Self-Respect is More Important than Politics

We talk about freedom and liberty in terms of politics and government. But freedom and liberty have more to do with psychology than with politics.

Consider the psychology of shaming. If you’re a dictator, you can’t depend on government for enforcement of everything. Sure, you can issue an edict demanding that everyone wear masks, even after they’re vaccinated, “for as long as I say so until I say otherwise.” But it’s the social shaming that really enforces the rule. In states like Florida, the Governor doesn’t even require people to wear masks. But many corporate stores do. The stores can’t totally enforce the mask mandates either, but they can count on shaming to take care of the job.

In order to resist shaming, you must have a strong sense of self. You must have self-esteem, self-respect and personal autonomy. Without these qualities, it really doesn’t matter if you’re living under a dictatorship, or not. Because without self-respect you’ll create your own kind of dictatorship by submitting to everything and everyone. You’ll create your own kind of inner jail, and perhaps start to resent others for the impositions YOU permit.

Dictators love people who are submissive. They can spend less money on jails, police and prisons and more money and energy on the things dictators like.

Events of 2020 and 2021 have shocked me. Even I never realized just how LOW the self-esteem and self-respect of most people are. I look at people wearing masks in their cars (alone no less), or masks on non-crowded sidewalks where even in blue states they’re not required. It doesn’t matter. Millions of people are SO lacking in self-respect and independent thought that they volunteer to advertise, “Look at me. I obey. I conform. Please like me.”

Most of the people doing this don’t really believe wearing masks help. Most grasp the fact that if masks really protect a person, then you don’t have to wear a mask to protect others. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in rocket science to grasp that if vaccinations work (and therefore are essential), then mask-wearing should no longer be required — much less be required indefinitely (if not permanently) into the future. Most people know the absurdity of all this. It’s the SHAMING they’re afraid of. “If I don’t do what I’m told, then I will look mean or otherwise stand out in the eyes of others. THAT I cannot stand.”

A society filled with people who lack self-esteem cannot survive. If more people had even limited self-esteem — and that’s clearly, tragically not the case — then no dictatorship could ever take hold. Instead, dictators are on the march as we’ve never seen before in the United States. Just wait until the the vaccination passports start being required. Oh, and the mask mandates aren’t going anywhere either.

Self-esteem comes from a strong sense that one is able to determine what’s true without authorities — and, even more, that it’s a sacred personal responsibility to do so. I don’t know where that trait went in most Americans. Its absence has created an overwhelmingly clear and present danger to freedom itself.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

America’s Cultural Revolution

The “woke” revolution is a cultural revolution. China had one too, under Mao, before it went full blown Communist. A cultural revolution is the precursor to a totalitarian dictatorship. It’s an attempt to get people “ready” for the social transformation about to take place.

Wokeness, like all cultural revolutions, is an attempt to impose a new normal, not just with regard to masks and lockdowns, but with regard to EVERYTHING. Getting rid of Aunt Jemima and Dr. Seuss is a way of telling people, “The things you have enjoyed in life, or taken for granted? Those things are all BAD.” They’re trying to condition our thinking, more than to change our minds. They’re trying to get us to associate pleasant, charming and fun aspects of civilization with guilty, shameful and unpleasant thoughts. Consider them left-wing Puritans, more controlling and dark than the most intolerant of Puritans.

Imagine a totalitarian religious dictatorship (Muslim, Christian, it doesn’t matter) taking over the whole country. That’s what this is. It’s happening now. It’s a campaign of intimidation and moralistic self-righteousness designed to replace the attributes of reason, persuasion and common sense. Totalitarians are seeking to reshape people by force. But they know they can’t force everybody to change their minds on everything; so they resort to intimidation. It’s easier to change people through the cultural institutions — sports, television, movies, social media, books, grocery stores, food chains — that they willingly embraced all along. Even if you don’t change anyone’s minds, in a cultural revolution you put people on notice that “now everyone thinks this way…so you had better do so too!”

