08/22/20

Woke Capitalism: How Huge Corporations Demonstrate Status by Endorsing Political Radicalism

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

Woke Capitalism: How Huge Corporations Demonstrate Status by Endorsing Political RadicalismIt’s a rather strange claim of the American far left that their interests are opposed to that of corporate America because there’s virtually no evidence to support it. Quite the contrary: During the wave of Black Lives Matter rioting that took place during the early summer of 2020, American corporations marched in lockstep. Not only did they use social media to swear fealty to this political movement, but they also made massive internal changes in conformity with BLM propaganda.

It’s called “woke capitalism” and while it’s not necessarily new, it’s certainly more prevalent than it ever has been. The term itself was coined by conservative editorial writer Ross Douthat in 2018. He succinctly summed up what woke capitalism is: superficial nods toward cultural leftism that allow the company to do what it really exists to do – make money.

You might be confused or think that there’s something ironic or askew about major corporations backing supposed “rebel” ideologies. However, this stems from a very superficial understanding of the topic. When we delve deeper into it, the motivation for large corporations siding with ostensibly “anti-capitalist” groups will come clearly into focus.

What is “Wokeness?”: Understanding “Critical Theory” and The Frankfurt School

Before going any further, we should spend some time defining what “wokeness” means.

Wokeness is a kind of shorthand for an area of the American political left that is obsessed with identity politics. This is, as the name would imply, the politics of identity. Thus, people are not rational actors, nor are they necessarily economic units. Rather, they are little more than a collection (or, in the parlance of this ideology, the intersections) of skin color and séxuality.

The socioeconomic class might enter into this, but if it does, it’s generally as an afterthought. While Marxism might play some influential role, the wokists are far more likely to locate the revolutionary subject in, for example, trans-identified black men than it is the working class.

One can understand the hostility of the “woke” to the Bernie Sanders campaign in this context: it is much more revolutionary under the guidelines established by wokism, to put more racial minorities with unusual séxual identities on the board of Lockheed-Martin and Goldman-Sachs than it is to provide for greater economic equality on behalf of their workers.

The bedrock of wokeness is not classical Marxist socialism, but something called “critical theory” and in particular its variant “critical race theory.” This has its roots in the Frankfurt School and an early 20th-century Italian philosopher and politician named Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci’s big idea was that cultural power preceded political power. Thus, to have a Marxist political revolution, one first needed a Marxist cultural revolution. This was to be accomplished by a “long march through the institutions.” What this means is that leftists were to infiltrate every institution of significance and gain power within them.

We can see the result of this idea today. While American leftists bear little, if any, resemblance to Marxists of old, they have penetrated our institutions and dominate culturally – in academiain entertainment and increasingly in the economic sphere as well. If one were to read the Communist Manifesto, there are a series of demands at the end, most of which have come to fruition such as universal public education, a progressive income tax, a national bank, and the industrialization of agriculture.

This isn’t to say that there is a massive Gramscian conspiracy with thousands of members. Such a thing would be completely impossible to prove or disprove. However, the kernel of the idea has taken root, in part thanks to bona fide promotion in academia, and in part because it simply seems to have largely been a successful operation.

Thus “critical theory” is effectively a sociological philosophy and method that involves constant ideological attacks on Western civilization. Its guiding principle is that Western civilization is based on subjugation, dominance, and tyranny. This takes many forms including “racism,” “patriarchy,” “heteronormativity” and “cisséxism” – all of which are predicated upon weaponized guilt.

Weaponized guilt is essentially taking those elements of Western and Anglo-Saxon culture, which prize even-handedness and “fair play,” and turning them against the culture itself. Indeed, the selection of the name “Black Lives Matter” is a masterstroke in weaponizing guilt: The only possible disagreement (or so say the advocates and allies of the movement) is that you don’t think black lives do actually matter. But, of course, except for extremely isolated, marginalized, and numerically insignificant pockets, virtually everyone agrees that all lives have the same value. Indeed, it is a cornerstone of Western civilization and Christian teaching that this is true. It is nearly axiomatic. The Declaration of Independence declares that the basic equality of men is “self-evident.” No one would even know where to begin “arguing” this, simply because it is so accepted as a fact.

It’s worth noting that wokeness largely entered the American political vernacular after the fall of the Occupy Movement. This is not an endorsement of either the Occupy Movement specifically, nor economic reductionism and confiscatory tax redistribution schemes more generally. However, it is worth noting that the corporate affinity for a seemingly “radical” form of politics requiring nothing in the way of actual financial sacrifice began after the death of a political movement demanding corporate accountability and economic redistribution starting at the very top.

The Business Side of Things

Woke Capitalism: How Huge Corporations Demonstrate Status by Endorsing Political RadicalismA “conspiracy,” or however we wish to define it, is not the only reason that Wall Street loves wokeness. Beyond the misdirection, there is also a lot of money to be made catering to the woke. This has nothing to do with what “most people” in America want or need. Rather, it has to do with catering to those on the coasts and within bigger cities in the interior of our nation.

Almost all of the income growth in America over the last ten years has been concentrated in cities in Southern California, Silicon Valley, and the Pacific Northwest, hotbeds of leftism in general, and wokism in particular. However, even places outside of these regions that have seen income growth tend to be far left-leaning. Examples include Austin, TX, Denver, CO and Nashville, TN.

What this means is that the larger companies in America, including the big banks in New Yorkthe tech companies in Silicon Valley, the entertainment industry in southern California and the cable news companies that cover the goings-on in Washington, D.C., are all interested in chasing after the dollar of urban wokes. Increased wealth concentration, including the massive transfer of wealth that happened under the COVID-19 panic and subsequent lockdown, has made big companies increasingly the only game in town, with smaller, more responsive Main Street American businesses becoming more and more marginalized where they continue to exist at all.

It’s not that big companies think they’re too good for your money – they just know that you don’t have anywhere else to go.

The Colin Kaepernick sneaker incident is an excellent example of woke capitalism in action. In times past, companies generally avoided wading into controversial social issues. After all, in the words of Michael Jordan, “Republicans buy shoes too.” But in an attempt to appeal to Generation Z (also known as “Zoomers”), many companies are deciding that it’s worth alienating rural and exurban flyover people in favor of courting the woke dollar.

For Nike and many other companies, this commitment to “social justice” doesn’t run much deeper than marketing. Nike knows it has a disproportionately black customer base. But only 8 percent of their vice presidents are black. What’s more, the company is notorious for using sweatshop labor in the third world to produce its expensive sneakers.

Some other quick notes on the purchasing power of the woke left: While there is certainly no direct overlap between a college education and being a radical wokist, the woke are certainly clustered around America’s college campuses and the cities that they move to after graduation. (The average college graduate is going to earn over $1 million more than their less-educated counterpart over the course of their life.)

There is also the specter of the unmarried and the childless: these people will also have significantly greater disposable income than married couples with children living in smaller flyover cities.

All of this adds up to a very lucrative market, both for catering to the woke and pillorying the unwoke. There is no shortage of examples of either on your television during commercials.

Wokeism’s Radical Evangelism: Diversity Training Seminars

One of the most disturbing elements of wokism is its evangelistic quality. As we saw during the riots of 2020, it was not enough simply to not be racist. One was now required to be an active “anti-racist” under the definition and terms established by the woke. Those who failed to comply were often attacked in a way that went far beyond simply being hassled online. People’s jobs and livelihoods were attacked in a manner befitting a Communist dictatorship.

The very notion of dialogue and civil debate isn’t just missing. There’s deep hostility to the notion that there is any point of view other than the most woke possible. There is a line in the sand: On one side, there are the people who believe that America is a profoundly racist country and that this colors every aspect of our history. On the other side, there’s anyone who is even mildly skeptical of this – and the people on this side are “white supremacists.” By the logic of wokism, these people deserve anything that happens to them (including being “canceled”).

What this means is that wokism does not simply operate in the background of the rest of society. You cannot simply ignore the cringe-inducing woke commercials on your television and not click the frankly hateful and racist articles of the woke online. Your compliance is a required aspect of wokism. Think back to the social media phenomenon of large companies denouncing alleged “white supremacy” with a black square. Compliance with this was required as if one were painting blood over their threshold to avoid the plague of the firstborn in ancient Egypt.

Corporations have begun echoing this rhetoric on social media, but there is a far more insidious element of wokism’s radical evangelism: the “diversity training seminars” that are now de rigueur in the workplace. While often positioned as some kind of politically neutral gathering to increase workplace cohesion, these are in fact little more than Maoist struggle sessions – for all employees. We categorically reject the assumption that these are any more comfortable for non-white employees than they are for the white ones.

So what goes on at these seminars? There was a taxpayer-funded seminar in Seattle that acts as an excellent exemplar of such.

It was called “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness.” This has nothing to do with eliminating racism as is commonly understood. If we’re being frank, we can probably agree that individual racism has largely been eradicated in America, especially among educated people. This seminar and others like it are about pillorying whites and eroding workplace solidarity – and also about cushy little gigs for those giving the seminars, which aren’t cheap.

The seminar includes instruction in qualities that allegedly represent “white supremacy.” These include objectivity, perfectionism, and comfort. They also ascribe some rather insidious qualities to whites in toto: arrogance, violence, and anti-blackness. These are the exact words used by the seminar.

Employees are urged to engage in “self-talk” that “affirms complicity in racism.”

As is often the case, there is not really a “right” answer for whites taking the seminar. Talk too much at one of these events and you’re imposing yourself and dominating the conversation. Talk too little and “silence is violence.”

The Seattle seminar was only for white employees. So to be clear, the City of Seattle used taxpayer dollars to propagandize at and pillory white employees in a segregated forum. While investigating the seminar using public records requests, City Journal editor Christopher F. Rufo was unable to find any information about who ran the seminar or how much it cost the taxpayers.

While the seminar might sound extreme, it’s not. In fact, these are happening all across the country in America’s workplaces and on our college campuses – and many times even in elementary schools. They are totalitarian in nature but are increasingly a requirement of continued employment. Employees who push back against them can expect disciplinary measures up to and including termination of their employment. There is also the specter of “racism” hanging above anyone with even the slightest opposition or skepticism: they must be secret racists or else they’d be as gung ho as everyone else.

Many have noted the religious aspects of wokism that go beyond its evangelical zeal. This includes a concept of “original sin” (whiteness), holds blacks and (to a lesser degree) indigenous peoples as a sort of “holy” race, and has a process for confession. However, one aspect of religious thought is missing – there is no process for redemption in the world of the woke. One may “do the work” as the saying goes, but there is no way to complete it and be redeemed. The fallen are simply fallen and constantly repaying their debt in a sort of state of karmic bankruptcy.

White Fragility: The Communist Manifesto of Woke Capitalism

Woke Capitalism: How Huge Corporations Demonstrate Status by Endorsing Political RadicalismEvery ideology and movement has its foundational text. In the case of woke capitalism, this is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. She earns a whopping $12,000 a day to lecture white people on their alleged racism. That doesn’t include travel expenses, meals, or accommodations. Good work if you can get it and she does: DiAngelo has worked with companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Nike, Facebook, Under Armour, CVS, Goldman Sachs, and American Express.

DiAngelo’s critics are not restricted to the right. Socialist journalist and podcaster Matt Taibbi has described her writing as espousing a “Hitlerian race theory.” Others have criticized the book for robbing black people of agency or condescending to them in other ways.

The term “white fragility” itself works a kind of magic for DiAngelo and the proponents of this theory. It is, for them, axiomatic that all white people are racist simply for existing. Any words or actions whites take in their defense are de facto evidence of white fragility.

While $12,000 a day might sound like a lot of money, we should compare the corporate cost of a DiAngelo seminar to increasing wages for workers, or offering additional benefits, or providing mentoring programs for new employees or literally anything that might benefit employees in the long term. Such programs would be extremely costly in comparison to the piddling cost associated with a day of lost productivity spent on indoctrination, which also has the important side benefits of eroding worker solidarity and providing a cheap and easy PR win for woke consumers.

Woke Capitalism and Governance

It hardly seems worth explaining how much power large corporations have over the United States. However, we should take a moment to examine the power that woke capitalism wields over public policy.

Consider the proposition, totally uncontroversial within living memory, that biological séx is a real thing. Note that this does not require some rigid enforcement of social expression of gender: one does not need to believe that “boys wear blue and girls wear pink” to accept the existence of biological séx. But states have been targeted by large businesses for the crime of codifying this belief, again, totally uncontroversial in recent times. North Carolina was brought to heel by a coordinated corporate boycott of the state after it passed a law barring trans-identified men from women’s bathrooms. All told, the boycotts cost the state nearly $4 billion.

The 2017 boycott of North Carolina is hardly the only example of woke corporations bringing state governments to heel. For example, when Georgia passed a law defending the rights of the unborn, Hollywood leaped to action. Because a lot of television shows and movies are filmed in Georgia – for the cheap labor and tax incentives – the entertainment industry quickly declared that it would boycott Georgia if it passed a law restricting abortion.

Even state flags aren’t safe from the attack of woke capitalism. The SEC and the NCAA publicly discussed a boycott of the state of Mississippi, as did other companies. This was during the moral panic about “racism” that followed the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

One political entity that woke capitalism does not see fit to challenge? The People’s Republic of China. Indeed, the NBA brought a general manager to heel over his support of Hong Kong democracy protesters. The normally outspoken coach Steve Kerr was strangely silent on the topic. And while the NBA has now approved political statements on jerseys, “Free the Uighurs” isn’t one of them.

The Woke Corporate Stasi

If the only problem were state governments being undermined, woke capitalism would still be a serious problem. However, there are numerous examples of private individuals being targeted by woke mobs with quick compliance from their corporate overlords. Indeed, socialist podcaster Aimee Terese has likened the woke mob to a sort of HR department vigilantism. The language of these totalitarian mobs is often remarkably similar to that which is used by HR departments, particularly when they roll out diversity training seminars.

A graphic designer at the Washington Post was fired after it was revealed that she attended a 2018 party in blackface. She was confronted at the party, left in tears, and apologized to her hosts the very next day. None of this was enough for the woke mob. The designer was fired after a large – and largely manufactured by the Post itself – outrage. Many editors at the Post found themselves deeply uncomfortable with the decision to run an article outing the woman. Around the same time, a 62-year-old communications chief at Boeing was fired for comments he made in 1987 at the age of 29. The man was very clear that these were not his opinions today. For reference, Barack Obama opposed same-séx marriage until 2015, which means he opposed it during both of his presidential campaigns.

