Global Poverty in Decline

Regular readers know that I frequently cite pollster Scott Rasmussen’s #Number of the Day series from Ballotpedia.  I do so because a.) his numbers often reveal some interesting truths about our world and b.) blogging is, at bottom, the art of making secondary or tertiary commentary on what other, smarter, harder-working people have thought, written, and done.

Yesterday’s #Number of the Day dealt with global poverty; specifically, Americans’ ignorance to the fact that global poverty has declined substantially over the last twenty years.  Indeed, global poverty has been reduced by half in that time.

I’ll confess I was ignorant of the extent of this decline, too, although it makes sense that poverty has decreased, especially when you consider the rise of post-Soviet market economies in Eastern Europe and China’s meteoric rise since the 1980s.

I suspect that the perennial culprit of the Mainstream Media is to blame, in part, for this ignorance, coupled as it is with progressive politicians.  The rise of “democratic socialist” candidates—as well as the lingering effects of the Great Recession—would have Americans believe that the global economy is in terrible shape, and that “underprivileged” parts of the world labor in ever-worsening poverty (so, let’s just move them all here—that’ll solve poverty!).

It’s refreshing to see that capitalism is working its economic magic, and people all over the globe are lifting themselves out of poverty.  If representative republicanism and strong civil societies can take root and flourish in more places, the ingredients will be in place for continued economic and cultural growth.

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Democrats Favor Socialism

Republicans and conservatives have long understood that many Democrats [not-so?] secretly harbor a love for socialism, and that socialistic policies are their end-goal.  As I wrote in “Democrats Show Their True Colors,” “democratic” socialism has been growing in popularity in the Democratic Party, and the party has tapped into its progressive roots and lurched violently to the Left.

Scott Rasmussen’s #Number of the Day today backs this trend up with hard numbers.  He writes that 57% of Democrats have a positive view of socialism, while only 47% have a positive view of capitalism.  That 47% figure is down from 56% just two years ago.

71% of Republicans, on the other hand, view capitalism positively, while 16% of RINOs view socialism favorably.  I don’t understand how any Republican can view socialism favorably; I suspect they view “socialism” as “limited government-run enterprises,” like the Tennessee Valley Authority or the Department of Motor Vehicles.  I can’t imagine many of them support true, complete government ownership of property and the means of production.

These trends toward socialism on the Left make Republican victory—as unlikely as it might be—in the 2018 midterm elections all-the-more crucial.

TBT: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016

Two years ago, during the Second Era of Portliness, I wrote one of my most popular posts ever:  my recommended must-reads for conservatives (and everyone, for that matter).  With school starting back—yesterday!—I decided it was a good time to look back to this classic—nay, timeless—list.  Pick these up as soon as possible, and enjoy some end-of-summer reading.  –TPP

I’m at the beach–at the very desk at which I re-launched this blog after a six-year hiatus–and I figure it’s the perfect occasion to unveil the “Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016.”

The books listed here are among some of my favorites.  I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!  These books have shaped my thinking about the many issues I’ve covered over the past two months.  I highly encourage you to check them out.

This picture accurately depicts high school students the night before classes start.
(Image Source:  Original doodle, 23 September 2012)

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my all-time favorites:

1.) Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (1948) – I just wrote about this book in my last post (which I encourage you to read), and I’m including it on this list because it’s pretty much required reading, especially if you’re putting yourself through Conservatism 101.  The edition linked here is right around 100 pages, and while it’s a dense read, it’s not so overwhelming that you can’t finish it, making it perfect for long days at the beach.

Weaver’s writing is prophetic, especially if you’ve studied conservative thought, or even if you’ve just experienced a vague, gnawing sense of dislocation in the modern world.  It’s packed–nearly on every page–with brilliant, quotable gems.  I re-read the introduction to the book every August right before school starts back, because it reminds me why I teach, and helps to align my thinking morally and spiritually.

If you read just one book this summer—or even this year—make it Ideas Have Consequences.

2.) Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope:  Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (2012) – Few books have shaped my thinking about American values—what they are, why they matter, and why they’re worth defending—more thoroughly than this effort from conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager.  Prager, a devout Jew with an Ivy League education and rich love of learning, outlines the so-called “American Trinity”—easily found on any coin—and argues that Americans are losing a three-sided battle against the Left and Islamism due to an inability to articulate why American values matter.