Wokeness appeals to human weakness. One of the greatest weaknesses in most human beings is a craving to be a part of “the pack” — to replace one’s own observation of reality with the perceived perceptions of everyone else. Mind you, each and every individual is expected now to look to “what everyone else thinks” to ascertain the truth. That’s the toxic core of the Woke Cultural Revolution in America. Its underlying premise is: “You don’t think like a CONSERVATIVE, individualist, capitalistic Bill of Rights Lover … do you?” Hilariously, everyone is looking to everyone else — who’s also looking to everyone else — to figure out what’s true. Nobody has an independent thought. It’s the intellectually and psychologically blind leading the intellectually and psychologically blind.

That’s how we ended up with such widespread and blind allegiance to mask mandates and lockdowns. Cultural revolutionists watched the unthinking conformity to the COVID hysteria, and quickly realized how uncritical and fearful most Americans had become. So they struck Americans at this vulnerable hour: And look how they’re succeeding.

They won’t win in the long run. Irrational fanatics at war with facts, reason, reality and common sense cannot ever win. By definition, their quest is not triumph or achievement; only destruction. They are the cultural equivalent of arsonists or rapists. They can burn down or destroy. But they can create or sustain NOTHING. However, like any arsonist, they can do a hell of a lot of damage in their destruction. If you think they’ll stop at Dr. Seuss, Aunt Jemima, statues of Thomas Jefferson and copies of Gone With the Wind … well, you’re clueless. And right now, they’re literally destroying our culture. Gleefully, brick by brick.

America may go down in this cultural revolution. We are going down, at this moment. Decades or centuries from now, the best of the human spirit will surely rise again. But look at what we lost in 2020 and 2021. And how rational people in the future will properly condemn and mock those of us who let it happen. “Shame, shame, shame,” chant the Cultural Marxists setting America on fire. The actual shame belongs with those of us who remain silent and fearful, as it happens right before our eyes.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

2024 is too Late; We Are Already Living in a Dictatorship

How on earth can anyone think the next “election” will come out any differently than the last one–especially after 4 years of relentless dictatorship? If Trump, as one man, can literally save all of civilization, then why couldn’t he in 2020? You can call it faith, but I call it delusional to suggest that facts can be wished away.

I cherished President Trump and will always be grateful for what he did, and also tried to do. But denial does not serve us well. The leftists played the long game. They took over the schools, the government, the media and even the corporate world. Leftists are incurably irrational, and frankly evil. But they now run everything. They are at war with reality, and they cannot ultimately win that war. They are delusional, and delusion is weakness. But it’s going to take a lot more than placing hope in another rigged election in 2024 to reverse all that they’ve done, and are prepared to do to us now. We’re at war, sadly. America is an occupied country. We are now in a position of having to defend ourselves, because these awful people are worse than the Nazis and Communists combined. Don’t hold out for 2024. It will be way too late if you do that.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Since We Now Live in a Dictatorship, Will Trump Go to Jail ?

Former President Donald Trump reacted Monday to the Supreme Court decision to reject his attempt to prevent New York prosecutors from obtaining his financial records. “The Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did,” Trump wrote in a lengthy statement to reporters in which he condemned the decision. [Breitbart]

It’s worse than a fishing expedition. We live under a dictatorship now. One party–Democrats merged with RINOs–control everything, and cannot lose future elections for reasons we know well. The dictatorship includes the Supreme Court (minus Justices Thomas and Alito) and dictators jail their vanquished opponents. I believe his opponents will ultimately jail Trump under any pretext they can find.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Coping with Life Under a Dictatorship

What can you DO about living under a former rights-respecting republic, rapidly transforming — executive order by executive order — into a dictatorship? Not a whole lot. It’s not defeatism to say so; it’s simply the truth. “President Trump will save us in 2024” does not apply. He may WANT to save us, but he can’t save us from a dictatorship, particularly when it’s a dictatorship that millions of people WANT. He’s out of the White House, isn’t he? And just wait to see what an unhinged and 100 percent politicized DOJ and FBI do to the former President and his family. We are dealing with monsters here, inept and stupid ones as all monsters are, but still monsters.

It’s too late for an election to save us. Sure, try; but don’t kid yourselves. Perhaps President Trump could find another way to “save us”, but that’s not really how freedom works. Freedom doesn’t come about because the equivalent of Superman comes to the rescue within a 60 minute window (43 minutes with commercials). Freedom is the complex result — and climax — of many, many things. And I probably don’t have to tell you: The Republican Party, upon whom Trump would depend, is no Superman.

