Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Freest Black Man in America: Clarence Thomas, associate justice from Pin Point, Ga.


This article is from a little time back but I am reprinting it here as it has a lot of good points in it -- particularly about the way "affirmative action" degrades blacks. The opening assertions of the author are however clearly wrong. The research has consistently shown that American blacks in general have unusually HIGH self-esteem -- which is not at all consistent with them being "born into a particularly intense insecurity"

To be born into a minority group is, among other things, to be born into a collective experience of insecurity. Put differently, it is to be born into a group of nervous people. If you are born black in America, as has been my own fate, then you are born into a particularly intense insecurity. Your people have known almost nothing but insecurity and impotence for centuries - this as opposed to the majority culture's experience of itself as heroic and world-beating; ingenious in peace, dominant in war.

One thing this means for minorities is that their group identity will often be the enemy of their individuality. In its insecurity, the group is naturally threatened by the impulse in some of its members to think for themselves. Individuals like this seem to put the group at risk. What will we do if the majority culture thinks you speak for us? Your indulgence in individuality jeopardizes the carefully constructed mask we present to the powerful majority. Your individuality collaborates with them. So knock it off. Get in line, or we will shun you to the point of extinction.

Moreover, only blacks who wear the group's mask can pronounce on the innocence of whites. Thus Don Imus, longing for absolution, sought an audience with Al Sharpton. Ward Connerly or Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice - individuals all - would never do. People who veer from the group mask - who evolve by their own lights - start to lose their moral authority as blacks. This is why President Bush got no credit for having two black secretaries of state. Naively he selected two black individuals.

Still, the black individual is now emerging as something of a new archetype in American life - not someone who disowns his group but someone who rejects it as a master. Today there is no more quintessential embodiment of this new archetype than Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. And now - in his new memoir, My Grandfather's Son - Justice Thomas offers up the rich details of his remarkable and often heroic struggle to become a man who simply thinks for himself. He says, "The question was how much courage I could muster up to express my individuality. What I wanted was for everyone - the government, the racists, the activists, the students, even Daddy - to leave me alone so that I could finally start thinking for myself."

This memoir is really two books in one. The first chronicles his struggle to become his own man; the second describes the persecution this achievement elicits. A line he quotes from Ralph Ellison points to the cause-and-effect connection between these two books: "I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest."

Because this first book is a story of overcoming it calls to mind those great inspiring autobiographies of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Richard Wright. But Thomas's overcoming is a more existential struggle than the struggles of these other men. Like them he contends with racism, especially in his early life, but unlike them he wants something more than just a victory over racism. There are other forces - benign and malign - that threaten to take him over, and he struggles mightily to ward them off.

There was the radical black-power politics he encountered in college. There were the dreams that his powerful and controlling grandfather had for him (to be the first black priest in Savannah). There was the stigma that affirmative action left on his achievements at Yale Law School and the relentless paternalism of post-'60s liberalism that would have allowed him to lower his standards. And there was even the allure of money and security - "golden handcuffs" - when he worked briefly as a corporate lawyer.

So My Grandfather's Son is a more radical memoir than its forebears, because it envisions an almost heroic individualism - an individualism that is quite beyond the old framework of race. Thomas mentions in passing that he listens to country music. "Merely because I was black, it seemed, I was supposed to listen to Hugh Masekela instead of Carole King, just as I was expected to be a radical, not a conservative." This book stands for what might be called a non-binding racial identity - an open-minded black identity that informs but never constrains. This is what Thomas demands for himself and holds out for other blacks - this in an age of identity politics when the black identity is so closed-minded and narrowly defined that it requires a reflexive devotion to the Democratic party.


The racial thinking that undergirds My Grandfather's Son makes it an original addition to those great black autobiographies of the past. It updates the black American experience by presuming freedom and opportunity more than racism. And, in the end, it is a lesson on how to live in freedom - a lesson that begins with a description of poverty on a par with Richard Wright's portrait of poverty in Black Boy.

However, Thomas first describes his very earliest years in Pin Point, Ga., as something of an idyll. The reader is made to understand that when poverty is rural and close to the ground - close to land and water - it can have a certain bountifulness and peace. But when Thomas is six, he and his younger brother are taken to Savannah to live in a broken-down tenement building with their overwhelmed young mother who has been abandoned by her husband. Here, all of a sudden, is rank urban poverty - despair, hunger, and abandonment. Thomas describes his hunger as a second-grader: "Never before had I known the nagging, chronic hunger that plagued me in Savannah. Hunger without the prospect of eating and cold without the prospect of warmth - that's how I remember the winter of 1955." The nadir of this period in his life comes when he stumbles while carrying a chamber pot down stairs - there are no inside bathrooms - and finds himself drenched by its contents.