In what is perhaps the most outrageous example of woke mobs getting a man fired, a truck driver was terminated after he flashed an “OK” hand sign, which is claimed by many to now be a symbol of white supremacy. Even after an investigation into the matter by his employer, he was fired.

Why Woke Capitalism?

Woke Capitalism: How Huge Corporations Demonstrate Status by Endorsing Political RadicalismIf all of this has you wondering “why,” you’re not alone. Many have pondered the question of why corporations want to take a stake in politics. It goes without saying that there is a massive political advantage to corporations being able to throw their weight around in this way and that there is little reason for them to not attempt to claim power whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. What’s more, diversity training seminars and woke mobs make it much easier to fire – and thus control – employees.

The best part is that this kind of progressive posturing comes at absolutely no cost to the company. They don’t have to pay their younger workers in expensive cities higher wages, thus opening up the possibility of employment to those whose parents cannot subsidize the first few years of their careers. They don’t have to offer onsite childcare or other tangible – and expensive – benefits that might actually address some of the issues that these corporations feign concern about. Instead, they can pay the relatively inexpensive annual fee for a diversity training seminar, throw out some woke branding on social media, and be done with the matter.

But don’t expect the Washington Post to demand that Amazon start paying taxes anytime soon.

There is a sort of cliche online about corporate wokeness: “get woke, go broke.” But the Quillette did some research into this and found it to not be true: In fact, all metrics point toward wokeness having absolutely no impact on the company’s bottom line either way. So why do they do it?

We’ve hinted at the reason for woke capitalism throughout this article. It is a form of misdirection whereby huge companies can avoid dealing with thorny labor relations issues by throwing a bone to leftist cultural interests. Remember that the left and the Democratic Party are formerly fixated on issues of economics and class rather than social issues and race. The former is a much more expensive position for large corporations than the latter.

But we should also mention that there are potentially toxic unintended consequences of woke capitalism. It’s not our contention that whites in America are an oppressed class, but it’s clear that anti-white racism is socially acceptable: You’re not going to get banned from Twitter for tweeting out “I hate white people.” What’s more, whites believe that they are increasingly the target of racism.

Whether or not this is true is entirely beside the point. The perception is far more important than the reality when discussing this topic. Inflaming racial animosity between whites and everyone else will have dire consequences for the nation as a whole, especially during a time of declining wages, increased political instability, and eroding social solidarity. The end result of goading the American public into viewing their problems as largely stemming from race, rather than economics, might well have profoundly dire consequences for both the social fabric and for the individuals that constitute it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that woke capitalism is very much the free market in action. There is a benefit to the erosion of certain social values that have maintained Western civilization for hundreds of years. Woke capitalism is an attack on the nuclear family and Western civilization while providing nothing in its place. After all, who makes for better consumers than childless automatons whose only values are the prevailing cultural diktats of the day?

08/15/20

Joe Biden on Gun Control: Understanding Biden’s 2020 Platform and the Second Amendment

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

Joe Biden on Gun Control: Understanding Biden's 2020 Platform and the Second AmendmentThe one-two punch of the Wuhan Coronavirus explosion, and the civil unrest of early 2020, led to unprecedented growth in firearms ownership in America. All told, there were about two million firearms sold in the month of March 2020 alone. Between March and July, an additional three million were sold, with about half of those happening in the month of June.

Ammunition sales have similarly spiked, with record sales occurring on this website. However, gun owners don’t need a report to know that there has been a massive surge in demand for ammunition. They need only go down to their local gun store and see that all of the most common rounds are in short supply, sold out, or being rationed at the point of sale.

But it’s not just guns and ammo. There has also been a significant increase in the number of Americans obtaining their concealed carry weapons permit and packing on a daily basis. Forbes magazine estimates that 20 million Americans are now carrying as part of their everyday life.

The flipside of this is that Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign has been perhaps the most radically anti-Second Amendment campaign on record. Former Vice President Biden is very proud of his role in spiriting the 1994 gun ban into passage. If he’s elected, we will see an expansion of the power of the federal government and attacks on the rights of Americans that will not be restricted to the ownership of firearms. As president, Biden would resume the Obama-era attacks on the suburbs ended by President Trump, give citizenship (and voting rights) to nearly 30 million illegal aliens and use the Federal Reserve to address a “racial wealth gap.”

However, Biden’s desire to erode the Second Amendment deserves special attention. It is a radical agenda that will gut the right to bear arms in this country. Does that sound like bluster and hyperbole? It’s not.

Joe Biden’s Record: What He Says vs. What He’s Done

Joe Biden on Gun Control: Understanding Biden's 2020 Platform and the Second AmendmentThere are two ways to determine how a potential President Joe Biden would govern with regard to the Second Amendment: What he says and what he has done. As Joe Biden has been out of government since 2017, we will start with his history as a legislator and as Vice President of the United States.

Joe Biden has a very long record of being anti-Second Amendment. He voted for the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, which was primarily a series of gimmes to gun grabbers in exchange for getting the ATF to leave law-abiding gun owners alone. If you’ve ever wanted to own an M-16, but can’t afford one because of the high price of the related tax stamp, you can thank Joe Biden for that.

Biden was also instrumental in the passage of the Brady Bill. This law, until the creation of the NICS background check system, provided for a five-day waiting period to purchase a firearm. He brags about his role in passing this bill into law on his campaign website, saying “In 1994, Biden – along with Senator Dianne Feinstein – secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.”

Far more concerning, however, is that, as a Senator, Joe Biden literally wrote the bill that banned so-called “assault weapons” in the United States for 20 years. This assault weapons ban defined “assault weapons” in an extremely broad sense. Under the law, the definitions of an assault weapon were as follows:

Rifles:

  • Flash suppressors or barrels threaded for them
  • Pistol grips
  • Folding and telepathic stocks
  • Bayonet mounts
  • Grenade launchers

Pistols:

  • Semi-automatic versions of any automatic firearm
  • An unloaded weight of over 50 ounces
  • Threaded barrels designed to accommodate flash suppressors, barrel extenders, suppressors and handgrips
  • Barrel shrouds

Shotguns:

  • Pistol grips
  • Detachable magazines
  • Folding and telescopic stocks

The law likewise targeted a number of specific firearms that were widely popular with American gun owners. This included the Colt AR-15, the INTRATEC TEC-9 (which were popular with the Roof Koreans who defended Koreatown during the LA riots of 1994), and the Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil.

Not only were most of these restrictions unconstitutional, they were also largely useless. Many gun companies continued manufacturing virtually identical versions of firearms that had been banned by the law, removing only minor cosmetic features to get themselves into compliance. Numerous studies found that there was virtually no impact on violent crime throughout the United States.

If we are being generous, this can be seen as a misguided attempt to curb urban violent crime. If we are being more cynical, it was little more than a power grab.

The law expired on September 13, 2004. There have been several attempts to reintroduce the law, all of which have been unsuccessful.

Joe Biden’s 2020 Platform

Joe Biden on Gun Control: Understanding Biden's 2020 Platform and the Second AmendmentFor most of his political career, Joe Biden has operated as a sensible centrist within the Democratic Party. While one can argue that his positions are outside of conservatism, they have certainly not historically been outside the mainstream of American political thought. However, Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign is a whole different animal.

Joe Biden is running for president on a highly radical platform. There are a number of reasons why the former personal envoy of the credit card industry, the man who made it impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, has pivoted toward appealing to the woke crowd. The reasons are unimportant, however. We can definitively say, without speculation as to motive, that Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign is perhaps the most radical political campaign in modern American history. Nowhere is this more clear than on the subject of firearms.

Why Language Matters

The official website for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign defines gun violence as a “public health epidemic.” This might sound like boilerplate, but in fact, it is language designed to lay the groundwork for moving firearms restrictions under the purview of the FDA. This alphabet organization has broad leeway to ban, tax, and regulate anything deemed a danger to public health.

He also cites a commonly used weasel statistic to advocate for such: that 40,000 Americans die from firearm-related injuries every year. This includes every firearms-related death – suicides, accidental discharges, shootouts between gangland figures where no innocent bystander is killed, self-defense actions. And while any death is certainly tragic, this is simply not what anyone means when they talk about “gun violence.”

All told, there were 14,542 gun homicides in 2017, less than half of the statistic that Biden cites in his platform. This doesn’t even crack the top 10 causes of death in the United States, according to the CDC. More Americans died of septicemia in 2017 than gun homicides, yet there is no public health crusade against this.

Removing Protections for Gun Manufacturers

In a related campaign promise, Biden says that he will “hold gun manufacturers accountable” for the use of their products. This means that the families of shooting victims will be able to file civil suits against gun manufacturers to obtain damages related to the misuse of their products in crimes. This is an attempt at corporate gun control through the backdoor. When facing such liability, gun manufacturers will be inundated with frivolous lawsuits that will cause them to either go out of business or discontinue their civilian lines entirely. Biden has previously voted to repeal these protections, which is another point he brags about on his website:

“In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.”

Banning “Assault Weapons” by Executive Order

Even if a President Joe Biden cannot get a new “assault weapons” ban to be passed, he plans to use an executive order to ban the importation of such weapons into the United States. His campaign website boasts that he will accomplish this “while working to pass this legislation… using his executive authority.” This would end the market for a number of lower-cost imports into the United States, restricting the Second Amendment rights of many low-income Americans who cannot afford high-priced domestic options. He also states that any new gun ban would be informed by the last one, meaning that it would be far more sweeping and ban a far greater number of weapons features than the 1994 bill.

Regulating Existing “Assault Weapons”

But what about the AR-15 you already purchased? Biden plans to use the National Firearms Act to regulate the possession of these firearms. His language on his website is vague and this is probably intentional. “Regulate” can mean just about anything, allowing him to either do something minor and claim victory or to enact sweeping changes without the hurdle of legislative approval.

When it comes to buybacks, his language becomes more clear: Those who now own “assault weapons” – whatever that means, either under newly passed legislation or executive fiat – will have to either sell them back to the government or register them with the ATF under the National Firearms Act:

“As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.“

Registration, of course, will be a prelude to confiscating these arms, either under the Biden Administration or future administrations even more hostile toward the Second Amendment. He would also seek to limit the number of firearms a person can purchase in a single month to one and close the so-called “gun show loophole.”

Using Mental Health to Ban Firearms Ownership

Joe Biden on Gun Control: Understanding Biden's 2020 Platform and the Second AmendmentThis should all be alarming to you. But unfortunately, it gets much worse. A Biden Administration would attempt to prevent Americans from owning firearms on the basis of “mental health” reasons. While this might sound reasonable (who wants a paranoid schizophrenic with a cache of AR-15s?), it is, in fact, a very troubling development. There are millions of Americans seeking treatment for anything from depression to anxiety. Oftentimes this isn’t representative of any underlying medical condition. People are simply having a hard time and reaching out for a little help – precisely what they are supposed to do.

This initially will only exclude people that have been adjudicated by the Social Security Administration as being unfit to manage their own affairs. But it is extremely unlikely that this will not be quickly expanded.

Closing the “Loopholes”

Biden also seeks to close a number of “loopholes” in the law that aren’t actually loopholes at all, such as:

  • The “Hate Crime” Loophole: This would deprive the right to bear arms from anyone who has received a politically motivated “hate crimes” enhancement to a misdemeanor – potentially making petty crimes like vandalism a pretext for depriving Americans of their Constitutional rights anytime an overzealous left-wing prosecutor decided to pursue a “hate crimes” enhancement. Please note that flags such as the Betsy Ross flag and the Gadsden flag have become labeled as “white supremacist” images in recent years, so don’t think you need to be wearing a swastika armband to receive such an enhancement.
  • The Charleston Loophole: This alleged “loophole” allows people to purchase a firearm if they have not received authorization to do so under the NICS system in three business days. Biden seeks to extend this to ten business days – effectively making Americans wait up to two weeks to purchase firearms.
  • The “Fugitive From Justice” Loophole: Biden wants to remove the right to keep and bear arms from 500,000 Americans who were declared by the Trump Administration to not actually be “fugitives from justice.”

As we can see, none of the above are actually “loopholes.” They are simply laws that Biden and his constituents do not care for. We should all be troubled by the Biden Administration working within legitimate legislative channels to roll back the rights of our fellow citizens. However, Biden isn’t even promising to do that: He plans to erode and cripple American Second Amendment rights through executive fiat.

Banning Online Sales

Get your ammunition and firearms online? Not under a Biden Administration. Beyond ammo and guns, Biden seeks to ban the online purchase of gun “kits,” such as 85 percent lowers or even parts for your weapons:

“Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.”

Those who have exotic or antiquated weapons will have an extremely difficult time finding the parts they need to keep their weapons operational. So-called “ghost guns” will likewise be banned under a potential President Biden.

Gun Confiscation and Licensure Requirements

Joe Biden on Gun Control: Understanding Biden's 2020 Platform and the Second AmendmentThe Biden platform includes creating a gun confiscation framework overseen by the ATF and the FBI. Ostensibly, this is to remove weapons from the hands of people who are no longer legally allowed to own them, such as felons and those awaiting charges. However, it is important to note that even if this is restricted to removing guns from the hands of felons and those awaiting charges now, that it can easily be used, in tandem with the new gun registration apparatus, to confiscate firearms from law-abiding Americans.

“As president, Biden will direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment processes on their own.”

Biden does not seek a federal “red flag” law, but he does seek to “incentivize the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them.” He would also seek to “incentivize” licensure requirements for Americans to own firearms.

Using Big Tech to Spy on Americans

A Biden Administration would spend government time and resources digging up threats on the taxpayer’s dime. He would create a “Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse” to identify the “connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women.” This amounts to little more than a politically motivated creation of a committee to partner with Big Tech to snoop on Americans with the aim of depriving them of their Second Amendment rights.

