• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

“We Can Dicker About The Time It Takes To Form A Person’s Character…”

by Roger Kimball

February 2, 2023


The Jesuits used to say that if you gave them a child until he was 7, they would give you the man.

We can dicker about the time it takes to form a person’s character, but there’s no doubt that those early experiences shape us for life. Which is one reason why we think primary education is so important.

Sure, it’s partly then that the kiddies learn to read, write, and calculate.

But just as important are the moral lessons they learn: the emotional weather they cultivate; the sorts of feelings they nurture and those they recoil from.

This process continues throughout our educational career.

Most people instinctively recognize this, which is why education is always such a hot topic with voters.

What sorts of people are our schools and colleges helping to form? What values are students being taught?

Such questions help explain the passion that has erupted at school board meetings when angry parents confront school board members about the sorts of things that were being taught in schools: the gussied-up versions of Marxist ideology that goes under the name of critical race theory (CRT) as well as the quasi- and sometimes not-so-quasi pornographic exotica disseminated under the rubric of “gender” studies.

The COVID lockdowns first exposed the grim reality to parents.

Their children were forced to stay home from school and attend class remotely.

What parents saw in their children’s Zoom sessions was shocking.

The angry response had political consequences. Glenn Youngkin was swept into the governorship of Virginia in large part because his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, insisted that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach.

That handed Youngkin a campaign plank and, as it turned out, victory.

Former President Donald Trump has just made a bold statement about education that revolves around the issue of parent involvement.

With his characteristic bluntness, Trump noted that “our public schools have been taken over by the radical left maniacs.”

“Maniacs” isn’t an emollient word, but it isn’t, I submit, far from the truth.

What does Trump say we should do about it?

In general, defund the crackpots, and fund and favor a traditional approach to education.

Trump offered a four-part strategy:

“Abolish teacher tenure for grades K through 12.”

“Drastically cut the bloated number of school administrators, including the costly, divisive, and unnecessary diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracy.”

“Adopt a Parental Bill of Rights that includes complete curriculum transparency, and a form of universal school choice.”

And here’s the really bold proposal:

“Implement the direct election of school principals by the parents.”

Randi Weingarten, head of the teachers’ union, couldn’t be reached for comment. Someone was looking for the smelling salts to bring her around.

I suspect she’s going to need to buck up. The winds of change are blowing fast and furious against the “diversity, equity, inclusion” industry, of which CRT is an offshoot.

And as I say, the pushback isn’t just against the subversion and corruption of primary education.

It’s also happening, if sporadically, in higher education.

One of the most noticed recent efforts is in Florida.

As part of a larger project to restore the intellectual and moral integrity of education, Gov. Ron DeSantis has undertaken a number of initiatives to purge the toxin of CRT and kindred pathologies from the schools.

He has also, to much notice, taken aim at higher education.

In January, he announced that he was replacing most of the board of New College, a failing institution that was nevertheless a poster child for “progressive” sentiment.

“In the queer space of New College,” wrote one enthusiast, “changing your pronouns, name or presentation is a nonevent.”


The phrase “hostile takeover” was obviously disseminated from the central committee, since both The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times published hand-wringing pieces deploring the development.

The NY Times piece, especially, was inadvertently comic in its blatant political animus.

Reporting on DeSantis’s new board appointments, the NY Times noted that among them are “Chris Rufo, who orchestrated the right’s attack on critical race theory, and Matthew Spalding, a professor and dean at Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan with close ties to Donald Trump.”

Harken to the diction: “the right’s attack on critical race theory,” as if that attack didn’t enjoy widespread support among the middle class, and a school that isn’t only “conservative”—can you imagine?—and “Christian”—heaven forfend!—but also has “close ties to Voldemort”—I mean Donald Trump.

The effort at delegitimation is absurd and would be merely risible if it weren’t also in earnest.

The NY Times quotes Rufo as saying that “we want to provide an alternative for conservative families in the state of Florida to say there is a public university that reflects your values.”

Question: What’s wrong with that?

It’s early days yet, but so far Rufo and his colleagues seem to be making great strides.

In a much-publicized episode, Rufo and other trustees called for an open meeting with students, faculty, and administrators.

The college tried to prevent the meeting, on the grounds of safety: Someone had sent a minatory email threatening some of the participants.

This has become a favored technique at left-wing campuses to exclude conservative views. Make up or capitalize on a vague threat and then overreact in the name of safety.

Rufo was having none of it.

“We cannot allow those who threaten violence to shut down the democratic governance of our public institutions,” he wrote on Twitter. “We need to have the courage to stand up for open discourse. I appreciate all of the faculty, students, and staff who attended these conversations. Lots of common ground.”

brief video of his exchange with the provost has been posted and is well worth watching.