The one thing you can do is REFUSE TO PRETEND. Refuse to participate. Within reason. You’ll have to decide what “within reason” means, in your particular circumstances. Resist wherever possible. Even passively. Think Martin Luther King. Think Ayn Rand — going on strike, even quietly. Mask rules are not going anywhere. Vaccination mandates are coming, even if only indirectly by using private airlines, grocery stores and banks to compel you to obey. We’re talking double and triple masks, even when alone in your bathroom. These people are beyond nuts.

If nothing else, just be silent, and don’t pretend to agree unless your physical life literally depends on it. The approval of your insane, crazy big-mouthed leftist neighbors, relatives or associates does not mean anything. YOU DON’T WANT THEIR APPROVAL, BECAUSE FRANKLY THEY ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE. And they are not smart people. But in the worst case, even if a gun is pointed to your head when you don’t pretend agreement with insane idiocy, nobody will ever be able to get inside your mind and inhabit your cognition, your emotions, or your innermost values. Not even Joe Biden or Kamala Harris can access those, not even with a trillion executive orders.
So protect your mind and mental state, first and foremost. Under a total dictatorship, in the extreme case, that’s all you will have. Now’s a good time to buy or download books and articles that will later be censored or cancelled. Ditto for movies. Minds and books, like music and movies or television shows, are critical, even if you have never been a reader or much of a movie watcher. We’ve come to expect whatever we want at our fingertips, but as it becomes clearer that most of the Internet is controlled by “private” companies who are part of the emerging dictatorship, you won’t always be able to access what you once took for granted.

I don’t know how far the dictatorship will go, and I don’t know how long it will last. I know it’s here, and evolving right before our eyes. It seems surreal, but it’s real. I don’t recognize the America I grew up in; I don’t even recognize the America of 2019 in today’s insane reality. The Soviet dictatorship lasted 75 years. The Maoist regime — the peak of the madness — lasted a decade or two, but China never fully abandoned dictatorship; neither did Russia. Cuba and Venezuela are Communist for as far as the eye can see.

America, on the other hand, began after armed rebellion against a dictatorship, and there’s no guarantee that history won’t repeat itself in some 21st century form. Don’t try to predict the future. There are too many variables, and you can’t do that. Be kind to yourself and accumulate everything you can (materially, intellectually, and yes, weapons of self-protection) to preserve what we once took for granted in this great country, and what we’re progressively losing by the day. And, like I said, most of all: Respect your mind. You’re always going to need your mind, whether you live under freedom, or tyranny. Dictators may rule your bodies, but they can never rule your souls; not if you don’t let them.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Biden’s Regime, Like All Dictatorships, Imposes Non-Objective “Law”

Ayn Rand nailed it when she wrote that non-objective laws form the basis of slavery and dictatorship.

That’s exactly what our newly installed totalitarian rulers are doing. Lockdowns, for example, are imposed indefinitely with no objective criteria whatsoever for ending them — other than when the tyrant/Governor/President feels like it.

Since non-objective law has worked so well, in terms of compliance, they’re now getting ready to impose it with “domestic terrorism” legislation and executive edicts. What’s the definition of “domestic terrorism”? “Extremism”, they say. What’s the concrete, objective definition of “extremism”? They won’t tell us. But Obama’s former CIA director, John Brennan, as well as AOC and others have made it clear: conservatism, libertarianism, and any other viewpoint they don’t like are on the list.

Here are Rand’s comments on non-objective law, describing the situation in America of 2021 perfectly:

When men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown “influence” will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive, if they remain in the industry at all—and compromise, conformity, staleness, dullness, the dismal grayness of the middle-of-the-road are all that can be expected of them. Independent thinking does not submit to bureaucratic edicts, originality does not follow “public policies,” integrity does not petition for a license, heroism is not fostered by fear, creative genius is not summoned forth at the point of a gun.

Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves.

…The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures. Men who attempt to prosecute crimes, without such rules, are a lynch mob. If a society left the retaliatory use of force in the hands of individual citizens, it would degenerate into mob rule, lynch law and an endless series of bloody private feuds or vendettas.

If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.