Thomas and his younger brother are saved from this Dickensian circumstance by the man whom Thomas describes simply as "the greatest man I have ever known" - their grandfather, Myers Anderson, who takes them in and raises them into adulthood. "Daddy," as they come to call him, is an extraordinary man whose force of character animates this entire memoir and - as its title makes clear - accounts for the man that Clarence Thomas is today. Daddy - a man given to unceasing hard work who owns his own fuel-oil business - immediately subjects the two boys to a regime of sacrifice (no school sports, very little TV), self-development, and hard work that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Two boys who had seemed destined for lives of self-destruction and crime were transformed by a grandfather who showed his love through discipline.

Daddy's answer to the poverty and desolation of black Savannah is the unrelenting application of individual will. His was the classic American ethic of faith in God, delayed gratification, self-reliance, and individual initiative. And here we see the source of Justice Thomas's inbred conservatism. Even in college, though lending an ear to black radicalism, he rooms by himself in his senior year so that he can rise at three in the morning to study without disturbing a roommate. (He achieves almost every academic honor Holy Cross has to offer.) At Yale Law School he immediately takes the most difficult courses available in order to prove to himself that he is, in fact, competitive with his privileged white classmates.

If there is a romance in Clarence Thomas's life it is the thrill of starting at the bottom - a faith that makes every step forward a victory. This is the poor man's great excitement. Thus he is heartbroken when it becomes clear that Yale is practicing affirmative action. Outraged, he considers dropping out. Only the realization that he and his wife have a baby on the way keeps him at Yale. Yet, from then on he feels stigmatized by Yale's use of racial preferences. He also feels robbed of credit for his achievements there. And his bitterness only deepens when he realizes that the wider world also sees black graduates differently: Employers suspect that racial preferences, rather than talent, had won them the Yale imprimatur.

And here Thomas's life begins to touch on the absurd. He is a young man raised to fight the dehumanization of segregation by identifying with the all-American ethic of self-reliance. His grandfather instinctively understood that the deepest challenge of black life was to overcome dependency with self-reliance. Segregation and slavery were dependency. Freedom and equality were self-reliance. And then Yale University - out of the most pernicious self-absorption - takes a young man schooled in this ethic and plunges him back into dependency. Yale happily taints Clarence Thomas's achievements and deflates his self-esteem in its rush to appear innocent of racism. In the end, Yale disallows black self-reliance and reinforces the same black dependency that segregation imposed.

This, then, is the existential source of Thomas's famous anger. Every achievement he earns is made to stink of white paternalism. His grandfather had a better chance to be his own man than he does.


And then there is today's callow and sycophantic black leadership that actually sells black dependency as a white opportunity for moral deliverance. In the very bowels of slavery there was never a more egregious form of Uncle Tomism than this determination, even in the midst of freedom, to portray one's own people as nearly helpless victims.

So, understandably, as Thomas's career advances, the two great themes of his life - will and individuality - begin to get him in trouble. The story of the persecution that haunts his entire career in Washington makes up the second book within this memoir. By the time Thomas becomes chairman of the EEOC in the Reagan administration, he has become openly conservative. The tale of his outing as a conservative in the Washington Post by journalist Juan Williams describes that moment when his carefully evolved individuality - his habit of thinking for himself - first clashes with the insecurity of his group. After this he never really knows peace again.

Clarence Thomas undergoes five confirmation hearings in ten years. And these hearings turn out to be the perfect platforms for the broader clash between a collective black insecurity and the willful individuality of this single black man. The civil-rights establishment - the very voice of black insecurity - despises him from the beginning. He inspires a kind of hysteria in them, and they come after him with a ferocity they would likely never muster for a white man. There simply could be no greater threat to civil-rights organizations than the themes that most animate Thomas's life: individuality and will. This establishment sees individual will as a futility in a racist society, and thinks of individuality as selfishness at best and group betrayal at worst.