This is how you fight back against the progressive totalitarians.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

“The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon….”

FEBRUARY 3, 2023 BY SCOTT JOHNSON at Power Line:


The AP reports on the Chinese spy balloon spotted over Montana. The AP story reads like satire. This is the Age of Biden:

The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted over U.S. airspace for a couple days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down over concerns of hurting people on the ground, officials said Thursday. The discovery of the balloon puts a further strain on U.S.-China relations at a time of heightened tensions.

A senior defense official told Pentagon reporters that the U.S. has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon and it was flying over sensitive sites to collect information. One of the places the balloon was spotted was Montana, which is home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, provided a brief statement on the issue, saying the government continues to track the balloon. He said it is “currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”

He said similar balloon activity has been seen in the past several years. He added that the U.S. took steps to ensure it did not collect sensitive information.

A senior administration official, who was also not authorized to publicly discuss sensitive information, said President Joe Biden was briefed and asked the military to present options. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advised against taking “kinetic action” because of risks to the safety of people on the ground. Biden accepted that recommendation.

The defense official said the U.S. has “engaged” Chinese officials through multiple channels and communicated the seriousness of the matter.

You have got to be kidding me. The Biden somnolence must not be disturbed. We can’t risk balloon debris falling over densely populated Montana. And hop to it! Throw some blankets over Malmstrom Air Force Base.

General Turgidson, call your office.

UPDATE: China’s foreign ministry has released a statement acknowledging: “The airship is from China.” However: “It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

MORE: In a that’ll show ’em gesture, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his planned weekend visit to Beijing.


February 2, 2023

Our Blue Problem

By J.R. Dunn at American Thinker:

Once again, the Left has taken bad policing as an excuse for riots. Tyre Nichols was clearly terrified that what happened to George Floyd was going to happen to him, and it did, leaving us in the perverse position of having to say, “Thank God they were all Black.”

The Usual Suspects have erupted regardless, triggering disturbances and riots across the country. The standard declamations involving racism and “White supremacy,” utterly senseless or not, have been trotted out as always.  The American Left has sensed yet another opportunity to destabilize and destroy, and have leapt on it.

Of course, racism has nothing to do with it. Instead, the cops, like so many other institutions in recent years, have encountered a technological revolution that they don’t understand and for which they are ill-prepared.

That technology consists of cheap digital video cameras and a network – the Internet – to distribute the resulting footage nationwide and beyond.

Videos of rogue cops abusing their authority and committing crimes against the public have become staple viewing on YouTube, and to a lesser extent other services. Numerous YouTube channels now exist devoted to documenting police misconduct in video format. These range from left-leaning rabble-rouser channels such as TYT Sports to serious efforts by practicing legal professionals such as The Civil Rights Lawyer and Lehto’s Law.

What’s appalling is how many of these channels exist, and how there is no lack of video footage to keep them going. Except in the case of nationally breaking stories, there is little overlap, with many of the channels focusing on incidents limited to their particular regions. (The Civil Rights Lawyer largely deals with stories coming out of West Virginia, with enough arising to enable him to post several times a week.)

Viewing this footage makes several things clear:

  • We have a rogue cop problem in this country, and a serious one.
  • There is no racial bias evident. Rogue cops are an equal-opportunity menace.
  • The elites, media, and the Uniparty would prefer to ignore this.

If there is any one group suffering more than all others, it is the weak and vulnerable, particularly the mentally and physically disabled. (One study has revealed that one in four victims of police shootings are mentally ill.) The number of cases of rogue cops targeting the disabled is no less than mindboggling. It appears that certain officers view the disabled as “easy kills,” what criminologists call the “less dead,” victims from outcast groups – prostitutes, junkies, the homeless — open to abuse without fear of retribution. Recent cases of disabled targeted by bad cops include:

  • Karen Garner, an elderly woman suffering a mild case of dementia, neglected to pay for her items while shopping at a Colorado Wal-Mart and was stopped at the exit. She offered to pay but the staff of the CCP’s favorite retail chain threw her out and called the cops. The police found her a short distance away, picking wildflowers in a field. She became confused as they stood shouting at her and turned to flee, at which point the officer in charge seized her, slammed her against the patrol wagon, and threw her to the ground, breaking her shoulder. They then took her to the station house and dumped her in a holding cell, where she was left without medical attention for six hours. To top things off, the cops then accessed the bodycam footage and called in everybody for a good laugh. (This case is actually nearly three years old, but the Loveland, Colorado police managed to keep it under wraps until last year.)
  • Christian Glass drove to the Colorado high desert for an afternoon of amateur anthropology and suffered a schizophrenic episode, convinced that he was being stalked by “skinwalkers,” demons from Navaho folklore. He called 911 for help, explaining to the dispatcher that he had two knives that he intended to toss out of the car when police arrived. But when he moved to do so, they began shouting threats that they’d shoot him if he made a move. For an hour they shouted abuse at Glass as he sunk deeper into a psychotic haze. (At one point a female officer approached his car to attempt quiet persuasion, but she was thrust aside while other cops continued their torrent of abuse.) An officer approached the car and noted that Glass, though sitting quietly, was holding a knife. The cops then carefully spread out (“Watch out for crossfire.”) and opened fire, one heroically leaping Rambo-like atop the hood to pour rounds through the windshield. Glass died instantly.
  •  James Hodges was walking home from jury duty in Columbia County, Florida when a sheriff’s deputy stopped him and demanded to know why he was carrying a firearm in his back pocket. Hodges displayed the item, which was in fact a collapsible cane. It developed that Hodges is legally blind, and while he can get around in daylight, he requires the cane at night. The deputy chose to escalate, demanding ID, which was in no way required under the circumstances, and was met with a few salty replies from Hodges. At that point her supervisor drove up, took in the situation, and then ordered her to arrest Hodges “for resisting arrest.”
  • Jeff Parker was in his Huntsville, Alabama home holding what was apparently a firearm to his head and threatening suicide. Two officers answered the call and began deescalating the situation while speaking quietly to Parker. At that point Officer William Ben Darby burst into the scene flourishing a shotgun and shrieking at Parker to put the gun down. He had scarcely completed the sentence before opening fire, killing Parker instantly. The “firearm” turned out to be a flare gun.  

Note that none of these people were actual criminals and under ordinary circumstances would never have brushed up against the law. Also note that they were all White.

There’s no point in claiming that “these are exceptions.” They are no such thing. Astonishingly, there is yet another incident of a gently demented old woman being brutalized by an out-of-control cop almost identical to the Garner case. Add to this list the homeless Colorado vet beaten by the cops, the Dallas cop who assaulted  a man just released from a hospital,  the Atlanta cop who murdered a mentally ill man, the mentally ill Maryland man shot by numerous officers for lifting a cane (a piquant detail here lies in the fact that the one officer who actually identified it as a cane opened up on him anyway).  The mentally ill Killeen, Texas man shot for waving his arms and shouting “Hallelujah!” The 81-year-old Brooklyn woman assaulted and beaten by cops for the crime of asking for a police report. The apparently never-ending parade of stroke stories: the Tampa man who suffered a stroke dumped in a jail cell and left there for hours (He later died); the Virginia stroke victim pepper sprayed, tased, and then jerked from his car and slammed to the pavement for “failure to comply” (he somehow survived).   None can deny the bitter truth of the new adage: “There is no situation that a cop can’t make ten times worse.”

Another appalling element here is the savoir faire of the cops involved. They all know they’re being recorded and that somebody – perhaps many somebodies – will see the footage. But they don’t care. They’ll occasionally shut off bodycams in the midst of an assault, but not as often as you’d think. The impression created here is that they got away with it so often before the video revolution that such behavior has become canalized.

What’s the official response to these incidents? Generally, a statement that the department can’t comment while an investigation is in progress, followed months – even years – later by a brief statement that “The officers acted within policy guidelines.” Police unions are even more egregious, defending police conduct no matter what the circumstances. Even when officers are punished, they are generally allowed to keep their pensions and to resign without being fired, which leaves their records pristine.

In addition to official footage or footage from CCTV cameras, we have the new phenomenon of “auditors,” individuals who apply subtle pressure to police under everyday circumstances and then film the responses. This pressure typically takes the form of the auditor standing across the street from a police station with a camera. An officer (or officers) inevitably emerges, often proceeding to violate the auditor’s rights under the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments. A demand to know, “What do you think you’re doing?” is answered with “I am a citizen journalist exercising my constitutional rights.” All too often, this deteriorates into threats, assaults, and even arrests. While it’s heartening to see many officers inquiring as to the auditor’s purpose, assuring him that he has a perfect right to do what he’s doing, and then withdrawing, it doesn’t happen often enough.