The “American Trinity”—liberty, trust in God, and e pluribus unum—is a brilliant and easy-to-digest device for understanding core American values.  In fact, I owe a huge debt to Prager; Still the Best Hope almost directly inspired two of my earliest come-back posts:  the much-read “American Values, American Nationalism,” and the follow-up “Created by Philosophy.”

Prager splits the book into three major sections:  outlines of the threats of radical Islamism and modern progressive Leftism, then an unpacking of the “American Trinity.”  By far, the largest chunk of the book is the second section, which is one of the most effective eviscerations of Leftist assumptions ever written.  It’s so long because it’s extremely thorough and well-documented.

At around 450 pages, it can be a longer read, but it’s written in a pleasing, engaging style.  Prager isn’t a blow-hard like so many talk-radio show hosts, and his inquisitive, inviting voice comes through on the page.  I also love Prager’s mind and the way he approaches topics; check out his other works here.

3.) Roger Kimball, The Long March:  How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (2001) – If you’ve got some time—and are prepared to be terrified by the excesses of 1960s radicalism and its heroes—you must read this excellent, damning collection of essays.  In fact, everything Kimball writes is required reading (I also recommend The Fortunes of Permanence:  Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia and The Survival of Culture:  Permanent Values in a Virtual Age, both from 2012; the latter is edited by Kimball and includes the works of other writers).

“[E]verything Kimball writes is required reading.”

Long March strips away the romantic facade of 1960s folk heroes and “radical chic” academics, exposing their fraudulent, dangerous theories and their continued influence on American society and institutions.  Kimball isn’t aiming for the easy targets or to satisfy the Sean Hannity crowd; he brings thorough research and intellectual heft to the proceedings.  As an art historian and critic, he offers a perspective that’s often lacking from conservative scholarship, serious or otherwise.

My only real beef with the book is that he takes a very dim view of rock ‘n’ roll.  That being said, his argument against it makes sense, and I can’t help but experience a twinge of introspection now whenever I listen to my beloved classic rock.

Regardless, Kimball is a strong, eloquent writer, and I can almost feel myself getting smarter when I read his works.  I’m currently reading The Rape of the Masters:  How Political Correctness Sabotages Art from 2005, and it’s a linguistic delight.

“If you read just one book this summer–or even this year–make it Ideas Have Consequences.”

Honorable Mention:  Greg Gutfeld, Not Cool:  The Hipster Elite and Their War on You (2015) – if you want a summer read that’s quick, digestible, and absolutely hilarious, pick up Not Cool.  Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox News’s The Five and former host of the excellent late-late-late-night round-table discussion show Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, offers an unusual thesis:  everything awful that’s ever been done—such as adopting wasteful, inefficient, and redistributive government programs—for the past fifty years or so has been because people are afraid to look uncool.

It’s oddly compelling.  When you think about it, no one wants to be left out, and the Left constantly bludgeons society with the idea that if you don’t uncritically accept that the government should solve all of our problems through coercion (“compassion”), then you’re a mean, stingy racist.  If the parade of A-list celebrities at the Democratic National Convention last week (and the smaller cavalcade of B-list celebrities at the Republican National Convention the week before) is any indication, then it’s clear that it’s “cool” to be a progressive, but lethally uncool to be a conservative.  After all, what’s “cool” about saying no to “free” stuff?

Not Cool is a quick read, and Gutfeld’s humor and insight crackle on every page.  Sometimes you won’t know whether you should laugh or cry.

***

So, there’s your summer reading for 2016.  We’ve still got about a month of summertime fun left (although I’ll be heading back to the classroom in just a couple of weeks), so grab some of these books before you head out of town.  You’ll be glad you did.

Back to School with Richard Weaver

Every year, I try to sit down and re-read at least the introduction to Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, probably the most powerful book I’ve ever read.  I tend to undertake this re-reading around the time school resumes, as it helps remind me why I teach.

In addition to Ideas Have Consequences, Weaver wrote some of the most eloquent essays on the South—and what it means to be Southern—in the twentieth century.  In 2014, I posted the following quotation on Facebook; I will allow it to speak for itself.

I’m undertaking my annual baptism in the works of Richard Weaver to focus my philosophical thinking for a rapidly approaching school year, and, as always, I’m presented with an embarrassment of riches. Few thinkers cram so many nuggets of truth into so little space. Every paragraph of Weaver’s writings yields insights that speak to the very heart of humanity.