Expanding the ATF and Other Gun Control Tactics

The Biden platform would move to require all gun manufacturers to eventually manufacture only so-called “smart guns.” He would pass a law that would require all gun owners to keep their firearms in a gun safe, dramatically increasing the cost of ownership of firearms. The Biden DOJ would prioritize the prosecution of “straw purchasers” – a stark departure of Obama-era policy where the DOJ worked closely with them, eventually allowing narco-terrorists and Islamic terrorists access to heavy firepower. Local and state law enforcement would be informed whenever someone failed a background check. The State Department would take measures to block code from the Internet that might be used to 3D print a gun in someone’s home. He seeks a far more robust ATF than already exists. Finally, he would prohibit state and local governments from training teachers in how to defend their students with firearms.

The bottom line to all of this is that the Biden Administration would work to further erode American Second Amendment protections than any other before it. It is just one component of a radical agenda that has taken over the Biden campaign. Whether or not Biden actually believes any of this and whether or not he has simply had his campaign hijacked by more radical forces is beside the point – which is that the Biden Administration would actively pursue police-state measures against law-abiding gun owners in the United States.

If you have a friend who is a new gun owner, who is unaware of the stakes in this election, we urge you to share this material with them.

08/12/20

Harris and Biden Spell Doom for Americans’ Gun Rights

By: Editorial Staff | The Gun Study

If there was any question why gun sales have shot through the roof (pun intended) in 2020, it’s not just Coronavirus and national protests. Election years stoke the flames that fuel Americans’ pursuit of the Second Amendment. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who today became the Democrat nominee for Vice President, may be two of the most radically ‘progressive’ candidates ever nominated. They’ve both proposed draconian gun control measures. Harris herself believes Americans don’t possess the individual right to own a gun. She thinks it conflicts with public safety, but more on that later. These two candidates’ gun control measures dowse those constitutional flames with kerosene. While we hurdle chaotically toward November 3rd, 2020, let’s unpack some of the anti-gun statements and campaign promises made by Democrat front-runners Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.

Riding the liberal energy that has swept the nation this year, Joe Biden’s campaign website proudly displays a long list comprising the various gun control measures he promises to institute if he wins the Oval Office. Before getting into those initiatives, though, Biden’s web page introduces a damning figure: Forty-thousand Americans die as a result of firearm injuries every year (the data cited only cover 2017). It’s a smart tactic by Biden’s propagandists; briefly glossing over this number sets up just how justifiable the Democrat candidate’s gun control policies must be. We think it’s important to note that six in ten of 2017’s gun-related deaths were suicides, leaving approximately 14,542 cases of murder with a firearm.

If Biden wants to justify gun control with this number, let’s put it into context. The Department of Justice says almost 70,000 Americans use a firearm in self-defense every year. A comprehensive survey conducted by Gary Kleck in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology found between 2.1 and 2.5 million Americans use a gun defensively each year. Going by the DOJ’s figures, firearms are used for lawful self-defense, that is, to save lives, five times more than they are used in a murder. Going by Kleck’s peer-reviewed study, the figures aren’t even comparable. Even though more than 10,000 Americans die each year from drunk driving, no one is discussing a new prohibition. Certainly not Joe Biden. Blaming alcohol for DUIs and banning it doesn’t make sense nor does it work, remember? We digress. Biden’s gun control plan, straight from the dog-faced pony soldier’s mouth:

  • Hold gun manufacturers accountable. In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.
  • Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will:
  • Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons. This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994 bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons.
  • Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements, such weapons are rarely used in crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.
  • Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.
  • Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.
  • Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The federal background check system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is one of the best tools we have to prevent gun violence, but it’s only effective when it’s used. Biden will enact universal background check legislation and close other loopholes that allow people who should be prohibited from purchasing firearms from making those purchases. Specifically, he will:
  • Require background checks for all gun sales. Today, an estimated 1 in 5 firearms are sold or transferred without a background check. Biden will enact universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members. This will close the so-called “gun show and online sales loophole” that the Obama-Biden Administration narrowed, but which cannot be fully closed by executive action alone.
  • Close other loopholes in the federal background check system. In addition to closing the “boyfriend loophole” highlighted below, Biden will:
  • Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. In 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration finalized a rule to make sure the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to the background check system records that it holds of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms because they have been adjudicated by the SSA as unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons. But one of the first actions Donald Trump took as president was to reverse this rule. President Biden will enact legislation to codify this policy.
  • Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will enact legislation prohibiting an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
  • Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days. Biden will also direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put on his desk within his first 100 days as president a report detailing the cases in which background checks are not completed within 10 business days and steps the federal government can take to reduce or eliminate this occurrence.
  • Close the “fugitive from justice” loophole created by the Trump Administration. Because of actions by the Trump Administration, records of almost 500,000 fugitives from justice who are prohibited from purchasing firearms were deleted from the background check system. The Biden Administration will restore these records, and enact legislation to make clear that people facing arrest warrants are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • End the online sale of firearms and ammunition. Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.
  • Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons. Federal law defines categories of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, and the federal background check system is an effective tool for ensuring prohibited persons cannot purchase firearms. But we lack any serious tool to ensure that when someone becomes newly prohibited – for example, because they commit a violent crime – they relinquish possession of their firearms. There are some promising models for how this could be enforced. For example, California has a mandatory process for ensuring relinquishment by any individual newly subject to a domestic violence restraining order. As president, Biden will direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment processes on their own.
  • Incentivize state “extreme risk” laws. Extreme risk laws, also called “red flag” laws, enable family members or law enforcement officials to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.
  • Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs. Biden will enact legislation to give states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a gun.
  • Adequately fund the background check system. President Obama and Vice President Biden expanded incentives for states to submit records of prohibited persons into the background checks system. As president, Biden will continue to prioritize that funding and ensure that the FBI is adequately funded to accurately and efficiently handle the NICS system.
  • Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example, existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to smart guns.
  • Hold adults accountable for giving minors access to firearms. Biden supports legislation holding adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession of the firearm.
  • Require gun owners to safely store their weapons. Biden will pass legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their homes.
  • Prioritize prosecution of straw purchasers. “Straw purchasers” buy a firearm on behalf of an individual who cannot pass a background check. Biden will end those loopholes by enacting a law to make all straw purchases a serious federal crime and ensure the U.S. Justice Department has sufficient resources to prioritize their prosecution.
  • Notify law enforcement when a potential firearms purchaser fails a background check. Too often, when prohibited persons attempting to buy a firearm fail a background check, state and local law enforcement is never informed of the attempt. As president, Biden will direct the FBI to set up a process to ensure timely notification of denials to state and local law enforcement, and he’ll support legislation to codify this process. This empowers law enforcement to follow up and ensure prohibited persons do not attempt to acquire firearms through other means.
  • Require firearms owners to report if their weapon is lost or stolen. Responsible gun owners have a responsibility to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen. Biden will enact legislation to make this the law of the land.
  • Stop “ghost guns.” One way people who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling a one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D printing a working firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these so-called “ghost guns” by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check. Additionally, Biden will ensure that the authority for firearms exports stays with the State Department, and if needed reverse a proposed rule by President Trump. This will ensure the State Department continues to block the code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet.
  • Reform, fund, and empower the U.S. Justice Department to enforce our gun laws. Biden will direct his Attorney General to deliver to him within his first 100 days a set of recommendations for restructuring the ATF and related Justice Department agencies to most effectively enforce our gun laws. Biden will then work to secure sufficient funds for the Justice Department to effectively enforce our existing gun laws, increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal riders that get in the way of that work.
  • Direct the ATF to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.

Exhausting, isn’t it? Those are twenty-seven comprehensive gun control measures. Half or more of these proposals are capable of gumming up the Supreme Court for a year or two. Of course, the list got too exhaustive and some less impactful measures aren’t even included. Biden also promises to throw money at firearm research and seeks to prevent any public school system from paying for teachers to carry confidently. Even the staunchest liberal or Democrat foot soldier must admit that some of these proposals are pure rhetoric meant to energize a base. “Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.” Really?

Other promises made by the 77-year-old candidate, such as a reinstatement of the federal assault weapon ban and high-capacity magazine ban (which did not work), forced registration of all “assault weapons” as NFA items, national red flag laws, bans on 3D printers and firearm kits, restrictions on monthly gun purchases, and incentivizing states to begin issuing unconstitutional licensing schemes for Second Amendment access, are just as draconian as a brash attempt to ban online gun sales. Except these other measures have a very real chance of making their way to Biden’s potential new digs at the Resolute Desk, especially if Congress is swamped anew with blue.

The running gag is, of course, that Biden’s VP pick could very well be required to … Step in suddenly. So, what kind of person does Kamala Harris seem to be when guns are the topic? “Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the Courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. And if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action.”

If I’m elected President, I will skip Congress and make my own gun control with executive orders.

Oh.

It gets worse. Harris once quipped that, “Well, the ATF has been doing a lot of the ‘A’ and the ‘T,’ but not much of the ‘F.’ And we need to fix that.” You mean the ATF that ran guns to Mexican drug cartels for the Obama administration? The ATF responsible for Waco and Ruby Ridge? The ATF that created so many convoluted policies and legal opinions since its inception that a judge almost ruled against the agency by declaring the AR-15 can’t legally be considered a firearm? Because That ATF certainly doesn’t need to be doing anything more about “the ‘F’.”

In 2008, Harris argued that Washington, D.C.’s clearly unconstitutional ban on handgun ownership did not violate the Second Amendment. When she was DA in San Francisco, she signed an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court over the Heller case. The brief, written by then-Attorney General for D.C. Adrian Fenty, argued “that for nearly 70 years courts have consistently sustained criminal firearms laws against Second Amendment challenges by holding that, inter alia, “i” the Second Amendment provides only a militia-related right to bear arms, (ii) the Second Amendment does not apply to legislation passed by state or local governments, and (iii) the restrictions bear a reasonable relationship to protecting public safety and thus do not violate a personal constitutional right.” The intent of the brief was to uphold the District’s ban on handgun ownership and a firearm storage law requiring all privately owned guns to be kept locked or disassembled with ammunition stored separately, when not in use.

Illustrating an active disagreement with the purpose of the Second Amendment, Fenty, Harris, and other prosecutors concluded that to rescind these laws would “create a broad private right to possess any firearm that is a ‘lineal descendant’ of a founding-era weapon and that is in ‘common use’ with a military application today.” Is that not the purpose of the Second Amendment? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas agrees that the text of the amendment and the Supreme Court’s prior case law creates a fundamental right that is violated by a ban on assault weapons, a waiting period for gun purchases, and limits on high-capacity magazines. “[W]e hold,” the Court wrote in Heller v. District of Columbia, “that [D.C.’s] ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

What does it say about the state of the Constitution when the next potential Vice President can say she argued against the Second Amendment’s core premise with the Supreme Court (and thankfully lost)? Before losing her bid in the Presidential race, Harris also said, “Supposed leaders in Washington, D.C., who have failed to have the courage to recognize, you know what, you want to go hunting, that’s fine, but we need reasonable gun safety laws in this country, starting with universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapon ban. But they have failed to have the courage to act.” Harris implied the purpose of the Second Amendment is to support hunting. Should any Vice President be allowed to hold office with such gross misinterpretations of the Bill of Rights? A well-regulated militia was not guaranteed to the American people for the sake of getting a trophy buck. Driving home the scope of her Constitutional misgivings, Harris reiterated Biden’s calls for a renewed assault weapon ban and made the promise on her campaign trail that an executive order made by her would include such a ban.

Harris was only today announced as Biden’s running mate for November, so the VP candidate’s website is not yet live for us to review her official gun control proposals. At best, her past statements and her now-destined alignment with Biden’s proposals make Kamala Harris another elected opponent against gun rights in America. At worst, Joe Biden (and less likely, Kamala Harris) could next year be the president who turns millions of Americans into felons with a signature. Kerosene, indeed.

08/7/20

The Long, Hot Summer of 1967: A Forgotten Season of Riots and Urban Unrest Across America

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

America’s “The Long, Hot Summer of 1967: A Season of Riots and Urban Unrest Across AmericaThe Book of Ecclesiastes says that there is nothing new under the sun. And while many have spoken of the “unprecedented” nature of the rioting in the early summer of 2020, it is actually quite precedented.

The Long, Hot Summer of 1967 was the peak of urban unrest and rioting in the United States in the lead up to the 1968 election. While there are certainly a number of key differences, there are also a number of striking parallels that make the topic worthy of discussion and examination.

The long-term impact of the urban unrest of the summer of 2020 is unclear, but the long-term impact of the Long, Hot Summer of 1967 and related urban rioting was a victory for Richard Nixon in 1968 and landslide re-election in 1972. One must resist the temptation to make mechanistic comparisons between the two, and we will refrain from doing so here. But the reader is encouraged to look for connections between these events and more recent ones.

Prologue: The Ghetto Riots

The riot wave in America’s urban ghettos might have peaked in the summer of 1967, but it certainly didn’t begin there. 1964 is generally thought to be the beginning, with a riot that began in Harlem after the shooting of a 15-year-old black teenager named James Powell.

The story of how this happened is familiar to anyone who read the news in the summer of 2020: The superintendent of a building in a predominantly white working-class neighborhood turned a hose on black students who had been congregating on the stoops of his buildings. The black students alleged that he used racist language with them, a charge that he denied. It is worth noting how often alleged racial slurs are invoked as an excuse for violence. In any case, no one disagrees that the students then began throwing garbage can lids and bottles at him. He retreated into his building where he was pursued by three of the students, one of them being James Powell.

A white off-duty police officer, Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan, arrived on the scene and fired three shots at Powell. One of these was a warning shot, but the other two connected with Powell’s forearm and abdomen. Lieutenant Gilligan claimed that Powell had a knife, raised it, and then he fired first a warning shot, then a shot into the forearm to disarm him before firing the third shot. Gilligan had an impeccable record with the New York Police Department. Powell had a few interactions with the law: twice for boarding a subway car without paying, once for breaking the window of a vehicle and once for an attempted robbery (he was cleared of the robbery).

The result was a week of rioting that left one dead, 118 injured and 465 arrested.

Between the Harlem Riot of 1964 and the Long, Hot Summer of 1967, there were riots in Rochester, New York, Dixmoor, IllinoisPhiladelphia, Watts, Chicago, Cleveland, Waukegan, Illinois, San Francisco and Benton Harbor, Michigan. But the Long, Hot Summer was when things really picked up.