This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

… All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Leftist Dictators: Turning Our OWN Constitution Against Us

We have an ILLEGITIMATE government claiming to rest on a LEGITIMATE Constitution. That’s the very thing nearly everyone now evades. It’s so EASY to say, “Oh, those bad guys who stormed the Capitol.” But it’s a lot harder to say, “Well, whether I agree with that tactic or not — our government is no longer legitimate.” We have a “President” and now a “Democratic Senate” elevated to high office based on counterfeit votes, attained with the excuse of coronavirus. In the coming weeks and months, they will preside over an unaccountable dictatorship, violate the spirit and letter of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights while hiding behind that very Constitution for legitimacy. As Democrats-turned-fascists will discover, a grotesque and morally inverted contradiction on that scale simply won’t stand. Not even the eradication of Facebook and Twitter accounts can make facts of injustice disappear.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

The Dystopian Western World

As the second decade of the 21st century comes to an end, democracy and free speech no longer exist in the Western World. In all its respects, Western civilization no longer exists.

In the United States, which poses as the model for democracy, a presidential election has just been stolen in full view of everyone. There is expert testimony by qualified experts about how the voting machines and software were used to bias the vote count for Biden. There are hundreds of signed affidavits of eyewitnesses who saw the fraudulent use of mail-in ballots to boost Biden’s vote count. We know for facts that dead people were voted, illegal aliens were voted, out of state residents were voted, and some precincts had more votes cast than there are registered voters and even residents in the precincts.

Despite the abundance of evidence, except for members of state legislatures in some of the swing states, no one is acquainted with the evidence. The presstitutes speak with one voice and deny that any evidence exists. So do the Democrat election officials in the Democrat-controlled counties in the swing states where the presidential election was stolen. The courts have refused to even look at the evidence. The presstitutes misrepresent the courts’ refusals to examine the evidence as the judiciary’s ruling against the validity of the evidence despite the fact that no court has looked at the evidence.

The level of hostility of Biden supporters toward those who protest the electoral fraud is extraordinary. Biden supporters threaten Trump supporters with loss of employment and with arrest and prosecution. Tucker Carlson on Fox News reviews the extraordinary situation here.

Radicalized blacks, unaware that they are being used by the Establishment, see the stolen election as their chance to rule and to displace white people. That the winner is the Establishment is beyond their grasp.

It is obvious that if the evidence of election theft were bogus, the media would seize the opportunity to discredit President Trump and his supporters’ claims of electoral fraud by investigating the evidence for that purpose.

The Supreme Court knows that that the evidence is real. Being an Establishment institution, the Court does not want to damage America’s reputation by ruling that the election was stolen. Moreover, the Supreme Court Justices know that the American Establishment and its presstitutes would not accept a decision that the election was stolen. The Supreme Court understands that the Establishment intends to rid government of a non-establishment president who is hostile to the Establishment’s agendas, which include globalism, destruction of the American middle class, war, more profit and power for the ruling class, and fewer civil liberties for the governed class.

The American Establishment includes the Republican Party. In order to protect its agendas—war and US hegemony, the concentration of income and wealth, the elimination of the middle class which gave stability to the country and limited the ability of the Establishment to exercise complete control, and the overthrow of the First Amendment and our other civil liberties which limited the Establishment’s ability to control all explanations—the Establishment is willing to pay the price of the destruction of public confidence in American institutions. The Establishment assumes that it can use the ensuing conflict to its advantage. The country will be further split apart and less able to unite against the Establishment’s self-serving agendas.

Conservatives blame the presstitutes for the Russiagate hoax that for three years kept Trump from his agenda and the subsequent attempt to impeach Trump over false charges that he bribed the Ukrainian president. In actual fact, these efforts to destroy an elected president of the United States were orchestrated by the CIA and FBI. It was CIA director John Brennan who alleged Trump was a traitor in league with the Russians, and it was FBI director James Comey who contrived false indictments and false prosecutions of General Flynn, Roy Cohn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone hoping to extract in exchange for leniency false testimony against Trump. It is difficult for patriotic conservatives to get their mind around the fact that the CIA and FBI, which they think protect Americans against Russian and Chinese communists and Muslim terrorists, are in fact internal enemies of the people of the United States.