Here’s an excerpt from “The South and the American Union,” an essay from _The Southern Essays of Richard Weaver_, published posthumously in 1987. It might clarify a few things for some of my Yankee friends who have expressed a certain bafflement with Southern mores and attitudes…:

“The Southern world-outlook was much like that which [Oswald] Spengler describes as the Apollonian. It knew nothing of infinite progressions but rather loved fixed limits in all things; it rejected the idea of ceaseless becoming in favor of ‘simple accepted statuesque becomeness.’ It saw little point in restless striving, but desired a permanent settlement, a coming to terms with nature, a recognition of what is in its self-sustaining form. The Apollonian feeling, as Spengler remarks, is of a world of ‘coexistent individual things,’ and it is tolerant as a matter of course. Other things are because they have to be; one marks their nature and their limits and learns to get along with them. The desire to dominate and proselytize is foreign to it. As Spengler further adds, ‘there are no Classical world-improvers.’ From this comes the Southern kind of tolerance, which has always impressed me as fundamentally different from the Northern kind. It is expressed in the Southerner’s easy-going ways and his willingness to things grow where they sprout. He accepts the irremediability of a certain amount of evil and tries to fence it around instead of trying to stamp it out and thereby spreading it. His is a classical acknowledgment of tragedy and of the limits of power.

“This mentality is by nature incompatible with its great rival, the Faustian. Faustian man is essentially a restless striver, a yearner after the infinite, a hater of stasis, a man who is unhappy unless he feels that he is making the world over. He may talk much of tolerance, but for him tolerance is an exponent of power. His tolerance tolerates only the dogmatic idea of tolerance, as anyone can discover for himself by getting to know the modern humanitarian liberal. For different opinions and ways of life he has no respect, but hostility or contemptuous indifference, until the day when they can be brought around to conform to his own. Spengler describes such men as torn with the pain of ‘seeing men be other than they would have them be and the utterly un-Classical desire to devote their life to their reformation.’ It happened that Southern tolerance, standing up for the right to coexistence of its way of life, collided at many points with the Faustian desire to remove all impediments to its activity and make over things in its own image. Under the banner first of reform and then of progress, the North challenged the right to continue of a civilization based on the Classical ideal of fixity and stability….”

There are so many great passages I could cite (“Man [to the Southerner] is a mixture of good and evil, and he can never be perfected in this life. The notion of his natural goodness is a delusive theory which will blow up any social order that is predicated upon it. Far from being a vessel of divinity, as the New England Transcendentalists taught, he is a container of cussedness.”), for almost all of Weaver is quotable.

Historical Moment – The Formation of the Republican Party

I’ve missed two days—this past Friday and yesterday—due to back-to-school insanity, coupled with returning to my flood-prone abode (and celebrating my niece’s third birthday).  School starts back Wednesday, and some online courses I teach at a local technical college launched yesterday, so I may be adopting a new posting schedule soon—probably one or two pieces a week, or some shorter posts.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here is a transcript of remarks I gave to the Florence County Republican Party last night.  Our guest speaker for our monthly program was South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick, a man with a genius for grassroots organizing.  As such, I decided to talk about the formation of the Republican Party back in 1854.  Enjoy!  –TPP

There is some disagreement about exactly when and where the Republican Party first originated.  The national GOP website says the Party came into being in Jackson, Michigan, on 6 July 1854.  The anti-slavery convention, also called the “Under the Oaks” convention because the conventioneers met in an oak grove, nominated statewide candidates, and their Convention Platform read, “we will cooperate and be known as REPUBLICANS.”

The South Carolina GOP website, on the other hand, points to a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin, earlier in 1854, where a group of abolitionists met to fight the expansion of slavery, although it also mentions the Jackson, Michigan convention was when the Party was “formally organized.”  Two years later, Philadelphia hosted the first Republican National Convention, which nominated John C. Fremont as the first Republican candidate for President.

Regardless of where the GOP formally began, the climate for its formation was eerily similar to our own political situation.  The “peculiar institution” of slavery bitterly divided the country.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the brainchild of Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, proposed applying “popular sovereignty” to western territories; essentially, territories would decide whether to allow slavery, or remain “free soil.”

That Act embroiled Kansas in a bloody guerrilla war between pro-slavery “Fire-Eaters” and radical abolitionists, the latter of whom sent “Beecher’s Bibles”—rifles—to free soilers attempting to keep the territory free.  In 1856, John Brown, the deranged abolitionist, and his sons massacred pro-slavery advocates with swords in the Pottawatomie Massacre, a retaliation for an earlier attack on the abolitionists.