But the civil-rights establishment does not account for what happened in Thomas's final confirmation hearing. Here persecution turned into crucifixion. Thomas himself says that abortion was the underlying issue that turned this hearing into a "high-tech lynching." This makes sense. For all his trouble with the civil-rights organizations, it is hard to imagine that they would display this level of moral and human blindness toward a black man. It is also hard to imagine - given the stereotypes surrounding black sexuality - that they would trot out a black woman to make sexual charges against a black man before the entire nation. If the civil-rights establishment was guilty of anything in this debacle, it was that they had made Thomas vulnerable by signaling to the world that he was an Uncle Tom. This made him fair game for liberals and feminists to attack with impunity. Here was a black man who could be openly sacrificed without repercussions - in an era of politically correct reverence for blacks generally.

Thomas convincingly denies all of Anita Hill's charges in this memoir. He also makes clear what her motives might be - his failure to promote her at one point, her ongoing career frustration, her unrequited fascination with him. He traces the "Long Dong Silver" reference back to an EEOC sexual-harassment case that Anita Hill used in her own research on sexual harassment.

But, in the end, Thomas was made to suffer this ignominious ordeal because of his lifelong struggle to become his own man, like his grandfather before him. He comes from a group that is - at least in its leadership - too insecure at the moment to countenance this degree of individuality and personal responsibility. And so he lost the protection of his group in a multiracial society and, thus, became vulnerable to other groups. (He became a poor black man nailed to the cross by wealthy white women.) This is how he paid for the individuality that he had nurtured in himself all his life. And, like much else in his life, it was a hard-earned individuality. I have often said that Clarence Thomas is the freest black man in America. He is clearly the first black American of his generation to become - openly and irrefutably - an individual. He is now an archetype that will inspire others. I can think of no greater achievement.


The Race for the American Mind

Last year's scamnesty bill had widespread support among the powers-that-be, with the president, the Democrat majority and mainstream media all singing its praises. Yet it went down to defeat, slain by a new-media coalition of talk radio and blogosphere warriors. Working tirelessly to expose the truth and rally the grassroots, they became a David who slew a Goliath.

Forty-three years ago it was a different world. Ted Kennedy had co-authored the "Immigration Reform Act of 1965," which created a situation wherein 85 percent of our immigrants hail from the Third World and Asia. He took to the Senate floor, claimed his brainchild wouldn't change the demographic composition of the nation and passed the culture-rending bill under the cover of darkness.

This darkness was not absence of light but that of truth; it was a media blackout. With no Internet and little talk radio, mainstream journalists had a monopoly over the hearts and minds of America. And they knew best. The little people didn't have to worry their pretty little heads about actions that would forever alter the face of the nation. This is why the old media fears the new one. The latter watches the watchers, polices the police. It has cut into the Rathersphere's market, causing a diminution of circulation, viewership and - this is what really gets their collars up -- power. They can no longer propagandize with Tass-like impunity, for the e-hills have eyes.

Yet this is no time for a victory dance. The new media is under attack, as the left aims to silence dissent before it grows strong enough to block the thought police's coup de grace. This is the race for the American mind. And we are losing.

The attack upon free expression is more varied than one may think, but I'll start with the obvious. Most have heard of the euphemistically-named "Fairness Doctrine," which would essentially eliminate traditionalist talk radio. People such as Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage may then be relegated to satellite - assuming they're willing to leap into the ether - and its far smaller audience.

Then we have hate speech laws, which empower governments to punish people of politically incorrect passions. In Europe, Canada and elsewhere, average citizens have suffered persecution for criticizing homosexuality and Islam and voicing other unfashionable truths. And as hate speech laws become more entrenched and accepted, the list of taboos of the tongue grows longer - and more widespread. They're coming soon to a theater of social operations near you.

And these laws are netting the famous as well as the anonymous. Two Canadian "Human Rights Commissions" are investigating columnist Mark Steyn and the country's bestselling news magazine, Macleans, because it published an excerpt from Steyn's book containing criticism of Islam. In Britain in 2003, Scotland Yard launched an investigation of colorful commentator Taki Theodoracopulos - not for using more letters in a name than one ought - but for "inciting racial hatred" by writing that most criminals in northern English cities were black thugs who belonged to gangs. Across the North Sea in Germany, a leftist politician filed charges against the citizen encyclopedia "Wikipedia" because one of its entries contained too much Nazi symbolism. Here's the kicker: It was a piece about the Hitler Youth. Then there's Jewish historian Arno Lustiger, who filed a lawsuit in Germany against Vanity Fair magazine because it published an interview with a neo-Nazi.