Except for a few Internet websites unknown to the majority of the people in the Western world, the only information people in the West receive is controlled explanations that serve the agendas of the Establishment. Consider Covid, for example. All experts who are critical of lockdowns, mask mandates, the suppression of effective treatments and the focus on vaccines, and who are skeptical of the seriousness of the pandemic are censored by the print and TV media and by Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. As far as I can tell, there are more real experts—and by experts I do not mean doctors and nurses brainwashed in their training by Big Pharma—who are skeptical of the agenda of public health authorities than experts who support lockdowns and vaccines.

The presstitutes serving Fauci portray the dissenting experts’ views as “conspiracy theory.” But clearly Dr. Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal and editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, is not a conspiracy theorist. As I recently reported, he has this to say:

“Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.

“The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.” 

Yet in place of such expert informed opinion, Western peoples only hear the ignorant propaganda from the bought-and-paid for whores on CNN, NPR, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, and the rest of the paid liars.

There can be no democracy, no accountability, when people only have controlled explanations that serve the ruling agendas.

The disrespect for free inquiry, the only known basis for the discovery of truth, is so powerful today throughout the Western world that even in the West’s most famous universities—Oxford and Cambridge—censorship is entrenched. Any student, especially a privileged “person of color” can brand any scientific fact, any historical fact, any expressed view or opinion to be “offensive.”

Those found to be the most offensive are white people whose statues and memorials are being taken down at both Oxford and Cambridge. The founder of the famous Oxford University Rhodes Scholarships himself has been erased. Cambridge University’s white academics and administrators have accepted a person of color as their political commissar to control their lectures, choice of words, and reading lists in order to ensure that no truth can emerge that might be declared by some ignorant student “offensive.” Of course, white students cannot complain that it is offensive to denigrate the white creators of British accomplishments as racists. The use of political commissars to control what can be spoken was the way Stalin controlled Russia. This Stalinist practice has now been institutionalized throughout the Western world in schools, universities, media, corporations, and government.

Oxford University, in an act of contrition, has proudly announced that admission to Oxford will no longer be based on the outmoded and racist concept of merit. Oxford University declared that the university is reserving 25 percent of its annual admissions to those unqualified to be at Oxford.

How are those unqualified to be at Oxford to succeed in graduating? According to Oxford, before they begin on their degree studies they will be given up to two years in remedial preparation so that they become qualified to attempt receiving a degree. In other words, they will be coached through the process. Such an act of contrition cannot possibly be permitted to fail.

In other words, Oxford has abandoned merit and is discriminating against those students who displayed merit (and their parents who fostered merit) in favor of those who did not. Twenty-five percent of those qualified to be at Oxford will not be permitted to be there in order that those not qualified to be there can be. This is what “affirmative action” amounts to.

Cambridge has abandoned academic freedom and subjected the knowledge of its distinguished faculty to censorship in subservience to the idea that truth can hurt feelings and be offensive. A university that values feelings more than truth is not a place where learning can take place.

In the event you think I am exaggerating the direness of the situation, here is an emeritus professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury explaining the factual situation.  The situation is so bad that even the professor himself is trapped in his opponents’ use of language. He refers to the truths under attack as the “dissident views.”

In the Western World the policing and censorship of thought and expression has now been institutionalized. As the native-born white inhabitants of these countries have no right or privilege to censor the attacks on them, they are set-up for second class citizenship leading eventually to extermination. Their civilization will proceed them in extermination. Indeed, it is already gone. White people are people without a culture and without a country.

Paul Craig Roberts, UNZ Review

America: An Appreciation

America, know there are countless people in the world who would gladly trade places with you.”

chose to be an American. What did you ever do, except for having been born?” —Ayn Rand

I was born under the flag of the People’s Republic of China, a country that remains under the absolute rule of the Chinese Communist Party to this day. I have very few memories of my early childhood in mainland China, save for a visit to the Forbidden City—a brief tourist stop when my family traveled to the American consulate in Beijing to apply for a visa.

While Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms eliminated the worst economic collectivization from the Mao era and gradually opened China to the outside world, political and social freedom were never fully embraced. Nevertheless, the limited opening allowed my family the opportunity to explore options for a better life. In 1993, under the kind sponsorship of an American physician, my mother left for a research position in the United States with less than $200 in her pockets. My father and I followed her a few months later, and, from the moment we landed on American soil, we put down our roots in our new adopted country.