Yes, some auditors are punks looking for a confrontation. But the majority are serious individuals using new technology to fulfill a need that for decades has gone neglected by legacy media. In fact, a YouTube channel, Audit the Audit, is dedicated to analyzing and rating the behavior of the auditors themselves in order to keep them honest and on point. Police auditing is not, as many cops claim, a form of harassment, but an effort to meet the problem of police misconduct head on, carried out by citizens themselves. As is often the case, novel technology has served to reveal social pathologies that need to be addressed.  

How can this one be addressed? Some remedies can be implemented immediately:

  • Every police department should be required to be equip officers with bodycams that film constantly and which cannot be turned off.
  • Any department refusing bodycams should be ipso facto suspected of corruption.
  • Footage of questionable incidents should be released to the public immediately. There is no need to withhold for a period of two years or more video evidence of a helpless old woman being battered by cops.
  • Footage of incidents must be carefully analyzed by third parties such as police oversight boards in order to identify, weed out, and terminate problem officers. It is likely that most incidents are caused by a very small cohort of bad cops. Eliminating these from the force should be a priority.
  • Police unions should have no say in these matters, and should be required to limit themselves to standard union concerns such as pay, benefits, and so on. As it is, there seems to be no situation, up to and including murder, in which police unions will not immediately come to the defense of criminal cops.
  • The practice of allowing criminal officers to resign rather than be fired, and then take a job with a force one town or county over, is endemic across the country and needs to be eliminated. These Typhoid Marys simply infect and degrade whatever police force they join. (This, needless to say, goes for problem cops identified by the analysis mentioned above.)
  • Serious effort needs to be taken by police academies to educate officer candidates on how to deal with the mentally ill and emotionally unbalanced. Such courses should be taught by mental health professionals.
  • De-escalation techniques must become a cornerstone of police protocol.
  • Auditing should be encouraged and paid close attention to. Police who cannot grasp the concept of constitutional rights are a bad sign, suggesting a need for closer examination.

Beyond that, there is the question of police culture in general. A myth has grown of the “Thin Blue Line,” of policemen as sacrificial lambs misunderstood by the public and savaged by media and government. This is nonsense. Of course, leftist abuse of authority as found in the asinine “defund” movement is a given and must be taken into account. But the notion that cops comprise a bulwark between the public and open anarchy was undercut fatally by Portland, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Parkland, and Uvalde. In all those cases, cops stood by while criminals ran wild.

Listening to the “thin blue line” rhetoric, you could be forgiven thinking that cops are somehow being shipped off to deal with criminals on some distant, isolated front, perhaps on the surface of Mars, to which common citizens have no exposure and cannot possibly grasp. This, too, is gibberish. It is the public at large who are exposed to the full brunt of criminal behavior before it ever reaches any official institution, police included. Before any cop encounters a criminal, average Americans have been victimized, often many times and sometimes fatally.

The factors giving rise in this malignant police culture are well understood. Municipal governments using police as a major revenue source through issuing parking tickets and the like places them in direct conflict with the law-abiding public. Such efforts should be handled by meter maids. Patrol cars, particularly the paramilitary behemoths that have become popular in the last few years, isolate cops from the life of the neighborhood, as does allowing them to reside in distant suburbs. There is an increasing tendency by Democrats to use the police as a tool of political control, as we saw during the Antifa/BLM riots and the January 6 police riot.

This state of affairs cannot continue, and will be solved one way or another. We will we take hold of the problem, or will we wait until events dictate a solution?  

NOTE: This piece was just going up when we learned that a demented double amputee with a knife was shot to death by LA police. Footage shows the man trying to flee by running on his stumps while the cops aim their guns. The long witch’s sabbath goes on.




Speaker Kevin McCarthy marshaled the votes to remove Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on grounds of her anti-Semitic bigotry. David Harsanyi comments on her removal in this New York Post column. Anticipating her removal, Omar had this to say on the House floor: “I am a Muslim. I am an immigrant. And, interestingly, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I am a target?”

On a personal note, I first asked Omar for a comment on facts suggesting she might be married to her brother in August 2016 when she was running for a lowly state legislative office. This is the comment she gave me: “There are people who do not want an East African, Muslim woman elected to office and who will follow Donald Trump’s playbook to prevent it.”

When the Star Tribune was embarrassed into looking into the facts of the case three years later, this is the statement she gave her friends at the paper: “Since before she was elected to office, Ilhan has been the subject of conspiracy theories and false accusations about her personal life. Emboldened by a president who openly treats immigrants, refugees and Muslims as invaders, these attacks often stem from the presumption that Ilhan — like others who share those identities — is somehow illegitimate or not fully American….”

The victim shtick has served Omar well so far and she’s not giving it up now. The funny thing — funny thing, so to speak — is that her bigotry simply mainstreams the left-wing assault on Israel and the Jews as her persistent claims to victimhood demonstrate her complete assimilation to the modern American way.