Chapter One: The Long, Hot Summer of 1967

America’s “The Long, Hot Summer of 1967: A Season of Riots and Urban Unrest Across AmericaIt would be impossible to cover all of the riotings that occurred throughout the summer of 1967. All told, there were 159 riots that summer. The worst of these was in Newark, New Jersey, and Detroit, Michigan. The riots left over 85 dead, over 2,100 injured and over 11,000 arrested. They also caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage.

The first of these riots was the Cincinnati riot of that year, which began in the Avondale region of the city, in response to the conviction of “Cincinnati Strangler” Posteal Laskey Jr. for a series of rapes and murders. Laskey’s cousin, Peter Frakes, protested the decision and was arrested for blocking the sidewalk, in stark contrast to the protesters of today who are allowed to block off highways. The next day there was a protest in support of Frakes that spiraled out of control, quickly becoming an orgy of violence, destruction, and looting that spread throughout the city.

Resulting in one death, 63 injured, 404 arrested, and $2 million in property damage (over $15 million in 2020 dollars), the riot was only quelled when the National Guard was deployed.

Cincinnati was the first, but the two biggest riots were in Newark and Detroit.

Newark was one of the earliest and most extreme examples of white flight in the nation. Its manufacturing base had largely abandoned the city by the time that the riots began. The city had been on edge for a while, but things began to boil over in July 1967, after Newark white police officers John DeSimone and Vito Pontrelli beat black cab driver John William Smith, who they claimed assaulted them. A rumor began to spread that Smith was beaten to death and a crowd formed outside of the police station. Witnesses disagree as to what happened first – the crowd throwing things or the police emerging with hard hats and clubs.

The crowd demanded that Smith be moved to Beth Israel Hospital, a request granted by the police. That night there was a march to protest police brutality, during which an unidentified female smashed the windows of the police precinct with metal bars. Looting and firebombing of local businesses began soon after, with the looting of liquor stores being a predominant feature of the rioting.

Six days of rioting left 16 civilians, eight suspects, a police officer, and a firefighter dead. There were 727 injuries (including 67 police officers, 55 firefighters, and 38 military personnel) and $10 million in property damage (roughly $77 million in 2020 dollars). Many believe that the city never fully recovered from the riots even to this day.

The riots in Detroit took place from July 23 to 28. At around 3:45 a.m., Detroit police broke up a party at a “blind pig” (unlicensed private drinking club). They expected to find only a few but instead were greeted by an 82-person strong celebration of the return of two GIs from Vietnam. The police made the decision to arrest everyone there. A crowd began to gather to watch the raid. William Walter Scott III, the doorman, and son of the organizer of the blind pig, later admitted to starting the riot by throwing a bottle at a police officer in his memoirs.

The next afternoon, the first fire was set at a grocery store. The local media tried simply ignoring the riots in an attempt to maintain calm. Tigers left fielder Willie Horton, who was born in Virginia but lived in and grew up in Detroit, drove to the center of the rioting, and stood on his car in uniform, passionately imploring the crowd to stop the violence, but failed to do so.

Chaos began on the second day of rioting. There were 483 fires, with 231 incidents reported every hour and a whopping 1,800 arrests in a single day. Hardy’s drug store, a black-owned business known to fill prescriptions on credit, was one of the first to be burned to the ground. Indeed, the black business district was not spared. Firefighters were shot at as they attempted to put out fires. U.S. Representative John Conyers tried to address the rioters via loudspeaker out of his car but had rocks and bottles thrown at him.

All told, there were at least 23 deaths and 696 wounded, with property damage pegged somewhere between $40 million to $45 million (between $300 and $350 million in 2020 dollars). Among those dead were 4-year-old Tanya Blanding.

The final riot in the Long, Hot Summer of 1967 was the Milwaukee riot, which left four dead, 100 injured and 1,740 arrested. This began after two police showed up to break up a fight between two black women, around which a crowd of 350 had gathered. The property damage was relatively scant because it was mostly confined to broken windows: it came in at around $200,000 at the time.

Chapter Two: The King Assassination Riots of 1968

The next wave of rioting took place following the assassination of Martin Luther King in the spring of 1968. This wave of riots engulfed the nation’s capital, Chicago, BaltimoreKansas City, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Trenton, Wilmington, and Louisville. New York’s riots were quickly quelled by mayor John Lindsay, who went directly to Harlem and gave a speech about addressing poverty. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is largely credited with saving Indianapolis, with his speech there following King’s assassination. A James Brown concert in Boston is similarly credited with keeping the peace there. Memorials were held in Los Angeles that averted a repeat of the 1965 Watts riots.

Washington, D.C. was the first to experience rioting, beginning on the day of King’s assassination, April 4. Ironically, the rioting here was started by a mob following Stokely Carmichael of the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who quickly began breaking windows. The riots devastated the black business district of the city, which had an incredibly difficult time finding investment to rebuild after the riots were over. Some areas of the city remained little more than piles of rubble until 1999.

Riots in Chicago came next, starting the day after King’s assassination. The damage here was over $10 million (over $77 million in 2020 dollars), with 11 dead, 500 injured, and 2,150 arrested. Baltimore was next, two days later. The swift and sharp response of Governor Spiro T. Agnew (thousands of National Guard and 500 Maryland State Police were deployed the very day that unrest began) was likely what attracted then-candidate Richard Nixon to choose him as his running mate.

The riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. were comparatively minor when contrasted with the Long, Hot Summer of 1967. However, it is worth noting that they happened as part of a more general pattern of lawlessness and urban unrest in the United States in the late 1960s.

It is now generally agreed that the wave of rioting in 1968 helped to sweep Richard Nixon into the White House. The riots outside of the Democratic National Convention in 1968 likewise didn’t help matters. However, whether or not the 2020 election will be a replay of the 1968 election (which also took place during a pandemic that left over 100,000 Americans dead) remains to be seen. At the very least, the Democrats are going to spare themselves unrest by holding their convention virtually.

Epilogue: The Hard Hat Riot

America’s “The Long, Hot Summer of 1967: A Season of Riots and Urban Unrest Across AmericaFor every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This might be a law of physics, but it often holds in politics as well. The reaction to urban rioting and leftist violence in general that plagued the late 60s and early 70s is a little-known incident in American history known as the Hard Hat Riot.

The Hard Hat Riot took place on May 8, 1970, in New York City of all places. It’s worth remembering that in 1970, most of New York was a lot more like blue-collar forklift operator Archie Bunker of All in the Family rather than Lena Dunham – Bunker lived in Astoria, Queens, which is a much different place today than it was at the time of the Hard Hat Riot.

Unlike the hippies and college students of America, blue-collar workers tended to support Nixon and his Vietnam War policies. Peter J. Brennan, who was the head of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, was one of the most vocal supporters of Nixon and the Vietnam War.

The Hard Hat Riot started as a counter-protest to a protest against the killing of four students at Kent State by the National Guard. It started with a few hundred college and high school students but quickly ballooned to over 1,000. They were soon met by about 200 construction workers carrying American flags and patriotic signs. Their numbers doubled when people working in the surrounding area joined the construction workers. The construction workers began beating anyone with long hair in the vicinity of their counter-protest.

After this, the construction workers stormed city hall and raised the flag, which had been at half-mast for the Kent State students, back to full mast. They were joined by city workers, including a postal worker who raised an American flag on the roof of City Hall. Most of the rioters were Catholic and turned their attention to the nearby Episcopal church in the neighborhood.

Six rioters were arrested and Mayor John Lindsay denounced the rioters, as well as the police for their lack of action. A massive influx of phone calls to local union offices was 20 to 1 in support of the rioters. On May 11 and May 16, there were additional protests denouncing Mayor Lindsay as a “commie” and a “rat.” It’s worth noting that “rat” is a term approximating “scab” in the building trades. On May 20, 150,000 pro-war demonstrators marched through the city without opposition. Many workers who were on the job showered the demonstration with ticker tape.

Peter J. Brennan met with Nixon and 22 other labor leaders on May 26, presenting the president with a hard hat. Brennan later met privately with the president on Labor Day. He is considered instrumental in securing a second term in the White House for President Nixon and was rewarded for his efforts with the Secretary of Labor position.

What all of these have in common is a template for community unrest in advance of an election year. While not a direct reaction to the urban riots, the Hard Hat Riots were largely the urban white working-class saying “enough” to the racialized and political violence that had plagued the country for the last several years.

While 2020 saw the merger of racialized and political violence running rampant in the early summer, it has yet to see any kind of organized – and we use that term loosely – pushback of the order of the Hard Hat Riots. Americans are a tolerant and patient people, but their tolerance and patience have a limit. Whether or not there will be an analog to the Hard Hat Riots in the future is anyone’s guess, but if history repeats (or even, as Mark Twain once said, rhymes) we will be seeing something not unlike the Hard Hat Riots in the near future.

07/31/20

America’s “Days of Rage”: The Extensive Left-Wing Bombings & Domestic Terrorism of the 1970s

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

America’s “Days of Rage”: The Extensive Left-Wing Bombings & Domestic Terrorism of the 1970sAs the summer of 2020 dawned, left-wing radical groups began rioting and taking over parts of America’s cities. While this specific form of left-wing violence is new, left-wing violence itself is far from new in the United States. Indeed, one of the most hidden and concealed parts of recent American history is the extensive left-wing violence that began in the late 1960s and continued into the 1980s.

At first, one might think that these were isolated incidents of small-scale “protest” or even minor violence. However, upon even a brief examination, we find out that the outpouring of leftist violence over this time period was anything but minor. The most likely explanation for why you have never heard of this until now is that the events of these years have been consciously buried by those who would prefer that you not know about them.

As the left once again ratchets up both its rhetoric and its physical violence, it’s time to re-explore this period of American history. What started as a non-violent student movement quickly escalated into a campaign of terrorism against the American people. And while the similarities may not be terribly striking yet, astute readers of this article will quickly see the world in which we live more and more closely resembling the Days of Rage.

The Days of Rage

The Days of Rage were in fact a short and discrete period of time – three days of demonstrations that took place on October 8 through 11, 1969. Throughout this article, we will discuss events that took place both before and after the Days of Rage but consider this period a sort of “coming out” party for the Weathermen, also known as the Weather Underground.

The Weathermen started out as a faction within Students for a Democratic Society. Without getting too much into the weeds, much of what happens during this period of leftist terrorism in the United States has its genesis in a faction fight between the Weathermen, who controlled the national SDS organization, and the rest of their faction (known as the Revolutionary Youth Movement II or RYM II), who was in opposition to the more classically Maoist Worker Student Alliance.

Tensions ran high because the stakes were high – nothing less than total control of the largest student radical organization in America and all of the spoils that came along with that. Many within the Weathermen faction of RYM II believed that they were fighting literal fascism coming to America in the form of President Richard Nixon.

Sound familiar yet? It’s about to sound a lot more so.

On October 6, 1969, a statue memorializing a police officer killed during the 1886 Haymarket riots was blown up. No one ever figured out who committed this act of iconoclasm, but the tangible effect of the act of political terrorism was the final isolation of the Weather Underground from the rest of the SDS.

The Weathermen then shifted their activity to the Days of Rage, a protest rally with the slogans “Bring The War Home!” Many wielded lead pipes and were clad in football helmets, ready for a confrontation with the police.

Turnout was disappointing. The Weathermen expected a massive turnout, but only got about 800, who stared down 2,000 Chicago police likely itching for another fight after the 1968 Democratic Convention. By the first night, about 500 had deserted the protest, with about half of the remaining 300 being Weathermen from around the country.

Abbie Hoffman and John Froines, two members of the Chicago Seven, showed up but declined to speak and left. The remaining hardcore of Weathermen and their supporters shifted the goalposts to simply fighting the police as constituting victory.

At 10:25 p.m., Jeff Jones, one of the leaders of the Weathermen, gave the signal and chaos erupted. The crowd moved through the city, smashing windows of ordinary cars and middle-class homes throughout Chicago, as well as small businesses such as barbershops.

The next day, October 9, a “Women’s Militia” comprised of about 70 female Weathermen planned to attack a draft board office, but were prevented from doing so by the Chicago Police Department. The governor called up 2,500 National Guard members to protect Chicago, and protests for later in the day were canceled. The Black Panther Party’s local leadership attempted to distance themselves from the Weathermen, describing the group as “anarchistic, opportunistic, adventuristic, and Custeristic.”

The next day was the last day of the Days of Rage proper, centered around a march of 2,000 through a Spanish-speaking area of Chicago. The next day, October 11, the Weathermen attempted to reignite the protests but were quickly sealed off by Chicago’s finest. Approximately half of the crowd were arrested in 15 minutes.

It was after the events of the Days of Rage that the Weathermen became the Weather Underground and began moving underground as the name would imply. At a meeting known as the Flint War Council, which was attended by Barack Obama advisor William Ayers, taking place between December 27 and 31, 1969, the Weathermen dissolved their version of SDS, changed their name to the Weather Underground and declared that they would engage in guerilla warfare against the United States government.

Before continuing with the laundry list of terrorist actions carried out by the Weather Underground, it is worth briefly explaining their ideology. The Weather Underground was not a classically Marxist nor, strictly speaking, a Maoist group. Their cues came more from the American New Left. Thus, much like the radicals creating chaos in American cities in the 2020s, they were far more focused on opposition to the American state, “white privilege” and “white supremacy” than they were in creating bonds across the working class.

In this regard, they differed both from the Maoism of the Progressive Labor Party (made up of former members of the Communist Party, USA, who supported Mao against Kruschev and thus had very real ties to the American labor movement) and the so-called “New Communist Movement” (comprised of younger student activists sympathetic toward Maoism and Third Worldism, but without organic ties to the existing Communist left and the labor movement). They did not, as some other groups in both Maoism proper and the New Communist Movement did, seek either ties with the American working class (which they largely considered “bought off by imperialism”) or the official sanction of Beijing (a long-term goal of both Maoists and New Communists).

There are three important takeaways from all of this inside baseball:

  • The Weather Underground considered the American government to be fascist.
  • They believed that American military and civil government institutions should be treated in an identical manner to how the Viet Cong would treat the American military.
  • The American working class, in particular the white American working class, was considered apathetic and useless at best, but generally more considered an active opponent of revolution – thoroughly reactionary and thus, the enemy.

