Category Archives: Our Contributors

The Politics of Victimhood

Image credit: Squiddles

Image credit: Squiddles

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

Gabby Giffords, the former Democratic Congressman from Arizona who was shot in the head at a campaign rally in 2010, has come under fire recently for exploiting her horrific experience for political gain. Using her celebrity as a famous victim of gun violence, Giffords has created a Super PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, focused on gun control legislation. Her group has produced political ads for Democratic candidates that feature other victims of gun violence, and that suggest the candidate’s opponent supports policies that contribute to such violence.

Even supporters of Giffords’ own party are uncomfortable with this electoral tactic. At Politico, Alex Isenstadt wrote recently that Giffords “has unleashed some of the nastiest ads of the campaign season, going after GOP candidates in Arizona and New Hampshire with attacks even some longtime supporters say go too far. And Republicans on the receiving end are largely helpless to hit back, knowing a fight with the much-admired survivor is not one they’re likely to win.”

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The President We Deserve?

Will Americans choose a difference course for the country this election season?

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

In 1920 H.L Mencken wrote prophetically, “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.”

Like the long tradition of antidemocrats from Plato to Founding Father Fisher Ames, Mencken believed that a democratic leader would reflect the self-interested aims and passions of the necessarily mediocre mass of voters. The disaster of Barack Obama’s administration invites reflection on the truth of this proposition.

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Still Getting Jihadism Wrong

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

President Obama’s recent claim that Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam was nothing new. Since 9/11, we have heard from both ends of the political spectrum that jihadist terror has material causes and psychological conditions created by social, political, or economic dysfunctions. This argument is an old one, and was common in the aftermath of 9/11. Typical of such thinking was Bill Clinton’s claim that “these forces of reaction [al Qaeda] feed on disillusionment, poverty, and despair.” Left unexplained is the fact that billions of other people around the world even more impoverished and hopeless have not created a multi-continental network of groups dedicated to inflicting brutal violence and mayhem on those who do not share their faith or who block their visions of global domination.

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Reasons for Political Hope

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Many Republicans are excited about the midterm elections. They see a good chance of taking over the Senate, which means they can neutralize Obama’s last few years in office. Many also are hopeful about the presidential election in 2016, though Hillary Clinton will enter that race with decided advantages. Regaining the presidency, some believe, will lead to a reprise of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, in which the country was turned from its leftward drift under Jimmy Carter.

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The Incredible Lightness of Being Barack Obama

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Barack Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly was so insubstantial, so full of airy platitudes, and so adulterated with the gaseous clichés of bankrupt internationalism and progressive bromides that I thought at any minute he might just float away.

First was the obligatory call “to renew the purpose of the U.N.’s founding,” which apparently is “to observe and enforce international norms,” the most important being “to ensure that no nation can subjugate its neighbors and claim their territory” and to promote “the path of diplomacy and peace and the ideals this institution is designed to uphold.” Such phrases are so common and uncritically received that we forget “international norms” do not exist. Different peoples have different “norms” about, for example, the use of violence to achieve their aims. Nations will sign treaties that seemingly express our norms, but that doesn’t mean they believe in them. More often, such treaties are mere mechanisms for one nation to get what it wants from another. The sorry history of U.S. arms-control treaties with the Soviet Union and then Russia, treaties the Russians violated for decades to improve their nuclear arsenal at our expense, is just one example.

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The Buckley Program Stands Up for Free Speech

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo vai FrontPage Magazine

Photo vai FrontPage Magazine

The William F. Buckley Program at Yale University lately showed bravery unusual for an academic institution. It has refused to be bullied by the Muslim Students Association and its demand that the Buckley Program rescind an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak on campus September 15. Hirsi Ali is the vocal Somalian critic of Islamic doctrine whose life has been endangered for condemning the theologically sanctioned oppression of women in Islamic culture. Unlike Brandeis University, which recently rescinded an honorary degree to be given to Hirsi Ali after complaints from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Buckley Program rejected both the MSA’s initial demand, and a follow up one that Hirsi Ali share the stage with one of her critics.

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When Activism Kills

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas

Image credit: Light Brigading

Image credit: Light Brigading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For four decades genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been vilified and caricatured as “Frankenfoods,” the abominations of mad scientists meddling with nature and putting the human race at risk. Currently, over sixty bills have been introduced in over twenty states that will require food labels indicating if the product contains GMO. Globally, over sixty countries restrict or ban GMO outright, including eight E.U. nations and countries in Africa suffering from famine and malnutrition that could be alleviated by genetically modified crops.

Critics accuse GMO of being unhealthy, increasing chemical pollution, threatening other species, causing dangerous side effects, and harming the environment. But as plant molecular biologist Robert Goldberg of UCLA points out, “In spite of hundreds of millions of genetic experiments involving every type of organism on earth, and people eating billions of meals without a problem, we’ve gone back to being ignorant.”

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The Truth About Science and Religion

by Terry Scambray // American Thinker
Photo via www.drroyspencer.com

Photo via www.drroyspencer.com

 

In 1925 the renowned philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead speaking to scholars at Harvard said that science originated in Christian Europe in the 13th century.  Whitehead pointed out that science arose from “the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher”, from which it follows that human minds created in that image are capable of understanding nature.The audience, assuming that science and Christianity are enemies, was astonished.

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‘To Hell With the Constitution!’

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Photo via www.newrepublic.com

Photo via www.newrepublic.com

In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt intervened in a strike by Pennsylvania coal miners, exceeding his Constitutional authority as president. When this was pointed out to him by Republican House whip James E. Watson, Roosevelt allegedly yelled, “To hell with the Constitution when the people want coal!”

This outburst reflected the novel Progressive view of the Chief Executive. Instead of the Constitution’s limited powers focused on specific needs, such as national defense, beyond the capacity of the individual states or local governments to address, the President needed more expansive authority in order to serve the “people.” Over 100 years later, Barack Obama has governed on the same assumption, one that undermines the Constitution’s structure of balanced powers and limited government, and puts at risk our political freedom and autonomy.

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Obama’s Foreign Policy of Empty Words

“When force threatens, talk is no good.” 

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

That line from John Ford’s classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance contains wisdom everyone from peasant to king knew before our modern age and its smug illusions. Go back 2,400 years, and you can hear it from the Athenian orator Demosthenes as he chastises his fellow citizens for responding to Macedonian aggression by “forever debating the question and never making any progress” and issuing “empty decrees.” “All words, apart from action,” Demosthenes warned, “seem vain and idle, especially from Athenian lips: for the greater our reputation for a ready tongue, the greater the distrust it inspires in all men.” We’ve had several years now of watching Obama and his foreign policy team prove this eternal truth as they have feebly and fecklessly responded to crisis after crisis in Ukraine, Syria, and a dozen other venues.

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