Today’s America In Action!


2018 Senate Testimony Tells A Different Story Than Hamilton 68’s Masterminds Are Telling Now

BY: MARGOT CLEVELAND at the Federalist:

FEBRUARY 03, 2023

Clint Watts

Old Senate testimony can’t be squared with the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s attempts to extricate itself from the Hamilton 68 scandal.

Author Margot Cleveland profile


In response to last week’s “Twitter Files” takedown of the Hamilton 68 dashboard, which purportedly tracked Russian influence campaigns on social media, the dashboard’s sponsor issued a response blaming “the media, pundits, and even some lawmakers” for misunderstanding and misrepresenting the data. The congressional record tells a different story, however. 

“At a bare minimum, the U.S. government needs to have an understanding of what Russia is doing in social media,” Clint Watts, the mastermind behind the Hamilton 68 dashboard, told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation during hearings on Jan. 17, 2018, regarding “Terrorism and Social Media: Is Big Tech Doing Enough?”

“The Hamilton 68 platform I’ve tried to provide to the U.S. government directly through multiples agencies” would do so, Watts suggested, stating that “regardless of the outcome of the election in 2016,” we should “want to equip our intelligence agencies, our law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Defense with just an understanding … just an understanding of what Russian active measures are doing around the world.”

“There is no excuse for it,” Watts concluded. “I can’t understand it.”https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?439849-1/facebook-twitter-youtube-officials-testify-combating-extremism

Watts’ 2018 Senate testimony bolstering the Hamilton 68 dashboard as the means of “understanding … what Russia is doing in social media,” cannot be squared with attempts by the dashboard’s host, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, to extricate itself from the latest scandal exposed by “The Twitter Files.”

One week ago today, independent journalist Matt Taibbi published “Move Over, Jayson Blair: Meet Hamilton 68, the New King of Media Fraud,” revealing internal Twitter communications establishing that the Hamilton 68 dashboard adopted a flawed methodology. Rather than using Russian bots or trolls to assess Russian influence campaigns, the accounts Hamilton 68 used to “understand” what the Russians were doing in social media were “neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots.”

Other Twitter emails stressed there was “no evidence to support the statement that the dashboard is a finger on the pulse of Russian information ops,” and that Hamilton 68 was “hardly evidence of a massive influence campaign.” Twitter’s then-chief of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, said it more simply: “I think we need to just call this out on the bullsh-t it is.”

While Twitter tried to warn the media and politicians not to rely on Hamilton 68, the tech giant opted to play the “long game,” limiting its public comments to vague counters to the claims of Russian influence campaigns rather than unequivocally calling out the BS. For that, Twitter deserves condemnation. 

But it was Hamilton 68 that promoted itself as a “resource for journalists to appropriately identify Russian-sponsored information campaigns,” at least originally, and it deserves blame for that. Yet after Taibbi’s exposé broke, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, or ASD, issued a “Fact Sheet” response that sought to shift blame to others. 

In its “Fact Sheet,” ASD claimed the dashboard “analyzed a dynamic list of more than 600 Twitter accounts linked, wittingly or unwittingly, to Russian influence activities online,” before complaining that “recent reporting on Hamilton disregards the dashboard’s published methodology, Hamilton 68 experts’ commentary, and Twitter’s own data.” 

“The dashboard’s original methodology, acknowledged that ‘the content within the network is complex and should be understood in a nuanced way,’” ASD continued, going on to blame “members of the media, pundits, and even some lawmakers” for failing “to include appropriate context when using the dashboard’s data, despite ASD experts’ extensive efforts to correct misconceptions at the time.”

The think-tank host of Hamilton 68 further claimed that because its data “was consistently misunderstood or misrepresented,” ASD “published multiple follow-up instructions clarifying key points, including that ‘some accounts we track are automated bots, some are trolls, and some are real users. Some are in Russia, but many are not.’”

By use of an internet archive, Taibbi published an addendum in response to ASD’s “Fact Sheet.” Taibbi highlighted the difference between ASD’s current position and its old webpage’s representation that “there are two components to the dashboard feature,” with one being “overt promotion of content,” that “highlights trending content from Twitter accounts for media outlets known to be controlled by the Russian government.” “The second section,” the historical webpage indicated, included “Content Tweeted by Bots and Trolls,” which the archived webpage claimed, “highlight[ed] themes being pushed by Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns.”

This earlier summary creates a much different impression than ASD’s current caveat that the accounts tracked by Hamilton 68 may be “real users” and include many accounts that are not Russian.