While the stout-hearted Mark Steyn won't end up cooling his heels or capitulating, the same cannot be said of everyone. Wikipedia caved quickly and altered its content, and, although we can expect greater fortitude from more professional operations, the implications are ominous. As such investigations, charges and lawsuits become more prevalent and start to stick, the media will be increasingly gun shy about publishing politically incorrect views. Fewer and fewer will deviate from the new Tass line, until news and commentary are banal, barren and bereft of truth.

Surely, though, some of the millions of blogs and other Internet sources would not be cowed, and it would be hard to arrest every one of their operators. But the government won't have to. There's more than one way to skin a Constitution. While the Internet seems like a wild and woolly land of bits and bytes, just as information can be transmitted at the touch of a button, so can it be suppressed. Remember, when spreading your message, you're at the mercy of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), hosting company and, to a lesser extent, services that disseminate information, such as search engines. And as these businesses have already proven, they're more interested in currency than current events.

Consider Google's well-publicized capitulation to communist China. Using a filter known informally as "The Great Firewall of China," the search engine's Chinese version censors information about the independence movement in Tibet, the Tiananmen Square protests and anything else China's commissars find objectionable. It seems like Google's motto "Don't be evil" should have a corollary: "But cooperating with it is fine." It should be noted that Google censors information in its German and French searches as well (and probably elsewhere). Then there's Google's subsidiary YouTube. Early last year it agreed to remove a video Turks found objectionable after a court in Turkey ordered that the site should be blocked in that nation. It took YouTube all of two days to say mercy.

But direct government action isn't necessary for censorship, as social pressure often suffices. In fact, the private sector often enforces "hate speech" codes even where states do not, such as here in the US. In 2006, pundit Michelle Malkin's mini-movie "First, They Came"-- it showcases victims of Islamic violence -- was deleted by YouTube after being "flagged" as inappropriate. Malkin isn't alone, either, as other anti-Islamism crusaders have not only had videos pulled, but accounts suspended as well.

Getting back to Google, it has also been censoring traditionalist websites from its news search for quite some time now; entities such as The New Media Journal, Michnews.com and The Jawa Report have been victims, just to name a few. While these information sources can still be accessed, such censorship takes its toll. When the most powerful search engine in the world strikes you from its news service, it reduces both your readership and the amount of information at users' fingertips.

Censorship threatens individual activism as well. There are now countless everyday folks who disseminate information via email, sometimes to thousands of recipients. It's a quick, efficient and, most importantly, free way to sound the alarm about matters of import. Yet email is far from sacrosanct. Social commentators Dr. David Yeagley and Amil Imani had their MSN Hotmail accounts terminated for criticizing Islam. Then there are the proposals to tax or levy fees on email, a truly stifling measure. It would make bulk transmissions prohibitively expensive for the average citizen, thereby robbing him of a resonant Web voice.

It doesn't take the prescience of Nostradamus to project into the future. If political correctness continues to capture minds and hearts, the pressure - both governmental and social - to call truth "hate speech" and censor it will continue to grow. What happens when search engines not only purge traditionalist dissent from their news services, but also their search results? What about when sites won't publish such content for fear of being swept away in the ideological cleansing? These entities will fold like a laptop.

It could reach a point where ISPs won't service you if you send the "wrong" kinds of emails and will block "hateful" sites. Don't forget that "access forbidden" prompt. At the end of the day - and it may be the end of days - hosting companies may just decide that such sites' business is no longer welcome, and registrars may even freeze their domains (a hosting company provides a site's "edifice"; a domain is its "address"). They may be consigned to Internet oblivion.

While these forces march on, we "haters" are busy educating more people every day about the their nature. This brings us to the race for the American mind. If we could influence enough citizens to reject political correctness and oust public officials who serve its ends - if we could sufficiently transform the culture - the dropping of this iron muzzle could be forestalled. By spreading the truth we could ensure that the thought police wouldn't succeed in suppressing it.

But there's a reason why I phrased that in the subjunctive. We are losing. Education isn't easy when people aren't listening. A great victory for the left is that it has dumbed-down civilization, making people lovers of frivolity and vice, comfortably numb. It has created legions of disengaged, apathetic hedonists who wouldn't read a piece of commentary if it was pasted to a stripper. Such people can be led by the nose and, when they occasionally notice the goings-on in their midst, will welcome the silencing of the "haters."