The Weathermen After the Days of Rage

In the first year after the Flint War Council, the Weather Underground engaged in a series of over a dozen bombings or attempted bombings throughout the United States. While supporters of the Weather Underground generally attempt to downplay the significance of the bombings, the group attacked courthouses, the New York Police Headquarters, the Pentagon and the headquarters of the National Guard. Additionally, police found multiple bomb factories designed to aid the guerilla efforts of the group. While 1970 was a highwater year for the group, there were other years of increased activity and the Weather Underground did not disband until 1977.

There were dozens of terrorist attacks carried out in the years between 1970 and 1977. It would be impossible to talk about them all in detail without writing an entire book on the subject. However, some of them are worth pulling out from the pack to discuss individually:

  • New York City Arson Attacks: The home of New York Supreme Court Justice John M. Murtagh was attacked with Molotov cocktails. Judge Murtagh was the presiding judge of pretrial hearings for 21 Black Panthers accused of planning a bombing campaign against the city. There were additional attacks against Columbia University’s International Law Library, Army and Navy recruiting booths, and a parked police car in the city.
  • Timothy Leary Jailbreak: Acting as hired mercenaries for The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a psychedelic drug distribution enterprise, the Weather Underground broke Timothy Leary out of jail for $20,000.
  • The United States Capitol Bombing: On March 1, 1971, the Weather Underground detonated a bomb at the United States Capitol.
  • Pentagon Bombing: On March 19, 1972, the Weather Underground blew up the women’s bathroom of the Air Force wing of the Pentagon in commemoration of Ho Chi Minh’s birthday and in retaliation for the bombing of Hanoi.

In October 1973, the federal government dropped most of the charges against the Weather Underground because new restrictions on electronic surveillance (without a court order handed down from the Supreme Court) meant that the charges likely would not stick. A more complete – and voluminous – list of Weather Underground terrorist attacks can be found here.

Black Liberation Army

The Black Liberation Army was formed in 1970, by members of the Black Panther Party who operated as members of both groups concurrently. Between 1970 and 1976, the group was involved in over 70 acts of violence, including the murders of 13 police officers. Some of their attacks included:

May 19th Communist Organization

The May 19th Communist Organization was a reorganized version of the Weather Underground that emerged after the latter began to fall apart. It included members of the Black Liberation Army, the Black Panthers and the Republic of New Afrika, as well as the Weather Underground.

The M19CO was more classically Marxist-Leninist, but no less eager to engage in terrorism. They broke Assata Shakur, convicted of the murder of a state trooper, out of prison, and spirited her to Cuba. They were also involved in the robbery of a Brinks truck in 1981, along with the Black Liberation Army, as well as several bombings, including those of the National War College, the United States Senate, the Washington Navy Yard Computer Center, the South African consulate and the Policemen’s Benevolent Association.

Symbionese Liberation Army

Most people know of the Symbionese Liberation Army, if at all, as the group who kidnapped and brainwashed Patty Hearst. Beyond this, they are an excellent example of how a small, but committed cadre of left-wing activists can wreak havoc far and beyond their numbers, which never exceeded 22.

Their first major action was the assassination of Oakland, CA superintendent of schools Marcus Foster and badly wounding his deputy Robert Blackburn. The pair were attacked with cyanide-packed hollow point rounds as they left a school committee meeting. Foster, the first black superintendent of schools in Oakland, was assassinated because the SLA believed he was going to introduce identity cards in the school system, which they considered “fascist” and which he, in fact, opposed.

Their most famous action was the kidnapping of Hearst publishing heiress Patty Hearst in 1974. She was held by the group for 19 months before she was apprehended by authorities. At first, the SLA demanded the release of Foster’s assassins, but when this proved impossible, they demanded the Hearst family distribute $70 worth of food to every needy person in California. The Hearst family took out a loan to do so, which would have cost $400 million, but the operation descended into chaos and the SLA refused to free her. The group sometimes restricted Hearst to a dark closet for weeks at a time. She was raped both by leader Donald DeFreeze (“Cinque”) and Willie Wolfe (“Kahjoh”).

When recovered, Hearst had an IQ of 112, as compared to 130 before her abduction. She chain-smoked, had a flattened affect, and had trouble remembering significant parts of her pre-SLA life. She weighed 87 pounds when apprehended.

The group committed a number of bank robberies both before and after Hearst’s kidnapping.

The Lost History of American Leftist Terrorism

Most Americans have never heard of these acts of terrorism from leftist groups that were so numerous throughout the 1970s. But this is a prime example of “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The urban unrest, which has rocked America in the early 2020s, is nothing new. The 1960s saw both race riots and left-wing terrorist groups looking to exploit animosity between racial groups in America.

The question is what are we going to do about it? The answer so far from our elected officials is “not much.” If leftist terrorist cells were willing to go this far when they had active opposition from the government and corporate figures alike, what are they going to do when confronted with apathy or encouragement from elected officials and the business sector?

The answer remains to be seen, but will certainly be some variant of “nothing good.”

07/15/20

Constitutional Republic vs. Pure Democracy: How the U.S. Election Process Has Changed

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

Constitutional Republic vs. Pure Democracy: How the U.S. Election Process Has Changed“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Conservatives are generally quick to point out that America is a republic, not a democracy. But what really is the difference, and are they even right?

Voting in America has changed considerably since the days of our founding. Back then, the government didn’t even print official ballots. Instead, you got ballots from the candidate who wanted your support. Sometimes voting took place in public, so everyone knew who you voted for. And, of course, the franchise was largely restricted to white, male property owners.

Now, anyone who turns 18 can vote. And the Democratic Party wants to increase ballot access by automatically registering anyone who gets a driver’s license. Democrats even pushed for mail-in ballots for the 2020 election to make voting even easier – and more open to voter fraud. But is any of this a good thing?

Indeed, it is worth considering the transformation of the United States from a Constitutional Republic, ruled by law with the input of the people, to a total democracy, where the will of the people dominates all other discussions.

A Brief History of the Franchise in America

Constitutional Republic vs. Pure Democracy: How the U.S. Election Process Has ChangedOpen up your pocket Constitution and find the part where it says who can vote and who can’t. You’ll come up short. That’s because the Constitution delegates this right to the states. And while there are some amendments that, for example, say states can’t restrict the franchise on the basis of race, gender, or being over the age of 18, otherwise there is broad leeway given in terms of who can vote and who can’t.

Before the United States existed, people were still voting and there were oftentimes even more restrictions in place. Property qualifications were most common, but there was often also a religious test involved. For example, Plymouth Colony required that voters be “orthodox in the fundamentals of religion,” which would have likely excluded even Catholics from voting. Indeed, Catholics, Quakers, and Baptists were frequently forbidden from voting in early colonial elections. (Jews were forbidden from state office in Maryland until 1828, because of a state law requiring affirmation of belief in an afterlife.)

One of the first laws drafted by the new nation was a process for people to become citizens and thus be able to vote in places where citizenship was a requirement to do so – and indeed, citizenship was not a requirement in many states or colonies in the early days of America. While only “natural born” citizens can become president, naturalized citizens enjoy the full benefits of the franchise. There is still much debate as to what qualifies as a “natural born” citizen, and it’s worth noting that several recent major party presidential candidates were not born in the United States – most recently Tulsi Gabbard (who was born in American Samoa) and Ted Cruz (who was born in Canada). The Republican nominee in 2008, John McCain, was born in the Panama Canal Zone. The last of these was the most problematic, as Downes v. Bidwell ruled that unincorporated territories were explicitly not the United States.

While it is easy to ascribe this to petty religious bigotry, the reason is actually somewhat more profound: The colonists and the colonial governments that they formed considered it important to only allow the franchise to people who shared their values. Thus, those with heterodox religious beliefs were not allowed to vote on the grounds that doing so would undermine both the values and the liberty of the colony.

Similarly, property holders were meant to be the main voters for the simple reason of having skin in the game. The early colonists did not want, for example, the merchant class to have an outsized say in politics because they were not tied to the land and thus not as subject to bad decisions. A shopkeeper or importer can simply sell their stock and move on to the next colony. A freeholder, working the land with his family, has far less flexibility and, the theory goes anyway, would be making more long-term decisions about what is best for the polity.

What this meant, also, is that, in places like New Jersey, women were allowed to vote until 1807, provided that they could meet the property requirement. What changed in the early 19th century, under the expansion of the franchise under Jacksonian Democracy, was that race and gender were prized more than property rights. But free blacks still had the right to vote in some Northern states until 1838.

This too was not an arbitrary distinction. Men who had been veterans of the War of 1812, or at the very least, defended their community against Indian raids, believed that they were entitled to the franchise on the basis of that service. By 1856, free white men were allowed to vote without meeting any property requirements, but five of the states still kept tax requirements (frequently a poll tax) in place. Again, this makes sense: The force of government is largely about the spending of taxes and the use of the military.

By 1856, all property requirements had been lifted, but tax requirements remained in place in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, until the 20th century. Rhode Island had what was basically a brief, low-level civil war over the question of property requirements known as the Dorr War. Indeed, anytime that post-Civil War disenfranchisement is discussed, it must include a discussion of the disenfranchisement of poor whites as well. The Battle of Athens is a fascinating tale of World War II veterans returning from battle and refusing to be shafted at the ballot box anymore.

Of the 15 Constitutional Amendments passed since the Civil War, four involve the franchise. The 15th Amendment bars states from restricting the franchise on the basis of race, the 19th from restrictions on the basis of gender, the 24th bars any tax requirements, and the 26th bars any age restrictions against those over the age of 18. Another Amendment, the 17th, allows for the direct election of senators, rather than having them elected by the respective state legislature – another expansion of pure democracy in America, though not an expansion of suffrage per se.

The previous method of electing senators, having them appointed by the respective state legislatures, was not an oversight on the part of the Founders. Rather, this was to give a voice to the state governments in the federal government. This was seen as an important safeguard against the overreach of federal power. Among other things, the Senate was a check on a power-hungry federal government seeking to put its tentacles into anything it could. It was a form of distributed power that was yet another attempt by the Founders to prevent consolidation and centralization of government.

It’s worth noting that Western states, starting with Wyoming in 1869, were granting women the right to vote, largely as an enticement to get them to move to the region, which was seriously devoid of women.

The concept of “one man, one vote” is the cornerstone of a more pure democracy. There were three decisions of the Earl Warren Supreme Court that definitively transformed the landscape of America into a democracy:

  • Baker v. Carr found that federal courts had jurisdiction over state redistricting efforts.
  • Wesberry v. Sanders found that U.S. House of Representatives districts – whose borders are determined by state governments – must be roughly equal in population.
  • Reynolds v. Sims found that state legislative districts must be roughly equal in population, regardless of the chamber. This effectively means that states are not allowed to have institutions like the Senate – for example, a state government cannot give each county two seats in the state legislature if the counties do not have roughly the same population size.

Residency requirements are mostly illegal in the United States, with one-year requirements struck down in Dunn v. BlumsteinThe longest residency requirement that states are allowed to have now is 50 days.

What’s So Wrong With Democracy?

Constitutional Republic vs. Pure Democracy: How the U.S. Election Process Has ChangedAll of this raises the question of what is wrong with democracy, as opposed to a Constitutional Republic? It’s a cliche that democracy is the right of 51 percent of the population to take away the toothbrushes of the other 49. The Constitution provides protection against the tyranny of the majority and one of those protections is against pure democracy.

Indeed, the Senate and Electoral College, two of the last vestiges of the anti-democratic mood that penetrated the country during Revolutionary times, provide protections to rural states to this day. Without either of these or with a Senate converted into a proportional representation body, as some have suggested, rural states are effectively political serfs for the larger urban centers.

The counter-argument presented to this is that “land doesn’t vote,” which is fair enough, but again: America was not conceived as a pure democracy where everyone had an equal say in everything. There are many layers to the onion, many tiers that prevent one group of the population from having too much say over the others. The Electoral College and the Senate allow rural states to have a voice in how the country is run, rather than being totally ruled over by people in urban centers who don’t own guns, can’t grow food, and have never met their neighbors.

It’s not a coincidence that Electoral College abolition is a particular ax ground by the left. The abolition of the Electoral College would allow for sweeping changes in American public policy championed by those currently on the leftward edge of the political spectrum. Do you want to live in a country where, for example, the voters of smaller states like Nevada, New Hampshire, and Montana are drowned out by a handful of cities on the coasts? What of medium-sized states with a number of post-industrial cities with their own concerns, just as valid as those of rural America, but entirely separate from the centers of financial, cultural, and academic power?

There’s also the small matter of the role that the media plays in shaping public opinion, as well as the role that public works projects and other government spending play in essentially buying votes. Ostensibly “undemocratic” institutions act as brakes on the manipulation of public opinion. Indeed, the Senate was specifically designed as a deliberative body that would “cool the passions” of the masses represented in the lower house, the House of Representatives.

The Primary System as a Laboratory of Democracy

The primary process for nominating presidential candidates represents an excellent example of how pure democracy has produced poorer results than a more managed and directed one.

Most Americans, particularly younger ones, don’t know that prior to the 1970s, the primary contests didn’t mean much. Rather, it was the state party conventions that held greater weight and these were largely managed by party bosses rather than directly influenced by voters. It’s not that this system of backroom wheeling and dealing never produced a total dud or stifled genuine needs for reform – of course, it did. However, looking at the roster of candidates produced by this process (i.e., two Roosevelts, a Coolidge, an Eisenhower, and a Kennedy), it’s hard to argue with the results.

What was entirely lacking was the current primary process that we have in the United States, which still boasts a very low overall turnout and lasts from approximately the fourth quarter of the year before the election sometimes all the way up until the convention. All told, the Democratic Primary cycle of 2020 had 12 debates planned, with 11 completed and the 12th not happening simply because Joe Biden said he wasn’t going to show up.

The primaries are dominated by highly motivated and often highly ideological voters. This means that a number of highly polarizing figures have made it through the modern primary process, including Barry Goldwater (1964, so a little early) and George McGovern, but also a ton of people who the party in question loved but Americans just plain didn’t like (examples of this being Walter MondaleMichael Dukakis, and Mitt Romney). This is because party bosses were much more concerned about someone who could win – and all the patronage that flowed from that – rather than someone who shared their ideological picadillo.