It is not merely what ASD represented on its historical webpage, however, that contradicts the current efforts to contextualize the Hamilton 68 dashboard. Rather, when Watts testified before the Senate, he explicitly pointed to Hamilton 68 as the way for “the U.S. government” “to have an understanding of what Russia is doing in social media.” There was no nuance in his testimony.

Further, ASD claimed in its “Fact Sheet” that its experts undertook “extensive efforts to correct misconceptions.” However, when Watts testified before the Senate on Jan. 17, 2018, he sat silent when the Democrat senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, raised two Twitter trends media claimed were Russian influence campaigns based on Hamilton 68’s dashboard.

Let’s “talk about bots a little,” Schatz said, noting “there was public reporting that the Roy Moore campaign went from 27,000 to 47,000 Twitter followers over the weekend, and the substantial portion of those appear to be located in Russia.” Then “we had the take-a-knee thing where clearly there was an active measure to try to just sow discord. In other words, you’ve got bot and bot farms out there,” the Democrat senator said, intoning: “We have to think of this as undermining Democracy itself,” and not merely of “just Russian active measures.”

The claims that the #TakeAKnee debate and the large increase in followers of Roy Moore stemmed from Russia-linked accounts came from reporting based on the Hamilton 68 dashboard. Nonetheless, Watts did not correct Schatz’s misconceptions about Russian bots or bot farms nor add any context or nuance to the Democrat lawmaker’s conclusions, based on Hamilton 68’s analysis, that Russian active measures were behind both social media phenomena.

Given Watts’ congressional testimony and the ASD’s historical description of the Hamilton 68 project, it seems the only real “active measures” going on now to influence the public are those undertaken by ASD to blame the press, pundits, and politicians for relying on Hamilton 68.

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

This solution, of course, is no solution at all…”

When Black Police Officers Kill a Black Man, That’s White Supremacy

By Ben Shapiro at RealClearPolitics:

February 01, 2023When Black Police Officers Kill a Black Man, That's White Supremacy

This week, tape emerged from Memphis, Tennessee of five black police officers engaging in the beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old black man. Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving according to the officers; they ordered him to get on the ground and to give them his hands; he did not comply and instead began to run. When the officers caught up with him, they pummeled him, complete with strikes to the head while his hands were being held behind his back. Nichols died in the hospital.

The five officers involved were charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. All were fired from the police department.

The national media coverage was swift — and confused. For some in the media, the narrative was clear: the police are generally brutal, and thus must be dramatically curbed. “The issue here, as plenty of people have pointed out, is not black versus white, it’s blue versus the rest of us,” said MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan. “You can’t reform this stuff with body cameras or diversifying the police, as we just saw in Memphis.” Instead, Hasan suggested, abolition of the police might be a possible solution.

This solution, of course, is no solution at all: Memphis has one of the highest crime rates in the United States. According to Neighborhood Scout, the chances of becoming a victim of violent or property crime in the city are one in 12. And we know with statistical near-certainty that high-profile cases of police misconduct generally result in police stand-downs — which in turn result in more crime. As professors Tanaya Devi and Roland Freyer found in 2020, “all investigations that were preceded by ‘viral’ incidents of deadly force have led to a large and statistically significant increase in homicides and total crime.”

A second media narrative quickly emerged from the Nichols killing: despite the fact that all involved were black, that the Memphis Police Department is majority black, that the chief of police is black — the killing was a result of “white supremacy.” The Washington Post headlined, “Black Memphis police spark dialogue on systemic racism in the US.” Van Jones opined at CNN.com, “The police who killed Tyre Nichols were Black. But they might still have been driven by racism.” Kimberle Crenshaw, founder of intersectionality, explained, “One cannot imagine this happening in a well-heeled white community. That is a racial problem that the law has consistently said is a non-problem.”

This narrative, like the first, is designed to avoid solutions. If all policing is the result of structures of white supremacy, the only answer is to abolish policing. If each individual instance of police brutality, no matter the race of the officers, is an example of racism, then the only way to alleviate police brutality is by completely restructuring American society — which is just what those like Crenshaw propose. The result won’t be a safer America, but a much less safe and more fractious one.

In reality, instances of police brutality cross races. Whether it’s Daniel Shaver being shot to death in a hotel while attempting to comply with police demands in 2016 or whether it’s two Arkansas Sheriff’s Deputies beating Randal Worcester in August 2022, white victims of police brutality aren’t hard to find. Some police brutality can undoubtedly be curbed by better recruitment and training. But if we wish to actually lower the number of encounters between a given population and the police, thus reducing the number of possible violent interactions, the most obvious method would be to reduce criminal activity — which requires more policing and more law-abiding behavior.

