extremism was responsible for 254 fatalities in the “decade after 9/11.” The latter study claims Muslims Americans have been responsible for 50 fatalities since 9/11, a stat which covers the time period from right after 9/11 to 2014. Then the average fatalities per year were calculated for each group: 254/10 years = 25.4 fatalities per year caused by right wing extremists and 50/13 years = 3.85 fatalities per year caused by Muslim Americans. 25.4/3.85 = 6.6. Thus, the stat offered by Aslan that “Americans are almost seven times as likely to be killed by a white extremist than by an Islamic one.”

This of course, is horrific statistics and completely dishonest. In statistics this is called “discarding unfavorable data,” and “data manipulation.” First, he uses selective time frames for each group. For right wing extremists, he chooses a study covering year 2002-2011 and for Muslims he chooses a study that covers post-9/11 to 2014. In both studies, the number of people killed is calculated starting after 9/11. Now it’s silly that we aren’t including 9/11. Can data not occur in clusters? This is not how stats work. If we include the victims of 9/11, deaths caused by right wing extremists are dwarfed when compared to deaths caused by jihadists.

Then, the New York Times article, and studies therein, that Aslan’s article links to is from 2015. More jihadist attacks have been perpetrated since the studies came out that the article references, such as the Orlando nightclub shooting and the San Bernardino attack.

The New America Foundation, a source behind some of Aslan’s information, actually now list the post-9/11 kill count at 94 perpetrated by jihadists to 50 by right wing extremists (the disparity in violence by right wing extremists between studies has to do with the liberal way in which Perliger’s study defines “right wing extremist”). So, Aslan’s information ignores at least 44 fatalities caused by Islamic jihadists. In all, Aslan gets his stat by starting his count after 9/11 and then eliminating any attacks that have happened after the beginning of 2015, despite his article coming out in February 2017.

By the way, what I think actually happened is this: after a quick Google search, whoever did Aslan’s research for him, or Aslan himself, found this article from Think Progress, also from 2015, which has the “7 times” statistic in its headline and references the same New York Times article Aslan references. Aslan then bypassed the Think Progress article and linked the “7 times” stat in his article directly to the New York Times article. Now you see how fake news is made.

Continue reading “The Right Wing Extremist Lie”

Let’s Discuss Walls

“The Great Wall of China, built 2,000 years ago, is 13,000 miles long, folks. … And they didn’t have … tractors, they didn’t have cranes, they didn’t have excavation equipment.” – Donald J. Trump

When the question arises, as it often does, “Was the Great Wall of China a success or failure?” one may answer one way or another, but undoubtedly any response to such an inquiry would have to contain something along the lines of “it’s complicated.” You’d have to compare Qin walls with Ming walls, you’d have to weigh the cost, in material dollars and human life, against the effectiveness of the Wall(s) in meeting its objectives, you’d have to consider variables such as strength of armies defending the wall at any given time, you’d have to take into account that when invaders evaded the wall they were still slowed on their path to potential conquest, and so on and so forth. It’s complicated, really complicated. Of course, it was all for naught when Ming general Wu Sangui just opened the gates for the invading Manchus, but alas, that’s not what this post is about.

See I have mixed feelings about the Trump wall, but, like many other things, regressive liberals have pushed the conversation to a point where I have to defend it. It’s not so much that there shouldn’t be a debate about the wall, it’s just that arguments against it have been simplified into: “wall, bad, no wall, good.”

Shouldn’t the conversation really surround the question “is the wall a good idea?” That’s the question I ask myself. It’s a legitimate question. Will the wall really stifle the cartels? Will the wall stop drugs from coming into the country? Will the wall have a national security application in the distant future (possible migrant crises?), Can the wall be built cost/time efficiently? If we believe the answers to those questions are “mostly yes,” then the wall is worth a try. After all, we’ve failed to secure our border for the three or four decades that border security has been a national issue.

And yet, if you support the wall today you are a hateful bigot according to leftists. This is despite the fact that ten years ago a wall was not seen as such a radical idea, despite that there is almost 700 miles of fence and wall along our southern border already, and despite the fact that Hillary Clinton once supported a border barrier and stated that she is “adamantly against illegal immigrants.”

Leftist rhetoric pertaining to the wall is derived from one thing: leftism… obviously, it has nothing to do with a rational debate about the wall. Few wall opponents stop to consider what they are arguing against. Though, many on the right don’t ask the critical questions about it that they should be asking either before shouting, “BUILD IT!”

Continue reading “Let’s Discuss Walls”

Why the Wall?

Let’s talk about the wall.

This article is written to accompany a fantastic article just written by my friend and colleague, Ben Sweetwood, which masterfully sifts through the hysteria over President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. Here at Griffwood Post, we constantly seek to challenge the prevailing narrative of the day. We live by an important motto: if everyone seems to be in agreement about something, be skeptical.

Everyone, and I mean everyone seems to have a problem with President Trump’s idea of building a wall along the border shared between the United States and Mexico. This includes those who are left, right, libertarian, and everyone else in between. Some of the consternation has produced perfectly valid criticisms of the idea that should not be overlooked. But I write to contend that the idea to build the wall actually has its merits.

Those on the right, and those who abhor government spending, criticize the wall for its cost and complexity. The wall will indeed be expensive—and the proposed methodology of taxing a portion of the U.S.-Mexican trade deficit does eventually pass the cost of the wall on to the consumer. However, in context, the tax does have implicit benefits to the American consumer beyond the wall. The trade deficit exists because the U.S. exports to Mexico about $60 billion dollars in goods less than it imports from Mexico. However, the entirety of the U.S.’s annual imports from Mexico total around $300 billion. Now, 20 percent of $300 billion is enough to pay for three walls at Trump’s price-point of around $20 billion per year. So the cost, in context, is not outlandish. This is not to mention the benefit of protecting and encouraging American industries that directly compete with Mexican products. And if there is any American president who can spur the behemoth of the federal government to actually build something on time and under budget, it’s going to be Donald J. Trump.

But $20 billion is still $20 billion. That’s a costly project.

Another valid criticism is the complexity of building the wall. The Cato Institute has done a great job of illustrating just how complicated the process will be. Building a wall along this 2,000 mile stretch of the American southwest means overcoming geographical challenges, replacing existing walls and fences, equipping the wall with proper surveillance equipment and, of course, maintaining it. This is not to mention the inevitably long amount of time it will take the federal government to argue the hundreds if not thousands of eminent domain cases that will be necessary to gather the lands needed for the construction of the wall (much of the land abutting the U.S.-Mexican border is privately owned.) The wall may not be feasibly possible in Trump’s term.

But just because something is complex doesn’t mean it’s impossible[1]. We got to the moon, we can build a big wall.

And, yes, I’ve heard the argument that many if not most illegal immigrants come into the country by airplane, on lawful visas, and extend their stay indefinitely. Obviously, a comprehensive immigration reform package would need to address that. But the cartels, the drug runners, and criminals fleeing Latin America are not buying group ticket packages on commercial airliners. They’re the ones taking advantage of the porous border, and they’re certainly the ones we want to stop first.

I give criticisms from the left credence as well, but they are becoming a bit too ‘one-sized fits all’ to have retained their bite. I also abhor identity-politics and think the hysteria around Donald Trump is contributing to a dangerous narrowing of political discourse.

Continue reading “Why the Wall?”