President Eisenhower is perhaps the gold standard of a president anointed by party bosses. Senator Robert Taft, the leading light of the ideologically conservative faction of the party, lost to the choice of the party bosses, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. While historical counterfactuals are hard to tease out, there’s little reason to believe that Senator Taft could have won a general election against President Truman or eventual nominee Senator Adlai Stevenson. This is because, while there was a big thirst to roll back the whole of the New Deal among the hardcore Republican base, there was virtually no taste for it in the American mainstream, which either liked the programs or had learned to live with them. Indeed, it is largely believed that the delegates themselves might have preferred Taft to Eisenhower – but they preferred Eisenhower to losing.

It’s worth noting that in the last two Democratic primaries, party bosses have leaned heavily on the scale against insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders in favor of, respectively, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. In contrast, Donald Trump was able to coast to the nomination in 2016 without any significant organized chicanery on the part of the party bosses.

But it’s not just political parties who lose when American presidential candidates are the result of a process catering to a very small niche of the electorate. America loses also because we are incapable of having substantive, issue-driven debates that address real problems of the American people. Instead, we end up focusing much more on the personalities and cultural differences that divide the two parties – to the detriment of the entire nation.

Election Fraud in the United States

Constitutional Republic vs. Pure Democracy: How the U.S. Election Process Has ChangedThere is a dispute as to whether or not there is widespread election fraud in the United States. However, there are three presidential elections that merit a brief discussion in our exploration of the franchise in America.

The 1876 Election

The election of 1876 was so controversial and potentially fraud-ridden that it was the subject of a Congressional Electoral Commission in response to a major Constitutional crisis. There were 20 electoral votes outstanding, with the Democratic candidate one shy of winning, with the 20 outstanding electoral votes all coming from states with potentially massive voter fraud. The Commission was convened by the Democratic House and the Republican Senate, with five members from each body and five from the Supreme Court of the United States.

One of the tricks in question is actually an exploit of pure democracy: In those days, there were no official ballots. Ballots or “tickets” were generally printed up by political parties or their partisans and distributed to the voters. Southern Democrats used ballots with Abraham Lincoln on them in an attempt to fool illiterate voters into voting for their slate.

“Tilden or Blood!” was a slogan at the time and Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden’s supporters declared that they had 100,000 men ready to march on the capital and install him as president if need be. A party-line vote of the Electoral Commission gave all the votes to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, making him president. However, as a concession, the South got the end of Reconstruction and the withdrawal of all remaining federal troops.

Democrats remained unsatisfied, with the House of Representatives going as far as to pass a non-binding resolution declaring Tilden the winner. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 made the state legislature the definitive arbiter of who counted as an elector, which was the subject of Bush v. Gore, another controversial election over 100 years later.

The 1960 Election

The 1960 election was disputed as well, but not formally and officially like in 1876. The claim is this: That the Democratic Party used friendly city machines in Dallas and Illinois to win states for John F. Kennedy that he otherwise would not have won – and that would have delivered the presidency to Republican Richard Nixon.

This is not a marginal theory. Senators such as Everett Dirksen and Barry Goldwater have stated that they believe there was fraud in the election. All told, Republicans in 11 states sought to have the vote overturned, including in Illinois and Texas. A special prosecutor charged 650 people with voter fraud, but there were no convictions.

It is unknown to what degree Nixon felt he had been cheated, but he never seriously pursued it, believing it would divide the nation and tarnish the office of the presidency.

The 2000 Election

Finally, there is the 2000 election, where chicanery is alleged to have taken place not at the ballot box, but at the Supreme Court. It was the Supreme Court who stopped the recount under the Equal Protection Clause because they did not approve of how the recount was being carried out. Further, a new standard could not be agreed upon because of the time frame – electors had to be selected by December 12.

This allowed a previous vote count certified by Secretary of State Katherine Harris (a Republican and Bush family ally) to stand.

Here the question was not about whether or not someone was ballot-box stuffing. No one has seriously or credibly proposed this. What was in question is how the votes were counted. This calls to mind an apocryphal quote often attributed to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin:

“The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”

Several have written that if a statewide recount were done, rather than a county-based one, that it was Vice President Al Gore who would have won. But the question here is what was the best way to count the votes. And unsurprisingly, partisans of both parties prefer the method resulting in their candidate winning.

Beyond the Theory: Why Pure Democracy Is Bad In Its Execution

Once the notion of a universal franchise enters the public vernacular, there is then no limit on who should be included. Andrew Yang became the first major-party presidential candidate to endorse lowering the voting age to 16, but others have endorsed removing age requirements for voting entirely. Indeed, there is an entire current of thought that says that citizenship shouldn’t be a requirement (it isn’t in some municipal elections) or even that the entire world should be allowed a say in who becomes the President of the United States.

While these might all sound like ridiculous proposals – and we agree that they are – they are the thin edge of the wedge, the tip of the spear that will eventually introduce this kind of discourse into the political mainstream and perhaps much sooner than anyone thinks. If the only criteria for who gets to vote is that you are “affected by government policy” or some such and thus entitled to a say, why not let the entire populations of France and Bangladesh and China have a vote? There is a logic to universal suffrage that does not end with America’s adult population or even at its borders.

Consider the fight against voter ID laws in the United States. When one accepts that voting is a universal right, it makes perfect sense that having or not having an ID shouldn’t be an impediment to exercising that right. A lack of voter ID laws has been tied to voter fraud. But perhaps more disturbing is the growing practice of ballot harvesting.

Ballot Harvesting

Constitutional Republic vs. Pure Democracy: How the U.S. Election Process Has ChangedThe Democratic Party likes ballot harvesting so much that they tried to insert it into the stimulus and relief bill targeted at people suffering from the effects of the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak of 2020. Put simply, this is when paper ballots are collected by intermediaries between the state and the voter, then delivered en masse. If this sounds like it’s a ripe place for voter fraud to happen, that’s because it is. Ballot harvesting played a role in the do-over of the 2019 North Carolina election, where Democrats were, perhaps for the first time ever, deeply concerned with the specter of voter fraud.

Orange County, California, was home to a whopping quarter million ballots delivered on Election Day alone. In practice, ballot harvesters go around collecting ballots for people who vote for the candidate they want to win. In the case of North Carolina, there were allegations that ballots had been discarded because people voted for the “wrong” candidate.

In the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak, there has been a push – mostly from Democrats – to offer mail-in ballots. These are different from absentee ballots, which are sent out to specific voters on a by-request basis. Compare this with the push for mass mail-in voting: This is just printing up a ton of ballots, sending them out, and letting everyone mail them in. There are few, if any, protections in place for preventing people from voting twice, preventing non-registered voters from voting, or preventing illegal aliens from voting. For every person who votes that shouldn’t, a legal voter has their vote canceled out or nullified.

There’s not much of a way to verify and track this process to ensure that everyone who votes is having their vote counted. But again, it is very much in keeping with the logic of “one man, one vote.” Those who espouse the ideology of a pure democracy are always looking for ways to make it easier for people to vote.

Perhaps, not coincidentally, making it easier for people to vote also opens up the door to electoral fraud.

And this is really the crux of the matter when it comes down to pure democracy: The transition to a purer democracy has coincided with greater influence among unofficial kingmakers who control the process while also consolidating greater power in Washington, D.C. In practice, this has meant favoring a bureaucratic elite who effectively act as unelected legislators. Most of the regulations put in place by the alphabet soup of federal agencies aren’t there by statute but are in fact part of powers delegated to them by the legislature who have abdicated their legislative authority.

What’s more, these unofficial kingmakers are often shadowy figures whose names (to say nothing of their intentions) are mostly unknown. These are not the traditional party bosses who were, in a sense, beholden to their people in the form of having to provide patronage and pork and other tangible results. Rather the new kingmakers of our pure democracy are the mass media, party activists, and others with no skin in the game and little in the way of public accountability. Their angle is one entirely of self-interest and not to the broader body politic, to say nothing of future generations.

07/6/20

Trump Right to Honor Harriet Tubman, a Black Gun-Toting Republican Who Freed Democrats’ Slaves

By: Daniel John Sobieski

President Trump concluded his Friday night Mount Rushmore speech by announcing the signing of an executive order creating a “National Garden of American Heroes” in which the statues of those anarchists would consign to the ash heap of history would reside to remind future generations of how we became who and what we are, to remind us of the struggle against tyranny and injustice.

Trump righteously stood before the visages of the likes of Thomas Jefferson, the maligned slave-owner who helped create a nation and a process that would end slavery. He stood before the face of Abraham Lincoln, the first president of the Republican Party, the abolitionist party formed to end the Democrats’ claimed ownership of their fellow human beings. Jefferson wrote that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Lincoln, after the Battle of Gettysburg in a Civil War that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of so-called white-privileged Americans, spoke of a new birth of freedom and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, that he would not allow to perish from the earth.

Trump, who some say may one day belong on Mt. Rushmore instead of just standing in front of it or flying over it, won’t allow it either, nor will we allow the cancel culture to erase the history of our continuous and ongoing struggle towards a more perfect union. So he announced the creation of the National Garden of American Heroes. The executive order reads: “The National Garden should be composed of statues, including statues of John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Audie Murphy, George S. Patton, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Antonin Scalia, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.”

Trump was especially right in selecting Harriet Tubman, whose life story exposes the lie that America is an irredeemably racist country enslaved by racist Republicans.  History, someone once said, is a lie agreed upon, and nowhere is that more self-evident than in accounts of America’s racial history as told by Democrats. Republicans are the party of racism and slavery when the historical record shows just the opposite to be true.

As black economist Thomas Sowell notes, Democrats value black votes but not black voters:

Democrats need black voters to be fearful, angry, resentful, and paranoid. Black votes matter. If Republicans could get 20 percent of black votes, the Democrats would be ruined.

That is what Democrats are terrified of. That can only happen if blacks are denied the truth about their past, present, and future. It is Democrats who owned the slaves, founded the KKK, and wrote the Jim Crow laws. It is Democrats who stood in the schoolhouse door and still do, opposing school choice. It is Democrats who turned on the fire hoses and unleashed the dogs. It was Democrats who blocked the bridge in Selma. A higher percentage of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats. Trump and a free market economy is no mirage but a portent of things to come that has the Democratic Party running scared.

The Democrats’ historical amnesia omits the fact that it was Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia and former “Grand Kleagle” with the Ku Klux Klan, who holds the distinction of being the only Senator to have opposed the only two black nominees to the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and led a 52-day filibuster against this legislation.

Sen. Al Gore, the father of the former vice president, voted against the act, as did Sen. J. William Fulbright, to whom Bill Clinton dedicated a memorial, current senior Senator from South Carolina Ernest Hollings, Sen. Richard Russell and, of course, Sen. Strom Thurmond, who was a Democrat at that time. Only six GOP Senators voted against the act, compared with 21 Democrats. The party of Abraham Lincoln and Jeff Sessions beat back the fire hoses and dogs of the party of Robert Byrd, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.

“Harriet,”  just released in theaters, tells the story of Harriet Tubman, an African-American slave who frees herself and then returns south to retrieve 70 others and bring them to freedom. Oh, yeah, Harriet Tubman was a gun-toting Republican and the people she liberated these slaves from were Democrats.

She was a heroine of the Underground Railroad and plans were being made under President Obama to place Tubman’s image on a new twenty-dollar bill, replacing the current version depicting former slave-owner and President Andrew Jackson. Plans stalled, however, perhaps when someone noticed that Harriet Tubman was a gun-toting Republican who believed that firearms were the best guarantor of freedom and equality ever invented.

Recently, Congressman John Katko, R-New York, has revived the idea of replacing President Andrew Jackson, one of those old white guys, on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, an African-American woman who was a heroine in the battle against slavery:

Back in 2016, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the proposal to swap former President Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman.

Tubman would be the first African-American woman to appear on U.S. currency and the first woman in 100 years. The idea was to honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The plan has since stalled. President Donald Trump is a fan of Andrew Jackson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said as far as he’s concerned, Jackson will remain on the $20 bill, but some in Congress think otherwise.

“We don’t have a woman of color, we don’t have any person of color on any U.S. currency,” said Congressman John Katko, R-New York….

Lisa Page, the interim Director of Africana Studies at George Washington University, says the move is not without controversy.

“I think Americans are still ashamed of the legacy of slavery and will continue to be ashamed of slavery,” Page said.

If the bill were to become a reality, according to Page, it would be a fitting tribute to a trailblazer for freedom and a patriotic American heroine.

“She was called Moses for all of her work in abolition,” Page added

Ironically, Charlton Heston, who played Moses on the big screen, was an NRA member famous for holding a musket over his head with the pledge, “From my cold dead, hands.” Gun rights are a keystone of our freedoms and the Founding Fathers knew we needed a Second Amendment to protect the other nine, Harriet Tubman knew that in the battle to end slavery, gun-rights for African Americans would be a key.

This move to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, replacing President Andrew Jackson, replacing the slave-owning founder of the Democratic Party with a gun-toting black Republican may spark a political debate worth having and unearth historical truths worth learning.

Biographer Kate Clifford Larson notes that Harriet Tubman was no stranger to firearms, finding it a way to both protect and reassure slaves she shepherded to freedom in the north, perhaps making her a founder of the “black lives matter” movement:

Harriet Tubman carried a small pistol with her on her rescue missions, mostly for protection from slave catchers, but also to encourage weak-hearted runaways from turning back and risking the safety of the rest of the group. Tubman carried a sharp-shooters rifle during the Civil War.

An image of her carrying her gun is not likely to grace the new $20 bill, nor is any mention of her being a supporter of the anti-slavery Republican Party likely to be a regular part of the mainstream media and liberal Democratic mantra.  Harriet Tubman’s image should remind Americans that gun control was a historical method to control and subjugate blacks. UCLA constitutional law professor notes in The Atlantic:

Indisputably, for much of American history, gun-control measures, like many other laws, were used to oppress African Americans. The South had long prohibited blacks, both slave and free, from owning guns. In the North, however, at the end of the Civil War, the Union army allowed soldiers of any color to take home their rifles. Even blacks who hadn’t served could buy guns in the North, amid the glut of firearms produced for the war. President Lincoln had promised a “new birth of freedom,” but many blacks knew that white Southerners were not going to go along easily with such a vision. As one freedman in Louisiana recalled, “I would say to every colored soldier, ‘Bring your gun home.’”