None of this should be controversial. But solutions aren’t what advocates of police abolition or critical race theory are looking for. They’re looking for revolution. And all revolutions have casualties.

How Western Scholars Overlook!?

How Western scholars overlooked Russian imperialism

For far too long, Western academia has ignored the legacies of the Russian Empire and colonisation.

Published On 24 Jan 2023

A woman holding a portrait of Stalin places flowers near the monument signifying Joseph Stalin's grave near the Kremlin wall marking the anniversary of Stalin's birth in Moscow's Red Square, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A woman holding a portrait of Stalin places flowers at his grave in the Kremlin wall on the anniversary of his birth on December 21, 2017 [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP]

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, discussions emerged about the imperial nature of the war. Scholars who spoke up about it were quickly dismissed in certain Western academic and political circles.

Some, especially the self-professed “anti-imperialists”, claimed Russia was “provoked” and portrayed Ukraine’s resistance as a “Western imperial” plot. Others considered analyses of Russian imperialism as having a pro-war, hawkish agenda or being a reflection of narrow ethno-nationalist sentiments.

But for scholars from the post-Soviet space – from places that have suffered from Russian aggression and imperialism – these reactions were hardly a surprise. They had been ignored and dismissed before.

Discussions of Russian imperialism have long been overlooked while American, British and French imperialisms have been studied closely and thoroughly. This has much to do with how Western academia and to a certain extent political elites have chosen to approach the Soviet Union and its eventual dissolution.

From empire to a ‘union’

Russian imperial ambitions date back to the 16th century when the Grand Principality of Moscow, or Muscovy, proclaimed itself the third Rome, the successor of the Byzantine Empire and protector of all Orthodox Christians.

The Russian imperial army fought numerous wars in the east, west and south, and by the mid-19th century, Russia had become the largest land empire. Along with the British, Austro-Hungarian and French empires, it understood and presented itself as a European colonial power.

Following the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks proclaimed the end of the Russian monarchy and Russian imperialism, but they fought brutally to preserve the Russian imperial borders. They reconquered newly formed independent states, such as Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, which emerged after the collapse of the Russian Empire.

In the early 1930s, Joseph Stalin embraced Russian nationalism based on the old imperial myth of the greatness of the Russian people. Bolshevik Moscow made ethnic Russians the most privileged group in the Soviet Union and sent Russian settlers to populate and control non-Russian regions.

Purging native leaders, forcefully resettling entire ethnic groups and creating conditions that led to mass deaths were all part of Soviet colonisation. Non-Russian people’s cultures, languages and histories were disparaged while Russification was presented as enlightenment.

At the same time, the Soviet Union adopted a progressive narrative of enfranchising nations conquered by the Russian Empire and giving them national rights within the Soviet Union. Many in Western academia bought into the anti-colonial narrative Moscow was trying to sell because they took official proclamations at face value and wanted to believe in the story of communist anti-imperialism.

Indeed, the Bolsheviks eliminated the tsarist aristocracy, and the people who took power were of diverse backgrounds. Stalin, for example, was an ethnic Georgian who spoke Russian with an accent.

For many Western scholars, that apparently meant that he was leading a post-colonial state. By focusing on individuals and official proclamations, Western academia too often overlooked the fact that Stalin was obsessed with maintaining Russian imperial borders and had adopted the same toolkit – ethnic cleansing, crushing dissent, destroying national movements, privileging Russian ethnicity and culture – that tsarist Russia used to maintain them.

Soviet coloniality was dismissed also because knowledge about the Soviet Union in the West was Russocentric. The Soviet Union was often referred to simply as Russia. There was little knowledge about non-Russian people. Non-Russian émigrés who fled to the West and wrote about Soviet coloniality with firsthand experience of Soviet imperialism were dismissed as anti-Soviet conservative ideologues.

Importantly, the Soviet Union also became a space of projections for those who looked for ways to criticise capitalism and Western imperialism. Those who blamed capitalism for oppression believed that eliminating capitalism would end all forms of oppression. For them, the Soviet Union was an internationalist project that brought equality and freedom to formerly subjugated peoples.

Violence against various nations and ethnic groups was either ignored or treated as a necessary evil of the transition to communism.

Western scholarship also overwhelmingly focused on the Soviet metropoles – Moscow and Leningrad. They knew very little, if at all, about the Soviet peripheries, which meant that nobody really understood the uprisings in Central Asia, the Caucasus or the Baltics from the late 1980s onwards or the bloodshed in Tajikistan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and later Chechnya.