Like the countless waves of other immigrants who came before us, my family and I arrived as strangers in a new land, found freedom and opportunity, gradually assimilated into our adopted country, and eventually worked ourselves into the upper middle class. In a time when vast swaths of the population are losing faith if not outright rejecting American founding principles, history, and institutions, I wish to provide a counternarrative for my fellow citizens and international allies who still believe in the fundamental goodness of this country and its people. Let my family history and personal experiences living in America be that story.

As long as I can remember, I despised those who sought to dominate and coerce others, whether they be the playground bully, a frenzied mob, or a tyrannical government.

My childhood growing up in Ohio was relatively carefree (as long as I met the demanding academic standards set by my parents), and I learned as much as I could about American life. Star Wars: A New Hope was the first movie I can remember watching in English. It left me completely mesmerized with ideals of heroism, adventure, and epic battles between good and evil. As a total bookworm, I made the local library my second home and frequently maxed out the limit of books a kid’s library card could check out. Although I read widely across genres, I especially enjoyed reading about the accomplishments of great individuals. Whether they were mythical heroes of ancient Greece and Rome, the American Founding Fathers, brilliant scientists, trailblazing entrepreneurs, intrepid explorers, or our modern astronauts, I was awestruck by those who left their mark in history. If there was one common theme I learned from my reading, it is that anything is possible for free peoples with free minds and the courage to use their freedom.

There was never a single political awakening moment for me. A nerd at heart, I saw myself in the spirit of freethinking scientists like Richard Feynman, Charles Darwin, and Carl Sagan, all of whom pushed the boundaries of human knowledge, refuted superstition, displaced ignorance, and carried the beacon of the Enlightenment. Long before I ever learned the intricacies of the First Amendment, I treasured the values of free speechopen debate, and unfettered inquiry. (Becoming exposed to South Park in elementary school probably helped. My culturally-ignorant immigrant parents remained blissfully unaware.) I grew up in a world where all ideas—good, bad, and ugly—were freely available (my friends quickly introduced me to those ideas the adults wanted to censor or hide) and where everything was shared nonstop. It was an eye-opening experience for this young Chinese-American boy.

As long as I can remember, I despised those who sought to dominate and coerce others, whether they be the playground bully, a frenzied mob, or a tyrannical government. I knew from the examples of my early heroes that these were the enemies they fought. Even if I had never read a single page of F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for free market economics and conservativelibertarian philosophy, as I did later in life, nothing could have stopped me from becoming a civil libertarian in the mold of Christopher Hitchens, Ira Glasser, and the old-guard ACLU.

As I grew up, my parents gradually revealed more details of their former destitute life in Maoist China, which made me grateful that I never had any experience remotely comparable here in the United States. For my parents—after starting life anew in a foreign country, establishing themselves as respected medical professionals, working their way into the upper middle-class, becoming naturalized citizens, and raising two healthy, successful children (my sister and me)—the American Dream was real as it can be.

My story is an extension of theirs. Many children of first-generation immigrants struggle with reconciling parallel lives in two worlds: the traditions and values from their ancestral homelands versus the liberal culture of America. It was not always easy, but I would like to think I have found the balance over the years. I accepted that my Chinese heritage and upbringing is a fundamental part of who I am, but I also fully embraced my identity as a full-blooded American and the limitless opportunities of this country.

This background, I believe, has provided me a unique perspective on the American political scene.

Although I hesitate to embrace political labels, I consider myself a classical liberal or libertarian and, above all, an individualist. Throughout my life, I never felt that I truly belonged to a single social clique, tribe, or political party. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Kipling was right. Being one’s own man is a very difficult path to walk, but I am proud to say that I have kept my intellectual independence and integrity and still found acceptance and success in my professional and personal life. And this was only possible in the United States of America.

But this kind of freethinking and independence is being threatened by a new form of collectivism represented by social justice ideologyintersectionalityidentity politicscritical theory, and postmodernism. Many excellent commentaries have already identified the roots and core beliefs of these ideologies and movements. Their central tenets can be summarized as follows:

  • There is no “you” as an individual. Your identity is constructed by race, gender, and class.
  • You exist only as part of a collective group. These groups are in zero-sum conflict with each other.
  • There is no objective truth, only subjective interpretations and narratives. “Truth” is only a cover that allows dominant groups to exercise power over others.
  • Scientific knowledge and even science itself is a social construct.