Winkler also notes:

The KKK began as a gun-control organization. Before the Civil War, blacks were never allowed to own guns. During the Civil War, blacks kept guns for the first time – either they served in the Union army and they were allowed to keep their guns, or they buy guns on the open market where for the first time there’s hundreds of thousands of guns flooding the marketplace after the war ends. So they arm up because they know who they’re dealing with in the South. White racists do things like pass laws to disarm them, but that’s not really going to work. So they form these racist posses all over the South to go out at night in large groups to terrorize blacks and take those guns away. If blacks were disarmed, they couldn’t fight back.

One of the key reasons for the 14th Amendment’s guarantee that blacks were equal human beings with equal rights was to protect the gun rights of freed slaves after the Civil War. This reasoning was cited in the 2010 gun rights victory won by Otis McDonald in McDonald vs. Chicago. McDonald, a 76-year-old African-American Army veteran living in a high-crime area of Chicago who felt the Second Amendment gave him the right to protect himself and his family with a gun just as he once protected his country with a gun.

The Supreme Court agreed, with Justice Samuel Alito referencing the 14th Amendment:

Alito wrote: “Evidence from the period immediately following the ratification [in 1868] of the Fourteenth Amendment only confirms that the right to keep and bear arms was considered fundamental. … In sum, it is clear that the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”….

In framing the argument that the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment should incorporate Second Amendment rights, Alito referenced post-Civil War laws that the Fourteenth Amendment intended to eliminate.

“The laws of some states formally prohibited African Americans from possessing firearms,” Alito said. “For example, a Mississippi law provided that ‘no freedman, free negro or mulatto, not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry firearms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife.”

Harriet Tubman supported the Republican Party because it opposed slavery. She carried a gun because it protected the liberty and freedom of herself and those she delivered to freedom via the Underground Railroad.  Just as Democrats sought to enslave and disarm blacks back then, they now seek to entrap them in high crime urban areas run by liberal Democrats who seek to deny them, and the rest of us, the right to keep and bear arms.

Harriet Tubman’s image may never appear on the $20 bill, but we should all learn and remember the image showing this African-American Republican leading slaves to freedom from slavery under Democrats with a gun in her hand.

* Daniel John Sobieski is a former editorial writer for Investor’s Business Daily and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

06/16/20

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA Riots

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsThe riots of the spring of 2020 are far from without precedent in the United States. Indeed, they seem to happen once a generation at least. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots are such an example of these “generational riots.” And while most people know about the riots, less known – though quite well known at the time – were the phenomenon of the so-called “Roof Koreans.”

The Roof Koreans were spontaneous self-defense forces organized by the Korean community of Los Angeles, primarily centered in Koreatown, in response to violent and frequently racist attacks on their communities and businesses by primarily black looters and rioters during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Despite their best efforts, over 2,200 Korean-owned businesses were looted or burned to the ground during the riots. It is chilling to imagine how many would have suffered the same fate had the Koreans not been armed.

Standing on the rooftops of Koreatown shops they and their families owned, clad not in body armor or tactical gear, but instead dressed like someone’s nerdy dad, often smoking cigarettes, but always on alert, the Roof Koreans provide a stirring example of how free Americans of all races can defend their own communities without relying upon outside help.

The Koreans of Los Angeles were the ultimate marginalized minority group. They were subject to discrimination and often victimized by the black community of the city. Due to language barriers and other factors, they lacked the political clout of other minority groups, such as the large Mexican community of Los Angeles County. This in spite of their clear economic success in the city beginning in the 1970s and 80s.

The reasons for the tensions between the Korean and black communities of Los Angeles pre-dates the riots, which were largely just the match that ignited the powder keg that had been this region of Los Angeles for years. To understand what happened in Koreatown in 1992, it is necessary to understand much more than simply the Rodney King trial and the resulting riots.

The Roots of Korean Business Ownership in Black Communities

How is it that the Korean-American community of Los Angeles ended up owning so much property in what were largely black neighborhoods? The answer, ironically, lies in a previous riot, the Watts Riot of 1965. This riot, which included six full days of arson and looting, was kicked off when a black man was arrested for drunk driving.

The riots occurred roughly at the same time that the Koreans started showing up in America. This meant that, among other things, businesses and real estate were very cheap to purchase. The newly arrived Korean immigrants began buying up the businesses that no one else wanted. By the 1980s, it wasn’t limited to Los Angeles – Koreans were dominating the mom-and-pop shops from coast to coast. But the resentment in the City of Angels was growing.

Prologue: The Death of Latasha Harlins

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsWhile it was not the start of tensions in the city between these two communities, the killing of Latasha Harlins in 1991 certainly ratcheted the situation up to a new level.

Harlins, whose personal life is a hard-luck story that does not bear repeating here, was 15 at the time when she was shot and killed by Korean shopkeeper Soon Ja Du, a 51-year-old woman born in Korea. Du generally didn’t even work in the store, a task that typically fell on her husband and her son. However, that day she was covering for her husband who was outside in the family’s van.

Du claimed that Harlins was trying to steal a $1.79 bottle of orange juice, but witnesses said they heard Du call Harlins a slur and heard Harlins say she planned to pay for the juice, with money in hand. After reviewing videotape footage, the police agreed with the witnesses. Video footage further showed Du grabbing Harlins by her sweatshirt and backpack.

Harlins responded by striking Du twice, which knocked the latter to the ground. Harlins started to back away, prompting Du to throw a stool at her. The two struggled over the juice before Harlins went to leave. Du went behind the counter and grabbed a revolver, firing at a retreating Harlins from behind from three feet away. Harlins was killed instantly by a bullet to the back of the head.

Billy Heung Ki Du, Ja’s husband, rushed into the store after hearing the gunshot. His wife asked where Harlins was before she fainted. Mr. Du then called 911 to report an attempted holdup.

Mrs. Du was charged with voluntary manslaughter, a charge that can carry up to 16 years in prison. At trial, she testified on her own behalf. The jury recommended the maximum sentence, which the judge rejected, instead giving Mrs. Du time served, five years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $500 fine. The California Court of Appeals upheld the sentence about a week before the riots began in a unanimous decision. Harlins’ family received a settlement of $300,000.

The case wasn’t the first example of tensions between the two communities, but it was a microcosm for them and perhaps the worst from an optics perspective. In 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that there were four shootings in the span of just over four months involving a Korean shooter and a black target. The store was eventually burned down during the riots, never to reopen.

That same year, there was an over 100-day boycott of a Korean-American-owned liquor store that ended when the owner was effectively bullied into selling his store to a black owner. Then-Mayor Tom Bradley, who many blamed for the riots, was instrumental in coming to this “settlement” which chased a Korean owner out of the area.

The Rodney King Verdict: The Riots Begin

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsThe other relevant background story is the trial of Rodney King. This was what touched off the LA riots. The short version of the story is that Rodney King led the police on a high-speed chase going up to 115 miles per hour. He was evading them because he was driving while under the influence and was on parole at the time. His two passengers were loaded into the squad car first, with King exiting the car last.

King was beaten for approximately two minutes straight on a 12-minute tape recorded by a nearby civilian. He was also tazed. King repeatedly attempted to get up despite instructions to stay down. Officers later testified that they believed he was on PCP at the time, but his toxicology test ruled this out. The tape became a national sensation and then-Chief Daryl Gates described himself as being in “disbelief” when he saw the tape.

Four of the five officers on the scene were charged. The jury, which contrary to popular belief, was not “all white,” but did not include any black members, acquitted the four officers on assault, acquitted three of them on excessive force, and resulted in a hung jury on the fourth charge after seven days of deliberation.

At 5 p.m. after the verdicts were announced, Mayor Tom Bradley gave a press conference interpreted by many, including Assistant Los Angeles police chief Bob Vernon, as effectively giving permission to riot. Vernon stated that police incidents increased noticeably after the mayor’s statement.

The event credited with touching off the riots was the arrest of 16-year-old Seandel Daniels at 71st and Normandie in South Central Los Angeles. The rioters began attacking Koreatown on the second full day of rioting.

Koreatown Gets Attacked During the 1992 LA Riots

Koreans began moving to Los Angeles in large numbers after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a radical departure from previous immigration laws that dramatically changed the demographic character of the nation, including Los Angeles. Many Koreans opened successful businesses in the area, but incurred resentment and racism from black residents, which is documented in popular culture of the time such as Do The Right Thing and Ice Cube’s “Black Korea” off of Death Certificate.

When the riots spread throughout the city, the LAPD blocked roads going through Koreatown into more affluent neighborhoods. This was seen by many residents as a containment that effectively left Koreatown residents trapped inside the riot zone. What’s more, the police and other first responders ignored the pleas for help coming from within Koreatown.

Of the nearly $1 billion in damages done during the riots, over half of it was done to Korean-owned businesses.

Enter the Roof Koreans

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsThe Korean community of Los Angeles did not simply sit by and allow their neighborhood and businesses to be destroyed by rioters without lifting a finger. On the contrary, the images of Korean shopkeepers and their families defending themselves from the rooftops of their buildings soon became one of the most iconic images of the riots. Live footage of gun battles was circulated on cable news and elsewhere. The images still resonate with freedom lovers to this day – what image could be more powerful than an ethnic minority refusing to subject itself to a pogrom, instead taking to the rooftops to defend themselves with deadly force, if necessary?

For firearms collectors, the Roof Koreans present another avenue of interest: They used many cool weapons that largely left the market after the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was passed. The Intratec TEC-9 and the A.A. Arms Kimel AP-9 are just two of the weapons used by the Roof Koreans, alongside more standard weapons such as the Daewoo K1, standard issue for the Republic of Korea’s military.

The Republic of Korea’s military is another key part of the story with regard to the Roof Koreans. Far from an untrained mob of men who took up with arms sans training, the Roof Koreans were, by virtually any definition, “a well-regulated militia.” Many of them had experience in the South Korean Army, as South Korea has conscription with very few exceptions.

It’s worth noting that virtually every weapon used by the Roof Koreans to defend themselves, their businesses, their communities, and their families would be against the law or, at least, highly restricted today. “High capacity magazines” (anything over ten rounds) are against the law and there is a 10-day waiting period for all firearms purchases. As the riots lasted five days, this would have put anyone who had not already purchased a firearm in a seriously precarious position.

The Lessons of the Roof Koreans

Kurt Schlichter was in Inglewood at the time of riots, one of the hardest-hit areas. He speaks eloquently on the topic of the Roof Koreans (or “Rooftop Koreans” as he calls them) and the need for communities to defend themselves. His account of defending Los Angeles against riots is worth reading, despite the fact that he was not in Koreatown.

He makes the case that it is not just wise, but the responsibility of all Americans to prepare themselves for such events. And while we would not go as far as him to suggest that people ought to be legally required to prepare for such an event, we do agree with him that everyone is their own first responder. More than that, there is a solid argument to be made that we have a duty to our community to prepare for those times when individual defense is not enough, but a common defense is necessary.

The Roof Koreans provide a perfect, real-life counter-argument to the idiotic question of gun grabbers that free men justify why they “need” certain arms to defend themselves. If ever anyone “needed” a fully automatic rifle with a 100-round magazine, it was the Korean community of Los Angeles.

06/5/20

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China’s Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic “Tank Man”

By: Jose Nino | Ammo.com

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China's Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic Tank ManChina is often described as the next superpower to top America within the next few decades. At first glance, such an assertion makes sense. The country’s vast geography, natural resources, rich history, and tech-savvy populace puts it in a position to thrive in the 21st century. However, China’s rise as a superpower is not one of an overnight success, nor is it filled with pretty rainbows.

Indeed, China is one of the world’s longest-lasting civilizations, with cultural and political traditions that have been passed down to succeeding generations effortlessly. With such a vast history, China had gone through its own zeniths and nadirs. As is the nature of any civilization. However, China’s modern history has been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least.

Despite having a massive formal governing apparatus that would put many empires to shame, China has not always had full control of its territorial jurisdiction. Once European powers reached Chinese shores in search of riches, they soon wanted their piece of the pie. That meant slowly whittling away at Chinese territory. As the first movers in the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese and their missionaries colonized Macau.

Although the Portuguese’s venture was not exclusively about riches, it inspired other European actors such as the British to go and exploit China’s vast resources. Naturally, the Qing dynasty and Britain’s interests clashed once the British wanted to expand trade inside the country. What was originally a trade dispute between a Qing government wanting to maintain trade that overwhelmingly favored China, soon turned into a full-blown conflict as seen in the Opium War.

China was handed a humiliating defeat, which saw it turn over Hong Kong to the British. This marked a turning point in Chinese history. The once-mighty country slowly deteriorated both internally and externally. China soon became a punching bag for smaller, yet more militarily advanced countries that started setting up trading outposts in Shanghai. Indeed, these moves were not welcome by the Chinese and many in the Qing court, but due to the country’s decaying institutions, it could do nothing to prevent further predations.

Even empires on the Western periphery, like Imperial Russia, started to prey on China when it annexed all of the Chinese land north of the Amur River in 1858, exploiting Chinese weakness along a border that was, at the time, 4,650 miles long. As if China’s foreign reversals weren’t enough, Imperial Japan also jumped in the mix and picked apart China like other European powers. Japan put the world on notice when it crushed China in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894. As a result of this humiliation, Japan added the island of modern-day Taiwan, the Liaodong Peninsula, and the Korean peninsula into its sphere of influence. Japan’s exploitation of its weaker mainland rival did not stop there.

Even after the Qing dynasty collapsed, nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek tried to put the political pieces back together during the 1920s, in an attempt to unify the country and restore Chinese greatness. However, Imperial Japan was ready to humiliate China yet again, when it invaded Manchuria in 1931, and occupied it until 1945, in an attempt to expand its industrialization efforts.

All in all, the mid-19th century up until the mid-20th century was a rocky period. It took game-changing events after World War II for China to finally get its political house in order and build itself up on its own terms.