The old Whig Party, originally organized in protest over the policies Democratic President Andrew Jackson, collapsed over the issue of slavery and “popular sovereignty.”  The conditions were ripe for a new party to emerge, one dedicated to “Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men” (not quite as catchy as “Make America Great Again,” but it explained the Republican Party’s platform succinctly).

Over the course of the 1850s, the young Republican Party spread rapidly throughout Northern States, bringing together abolitionists, anti-slavery Democrats, and other constituencies disillusioned with the Democratic Party’s policies on slavery and the economy.  The Republican Party from its inception opposed the expansion, if not always the outright abolition, of slavery, and hoped to keep it out of any new territories.  Southern Democrats so feared a Republican victory, they threatened to secede from the Union should a Republican President be elected.

Of course, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican elected in a four-way race in 1860—the Democratic Party split into Northern and Southern wings, while the Constitutional Union Party gained votes in the Upper South and Appalachia—and South Carolina seceded in December 1860.

Our first President was a good one, though, and the Republican Party has endured ever since, continuing to fight for the unborn, the working man and woman, and the values that make our country great.

TBT: Kid Rock – The People’s Senator

Michigan held its primaries Tuesday, and Trump-backed candidate John James won the Republican Party’s nomination for US Senate.  In that spirit—and in the spirit of how often pundits like myself—and especially myself—get it wrong, today’s TBT TPP looks back to my piece from July 2017 about rap-rocker Kid Rock‘s short-lived—and insincere—candidacy for Senate.

When Rock announced, I believed he was completely serious—and the prospect excited me.  Like a number of other conservative commentators, I got caught up in the hype, not to mention the sheer spectacle, of a potential Kid Rock Senate run.  I went so far to order a “Kid Rock for US Senate” bumper sticker that still graces my van’s liftgate (that set me back about $12 after the outrageous shipping costs).

There’s a cautionary tale here, and it’s an important counterpoint to yesterday’s post’s plea for conservatives to support some of our less orthodox warriors, like Milo Yiannopoulos.  There is a tendency on the more populist-leaning Right to fall for the charms of the “conservative celebrity” du jour—Ben Carson back in 2014-15, Sarah Palin in 2008, Chris Christie during his first gubernatorial run, Milo, etc.  Indeed, we elected Donald Trump—more of an anti-Leftist than a Buckleyite conservative—President of the United States (woo-hoo!).

The point is, we shouldn’t always begin thrusting political ambitions upon everyone roughly to the right of the Clintons who enjoy pop culture success and some name recognition.  We are, understandably, starved for celebrities on the Right—that’s why Kanye West’s endorsement of Trump and their shared “dragon energy” excited so many of us—but for most local, State, and even federal elections, voters tend to want someone who will actually represent their interests, not just a cool, hilarious figure.

Of course, I still think Kid Rock should have run, and I feel a bit betrayed (and more than a little foolish) that he was having a laugh at us the whole time.  He certainly made his potential candidacy sound quite serious, and I still believe that, had he run, he would have had an excellent chance of unseating the Democratic incumbent, Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Political wags and armchair pundits–like yours truly–have been abuzz about the possibility of a Kid Rock Senate run in 2018.  He’d be running against Democratic incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow–if he can win the Republican primaries–in a Trump-style insurgency campaign.

Immediate speculation focused on Kid Rock’s website, www.kidrockforsenate.com, and whether or not the Detroit rocker was serious, or just boosting publicity for his music.  Kid Rock (real name Robert Ritchie) is offering campaign apparel on the website, including bumper stickers.

I purchased a bumper sticker ($5… plus $6.99 shipping) and it billed to Warner Brothers, not a “Kid Rock for Senate” campaign committee.  Nevertheless, Kid Rock appears to be serious:  he’s made an announcement at www.kidrock.com (link).

The announcement is straight out of Trump’s playbook:  he goes after “fake news,” promises to be “a voice for tax paying, hardworking AMERICANS,” and invokes “We the People.”

Kid Rock is a populist at heart, and we’re living in a populist moment.