In sum, this new collectivism rejects the foundational principles of the Enlightenment. It is not surprising, then, that most social justice activists are hostile towards free speech, due process, and the very concept of individual rights—exemplified in our current “cancel culture.”

There is a difference between “cancel culture” and honest criticism. Jonathan Rauch prepared a thoughtful guide distinguishing the two. The latter is about finding truth, moral persuasion, and, most importantly, an attitude of good faith. The former is distinguished by punitiveness and the goal to “make the errant suffer”:

“Canceling…seeks to organize and manipulate the social or media environment in order to isolate, deplatform or intimidate ideological opponents. It is about shaping the information battlefield, not seeking truth; and its intent—or at least its predictable outcome—is to coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority.”

As early as 2015, when I first encountered social justice ideology for the first time, I was unnerved by its authoritarian undertones. Knowing the history of modern China and my family’s experiences, it was not the first time I saw the dangers and potential for tyranny when self-righteous egalitarian activists tear down institutions and run roughshod over individuals in the name of the greater good. More often than not, they proved themselves to be nothing more than humanitarians with guillotines. I cannot help but suspect people who cloak their lust for power and domination using the same rhetoric and rationales.

And I am not alone in this. As social justice ideology and its offshoots continue their long march into schools, universities (even STEM fields), corporations, professional societies, and now mainstream American life, I cannot help but notice that people who push back against groupthink and mob rule tend to be first-generation immigrants from former or current communist countries who are familiar with the collectivist tactics and propaganda from their native homelands.

Mobs invaded private neighborhoods and demanded home owners take down their American flags.

While most of this summer’s racial justice protests were peaceful, there were notable cases where activists went too far. Mobs invaded private neighborhoods and demanded home owners take down their American flags. In another high-profile incident, mobs surrounded innocent restaurant patrons and tried to force them to raise their hands in solidarity. However, what disturbed me the most were the ritual self-flagellations. Appalling videos showed white people kneeling to black organizers, confessing to racism, begging for forgiveness, and, in some cases, even washing  their feet. Similar behavior was observed in Democratic politicians—despite their actual records—who profess to be sympathetic to racial justice.

Knowing the sorry tales from my own family history, these degrading acts were eerily reminiscent of the struggle sessions from China’s Cultural Revolution. During that decade of nonstop chaos, ideologically-possessed mobs would surround victims and then verbally and physically abuse them (if not killing them outright) until they completely broke down and confessed to imaginary crimes.

These acts to coerce free human beings—to make them believe, say, and do things against their sincere conscience—crossed the line for me. Whether they take place in the United States, China, or any other country, these exercises of raw political power on the unwilling are flat-out wrong, no matter the cause or pretext.

Take it from a first-generation immigrant from a current communist regime: Forcing people to live a lie is a hallmark of tyranny. As a public service to our fellow citizens, immigrants like me have no choice but to speak out when we see the parallels. Free Americans and any self-respecting human being should resist participating in the Great Lie.  

Let me be clear: I am not blind or deaf to injustice, which existed historically and continues to exist in this country. There are deep, serious flaws with the American criminal justice system. For far too long, African Americans and other minorities have been denied the full freedoms and privileges that most white Americans enjoy and take for granted. Clark Neily at the Cato Institute had nothing but the harshest words for our present reality:

The United States’ criminal justice system is fundamentally rotten, but the effects of its dysfunction are not felt equally by all Americans. Instead, it is the marginalized and politically disenfranchised who bear the brunt of that injustice, including particularly communities of color. Although both the root causes and the significance of racial disparities in our criminal justice system are debatable, the existence of those disparities is not. And when people perceive—correctly in my judgment—that some lives are counted by the system as less sacred than others, they are going to be angry about it. And they damn well should be.

The killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and too many other black Americans were heinous crimes. I supported (as did the vast majority of Americans across ethnic groups and the political spectrum) the initial protests for accountability and justice.

In the case of George Floyd’s killing, all four officers responsible were quickly fired and charged. Public outcry made an impact and the world witnessed in America that no one was above the law. Under the American political system, We the People are the true sovereigns and can ultimately force the government to deliver accountability and respect and to expand our rights, or dissolve outright. Our track record of success is undeniable.