And what of us -- you? If you are a "hater," your voice will grow fainter, fainter, fainter . . .. Toward the end, perhaps when tired and old, you'll have no recourse but to mount a soapbox and preach on some busy corner, as people nervously avert their eyes or measure you up for a straightjacket. That is, until the men in white coats or black uniforms come and take you to a happy place, or a sad one, the last stop in this world for recalcitrants.


The Origin of Religious Tolerance: Voltaire

In 1733, the philosopher who has been credited with ushering in the French Enlightenment, Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, published a pivotal work entitled Letters Concerning the English Nation. Although written in French, the twenty-four letters first issued from London in an English translation, because the material was considered too politically dangerous to the author and to whomever printed it for the work to appear in France.

Voltaire was no stranger to such controversy. Some years before, after being beaten up by the hirelings of an aristocrat whom he had offended, Voltaire had been thrown into the Bastille (for the second time). He had been released after pledging to stay at least fifty leagues away from Paris. Voltaire chose to go as far as England, where he stayed for roughly two and a half years. The result of the sojourn was the Letters on English religion and politics, which finally appeared in France in 1734 as Lettres philosophiques, or Philosophical Letters.

Written as though to explain English society to a friend back in France, Letter Five, On the Church of England, began with the observation, "This is the country of sects. An Englishman, as a freeman, goes to Heaven by whatever road he pleases." The statement had profound implications for any citizen of France-a nation that had almost destroyed itself in order to establish Catholicism as the only practiced religion.

In the next paragraph of Letter Five, Voltaire pursued a theme that contributed heavily to the danger of publishing his work in France. He examined the intellectual and institutional foundation of England's religious tolerance. He rejected a political explanation. Referring to the established Church of England, he acknowledged that politics strongly favored prejudice rather than tolerance. He wrote, "No one can hold office in England or in Ireland unless he is a faithful Anglican." Such political exclusion hardly promoted religious good will. Nor did the religious preaching of the dominant church lead the nation toward toleration. According to Voltaire, the Anglican clergy worked "up in their flocks as much holy zeal against nonconformists as possible." Yet, in recent decades, the "fury of the sects" "went no further than sometimes breaking the windows of heretical chapels."

What, then, accounted for the extreme religious toleration in the streets of London as compared to those of Paris? In Letter Six, On The Presbyterians Voltaire ascribed the "peace" in which "they lived happily together" to a mechanism that was a pure expression of the free market-the London stock exchange. In the most famous passage from Philosophical Letters, Voltaire observed, "Go into the Exchange in London, that place more venerable than many a court, and you will see representatives of all the nations assembled there for the profit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian deal with one another as if they were of the same religion, and reserve the name of infidel for those who go bankrupt."

Legally and historically, England was not a bastion of religious toleration: laws against nonconformists and atheists were still in force. Yet in England, and not in France, there was an air of toleration on the street level which existed quite apart from what the law said. Moreover, even though both countries had aristocracies, England was not burdened with the unyielding class structure that crippled social and economic mobility in France. As Voltaire wrote in Letter Nine, On the Government, "You hear no talk in this country [England] of high, middle, and low justice, nor of the right of hunting over the property of a citizen who himself has not the liberty of firing a shot in his own field."

A key to the difference between England and France lay in the English system of commerce and in the comparatively high regard in which the English held their merchants. In France, aristocrats and the other elites of society regarded those in commerce, or in trade, with unalloyed contempt. In Letter Ten, On Commerce, Voltaire pointedly commented upon the French attitude, "The merchant himself so often hears his profession spoken of disdainfully that he is fool enough to blush." Yet, in England, the "merchant justly proud" compares himself "not without some reason, to a Roman citizen." Indeed, the younger sons of nobility often entered commerce or took up a profession. This difference in attitude was a large factor in explaining the extraordinary rise of the English middle class, their wealth deriving from trading endeavors. Indeed, the French often derided England as a nation of shop keepers. Voltaire thought this was a compliment, observing that if the English were able to sell themselves, it proved that they were are worth something.

Commerce, or shop keeping, established an arena within which people dealt with each other solely for economic benefit and, so, ignored extraneous factors such as the other party's religious practices. On the floor of the London stock exchange, religious differences disappeared into background noise as people scrambled to make a profit from each other. The economic self-interest of the Christian and the Jew outweighed the prejudice that might otherwise sour personal relations between them. They intersected and co-operated on a point of common interest: "the Presbyterian trusts the Anabaptist, and the Church of England man accepts the promise of the Quaker."