There’s not much to add to what’s already been said, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that Kid Rock should definitely run–and I think he can win.  As Michigan native Jordan Gehrke writes at The Federalist:

“The Michigan Senate race will be the most-watched campaign in America in 2018 if he runs. It’s got everything: celebrity, a battleground Trump won in 2016 and must win again to get re-elected, a conventional, disciplined, well-funded Democrat, a re-run of 2016, and a trailer for 2020, all rolled into one.”  (Link)

Naturally, the Establishment is poo-pooing Kid Rock’s potential run as the “dumbing down” of America.  Sure, he’s crude, he’s crass, he’s kind of trashy–but he really seems to care about the people of Michigan.  And they love him.  While it’s unlikely that any Republican will ever win Detroit in its current state, none has the opportunity to suck up votes in the city better than hometown hero Kid Rock.  With the support from rural Michigan–bona fide Trump Country–Kid Rock could best a powerful, well-funded Democratic incumbent.  A new poll from the Trafalgar Group has Kid Rock winning the Republican primary against potential opponents handily, and within the margin of error against Stabenow

Kid Rock is a populist at heart, and we’re living in a populist moment.  His care for the common man shows in his music career; for years, he’s been giving big concerts (with some big-name opening acts, like Foreigner) for just $20 a ticket.  In the face of ever-rising concert ticket prices, that concern for his fans’ wallets spoke volumes.  That’s the same kind of connection with the “little guy” that could propel him into office on a platform of government transparency and reform.

Regardless, one thing is for sure–if Kid Rock runs, 2018 will be the most exciting midterm election season in years.

Progressivism and Political Violence II: Candace Owens Attack and the Deficiency of Decorum

A small part of me really believed that the insanity of post-election 2016 and pre-and-post-Inaugural 2017, while still simmering at a low boil, had largely shifted back to the fringes, with the real threats to liberty returning to online flame wars and techno-corporate elites deplatforming anyone to the right of Joseph Stalin.  Sure, Antifa—the ironically-named organization of hooded, masked Millennial fascists—is still around, and entitled behemoths still kneel during the National Anthem, but the street-level thuggery seemed to have quieted down.

As with many things in life, I was, unfortunately, wrong.  Candace Owens—the intelligent black conservative who inspired Kanye West’s Twitter lovefest for President Trump earlier this summer—was attacked in Philadelphia by a group of noodle-wristed soy boys and their pansexual, transgender lesbian besties while trying to enjoy a breakfast with Charlie Kirk. the founder of Turning Point USA.

I should have listened to my own analysis—and remembered very recent incidences, like White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s expulsion from a restaurant because her mere presence made gay employees uncomfortable (I know they’re drama queens, but, c’mon—can we stop indulging gay men like they’re fragile children?)—rather than engage in unfounded optimism.

The attack on Owens—who was forced to leave the restaurant because of the disturbance, and who endured cries of “F*ck White Supremacy” (remember, she’s black)—is merely the latest in a long stream of Leftists attacks on the Right.  Some, like yesterday’s deplatforming of Alex Jones and InfoWars—are non-violent, but hurt economically and socially by reducing or eliminating traffic to websites.

What the Left cannot achieve through social or economic coercion—through its dominance of institutions like academia, media, the arts, corporations, etc.—it will gladly do through physical violence (thus the “by any means necessary” mantra so beloved of Communist revolutionaries).  I suspect that a number of seemingly respectable cultural and academic figures on the Left, while publicly tut-tutting their street fighters, secretly thrill at the violent upheaval their radicals-in-arms create.

Indeed, this is no mere speculation.  Remember the television executive who scoffed, after the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting, that most of the victims were probably Republican Trump supporters, anyway?

Aging counterculture revolutionaries—now firmly entrenched in their tenured ivory towers and emeritus seats, forever addicted to the false god of youth—live dreamily, vicariously through the antics of young street “toughs” who emulate the very professoriate that idealizes their destruction.

Now more than ever, the Right must come together.  Remember the meteoric rise and swift fall of Milo Yiannopoulos?  For years, conservatives dreamed of a funny, popular figure who would help break us out of National Review and Weekly Standard stuffiness and show that we don’t hate gay people or minorities (we just hate annoying people in general).  When he finally came, Conservatism Inc. rejected him out-of-hand because he made mean jokes on stage (the same objection, I’m sure you’ve realized, they’ve made about Trump).  Milo can be a little much sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him state a fact that was incorrect.  Hyperbolic in delivery, yes; factually inaccurate, no.

My point is this:  we’ve got to give the decorum thing a rest.  I’m not saying we should go out and diss every non-conservative we ever meet, or to engage in street fights with Antifa (except in self-defense)—we should try to be cordial and peaceful whenever possible—but if the other side is going to punch you while you’re trying to have a rational discussion, then, well, your fists have gotsta do the talking for you.

Again, I am not condoning or attempting to incite anyone to violence.  I’m just saying that we need to back off figures like Trump, Milo, Candace Owens, Gavin McInness, etc., who are making the tough, real sacrifices in this culture war, and who are exposing themselves to real physical danger.  So what if they get a little rhetorically saucy or say something mean but funny?  Decorum has its place, but it seems to be a luxury we can ill-afford at present.