As Ronald Gregor Suny, historian of Soviet imperial nation-building, noted in a 2017 interview, “Before the late 1980s, no one cared about non-Russians. Sovietology and Soviet studies [were] about the centre and the top – who was standing where on the Kremlin, on the mausoleum, and so forth.”

The generation of scholars who started studying the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s were also shaped by their firsthand experience of the country. When they travelled as foreign students to Moscow, they found impoverished people. Empty shelves and pervasive poverty made Russians look like victims of the Soviet regime, and financially, Soviet Moscow seemed more like a European periphery than an imperial metropole, which they associated with material affluence.

Dissolution without decolonisation

The wave of decolonisation in Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, which started after World War II, was accompanied by rigorous academic discussions and scholarship of colonial legacies and tools of violence.

By contrast, the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union did not result in similar scrutiny of the Russian imperial legacy.

For metropolitan Western Europe and the United States, Europe stood for metropolitanism – a place from which the world was colonised, not a place of colonisation. Accepting colonial history within Europe made little sense, so the colonial nature of Russia remained unchallenged.

In Russia itself, the dominant narrative was one of victimhood. Russians learned to see themselves as a special nation that sacrificed its own wellbeing for the sake of non-Russians in the Soviet Union. “Let us stop feeding them” was the slogan Russians used to explain Moscow’s decision to let the colonies go in 1991.

In the West, the collapse of the Soviet Union came as a shock. Many – both in academia and politics – liked Mikhail Gorbachev and saw him as a hero, a man of peace. They approved of his reforms, which spurred a new era of freedom of speech.

Gorbachev was soft, open and democratic in his communication and seemed like a good partner for the next few decades. The United States was even willing to offer him assistance to reform the country; US policy was against Soviet disintegration.

This is how late Professor Mark von Hagen recalled in 2016 the political atmosphere back then: “Again, George Bush … was defending Gorbachev until the very last possible moment because he and the United States government at that level, with a few dissenting voices, wanted to keep the Soviet Union together because they were so afraid of the kind of crazy, fascist nationalism that they thought the Ukrainians represented.”

Indeed, this Western fear of chaos, bloodshed and even nuclear incidents led to the perception of independence movements within the former Soviet space as expressions of destructive ethno-nationalism rather than a natural progression of an empire collapsing.

At the same time, since the official dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 was organised centrally by Moscow, it made the question of imperial oppression obsolete in the minds of Western observers. The idea that the Soviet Union was an internationalist experiment continued to stick, and its collapse was seen as this experiment simply expiring.

Many Western historians perceived it not as a regime that erased diverse polities and national movements, but as a political project that created and developed nations. This is highly problematic not only because it ignores the history of national movements that took place prior to the Bolshevik takeover but also goes contrary to the idea of a nation being formed on the basis of popular legitimacy.

Still there were exceptions. Influential works by historians like Ronald Grigor Suny (The Revenge of the Past) and Andreas Kappeler (Russia as a Multinational Empire) have pointed to the violent Bolshevik policies towards colonised nations and their resistance. Others like von Hagen (Does Ukraine Have a History?) and Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands) who have written from the point of view of the colonised were able to properly predict and warn of historical continuities and dangers still posed by Russia today for these nations.

What the myth of the Soviet Union as a nation-builder did was promote in the West the idea that Russia has a sphere of influence, a “backyard”, where it has the right to intervene.

That is why Western academia and political circles had little to say about the genocidal wars Boris Yeltsin and his successor, Vladimir Putin, led in Chechnya. Rather than seeing people claiming sovereignty and nationhood, the West readily bought into their portrayals of Chechens as bandits, nationalists and terrorists. That is why they also failed to see Russian imperial ambitions in Eastern Europe – the 2008 war on Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, etc – as such.

There has already been some recognition that mistakes were made. As Professor Susan Smith-Peter recently commented: “As scholars of Russia, we need to undertake a searching moral inventory to see the ways in which we have taken the Russian state’s point of view as a default. Have we in any way taken part in the glorification of the Russian state that Putin has taken to a pathological extreme? Has our field participated in casting Ukraine as a state without history in our own way?“

Indeed, it has. And it is time to correct that.

To understand Russia, one needs to listen to those who lived under Russian colonial rule. To understand former and current Russian colonies, one needs to listen to historians from these places and study their cultures, languages and histories, both written and unwritten. To appreciate the ways out of colonial dictatorships, one needs to study the successful transformations of states like Ukraine. This would require dismissing the myth of the “artificial nation” and finally seeing Russia as an empire.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.