China: From Powerful Imperial Rule to a Weakened State

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China's Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic Tank ManAs foreign powers such as the United States, Germany, Japan, and Russia carved out spheres of influence in the once-mighty empire, the Chinese imperial court began to lose legitimacy both domestically and abroad. In 1911, the Xinhai Revolution was the final straw that broke the Qing dynasty’s back. Chinese reformers grew tired of their country’s weakness and organized revolts across the country that ultimately forced the last Qing emperor, Pu Yi, to abdicate in 1912. However, the transition from empire to a modern-day nation-state was filled with many road bumps for China.

Despite political reformer and provisional president of the Republic of China Sun Yat-sen’s attempts to modernize the Chinese state, the country was quickly mired in internal struggles that prevented it from forming a coherent political structure in the immediate years following the fall of the Qing dynasty. The warlord control of the country soon became the norm as many optimistic Chinese reformers then realized the road to Chinese political stability would not come easy.

The Move to Unify the Chinese State

By the 1920s, China’s political destiny slowly started to change.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that movements began to emerge, with hopes to unify China and establish it as a sovereign nation free of foreign exploitation. The emergence of the Nationalist and Communist movements in China appealed to the nationalistic sentiment among the populace. Their messages, while ideologically different in economic matters, had a vision of restoring China’s rightful place on the world stage. They viewed the Qing dynasty as corrupt and feckless for allowing European powers and Japan to carve out the country. For China to be great, it had to be free of foreign influence.

The dream of a unified China nearly became a reality when the Nationalist (Kuomintang) movement led by Chiang Kai-Shek ended warlord rule and began consolidating the Chinese state. However, hopes of a unified China on both ideological and political lines were temporarily dashed when the Japanese invaded in the 1930s. The subsequent expansion of World War II to the Asian theater saw the previously dominant Nationalist forces having to fend off Japanese forces. Such fighting left the Nationalist forces greatly depleted, while their Communist foes pulled their forces in the Chinese interior.

Little did the Nationalists know that once World War II came to an end, they would be up against a replenished and emboldened Communist movement. And this time around, they would not go down without a fight.

Unifying the Chinese State Under Communism

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China's Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic Tank ManOnce the dust settled from World War II, national unity went out the window. Communist forces under Mao Zedong were ready to duke it out with Chiang Kai-Shek and his Nationalist faction. So began the second phase of the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949). After four years of hard fighting, the Communists defeated the already depleted Kuomintang in 1949. By October 1949, Mao Zedong’s communist government was ready to usher in a new era of consolidated rule in China by declaring the People’s Republic of China. In response, the defeated Nationalists scurried to the island of Formosa, which would be renamed as Taiwan or the Republic of China. Despite China’s stubbornness in de-legitimizing the independent nation on the world stage, Taiwan would remain under the thumb of Chiang Kai-Shek until his death in 1975.

Once in command, Mao was focused on consolidating his internal power and centralizing the Chinese state at the domestic level. The Chinese leader was not so concerned about expanding China’s reach abroad during his first few years as Chairman of the Communist Party. Once his power was firmly established, he then proceeded to make China an industrial power conforming to principles of central-planning. China was no longer going to be the pushover that it once was in the latter half of the 19th century. It was ready to leave its mark on the international stage.

The Omnipresent Chinese Bureaucracy

The Chinese story is one of the eternal conflicts between centralized control and violent regionalism, as noted by Jacob L. Shapiro. Chairman Mao was faced with presiding over a large country with a long history of political violence. China encompasses such a vast territory, which necessitates large, bureaucratic systems to administer it. For political purposes, this bureaucracy has helped China maintain control over its jurisdiction in the short and mid-term. However, in the long-term, this bureaucracy would become unwieldy and parasitic. As a result, high taxation and economic stagnation would follow after this bureaucracy became ingrained in the Chinese political system. This has been a fixture of China’s so-called “Dynastic Cycle,” which appeared to rear its ugly head in modern times. Communist Party elites did not want to become the next generation of leaders who fell victim to this vicious cycle.

Mao despised the Chinese bureaucracy and was able to rip it to shreds when he initially took the helm of the Chinese state. However, when Mao wanted to embark on the Great Leap Forward – an ambitious program created to rapidly change the Chinese industry and agriculture through state planning – he had to come to grips with the reality that he needed bureaucracy to carry out his grandiose vision.

Off to the bureaucratic races China went.

The Great Leap Forward

Fearful of Mao’s punitive actions, Chinese bureaucrats fudged data in order to placate him. What seemed like a political maneuver to gain favor within the government, would later turn out to be a disaster for the people living in the countryside. China’s Great Leap Forward experiment was initially marketed as the program to take China to the next level of economic development. The Great Leap Forward was a concerted effort to collectivize the Chinese economy and hand over the commanding heights to the Chinese state. Private property and a market-based price system were cast aside, while the Chinese central planners tried to play god.

But playing god with the economy comes with a massive price to pay. Even the best central planners are unable to break the laws of economics. Such heavy-handed interventions in the economy destroyed China’s agricultural sector. In turn, the decimation of Chinese agriculture created famine conditions, which led to the deaths of an estimated range of 20 million to 45 million people. The casualties suffered during the Great Leap Forward made China another tragic case of democide, as the country became another casualty of central planning. Consequently, Mao Zedong saw his political image tarnished after this failed socialist experiment, which called into question the validity of his political ideology. But the man-made disaster did not deter him from pursuing other ambitious political programs. Mao was intent on leaving his political mark in China.

The Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976 was Mao’s final attempt to impose a top-down program on the Chinese populace. This ambitious political venture sought to re-assert proletarian values and rid the Chinese society of subversive bourgeois elements. However, this social program turned into a wide-scale political purge that hamstrung economic growth and undermined the civil liberties of millions in China. Like the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution proved that Mao was too ambitious in socially engineering society according to his grandiose political vision. With two controversial efforts led by the Chinese state to radically transform the nation’s society, China’s political class started to become restless. Even the Communist Party knew that Mao took things too far. It was becoming clear that China was on the verge of falling into political chaos. A new course would need to be taken for the country to advance, lest it becomes another victim of its well established Dynastic Cycle. Several leaders in the Chinese Communist Party were ready to step up to the plate.

Geopolitical Tensions Create New Openings

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China's Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic Tank ManPolitics never occur in a vacuum. Countries’ destinies are often shaped by external events, or at the very least, must adapt to international trends. In its quest to become a global superpower, China was no stranger to this. During the ambitious Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution programs, China was experiencing significant changes in its foreign policy. Communism may have had a unified vision against the bourgeois classes, but it witnessed numerous splits among countries throughout the 20th century. National interests often see ideologically similar countries take antagonistic paths.

The Communist sphere was indeed a house divided once the Chinese state was well established and ready to plot its own course. China’s Soviet “Big Brother” would soon learn that China was ready to grow up and pursue its own agenda. Initially, disputes surrounding debts that China incurred during the Korean War and the border they shared with the Soviet Union caused unrest between the two superpowers. Many Soviet officials saw Mao’s leadership purges as a flashback to the brutal regime of Josef Stalin. As a result, Soviet leadership became weary of their Communist “little brother” down South. In the same token, the Chinese remembered their exploitation at the hands of the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Naturally, they had no interest in repeating the same predatory relationship with its northern neighbor.

Looking from afar, America took advantage of this geopolitical tension by playing China off of the Soviet Union. The first concrete step in undermining the Soviet Union was Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, which helped re-establish diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries. With China now tasting the fruits of international capitalism, albeit to a limited degree, its old economic model of top-down control was on the ropes. Additionally, the failed Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution programs made the more pragmatic elements of the Chinese Communist Party reconsider Maoism. The economic benefits from restored relationships with America were simply too large to ignore. On top of that, the Chinese state could capture unprecedented economic benefits from opening up trade with America. This would enable China to not only grow economically but also strengthen its governing apparatus. The Chinese state was then set for new leadership to emerge and continue integrating China into the global market. The days of Chinese isolation would soon come to an end.

The Economic and Political Transformation of Deng Xiaoping’s China

Once Deng Xiaoping succeeded Mao Zedong, China was poised for national greatness. Deng acknowledged that Maoism did not bring about its desired results for China, and a new economic program was needed to bring the country back to its feet. Now that the Communist Party was well entrenched in power and China was able to pacify any internal threats, the country was ready to interact with the outside world on its own terms. Gone were the days that China would be bullied by the West.

Recognizing the failure of central planning, while also taking into account the economic potential China had on the international stage, Deng Xiaoping embarked on a series of bold reforms. Unlike its humiliating experience of the late 19th century, China was opening up its markets without being the victim of gunboat diplomacy.

Deng’s regime enacted certain reforms that brought back market dynamics, albeit in limited form, to the Chinese economy. Land privatization and the creation of special economic zones helped make China more competitive in the international arena. According to certain reports, China’s annual GDP growth rate ranged from 9.5 to 11.5 percent from 1978 to 2013. Thanks to these market-based reforms, China’s GDP increased tenfold, and, as a result, millions of Chinese were lifted out of poverty. The horrific scenes of the Great Leap Forward soon became a distant memory as skyscrapers dotted illustrious cities like Shanghai, and factories were built left and right to bolster China’s breakneck industrial growth. “Made in China” soon became a staple of China’s economic prowess, as it flooded the world with basic goods coming out of its factories. But this could never have been possible without China making an attempt to open up its markets.

As Milton Friedman observed, economic freedom is generally a precondition for political freedom. When societies see economic freedoms gradually expanded, the new rich and emerging middle classes begin demanding more political freedoms.

As Chinese economic growth soared throughout the 1980s, its citizens demanded more than just economic prosperity. The death of pro-reform Communist leader Hu Yaobang in April 1989, caused several disturbances throughout the country. While on the economic uptick, Post-Mao China was marked by political uncertainty and Hu’s death added more fuel to the fire. Both the general populace and the political elite were rocked by the market reforms of Deng’s regime, which benefited some members of the newly rising entrepreneurial class, but still did not satisfy China’s humbler citizens.

The ruling elite also faced some questions about political legitimacy. Some of the concerns centered around corruption, employment prospects, inflation, and political freedoms. China’s student class started to demand new freedoms such as democracy, transparency in government, and free speech rights among other things. Protests started to pop up throughout the country, with the main ones centering around Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The Historical Significance of Tiananmen Square

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China's Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic Tank ManHistorically, Tiananmen Square held great significance in Chinese politics. It was the place where the May Fourth Movement of 1919 occurred, when students’ protests aired grievances with the Chinese government’s tepid response to the Treaty of Versailles, which awarded Japan territories in the Shandong province. This movement helped jumpstart the Chinese Communist and Nationalist movements respectively.

Fast forward 30 years, the Proclamation of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949, took place on Tiananmen Square as well. This marked the end of the Chinese Communist Revolution (1945-1949) and ushered in the Communist Party’s dominance over Chinese politics.

In 1989, student protestors sought to use this same square as their platform to make history by demanding the introduction of basic civil liberties – such as free speech and the right to peacefully assemble against the government – concepts which were unheard of throughout China’s long political history. In the fateful month of April 1989, they took to the streets in protest. Indeed, these students made history, but things didn’t go as planned for them.

Chinese Leadership Becomes Weary of the Threat of Democratic Reforms

Wanting to preserve the Communist Party’s political supremacy at all costs, China’s paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, along with his Communist Party brain trust, perceived the protests as a political threat. Wasting no time in responding to these protests, the Chinese government proceeded to use force after the Chinese State Council declared martial law on May 20th, and deployed approximately 300,000 troops to Beijing. When troops arrived in Beijing on June 4th, they began killing protestors and bystanders.

The Chinese government arrested thousands of protesters, cracked down on other demonstrations in the country, kicked out foreign journalists, censored coverage of the Tiananmen incident in the press, bolstered police powers, and purged officials it believed to be receptive to the protestors’ cause. Estimates pin the death toll from several hundred to thousands.

Unsurprisingly, this incident received international condemnation. However, China’s status as a nuclear power and its newfound prosperity positioned it where it could avoid any direct military confrontation from other countries who disapproved of its agenda. Unlike 19th century China, 20th century China could take bold political actions without the fear of international actors trying to directly attack it.

The Birth of Tank Man

The Tiananmen Square Massacre: From China's Authoritarian Roots to the Iconic Tank ManA day after the crackdown, on June 5, 1989, one of the most iconic images from the Tiananmen protests emerged. A man, who would be known as Tank Man or the Unknown Rebel, stood in front of a convoy of tanks leaving Tiananmen Square.

The lead tank tried to maneuver past the man but was met with nonviolent resistance. The man repeatedly shuffled in front of the tank to obstruct the tank’s path. After a while, the lead tank stopped in its tracks and the armored tanks behind it stopped as well. From there, a short pause began with the man and tanks remaining in a standstill.

The video footage then shows the man climbing on top of the tank’s turret and chatting with a crew member and the tank’s commander. After having a conversation, the man jumps back down and gets in front of the tank again. The standoff between the man and tank continued until two figures in blue came out and pulled the man to the side. To this day, witnesses at this event are unsure about who pulled the “Tank Man” to the side. Furthermore, the identity and fate of the man is still unknown, although there has been speculation that he was either executed or fled the country shortly thereafter.

China’s Authoritarianism Lives On

The Tiananmen Square massacre was indeed a turning point in Chinese history. After an unprecedented liberalization of the economy up until the late 1980s, the Chinese state firmly put the breaks on any type of political reform that would enhance political freedoms. China showed the entire world that it would put hard limits on freedom, even if it meant receiving stiff criticism from Western democratic governments. As a sovereign nuclear power, China could proceed with its domestic policy as it pleased, knowing full well that no other world power would try to aggress against it.

To this day, civil liberties that Westerners often take for granted are heavily restricted in China. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China has embarked on one of the most ambitious censorship programs in human history. Now the Chinese state is even putting Muslim Uighurs in re-education camps, much to the chagrin of international human rights observers. The Tiananmen incident remains one of the most heavily censored topics in Chinese political discourse.

The iconic image of the man confronting the tanks is a strong symbol of mankind’s eternal struggle to achieve freedom. Despite its fantastic economic growth, China remains one of the more authoritarian countries in the world. Just like freedom did not come to the West overnight, basic freedoms will likely take decades before they firmly take root in China.

Until then, the Chinese state remains firm in its hold over the Chinese populace.

05/29/20

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