Razorfist on InfoWars Deplatforming

As I posted this morning, Alex Jones and InfoWars were unceremoniously deplatformed in a coordinated, cross-corporate attack that saw almost every major Silicon Valley player ban the right-wing conspiracy theorist from their respective services.  Already, YouTubers of all stripes are coming out to defend Jones—if not the substance of his content, then his right to be heard.

YouTuber Razorfist released a video last night (below; warning:  foul language) in which he argued that this attack makes Jones a martyr; all too true.  Here is the video (again, video contains foul language and may not be safe/appropriate for work):

Razor also points out that you can continue to follow InfoWars at Bitchute, and predicts that the site is going to grow rapidly with its new user on board:  https://www.bitchute.com/channel/infowars/

Follow your conscious.  You don’t have to support Alex Jones’s content just because he was deplatformed, but all conservatives should be defending his ability to put his message out there.  After all, if it’s just nutty kookery, then submitting it to the light of day will expose its cracks.

Banned! Techno-Elites Deplatform Alex Jones

The explosive news Monday was that tech giants Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple banned Alex Jones and Infowars from their respective platforms.  While Jones is a controversial figure who peddles in rumor, conspiracy, and innuendo, the concerted action from separately-owned and -managed Silicon Valley entities is unsettling.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote a piece for National Review arguing that Silicon Valley giants should be regulated—or even busted up—to prevent monopolistic and anti-competitive practices, drawing parallels to the muckraking reformers of the early twentieth century who brought down Standard Oil.   I’m wary of such solutions-by-government, but Hanson was anticipating a problem that has become all-too familiar:  the massive social and cultural clout the unmoored tech giants wield.

Steven Crowder of online late-night show Louder with Crowder often pokes fun at—and complains loudly about—the various murky “terms and services” and “community guidelines” rules that are ever-shifting in continuously updated apps and platforms.  A slight change in a Facebook algorithm—or a Twitter employee having a bad day—can lead to massive reductions in traffic for a YouTuber or blogger.  Reduced—or eliminated—traffic means less revenue.  YouTubers like Crowder who helped build the platform now find their videos demonetized for the most mysterious of reasons.

Candace Owens was kicked from Twitter because she rewrote recent New York Times hire and anti-white racist Sarah Jeong’s tweets by replacing disparaging uses of “white” with “black” or “Jew.”  Razorfirst posted a video some months ago of him literally just talking about nonsense for five minutes… and it was immediately demonetized.

Now Alex Jones is banned across multiple platforms from multiple platforms—which is absolutely chilling.  Jones is certainly not without controversy, and I wouldn’t take his ramblings to heart without a heaping helping of salt, but just because he’s a kinda nutty conspiracy kook who enjoys ripping his shirt off doesn’t make his situation any less terrible.  If we write off Jones because he was “asking for it” by being kooky, then we’re missing the whole point of free speech.

And, yes, the usual objections are inevitable:  “but, TPP, the First Amendment speech protections only apply to the government!  Companies can set whatever guidelines they want!  You can use some other platform!  He still has his website.”  Yes, yes, yes, and yes—all true.  Nevertheless, the arbitrary power we’ve voluntarily—if unwittingly—yielded to these tech elites is staggering.  And this preponderance of power may be where Hanson has a point.

Is not the function of the government to protect the rights of its citizens from threats and violations, both foreign and domestic?  In this case, arbitrary bans—particularly these coordinated attacks on controversial figures—seem to be a powerful means of preventing an individual and/or entity from delivering his message in the public square.  Like the street corner doomsayer, Alex Jones has a right to be heard, even if he’s sometimes insane (for me, the jury is out on Jones; I enjoy the entertainment value of his commentary, and I think he’s probably right about 80% of the time, but then he veers off into crisis actors, etc.—the danger of a man who is charismatic and convincing).

Today, it’s a relatively buffoonish character like Jones.  Tomorrow—who knows?  Do we really want to find out?  “Hate speech” is a code word for silencing conservatives.  It’s better to publish one racist screed from a lonely nut (not referencing Jones here, to be clear) than to muzzle millions because their innocuous, mainstream conservative viewpoint might been interpreted as a “dog-whistle.”

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it’s often better to give madmen the rope with which to hang themselves.  When we try to silence them, they only gain in credibility (indeed, when I read the news, I immediately went… to Infowars!).