Ironically, Voltaire singled out for praise precisely the same aspect of commerce-the London stock exchange-that the later theorist Karl Marx condemned. Both viewed the market place as impersonal or, in more negative Marxist terms, a dehumanizing factor. In the market place, people often to be individuals who were expressing their humanity and became interchangeable units who bought and sold. To Voltaire, the impersonal nature of trade was a good thing. It allowed people to disregard the divisive human factors that had historically disrupted society, such as differences of religion and class. The very fact that a Christian who wished to profit from a Jew, and vice versa, had to disregard the personal characteristics of the other party and deal with him on a basis of some civility was what recommended the London stock exchange to Voltaire.

In this, Voltaire's voice is reminiscent of the political philosopher Adam Smith in his most popular work Wealth of Nations. Smith outlined how everyone in a civilized market society was dependent upon the cooperation of multitudes even though the people he chose as friends might not number more than a dozen or so. A market place required the participation of throngs of people, most of whom are never directly encountered. Under such anonymous circumstances, it would be folly for any man to expect multitudes of strangers to benefit him out of sheer benevolence or because they personally liked him. The cooperation of the butcher or the brewer was ensured by their simple self-interest. Thus, those who entered the market place did not need the approval or favor of those with whom they dealt. They needed only to pay their bills.

The toleration created by the London Stock Exchange extended far beyond the doors of that institution. After conducting business with each other, the Christian and the Jew went their separate ways. As Voltaire phrased it, "On leaving these peaceable and free assemblies, some go to the synagogue, others in search of a drink..." In the end, "all are satisfied."

The Philosophical Letters-Voltaire's tribute to the English middle class, their commerce and their society-created an enormous impact on the European intellectual scene. Calling the Letters "a declaration of war and a map of campaign", the contemporary philosopher Will Durant commented: "Rousseau said of these letters that they played a large part in the awakening of his mind; there must have been thousands of young Frenchmen who owed the book a similar debt. Lafayette said it made him a republican at the age of nine. Heine thought `it was not necessary for the censor to condemn this book; it would have been read without that'".

Nevertheless, French censors seemed eager to condemn the Philosophical Letters. The printer was imprisoned in the Bastille. A lettre de cachet for the elusive Voltaire's immediate arrest was issued. By an order of Parliament, all known copies of the work were confiscated and burned in front of the Palais de Justice. Through the intercession of powerful friends, the lettre de cachet against Voltaire was withdrawn, again on the promise that he remain safely outside the limits of Paris. In this manner did the French church and state respond to Voltaire's salute to toleration.

But the themes of the Philosophical Letters resounded deeply within the consciousness of Europe for many decades to come. One of its themes was that freedom-especially freedom of commerce-was the true wellspring of religious toleration and of a peaceful civil society. The insight was nothing short of revolutionary because it reversed the traditionally accepted argument and policies on how to create a harmonious society. Traditionally, France (along with most other European nations) had attempted to enforce a homogeneous system of values upon its people in the belief that common values were necessary to ensure peace and harmony. Common values were seen to be the social glue that held together the social fabric. This was particularly true of religious values.

This was not a moral argument, but a practical one: society would collapse into open violence without the cohesion provided by common values. Thus, those in authority needed to centrally plan and rigorously enforce the values that should be taught to and should be practiced by the common people. After all, if people were allowed to choose and practice their own religious values, if values became a commodity open to competition, then civil chaos and conflict would inevitably ensue.

Voltaire argued that precisely the opposite was true. The process of imposing homogeneous values led only to conflict and religious wars. The society that resulted from such a process was intellectually stagnant and morally corrupt, because no questions or dissent were permitted. Instead of homogeneity and control, it was diversity and freedom that created a thriving and peaceful society. Voltaire ended his most quoted letter, On the Presbyterians with the observation: "If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of tyranny; if there were two, they would cut each other's throats; but there are thirty, and they live happily together in peace."

Perhaps one reason that Voltaire's Philosophical Letters created such a backlash from the leviathan French state was that the logic its arguments, if carried beyond religion, struck a blow at any attempt by government to impose common values or common practices on the people. Indeed, Voltaire's argument against homogeneity continues to have deep implications for the centralized policies of all governments. Those citizens who reject homogeneity in religion are naturally led to question the wisdom of many other government institutions, e.g. public schooling, which are often justified by the declared need for common values. The freedom of individuals to decide for themselves what is valuable could easily lead them to demand the right to live according to those values and to teach them to their children. It could lead to an unraveling of centralized control.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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