In a real authoritarian country, none of that would have happened. In ChinaRussiaIranSaudi ArabiaVenezuelaCuba, and other tyrannical regimes, agents of the state routinely murder, torture, rape, imprison, and violate human rights with impunity on a mass scale, and there is absolutely no recourse.

That is why comparing America’s ills to any of these is grotesque and factually wrong. For all its flaws, the United States remains a beacon of freedom and hope to the world’s oppressed peoples.

It does not stand for racism and bigotry. And this adopted son of liberty will not give it up to those who do.

We can empathize with those who suffer without being bullied into accepting the sins of others. We can stand against injustice without forsaking independent thinking and personal dignity. We can include historically-marginalized perspectives into curriculums without throwing out the best of Western canon. We can have a nuanced look into our past without being ashamed of our history.

Contrary to the claims of the 1619 Project and other revisionists, the United States was founded in 1776 on individual liberty and unalienable rights, not slavery. The American flag stands for the proposition “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It does not stand for racism and bigotry. And this adopted son of liberty will not give it up to those who do.

The fundamental principles of America—embodied in the Declaration of Independence and secured in the Constitution—belong to everyone. The promise and limitless potential of this country also belong to everyone. We will always struggle to live up to our highest ideals as long as flawed human beings continue to exist.

Americans will continue to have heated debates on the continued relevance of those principles, where we fall short, and just about every other issue one can imagine.

But to me, actions speak louder than words. When immigrants risk everything to come to the United States, they do so under the sincere belief that its ideals and promises are real. For my family and me, the American Dream is real. And I know many others share (and will share) this sentiment.

The American Dream will endure as long as we keep alive its fundamental principles and resist the current climate of entitlement, victimhood, and collectivism.

If I could offer some advice to future immigrants and to my fellow American citizens: Remember the country owes you nothing but a chance to be free. Use that freedom wisely.

No matter how frustrated or aggrieved you may be with your current life in America, know there are countless people in the world who would gladly trade places with you.

Take advantage of the myriad opportunities that are part of America’s core social fabric and run with them. Do not capitulate to bitterness and pessimism when you encounter setbacks and failure. This country offers unlimited chances to reinvent yourself.

Speak out against injustice. But do not succumb to hate and envy. Regardless of their intentions, do not let anyone exercise arbitrary power. And remember: Despite all the attempts to pigeonhole people into identity groups, in the end, there are only individual human beings.

Do not be afraid to be an individualist.

The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours.

Aaron Tao, The Atlas Society

Notes From America’s Continuing Crisis

The following are my social media posts of the last 1-2 days:

The state of Delaware (my state) is reporting that today’s COVID numbers involve a significant reduction in cases. However, they are quick to add that Monday’s numbers WILL be much higher, as they’re using a new method of computation. THEY ARE ACTUALLY SAYING THIS. Doesn’t this smack of election night? “Oh, those numbers for Biden in Michigan and Georgia are awfully low. Give us a few hours and we’ll get them up for you.” We live in truly awful, obscene times.

The State will require you to do things it has no right to make you do–like mandatory vaccines, pretending allegiance to the approved authorities, turning in your guns. It’s virtuous to lie to government officials when they’re denying you your basic individual rights. We are in the beginning stages of the kind of regimes described in novels like 1984, It Can’t Happen Here, Atlas Shrugged, etc. On our current course, it’s going to worsen.

(Response to a headline that “Democrat Gov. of Rhode Island Goes Out to ‘Wine & Paint’ Dinner After Telling Everyone to Stay Home”) More than anything, I hope to live to see the day when these abhorrent tyrants get everything they deserve. The American and French Revolutions were sparked by less than this. Where is your anger and rage, fellow patriots?

Which is worse: An open dictatorship? Or a dictatorship masquerading as the United States of America? Stop thinking there’s an America. If these people get away with it, as they have thus far, you are living in a country where your vote is a waste of time. You will answer to your government, rather than your government answering to you. They will never leave power. Honestly, we are already there.

Gavin Newsom deserves WAY worse than a recall. He should be arrested, tried and convicted as a war criminal. So should most of our nation’s governors and mayors. Imagine their fate at the hands of America’s colonists, or even a generation or two ago. What the hell happened to us?

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason